Build a Chinese dragon for Chinese New Year

Chinese dragon step-by-step guide

Chinese dragons are an important symbol in China, representing power and strength. Huge, colourful dragon puppets emerge at festivals to bring good luck, and teams of dancers perform a traditional dragon dance. Gather friends to make and dance with this dragon, and create your own luck!

Remember – cutting into cardboard can be tricky. Ask a grown-up to help or supervise.

You will need:

- Large box
- Tape
- Extra cardboard
- White card
- Red and black paint
- 4 paper cups
- 2 googly eyes
- PVA glue
- Pencil
- Coloured card and tissue paper
- Glue stick
- Cotton wool balls
- 3 large toy hoops
- Sheet of red material, large enough to cover the hoops

Chinese dragon step-by-step guide: steps 1-4

Step one

Use tape to secure all the flaps and seal all the edges of a large box. Lay it on its side. Ask a grown-up to help cut a rounded rectangle shape out of the base, big enough for your head to fit through.

Step two

Place the box base down. Ask a grownup to help cut a mouth, starting with a straight line about halfway down the side that will be the face. Cut halfway into each adjoining side, and then cut down in a smile shape, as shown.

Step three

Cut out two strips of teeth from white card. Tape one in place along the top of the mouth and the other one along the bottom.

Step four

Cut two large, wide triangles from cardboard. Fold them in half down the centre. Tape each half along the top back corner edges, as shown, for horns. Paint the horns, the top of the box and the back of the box red.

Chinese dragon step-by-step guide: step 5

Step five

Paint the outside of the paper cups black. Cut two circles from cardboard, just smaller than the cup bases. Stick them to the bottom of two cups. Add the googly eyes. Stick the cups to the top of the box with glue.

Chinese dragon step-by-step guide: step 6

Step six

On the front of the box, slightly above the mouth, trace around the other two paper cup bases for nostrils. Ask a grown-up to help cut out these circles, cutting the holes just a little bigger than the marks traced.

Chinese dragon step-by-step guide: step 7

Step seven

Cut the bases out of the two paper cups. Gently push the cups into the holes from the outside, bottoms first, as far as they’ll go.

Chinese dragon step-by-step guide: step 8

Step eight

Cut long strips of coloured card or tissue paper into a scalloped shape, as shown. You’ll need enough of these strips to cover your box.

Chinese dragon step-by-step guide: step 9

Step nine

Use a glue stick to stick the scalloped coloured strips to your box. Do this in rows of colour working upwards, starting with red at the bottom, then layering on other colours, and finishing with red at the top.

Chinese dragon step-by-step guide: step 10

Step 10

Cut two small triangle shapes from coloured card. Fold the bottoms out at 90° and stick these to the top of the box for spikes. Use PVA glue to attach cotton wool balls around the back of the eyes.


Chinese dragon step-by-step guide: step 11

Step 11

Cut strips of coloured tissue paper. Use tape to stick the ends of these under the dragon’s chin.

Chinese dragon step-by-step guide: step 12

Step 12

Lay the red material flat on the floor. Lay the three large toy hoops in a line along the material. Stick one edge of each hoop in place with tape, as shown.

Chinese dragon step-by-step guide: step 13

Step 13

Ask a grown-up to cut an arched slit in the back of the dragon’s head, as shown.


Chinese dragon step-by-step guide: step 14

Step 14

Push one end of the material through the slit until there is about 20cm (8in) of the fabric on the inside of the head. Secure this on the inside of the box with tape.

Chinese dragon step-by-step guide: completed creation

Grab your friends then duck under the fabric and inside the box to bring your dragon to life!

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