Inside: Multimedia Dragon Art to get your and your kids excited for Chinese New Year. It’s a fun art project with an element of science. It offers a fabulous way to get your kids to think differently, explore textures and patterns, work on fine motor skills, and even practice cooperation if you decide to turn it into a collaborative art project.
Did you know that 20% of people in the world celebrate Chinese New Year? If you’re not one of them, why not start now? It offers a great opportunity to learn about the lunar calendar, eat some exotic good luck dishes, and do fun activities together. Why not take on another reason to celebrate, eh?
Dragons are a particularly important part of the Chinese New Year celebration, so each year, I make it a point to do some dragon crafts with my kids. The idea for this project came to me when I was cleaning out our craft shelves and found lots of bereaved-looking tubes of almost-empty acrylic paints and old fabric scraps. I thought it might be fun to use them all up in one project, and we ended up with the most adorable dragon!
This fun project is a fabulous way to explore textures and patterns with your kids, practice fine motor skills, and even cooperation if you decide to turn it into a collaborative art project. Plus, it’s a dragon! And c’mon, who doesn’t like dragons?
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Also, check out: 20 Ways to Play and Learn with Dragons
Multimedia Dragon Art and Puzzle
What you need
Canvas (we bought ours at a dollar store for $1)
Dragon template (we used this one)
Gorilla Glue or tacky glue (you might not need it)
Related: Fabulous Dragon Books for Kids
What to do
Step 1: Dragon
You can place a dragon template on top of the fabric, trace it, and cut it out. However we decided to add an extra step: we cut the dragon into five parts, cut the corresponding body part from fabric, and then assembled it like a puzzle on top of the canvas. My kids loved the challenge!
If you use a different piece of fabric for each dragon part, it will give it an ‘old quilt’ look.
Step 2: Canvas Art
Squirt the paints directly on the canvas and spread them around using a brush. My son is currently in love with metallic paints, so he used gold metallic paint mixed with a bit of white for his canvas and it came out very nice.
Alternatively, you can drag a comb through the paints to make different patterns. One of my daughters found it quite addictive.
If your kids are a little too enthusiastic about this step, they might end up blending all the colors to a brownish goo. Don’t worry! It’s just a background; your dragon will look beautiful anyway.
Step 3: Assembly
While your paint is still wet, push the pieces of fabric (or the whole dragon if you didn’t cut it) onto canvas.
Pinch the fabric with your fingers to make sure that your dragon takes the desired shape and the pieces align.
If you didn’t use much paint, then add a bit of glue to keep the dragon attached to the canvas. (As you can probably tell from the photograph, we didn’t need the glue).
Step 4: Decoration (optional)
Your kids might enjoy painting the tips of the dragon scales with golden glitter glue or adding a fabric moon to the canvas. We painted the dragon’s eye with a pit of black paint. Also, my son wanted a fire-breathing dragon, so I helped him cut a piece of fabric to look like a fire is coming of the dragon’s mouth.
Also, while reading a Chinese dragon legend (the name of it escapes me now) I thought about adding Chinese characters in black ink to the bottom of the canvas. But my kids declared with eminence that the dragon was perfect as is, so they didn’t add anything else.
Collaborative art or individual project?
Your kids can each make their own dragon or work together on the same canvas. It depends on your time frame (collaborative projects take more time) and your tolerance for noise (collaborative projects involve long discussions and maybe even arguments). However, team projects develop patience and stimulate critical thinking, so if you have a bit of extra time to play referee, every once in awhile it’s worth it.