January 28, 2007

Chinese Dragon

Filed under: Kids Projects,Paper Craft,Seasonal — sarah @ 9:24 pm

I ended up having to work out a craft project for our Cubs for Chinese New Year. However, I could not find anything on how to make the lanterns I had initially envisioned them making – so I cast my mind back in time.

I have a vague memory of doing a play called something like ‘Ching Ching and the Dragon’ in junior school. We made dragons for the puppet show in the play. I vaguely remembered a technique for folding paper so started experimenting.

My first attempt I decided was good enough. Chinese DragonChinese Dragon, front view

I cut some strips of coloured card about 1.5cm in width; the pieces of card I had, however, were A3 size and too big for the paper guillotine, so I had to chop a bit from the bottom first.

I chose what I consider to be dragon colours, so they were red, green, yellow and blue. For my prototype, I chose blue and yellow, and placing the ends of the card strips one over the other at a 90 degree angle, I then folded one piece over the other. You fold the coloured card alternately going around the ‘square’ so blue, yellow, blue, yellow and so on.

Paper Strips

Because the card strips I had weren’t quite long enough, I had to overlap the ends of the card strips with a second strip of the same colours, so in some places there is a double thickness of cardboard.

The head and tail were a bit tricky; I sort of imagined very square features so that I could work out a sort of box that could be stuck on. I also added lots of curves as I think they look a bit like flames and very dragony.

I drew the rough outlines and then scored along the bits that would need folding (this makes folding easier and gets a nice neat line). I folded the head and tail into shape and then stuck them onto the body using sellotape (I made a loop of sellotape with the sticky side out, but double-sided tape would be better.) I then cut out some fins for the tail and stuck them on with the sellotape.

This done, I took two plastic drinking straws and cut the bendy ends off. I then stuck these to the body of the dragon inside the ‘pleats’ with sellotape. This all worked a lot better then I had expected!

I then drew out the designs for the head and tail, including fins, in fine-liner pen, including dotted lines for where the children would need to fold the cardboard. I then scanned them and tidied up the digital image a bit (ie correcting the mistake of a solid line that was supposed to a dashed line for folding), using a programme called the Gimp. I put two copies of it on to an A4 sheet and printed them onto brightly coloured paper (we had run out of card).

I also did a ‘proper’ set of easily understood instructions for the kids – the kids did really well with this. Here is one of their dragons: 🙂

A cubs attempt

This project got nicked by an art teatcher for her secondary school kids so I was quiet chuffed. 🙂 I still have my digital copy of the head and tail.

Here are the instructions:


3 strips of one coloured card

3 strips of a different coloured card

1 dragon sheet with shape out lines on



Pens and things for decorating

2 drinking straws


Take two strips of card, preferably different colours, place the ends of the strips together so that they overlap and make a right angle. Fold the bottom colour over the top of the top colour – alternate.

So it should be blue, red, blue, red. You should end up with a squared shape of folded card. When you are near the end of the first two strips, lay the next two over the top and continue folding as before – make sure there is lots of overlap. Once you get to the end of these strips, do the same with the next two.

You now have the dragon’s body. You may have to cut excess card off the finishing end. Double-sided sellotape or single-sided sellotape looped back on itself should be used to secure the very ends of the body to prevent unravelling.

Cut out the dragon’s head and draw eyes and nostrils on it. Fold along the dashed lines and sellotape the tabs on the jaw to the sides of the head. Using double-sided tape, attach to one end of the body.

Cut out the tail and back fin. Again, fold along the dashed lines. Stick the fins on the tail and, using the sellotape, stick the tail on the other end of the body.

Take two drinking straws and cut off the tops just before the bendy bit. Attach these to the underside of the body, one under the head and one under the tail.

One response to “Chinese Dragon”

  1. […] I also put 4 copies of my dragon template onto one A4 sheet and printed these off onto coloured card for them to decorate the finished boats with. […]

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