Chinese New Year Dragon Puppet Craft for Kids

Celebrate the lunar new year with this Chinese New Year dragon craft made of recycled cardboard tubes. You can make the dragon craft into a puppet and make it dance!

Chinese Dragon Craft

Growing up in Taiwan, the Chinese dragon (龍) has always been a huge part of my culture. It symbolizes power, strength, and good luck. That’s why as part of Chinese New Year celebrations, you can look forward to seeing the Chinese dragon dance (舞龍) performance.

This Chinese New Year dragon craft imitates the dragon used in the traditional dragon dance performance. The dragon in the dance is assembled by joining series of sections held up by poles, with the ornamental head and the tail at the ends.

The awesome thing about this Chinese dragon craft is that you can easily convert it into a puppet. The different sections connected with the brads can move just like the dragon used in the Chinese dragon dance. So after you finish the craft, your kids will have tons of fun playing with the dragon and making it dance to Chinese music.

Chinese New Year Dragon Craft Tutorial

Chinese Dragon Craft Supplies:

  • 2 paper towel cardboard tubes
  • Tempera or acrylic red paint
  • Paintbrush
  • 6 to 8 brads (depends on how many cardboard tube sections you include)
  • Colorful paper flowers (you can also cut out your own)
  • 2 googly eyes
  • 2 small red buttons
  • Glue or glue dots 
  • Gold ribbon
  • Scissors
  • Hole puncher
  • 2 popsicle sticks (optional, for making the dragon into a puppet).
Supplies to make chinease dragon craft

Step-by-Step Instructions:

1. Make the Sections of the Dragon

Cut each paper towel cardboard tube into 3 equal-sized pieces (each should be about 3” long). How many pieces you end up using will depend on how long you want your Chinese dragon to be. Leave one piece aside for the head.

Cut Cardboard Tube to Make Dragon Crafts

Cut a curve on each side of each piece. This will allow the body to have room to move when they are attached.

Cut a curve to make the chinease dragon

2. Make the Dragon Head

Take the cardboard tube piece you reserved for the head in the previous step and cut it so that you have a piece that’s about 1” long and another about 2” long.

Make Chinese Dragon Head part

Cut a curve on one side of the 1” piece so that it will fit on the 2″ section to form the head of the dragon. Glue this 1” piece to the top of the 2” piece (it should rest toward one side of the cardboard tube).

Cut the section to Make Chinese Dragon craft Head
how to make a dragon

Cut a curve on the side of the 2” piece that does not have the 1” piece on top. This will allow the head to connect to the rest of the body.

Connect Tubes to Make the Dragon crafts Head

3. Punch Holes in Each Section

Punch a hole in each of the pointed ends created by the curves. We used a star-shaped hole puncher, but you can use just a regular hole puncher. Just make sure the hole is smaller than the brad front you are using.

Punch a hole to Make the Head of chineese dragon craft

4. Paint the Dragon

Chinese dragons are typically red (because red symbolizes good luck). Paint all the cardboard tubes with red paint and allow them to dry completely.

Paint the Dragon Crafts Head

5. Decorate the Head

Decorate the head with paper flowers, googly eyes, and red buttons. All of these materials are substitutable with construction paper or cardstock if you don’t have them at home.

Decorate the head of Dragon

Glue the paper flowers on the 1” section so that they cover the front and sides of the face. Glue the googly eyes on the paper flowers.

Glue Paper Flower With Chinese Dragon Head

Glue the buttons on the 2” section for the nose.

Glue The Buttons to the dragon Head

6. Create the Fire-Breathing Dragon Mouth

Cut lengths of the gold ribbon and glue them together on one end. Then glue them to the inside of the dragon’s mouth. This will make the dragon look like it’s breathing gold flames.

Cut Gold Ribbon to add to Head
Put the Dragon Together

7. Put the Dragon Together

Connect all the sections together using brads. Just simply place the brad into the holes with the prongs inside the cardboard tubes. Separate the prongs and spread them flush with the sides of the cardboard tubes.

Put the Dragon Craft Together
Put the Chinese Dragon craft Together

Decorate the body of the dragon with paper flowers and other decorations! Feel free to use stickers, sequins, or other items you have at home. 

transform the craft into Chinese dragon puppet

You are done with the Chinese dragon craft! But if you want to make the dragon into a puppet and have it dance, then keep reading!

8. Transform the Dragon Craft into a Puppet

Use scissors or a craft knife to pierce a small slice on the bottom of the head and the tail. Place a popsicle stick through each hole. 

If the holes you made are too big, the popsicle sticks may fall out or feel wiggly. In that case, you can use glue to make sure the popsicle sticks stay in place.

transform the dragon into puppet
Transform the craft into chinese dragon puppet

The Chinese dragon is ready to dance!

PClay with The Dragon Puppet

How to Play with the Chinese Dragon

To make the dragon dance, simply hold on to the two popsicle sticks and move them up and down. You can try making wave-like patterns and watch the different pieces move!

Chinese Dragon Craft Dance

If your dragon is having trouble moving, try loosening the brads a little. If they are too tight, they might prevent the cardboard tubes from moving freely.

I hope you and your kids have a lot of fun making this Chinese New Year dragon craft! If you have never seen a dragon dance performance before, here is a good video to show your kids:

If you like this Chinese new year dragon craft and looking for more craft ideas for the Chinese New Year, make sure you check out our Chinese Lantern Tutorial.

Happy Chinese New Year! 新年快樂!

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