Chinese peace lanterns are beautiful floating luminarias meant to signify peace. Crafting Chinese lanterns can teach children about culture and history. Young children can enjoy crafting decorative versions of these lanterns, while older children--with the help of adults--may design more functional versions. In either case, these Chinese peace lanterns make for affordable and gratifying craft projects for kids.
For young children, creating a Chinese peace lantern decoration is much more feasible then building a working lantern. For this project all you need is construction paper and craft glue. Paper can be folded in half lengthwise and cut with decorative slits, wrapped and glued together by the short ends to form a cylinder. The crease of the paper is meant to push the slits outward at the centre to create the appearance of a lantern. Handles can be cut from strips of construction paper and glued on to the top of the lantern as well for hanging. For extra embellishment, attach tissue paper streamers to the bottom of the lantern in contrasting colours.
Older children may actually want to create a working Chinese peace lantern. In this case brown paper lunch bags or coloured paper bags can be turned into functional luminaries or peace lanterns. Children can cut decorative shapes into the top half of their paper bags, being careful to keep the structure of the bag itself intact. For simple designs, children can trace decorative trim designs around the top opening of the bag, such as triangle or scallop shapes, and cut them out with scissors. Similarly, children can cut half shapes into the top folded corners of the bag and will appear whole once the bag is unfolded.
Adult supervision and assistance is required to turn this project into a functional Chinese peace lantern. Traditionally, Chinese peace lanterns are intended to float down a body of water while lit from the inside with candles. Large plastic foam squares, about 12 by 12 inches, can be cut and attached to the bottom of each lantern in order to make them float. Sand can be poured into the bottom of each lantern and a tea candle inserted at the centre of the sand. The sand will hold the candle in place and provide a fireproof barrier for the lantern. By lighting the tea candle inside and floating the lantern on water, adults can help turn each child's project into a working Chinese peace lantern.
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