Thursday, May 28, 2015

Handmade Japanese Paper Lanterns

When I think of Japanese lanterns, the round or oblong ones like this come to mind first, but when I saw this tutorial showing how to make these really simple paper lanterns, I knew it would be a good project for the little girls. And it was. Really, sitting and cutting the lanterns was quite fun for all of us, but since Daisy and Junie were able to do it all by themselves, I think they were the most excited about it. The good thing about it being so simple is that even when the cuts were sort of uneven or crooked, the finished lanterns still looked good. That's a recipe for a successful kindergarten project. :)

We strung our paper lanterns (one string of mini-lanterns made from origami paper, one string of big lanterns made from 12x12 scrapbook paper) across our living room ceiling before our sushi party, and it gave the house such a fun, festive feeling. Then we left them up for the rest of our unit and enjoyed having our school area feel so Japanese and celebratory. They looked so pretty we hated to take them down at all!

In case you've forgotten from when you (inevitably) made these in elementary school, here is how to make this kind of paper lantern:

1. Fold a piece of paper in half. You can use square or rectangular paper; each will just give you a different lantern shape in the end. If you're using paper that's only decorated on one side, fold it with the colorful side facing out.

2. Make cuts all along the folded side of the paper. Don't cut all the way to the top; leave about a half-inch margin so you end up with a bunch of thin strips connected together:

It doesn't really matter if your strips are varying widths (in fact you can experiment with different widths to see what you like). Just make sure not to cut all the way through.

3. Open the paper up, turn it ninety degrees, and roll it into a tube shape. Connect the ends with a staple or a piece of tape.
And that's it! Malachi and Daisy ended up doing a presentation on Paper Lanterns for their 4-H Demonstration Contest, so they learned about all kinds of variations. You can punch holes for stringing lanterns together; you can add handles and decorative stripes; you can roll up a constrasting paper cylinder and stuff it inside to make the lantern look like it's glowing; and so forth—but the paper lantern at its most basic still looks lovely. I love the effect of a whole string of them in rainbow colors!

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