Chinese Art & Crafts: Origami Paper Rice Dumplings

by | Blog, Teaching Chinese at Home

Do you want a simple, traditional craft that is full of Chinese culture to do with your kids?

Origami (in Japanese) or in Chinese 摺紙/ 摺纸 zhé zhǐ

Origami is beneficial for a child’s development and learning.  The step-by-step instruction makes it easy and fun for them. 

This origami craft is perfect for the upcoming Dragon Boat Festival. In the spirit of the Chinese culture we will be making origami rice dumplings.  A perfect way to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival.

Chinese art & crafts: origami paper rice dumplings

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First of all I want to show appreciation for my friend, Kristy. She is visiting us from her blog Love School at Home. Kristy will be teaching us how to make the origami rice dumplings.

Here is a little background on Origami

Chinese art & crafts: origami paper rice dumplings

Origami is the art of paper-folding. 

In Chinese, 摺紙/ 摺纸 zhé zhǐ: the first character (folding) and the second characters (paper).

Shortly after the invention of paper in China, Chinese people were using it to make all sorts of things. Such as paper gold nuggets, and paper money. These were for traditional Chinese funerals and used as a currency for the afterlife. 

The skill of making paper spread to Japan. The Japanese developed better papers and the skill of origami.  Folding paper without gluing or taping.

What are the benefits of origami?

Many amazing benefits come from creating origami from young children to adults:

These include

What age should you start Origami?

Origami is not the easiest thing to do, especially for little ones and their little fingers. 

But, with guidance, direction, and practice, young children can learn and enjoy it.

By age 4-6, children can follow directions with adults. Start with simple and easy origami. 

You can start with things like origami bookmarks, cootie catchers,

paper boats, paper animals, paper houses, paper hats, etc. 

See first Origami crafts for Preschoolers here

Age 8+, children can follow origami instructions. They may still need a little help from adults. They have better control over their fine-motor skills. So, pick more advanced origami projects.

How to learn Chinese Culture through Origami?

  • By making Chinese cultural objects! Such as an Origami Tiger, one of the Chinese Zodiacs. When making one of the zodiac animals you can learn more about it. 
  • Or learn to read Origami instructions in Chinese
  • You could learn and study more about the invention of paper
  • Try teaching others origami (even in Chinese)
  • And attend Origami Events

Now that we have learned about Origami, let’s learn more about the Dragon Boat Festival. We will do this by making origami rice dumplings.

Our Experience Celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival

10 best ways to celebrate the dragon boat festival with your kids

The Dragon Boat Festival was never a big festival for my family. We ate rice dumplings and watched the Dragon Boat Race for a couple of hours, and that’s it.

So, I didn’t have much experience with this festival. Well, other than eating the rice dumplings and watching the races. 

Becoming a homeschooling mom and living in Hong Kong has encouraged me to make it bigger. I wanted to teach my children all about the Dragon Boat Festival. I wanted them to remember the history behind it, and have fun watching the races. 

First, I created a Chinese Theme Pack for the Dragon Boat Festival.  I also read books, and we looked at pictures from the festival.

Dragon Boat Festival theme packs

Then, I finally dared to make homemade rice dumplings/ zongzi. It was an amazing experience!

The homemade rice dumplings tasted incredible. They were also cheaper than the store-bought ones. It made me happy and my kids loved them too.

Then created a 5-day Challenge and I just turned it into a Dragon Boat Festival Lesson Plan. The goal is to provide 5 days of fun activities and learning all about the Dragon Boat Festival. Over 100 families from all over the world participated. It was super fun!

Click the image above to grab the lesson plan now!

Yes, rice dumplings became our children’s favorite food! 

They will not forget about this festival or all the activities we did.

Finally, in 2019 we attend the actual Dragon Boat Festival Race as a family. It was my first time watching it. We loved the cheering and boat racing. It’s the best cultural family activity we have done so far. 

Time for Chinese Art & Crafts: Origami Rice Dumplings

I understand not everyone can go watch Dragon Boat races or make and eat rice dumplings. It’s ok! That’s why you can try to make Origami rice dumplings with your children.

First, The Supplies You’ll Need

Step 1: Cut cardstock into long paper strips, 1.5 inches wide 11 inches long 

Step 2: Fold the paper into a small triangle shape and repeat till the end of the paper strip

  (TIP: Parents can draw lines for young kids to fold along. It makes the whole folding process much easier.)

Step 3: Unfold the paper and there will be lines forming triangular shapes on the paper strips 

Step 4: Fold the strip while following the line into a 3D triangle

Step 5: Tuck the last end of the paper strip inside 

Step 6: Use twine to wrap around the rice dumpling (zongzi) and tie a double knot to secure it 

Step 7: Repeat with each paper strip

Step 8: Use a longer twine to connect all rice dumpling (zongzi) 

Videos of Making the Origami Paper Rice Dumplings

There are other ways to fold rice dumplings as well. See which one would you like better. They are all super cute and simple to make. 

What other activities can you use Origami Rice Dumplings for?

How do you celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival with your family?

How do you teach your children about the Dragon Boat Festival?

Homeschooling Young Kids in Chinese Facebook Group

身为职业妈妈的我,常常牺牲睡眠来自作教材。版主全方位学习的新年教材真让我省下不少宝贵的时间找资料。四岁的女儿对中文学习有点抗拒。我们善用版主提供的迷你故事书和生字卡来增强她对语文的认识。版主的中文单词棋盘游戏更让女儿投入学习, 因为她想赢嘛!版主的教材可让小孩边玩边学, 太棒了。

Grace

两个小孩的职业妈妈

This is the second 5-Day Challenge that we have done with Fortune Cookie Mom. Both have been very beneficial to our family. I am a homeschool mom of three little kids. We are not Chinese and do not speak any Chinese. With the help of Fortune Cookie Mom, we are slowly learning! The challenges have given me fun activities to do at home with the kids. Each one has reignited my kid's interest in learning. It has been a fun experience for everybody!

Nicolette

Homeschooling Mom of Three

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