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Posted on Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 8 p.m.

Make your own Chinese lantern with common home supplies

By Ann Arbor Art Center

Chinese Lantern2.jpg

Photo by Flickr user GlobalCitizen01

In this activity, you and your child can create a Chinese Lantern using a few common home supplies.

The History of Chinese Lanterns

Chinese lanterns have been an icon of Chinese culture since 230 B.C.E. These lanterns typically announce good news or demonstrate wishes for good luck. Early lanterns were made out of a bamboo frame, with a thin, oiled paper wrapped around it. Since then, they have evolved into the modern equivalent, made with a thin metal frame and paper.


Photo by Flickr user noggin_nogged

Since 230 B.C.E, the lanterns have been displayed at the Chinese Lantern Festival, which takes place on the 15th day of the New Year. During this festival, people gather in the streets and hang their lit lanterns high, in an attempt to communicate with their deceased relatives.

People also string dozens of lanterns around their home to bring good luck for the New Year. During this festival lanterns create a beautiful tunnel of light, often surrounding entire streets. The lanterns are decorated with traditional Chinese characters, representing different phrases to celebrate the New Year.

Make your own Chinese Lantern

You can make this lantern in: half an hour

What you will need:

  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Ruler
  • Markers or paint (if using paint, additional drying time is needed)
  • Decorations such as glitter, sequins, string (optional)
  • Hole punch (if using string)

Step 1:
Position your paper with the long edge facing up, and draw a design with markers, or paint a design (let paint dry before moving on to step 2) Be creative! Try painting or drawing a Chinese character.


Photo by Ann Arbor Art Center

Step 2:
Fold your paper in half lengthwise. Along the folded edge, cut evenly spaced slits, one inch apart, leaving about an inch at the top of the paper.


Photo by Ann Arbor Art Center

Step 3:
Unfold your paper. Glue the short ends of the paper together using a glue stick.


Photo by Ann Arbor Art Center

Step 4:
Spread the slits out to create a lantern effect.


Photo by Ann Arbor Art Center


Photo by Ann Arbor Art Center

Step 5:
Attach a handle to your lantern using a paper strip, or, use string. Add any embellishments and tassels, and then hang your lantern up! Hang your lantern up for whatever you are celebrating.

Think about this:

  1. What celebration will you use your Chinese lantern for?

  2. Can you think of other holidays where people hang up lights to celebrate?

  3. What New Year's traditions do you have?

  4. How do you decorate for holidays and celebrations?

Print and share this activity!

To print this activity, please download and save the following PDF to your desktop Chinese Lanterns How-To.pdf

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The Ann Arbor Art Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to engaging the community in the education, exhibition and exploration of the visual arts. Offering studio art classes, workshops, exhibitions, summer camps and more, the Art Center is celebrating over 100 years of being the place where creativity and community meet. For more information please visit or stop by the Art Center located at 117 W. Liberty in downtown Ann Arbor.



Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 12:23 p.m.

The example pretty much looks like the real deal. Has anyone forwarded this information to the city lighting department?