Getting Ready for Lunar New Year: Making Lots of Paper Lantern Kits

lanternwebAs part of my presentation of Lunar New Year at my child’s class, I have the teacher make paper lanterns with the class a couple days before I do the presentation.  But I also supply the teacher with the “lantern kits” so it doesn’t make too much work for her or for the kids.

This is a lesson on how to make lots of lantern kits quickly.  I make the number of students in the class plus one prototype.  I also supply the handles and the sponge stamps for decorating.  I deliver all of the kits  in a cardboard portfolio I made out of a large box.

First off, I can only buy the construction paper which is 9″x12″ (Target, Michaels) and that is smaller than I want for the lanterns, so I ask the teacher to supply the construction paper to me to make the kits and prototype.  In the past I have made 18″x24″ lanterns, but this year and am making 18″x12″ lanterns.  I have noticed that in the last year the construction paper that they get at school is thinner than it was previously.  This is not the construction paper of my childhood.  For a long time the construction paper I have bought at Michaels has been very thin and unsatisfactory but now the good stuff the school is getting is thinner, not as thin as the stuff at Michaels, but noticeably thinner which makes the lanterns not as nice unless I make some changes.

Here is what I have asked for from the teacher for 16 kids, that will be 16 lanterns kits for the kids to make and 1 lantern prototype, so the kids will know what they are making when they are working on the project.

folded_paperFirst off, forget scissors, pencils, and rulers like the websites I linked to in other posts have suggested was needed.  Plan on using a paper cutter.  If you don’t have one at home, use the one at your child’s school.  I’m sure they have a big one somewhere.

I have a guillotine paper cutter 18″ square that is left over from my childhood.  I love it, but it is very dangerous; I keep it hidden under the sofa.  If you don’t have at least an 18″ paper cutter (or access to one) then you will have to do some marking with pencil and ruler.  With and 18″ paper cutter, no pencil or ruler is needed.

paintI asked for 10 red and 10 yellow construction paper which is 18″x24″.  I won’t need all of it, but better to have more than less.  The teacher already indicated she had sponges for making prints on the lanterns. But if this is not the case.  You will need a couple of cellulose  sponges.  Cut up the sponges into different shapes.  For making the prototype, you will need a cut up sponge, some paint (I chose yellow plus white, to make a lighter yellow.) and a plastic or paper plate to use as a palette.

1) Cut the red paper in half, so you have two sheets which are each 12″x 18″.  I cut 9 sheets in half and got 18 sheets to use for the lantern kits.

2) Fold the red paper lengthwise, that means when you fold it, you will have a folded sheet which is 18″x6″.

3) If your paper cutter is less than 18″, then take a pencil and mark with a dot, every inch at the fold.   Skip this step if your paper cutter is 18″ or longer.

many_cuts4) Put the fold of the paper at the top of the paper cutter, you will be cutting through the fold. Move the left hand side of the paper to 17″ on the paper cutter and cut through the folder paper until you get to about 1 inch.  Now move the edge to 16″ and cut the same cut.  Keep moving the folded paper over until you have cut a line for every inch from 1 to 17 inches.  For those using a small paper cutter.  I would start at 1 inch and go the opposite way. But eventually you will get to 17 inches and have a completed lantern which is cut. After you have completed one of these, see if you can do 2 or three at a time.  I eventually ended up with 3 pieces of folded paper and cut 3 at a time with my cutter.  Whether you can do this or not depends on the paper cutter you have to use.  (I put the 3 folder pieces of paper on top one another, not inside each other.)

5) Make 17 or 18 of these lanterns and put in a pile.


Left: Using 9″ yellow paper on the inside; Right: Using 8″ yellow paper on the inside.

6) Take the yellow paper and cut two pieces in every 18″x24″ piece of paper.  Each piece of paper should be 9″x 18″.  This will be the inside of the lantern.  There will be some leftover paper, we can cut that up for handles.   In the case of the 9″ lantern, I had extra yellow paper, which I used to decorate around the top and bottom of the lantern.  You will need 17 or 18 of these too plus any extra for decoration.

6a) OK, I know that 8 divides evenly into 24 and makes 3 pieces of yellow core paper.  I have done that and here is what it looks like.  If it looks OK to you, then go ahead and save paper and make 8″ x 18″ pieces of paper for the center of the lantern.   I liked the 9″ so I am sticking with the 9″ high lantern.

flat_lantern7) Now is the time to make the prototype.  The prototype is both for the teacher to see what to make and for the students to know what they are stamping and what the final project will look like.  Take one of the cut-up red paper and spread it out.  Make or find some sponge stamps.  Pour the paint onto the paper plate and use the sponge to mix it around until it is flat.  Press the sponge into the paint and stamp on the lantern.  Let dry.

8)  Lantern making.  Take one of the 9″x18″ yellow pieces of paper and using a stapler, staple it into a cylinder.  I overlapped the paper by about 3 inches just to get the shape of the lantern to my aesthetic.

9) Take the cut up red paper which you stamped in an earlier step and staple it around the yellow tube.  Staple the top, then do the bottom, so it ends up looking like a lantern with a yellow light inside.  This tube inside helps keep the shape of the lantern, now that the construction paper I received is thinner than I would like.

10) Use some of the left over yellow paper and make 1 inch handles and staple them on.  I actually had so much left over yellow paper, I enhanced my prototype with extra yellow strips to add additional decoration around the bottom and the top of the lantern.

OK this is the end of my how-to make lots of lantern kits to provide to your child’s teacher.  We use the lanterns in class to have a little lantern parade around the classroom.   The Lantern Parade is usually the last day of Lunar New Year.

Here is the link to my K-1st Lunar New Year Lesson Plan.

Here is the link to my preschool Lunar New Year Lesson Plan.

Here is the link to Lunar New Year Events in the Washington DC area.

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