Teaching Chinese with Classic Red Lantern Toddler Craft

Worked on a DIY project to make classic Chinese red lanterns with Miss 21 months to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year. I put a spin on the lantern-making to use this opportunity to familiarise my toddler with Chinese characters and introduce written Chinese to her in a visual way.

Teaching Chinese with Classic Red Lantern Toddler Craft

Had been totally inspired by paediatrician turned writer, Betty of Chalk Academy, who wrote this article about building a print-rich environment to promote literacy (read if you're keen to help your child pick up Chinese!) I wanted to make my toddler's play area a print-rich one where labels with Chinese characters won't look out of place so subliminal Chinese learning can take place.

Apart from writing my toddler's Chinese name on her Chinese storybooks, I thought it'll be neat to label our new home decorations (i.e. these red lanterns) to expose her to how written Chinese looks! The idea worked because my toddler pointed to the curious black words as I made the lanterns and I took the opportunity to explain the words to her (and also give her favorite Chinese New Year book "Bringing in the New Year" by Grace Lin a read!)

Teaching Chinese with Classic Red Lantern Toddler Craft

Teaching Chinese with Classic Red Lantern Toddler Craft

Teaching Chinese with Classic Red Lantern Toddler Craft!

How to Make This Red Lantern Craft

First Palette has a really clear tutorial on materials needed and steps involved so hop over to take a look!

2 tips:

  • Write the Chinese characters on the 'upper half' of the folded paper rectangles so the words can be seen easily when your child is carrying the lanterns (and looking down at them) and especially if the lanterns are hung low at your child's play area

Teaching Chinese with Classic Red Lantern Toddler Craft

  • You might like to keep the size of the Chinese characters relatively small (relative to the width of the other strips) for aesthetic purpose

Labelling the Red Lantern Craft

I made 3 red lanterns initially but my toddler requested to see a 4th one so I managed to figure out 4 most appropriate Chinese words to use for labelling each of the 4 red lanterns.

The 4 Chinese words/characters I picked are:

提红灯笼 (tí hóng dēng lóng / Lift red lanterns)

Here's a detailed explanation:

提 (tí / lift) refers to the action of lifting red lanterns. Usually a string and a carrier stick are attached to the red lantern for children to carry the lanterns around. It is said that the New Year will follow the lantern-makers into the villages and households.

Teaching Chinese with Classic Red Lantern Toddler Craft

红 (hóng / red) refers to the color red. Red is seen as an auspicious color and symbolises good fortune so it is widely used in festivals, weddings and celebrations. More about color symbolism in China at China Highlights.

Teaching Chinese with Classic Red Lantern Toddler Craft

灯笼 (dēng lóng / lanterns) refers to lanterns, which are symbolic icons for celebrations in China, having evolved from serving the purpose of providing light and being objects of worship in the past. 灯 (dēng) means light as lanterns are traditionally lit by candles. More about the origins and types of lanterns at China Highlights.

Teaching Chinese with Classic Red Lantern Toddler Craft

Teaching Chinese with Classic Red Lantern Toddler Craft

Other Interesting Paper Lantern Crafts

There are many other fascinating ways to make Chinese lanterns, here are some of the ones that WOWed me!

To follow our play adventures, check out @miraculove_sg (Instagram), save our pins or join A Toddler Activity A Day Facebook Group.

Teaching Chinese with Classic Red Lantern Toddler Craft

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Hi! I am Yunnie. I am the newly minted mama to a little baby girl and a mum friend to everyone on this special (and many times scary) journey of motherhood. Also a graduated bride with a penchant for weddings.

Hi! Thank you for taking time to read my blog. I am a stay-home Singaporean mama living in Seattle who is passionate about child-led and open-ended play for children in a conducive home environment.

Discovering Montessori and Reggio has been a life-changer for me. It made me an empathetic and mindful parent who follows my child’s needs and interests in the activities I plan at home. I hope the Montessori-friendly and Reggio inspired baby and toddler activities I share here inspire you too.

Happy reading!