Steps to Make a Paper Dragon

Updated April 17, 2017

Fantasy tales and films often depict dragons as monsters. However, Chinese culture does not view it that way, with people celebrating the dragon as a symbol of endurance, energy, good luck and power. Dragons play a role in various Chinese festivals, for which people make dragon crafts for decoration purposes. Put your crafts skills to use by making a paper dragon, and see if the "beast" brings good fortune your way.

Using a Dragon Template

If you involve your child in this activity, either do all the cutting yourself or have your child use kid-friendly safety scissors.

Print out the dragon template found in the resources section below. After enlarging the template to 200 per cent, trace the template's pieces (body, hair, head and tail) onto two sheets of Bristol paper and cut out the pieces.

Cut strips of either construction paper or origami paper, and use pinking shears to cut one end of a strip and regular scissors to cut the other side. Make the strips one inch longer than your dragon's width and about two inches wide.

Putting the Dragon Together

Start "building" your dragon. Use glue to attach a solid piece of construction paper onto each piece of the dragon's head; trim around the head's outline. Glue the paper strips onto the dragon's neck area.

Cut out white paper and use for the dragon's eyes, nostrils and teeth. Cut out black paper and use for the pupils. Glue these pieces onto their proper spots. Use the template's small flame shape as a guide for the dragon's hair, and cut and glue pieces of coloured construction paper around the dragon's head.

For the dragon's body and tail, begin at the end of the tail and glue the paper strips onto the dragon's sections, overlapping the strips to make a fish-scale design. Once you glue the strips on all sections, trim the strips' edges.

A dragon needs spikes, so glue triangle-shaped pieces of coloured tissue paper to the inside of one piece of each section. Use a sponge brush to spread glue on the inside of all dragon sections. If you want puppet handles, glue one-quarter of a chopstick to the inside of the dragon's head and tail.

Glue all of the dragon's front and back sections together. After allowing the dragon to dry for an hour, use a hole punch at each connecting section's end. Link the dragon's sections with brass paper fasteners.

Making a Dragon Without a Template

Should you want to make the dragon from scratch, use two long strips (around 29-inch-by-1-inch) of different-colour paper to make the dragon's body. Glue the ends of the paper together at right angles. After letting them dry, fold the bottom strip over the top, and then fold the top strip over the bottom. Continue until you have what resembles a concertina (free-reed instrument) and glue the ends together.

Draw dragon's head, cut it out with round-ended scissors and decorate with coloured card stock paper, felt-tip pens and sequins. Glue the dragon's head to one end of the concertina-like body. If you want to make a curly paper tail, pull strips of paper or decorative curling ribbon through a pair of round-tipped scissors. Glue the tail to the dragon's opposite end.

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About the Author

Jim Radenhausen is a freelancer who began writing professionally in 1998. A resident of Reeders, Pa., he spent over two years working at the "Eastern Pennsylvania Business Journal." Radenhausen received his bachelor's degree in English/professional writing from Kutztown University in 1997.