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DIY craft colorful lanterns – Unicorn, Frog and Lion (with printable templates)

Laterne, Laterne, Sonne, Mond und Sterne… If you are living in Germany you have definitely heard your kid singing this song at some point! Daylight savings has hit us, and it’s dark outside as early as 5pm – time to bring out the beautiful lanterns and go for a walk around the block. In Germany it has almost a tradition to craft your own lanterns. I know a lot of mamas who absolutely love crafting (including me as it reminds me of my childhood).

I know a lot of Mamas that just don’t have the time or headspace to craft a lantern for their kids, while juggling kids, work and everything in between.

However, I know a lot of Mamas that just don’t have the time or headspace to craft a lantern for their kids, while juggling kids, work and everything in between. We want to help make your life easy, Mama, and with these few tips you can join your kindergarten laternfest with a cool, self made lantern.

Sruthika and I both wanted to make lanterns for our kids this year, and by some funny coincidence we both made the exact same thing – a lion lantern made out of 2 paper plates! Looks great, but it took us way too long to do it! That is why we have prepared a template for you for 3 different types of lanterns that you can either print out or paint yourselves – a unicorn lantern, a frog lantern and a lion lantern.

During the past few years I have learnt a lot through crafting with my kids. Here are my tips for you.

  1. Before we start, I would like to share 2 tips with you that I have learnt over the last 2 years crafting with my kids
    Read the craft instructions completely before you start and think about what you want to prepare before you start crafting. I will give you hints as to how I did it below.
  2. For the rest, don’t expect perfection, just let your children’s imaginations run wild! For example, let them decide for themselves which colors they use (maybe the plate for the lion will end up being green, so what?!). It’s a lot more fun and saves you and your kids a lot of frustration, trust me!

Let’s go! You need:

  • Templates for the lanterns
  • 2 paper plates
  • FInger paints and/or bright felt pens
  • Black marker/Edding
  • Tracing transparent paper (preferably your children’s favorite colors)
  • White paper + some old cardboard or thin cardboard
  • Thread to hang the lantern (rope or metal twine)
  • Lantern stick with electric light
  • scissors
  • Glue

Instructions

Step 1: Paint the plates

Paint the backs of 2 paper plates. We used finger paint, but of course any other pens or colors will do. You can mix finger paints in a bowl: blue and red for purple, white and (a little!) red for pink, … You can do this first step as a fun activity one day. Then the plates can dry in peace and the children’s patience for crafting is not overstretched.


Who? – A great task for your child.

Tip: If you decide to use finger paint, it is best to paint on a large, wipeable blanket and have a cloth ready for a first rough cleaning of your fingers.

 

Step 2: Cut the faces

Cut out the inner circles of the plate. Then cut out two slightly larger circles for the faces out the tracing paper. They should be around 0.5-1cm larger than the circles from the paper plate so that you can later glue them onto the plates. You can already paint on the face of the unicorn and the frog (edding works best in my opinion, but it’s better not to be in the hands of children).

Who? – Probably the mom.

Tip: I prepared this step in the evening when the painted plates were dry and the children were in bed.

 

Step 3: Print out the template

Print out the templates (if you don’t have a printer, you can copy them onto paper or cardboard). Color in the templates. If you use regular paper, reinforce the templates by sticking them onto an old cardboard. Finally, cut out all the shapes.

Who? – Mom prints out/paints and the child paints. Who does the cutting depends on the age of the child.

 

Step 4(only for the unicorn and the lion): Cut out the mane

Cut 5-8cm long strips for the mane out of colorful transparent paper.

Who? – Since the strips don’t have to be straight, the child can train their cutting skills here (under supervision of course!)

Step 5: Glue everything together

Unicorn: First stick the cheeks on top of the tracing paper. Then stick the tracing paper on the plates. On the edges, stick the two ears and one horn. Glue the strips of tracing paper between the two ears and voila, you have a mane!

Frog: Glue the tracing paper face to the plates. Then glue the eyes of the frog on the top rim and the arms onto the frog’s belly. Glue the two frog legs onto the edges of the plate.

Lion: Glue the eyes and snout as faces onto the tracing paper circles. Glue the tracing paper strips as a mane from the inside of the paper plates – on one of the plates completely around it, on the other the upper half is enough.

Who? – Together. 

Tip: Complete step 6 first before you glue the plates together.

Step 6: The final stretch

Carefully poke a hole in the top of both sides of the plate. Glue the plates together at the bottom and sides. Thread a rope or metal twine through the holes and finally attach the lantern stick.


Who? – Mum makes the hole and the thread, the child can help with gluing.

And you’re done! We hope you enjoyed it and we look forward to your feedback!
We wish you a lot of fun on your lantern walks. Our kids were beaming with pride that they helped make this beautiful creation and we expect yours to feel the same!

Do you know any other great ideas for making lanterns? Share them with us in the comment box below!

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