January 13, 2008

Floating New Year Lanterns

Filed under: Kids Projects,Paper Craft,Seasonal — sarah @ 4:02 pm

lanterns in the dark

For the New Year I wanted to do floating lanterns with my Scout group to help them think about global and local issues. I came up with this design of lantern the night before the meeting. Initially the lanterns were cut out of a square of cardboard and folded over one side to the middle to make a rectangle. I then folded the other side over to the middle to make a narrower rectangle. Then I folded the ends over to meet in the middle.

I then unfolded it and had a smaller square in the centre, marked out by the folds. Then I folded the square along the diagonal to get a triangle and then folded that in half to get a smaller triangle. Following that, I unfolded it again. Now I had a small square in the middle which was divided into four triangles – I ignored those triangles. Around this small square there were four rectangles joined at each corner by a small square – the small squares were divided into two triangles. I pinched the cardboard at these corners so that the small squares folded along the line that made the triangles – this gave me a nice square-shaped dish with elegant pointed corners.

I then roughly checked weather a tea light candle would fit. It did, so I roughly measured how long the side of the dish was – this is equal to that of the inside square I had earlier on. At this point I had no ruler so it was very very rough. I cut out a rectangle that was about four times as long as one of the dish’s sides and about one and a half dish sides high. I forgot to add in any sort of tab before cutting it out.

Once cut out I folded it into four so that it made a chimney for the lantern. I then cut a slit the depth of the dish’s side – up each corner of the chimney at the bottom. I then slid each of the sticking out corners of the dish through these slits. I had to use sellotape to fix the chimney together, which was a bit fiddly. I then lit the tea light candle with a long match and placed it on a bowl of water. The design worked!

I then got a ruler and a black fineliner (bought at WH Smith’s) and drew out a plan for the lantern, this time with a tab. I then scanned it but unfortunately the base/dish and the sides/chimney would not fit onto on sheet of A4. Now I had a digital copy of it on the computer where I got rid of the slight mistakes I’d made – drawing a solid line where I’d wanted a dashed line.

I then printed enough bases and sides for 20 lanterns on brightly coloured paper from dazzle create pads we’d picked up at some point in Tesco’s. I managed to get two bases onto one sheet of A4 – I realised this would mean I had more bases in various colours but reasoned that the kids would probably want to mix and match anyway.

So, using my template you need one template base and one template chimney, one pair of scissors, some sellotape, a tea light and a pen.

equipment for lanterns

I cut out the templates; I had bold lines for lines where you cut and dashed lines for where you were supposed to fold. This included the slits at the bottom of the chimney.

cut out

I then put the names of countries that had been in the news for some sort of negative reason on the sides of the chimney and taped the tab to the side. I put the sellotape on the outside to prevent any sort of fire risk but some of the kids put it on the inside and their lanterns were fine, so I think I was being over-cautious.

folded and secured

When I finished I then showed the lantern to the kids and explained what to do.


This is what they produced. There were some interesting variations on the original design but they all worked and looked really good with the tea lights in them glowing away in different colours.

the kids' lanterns

One response to “Floating New Year Lanterns”

  1. phynbarr says:

    I’d love to get participants to do this for a workshop I’m running- anychance of a copy of your template as I think I’m working on too large a scal in trying to follow your step by step guide


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