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Lantern making

Approximate duration: 2 lessons

 Key competencies:

  • Managing self
  • Participating and contributing

 Effective teaching:

  • Providing sufficient opportunities to learn

 Links to social inquiry processes:

  • Finding out information
  • Exploring values and perspectives


Conceptual understandings/learning intentions:  Today we are learning that...

  • (Level 1) There are similarities and differences in the cultural expressions of Chinese New Zealanders and other New Zealand cultural groups.
  • (Level 2) Chinese New Zealanders express their customs, traditions and values through their own cultural practices.

What do the lanterns look like and how are they made?

The students re-visit the photographs they found from earlier lantern festivals and view a selection of lantern images from the Tourism New Zealand website. They consider the following questions:

  • Many lanterns are made to look like animals – what are the different animal lanterns you can see in the photographs?
  • What other lanterns can you see?
  • What different materials are the lanterns made of?
  • What colours are the lanterns? Is there a dominant colour?
  • What is your favourite lantern?

The teacher explains to students that the shape and illustrations on many of the lanterns come from the stories and characters in old Chinese folk tales. Many of the lanterns also have riddles on them which relate to the story. The teacher tells the story An Emperor Called Jade to the class and the students decide on some possible lantern designs that relate to the story. The teacher reads more folk tales ("Sixteen Dragons", "The Gold Man", "The Favourite Goose") to the class and the students brainstorm additional lantern ideas that relate to the stories.

The teacher tells the students that they are going to have a lantern festival in their classroom based around the stories that they have read. The students design and make a lantern either independently or in small groups. The lanterns can be entered into the Asia:NZ Lantern Festival which is held around February/March each year.

NB: There is a separate level 3 Technology unit available to teachers that focuses on the use of lanterns in Chinese history and investigates the structure and shape construction of these lanterns. In this unit students design and create a lantern that reflects the special nature of their local community and aspects of Chinese culture.

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