Activity: Chinese Dragon Puppet

Activity: Chinese Dragon Puppet

Learn about the importance of the dragon in Chinese culture and explore the tradition of the Chinese Dragon Dance by creating their own dragon puppet!

Grade Level:
Grades 3-5, Grades K-2
Collection:
East Asian Art
Culture/Region:
China
Subject Area:
Dance, Fine Arts, Music
Activity Type:
Hands-On Activity

Activity: Chinese Dragon Puppet

The Chinese Dragon

The Chinese Dragon is often seen as the symbol of divine protection and vigilance. They are generally depicted with with crested head and enormous claws and teeth, and often spouting fire. In China, it is regarded as the supreme being amongst all creatures. It has the ability to live in the seas, fly up the heavens and coil up in the land in the form of mountains. As a divine and mythical animal, the dragon can ward off wandering evil spirits, protect the innocent and bestow safety to all that hold his emblem. The Chinese Dragon is looked upon as the ultimate symbol of good fortune.

In Chinese mythology there are nine major kinds of dragon:

1. Horned Dragon, or Lung – the most powerful of Chinese dragons; can produce rain and is totally deaf.

2. Winged Dragon – the only Chinese dragons with wings

3. Celestial Dragon – supports and protects the mansions of the gods.

4. Spiritual Dragon – generates wind and rain for the benefit of mankind.

5. Dragon of Hidden Treasures – keeps guard over concealed wealth.

6. Coiling Dragon – lives in water.

7. Yellow Dragon – emerged from water and presented the legendary Emperor Fu Shi with the elements of writing

8. Homeless Dragon (2 kinds) – Ii: lives in the ocean; chiao: scale-covered and inhabits both marshes and mountains.

9. Dragon King, or Lung – consists of four separate dragons, each of which rules over one of the four seas, those of the east, south, west, and north.

The Dragon Dance was started by the Chinese who had a great respect for the dragon. The dance is believed to have begun as part of the farming and harvest culture. The Dragon Dance is also considered a method of healing and preventing sickness. The puppets used today in the dance are huge, often requiring as many as 50 people to support the puppet and bring it to life through movement and dance!

Activity: Create a Dragon Puppet

Materials:

  • Assorted papers: patterned craft paper, various colors of construction paper, plain drawing paper
  • Scissors
  • Markers/Crayons/Pencils
  • Glue
  • Popsicle sticks or bamboo skewers with the sharp ends trimmed off
  • Tape

 

Directions: 

1. Brainstorm what your dragon might look like.

2. On plain drawing paper, draw a picture of your dragon’s head in pencil outline only and carefully cut it out.

3. On plain drawing paper, draw a picture of your dragon’s tail in pencil outline only and carefully cut it out.

4. Decorate your dragon’s head and tail with markers and crayons.

5. Tape a popsicle stick to the back of your dragon’s head and also to the back of your dragon’s tail.

6. Select a sheet of patterned craft paper or colored construction paper. Fold it in half lengthwise and again. Unfold the paper and cut off one of the four folded sections, following the fold line.

7. Fold your patterned paper or construction paper in an accordion fold.

8. Glue the accordion paper to the back of your dragon’s head and tail over the top of the popsicle stick.

9. Add feet if you like, using any kind of paper. Does your dragon have spikes or ridges on his back?

10. Allow the glue to dry completely before handling your dragon puppet.

Once the puppet is dry, watch how the dragon comes to life when the popsicle sticks are gently moved in unison or in alternating directions. Create your own version of the Chinese Dragon Dance using your puppet!