January marks the start of a new year and the beginning of many celebrations around the world. No matter where they live, children can relate to this season of bidding the old year adieu and looking forward to the new one. They will love learning about Chinese New Year traditions.
Chinese New Year, sometimes called the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year is a fifteen day festival which begins in January or February each year and culminates in a Lantern Festival. The celebrations are centered around bringing prosperity and luck into the new year. Customs for celebrations differ throughout regions but honoring ancestors, feasting with family, and exchanging gifts are widespread Chinese New Year traditions.
Each year one of twelve animals from the Chinese zodiac represents the year, and 2024 is the year of the dragon. In Chinese mythology, the dragon symbolizes success, courage, and good fortune.
This quick watercolor resist Year of the Dragon lesson is a fun way to celebrate the Chinese New Year with your students. It can be leveled up or down for several different grade levels and adapted to your students’ skill levels. In this lesson, students will create a fire breathing dragon with a flame that includes their vision for the new year in just a few words.
MATERIALS YOU WILL NEED:
– 9″ x 12″ sulphite paper (can substitute 12″ x 18″)
– Oil pastels or crayons
– Medium paint brush
– Black permanent marker
DRAWING THE DRAGON
Draw the dragon’s profile using a black oil pastel or crayon.
For younger students, it may be easier to draw with crayons on a smaller paper and oil pastels on larger paper. A helpful adaptation for learners who need support with fine motor skills is to use jumbo crayons on large paper.
Follow the drawing guide for a step by step example of drawing the dragon.
Next, add “u” or “v” shaped scales in a color of your choice, and lightly color the details of the dragon.
Leaving some white space in the details is great, as we will add more color with watercolor paint.
Draw the outline of a flame in orange, yellow or both colors, so that the dragon appears to be breathing fire.
ADDING WORDS OR PHASES FOR THE NEW YEAR
Use a Sharpie marker or oil pastel to write words or phrases to represent the new year.
Writing inside of the flame on smaller paper can be tricky with oil pastels but Sharpie marker and pointy crayons word great. If using larger paper, you can also write the words with oil pastel or any non-washable drawing material of your choice.
You can help students generate a list of ideas that can be more realistic or big dreams using their imaginations.
For a fun added detail, use a white oil pastel to add invisible designs inside of the flame. These details will show up once watercolor is added.
PAINTING THE DRAGON
Finally, paint the flame and the dragon using watercolor.
While you could offer smaller paintbrushes for the details on the dragon, you can instruct students to lightly paint the dragon’s spikes with the tip of their paintbrush and to leave a little white space for texture.
PAINTING THE BACKGROUND
Paint the background using diluted black watercolor paint to create the illusion of smoke.
Encourage students to move their paintbrush in circles. Leaving some white areas of the paper showing through makes the paint look more smokey and keeps this project super quick for students to complete.