Mrs. Johnston

Travel with Mrs. Johnston's art class on a trip around the world with art!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Gung Hay Fat Choy

Have a prosperous and good year!  Chinese new year is upon us.  The Chinese New Year is a holiday that marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring.  The holiday is rich with cultural traditions that make a great learning experience for students.  We study the customs and traditions of holiday.  the children love hearing about how bad luck is swept out of the home to prepare for the new year.  Scissors and sharp objects are put away so as not to cut off the good fortune of the new year.  The celebration has many interesting facets such as the dancing lions and dragons, firework festivals, and the lantern festival to mark the end of the fourteen day new year celebration.

Chinese New Year Dragon

Legend has it that the dragon lives beneath the ground during the winter.  He emerges at the start of spring to chase a pearl among the clouds.  The dragon running in the clouds causes it to rain, thus producing the crops of spring.  The dragon is a national symbol of good luck in China.

I made these dragons with my first grade students after learning all about the Chinese New Year.  Here is how we did it.
Step one: Give students six 4x6 pieces of construction paper.  I chose red, and gold because they are colors associated with the new year.  Students traced their handprints on all six pieces of paper and cut them out. 
Step two:  Have students assemble the hands to create the body of the dragon.  Glue the hands with fingers facing left. Glue the fingers to the palm of the first hand and repeat.  This makes it appear like the scales of the dragon.
Step three: Draw a head.  I had students draw a large oval on a 4x6 paper near the left side.  They then drew a nose and mouth, then added an ear.  We added on a paper beard and a google eye.
Step 4:  Add the feet.  Students drew a letter L and then drew a small L inside.  They connected the two with a sideways W to make the feet.  
Step 5: Add sequins or a painted texture design to add interest.
Step 6: Glue dragon to cloud. Students traced a template to create the cloud.
Step7: (optional) create a painted paper background to glue the dragon to.


  1. You mentioned on the painted pear blog that you received a grant to teach this multicultural art program. Is this a local grant or federal? Please tell me more.

  2. So glad you found me which led me to you! So happy to share multicultural lesson ideas! I love these dragons. Which grade did these? I would love to know more about your grant also and where you get your inspiration!

  3. This was a first grade project for my students. It probably would work fine for second grade as well as it does involve a lot of cutting. The grant that I got was funded for a program that I titled "The Art of Writing" The grant integrated art, writing, and social studies and was geared towards raising writing scores and adding additional exposure to social studies. The grant was funded by a foundation in my county-The GAR foundation. They only fund in summit county, Ohio. I do think that this type of grant would be funded in other areas because of the attention to the writing and social studies standards. I got funded for three years in a row on this grant. It provided me with tons of visuals, supplies, and text books. It also allowed me to purchase writing supplies and journals for my entire student body of 365 students. I would be happy to answer any other questions.

  4. Hey! I loved your idea.. did it yesterday with one class and today with another. Here are our results :)

  5. Hi thanks for your comments on my blog. We all start out without any followers but watch and it will grow quickly.

    Anyhow, love these dragons (love ANYTHING dragon, but using the hands is a cool idea).