In honor of Chinese NewYear today, starting the Year of the Rabbit, I'm sharing an art lesson my husband and I taught to Chinese students in Beijing. We had the opportunity to teach in a Beijing elementary school for a week several years ago around this time of the year. Though my students usually make their versions of the lesson a more manageable size, our Chinese students surprised us with a much larger joint effort. You see the head of it here. They used colored copy paper instead of construction paper.
I like the fact that you only need paper, scissors, and glue to make it, though you can certainly add embellishments such as real feathers, tissue paper, recycled materials (a garbage gobbler?), etc. I encourage my students to add three-dimensional forms and curled, folded, or rolled strips to the head.
The head can easily become the head of a bird or animal to which bodies can be added. To make such a head, fold a 6" or 9" square of construction paper in half diagonally. Open it up and fold it diagonally the opposite way. Open it up again and cut up one fold to the center. Overlap the two cut sides and glue them together.
Repeat these instructions to make another form. The two forms are hinged together to make a mouth/head that opens and closes (the peaks of the triangles are on the outside). Lay the two pieces side by side matching two long sides and leaving a small gap. Cut out a piece of paper about the size of a band-aid and use it to glue the two sides together.
Ears or horns may be added by making smaller forms in the same fashion. Wings, tails, and legs may be added for birds; bodies may be added for animals.
Since the head/mouth will open and close, puppets offer another idea. You could also compare this form to Indonesian shadow puppets or marionettes.
You could use this lesson to compare Western and Chinese dragons. Chinese dragons are usually depicted with long, snake-like bodies with four clawed legs. They are seen as more protective and benevolent than Western dragons which are usually shown as evil. Anyway, if you use this lesson, please share some examples!