I walk with my little lantern, my lantern walks with me

100_2624Here are some of the lanterns we made in parent child class.  This was a 3 week (day) project in class, although it could be done in one day at home, but it does take a few hours for the paint to dry.

Week one: The first week, the children painted the paper.  We did it the Waldorf way–in a very simple form.  I soaked the paper in water first–just for a minute, because this paper is thinner than the watercolor paper we usually use.  Then I put the paper on a painting board and smoothed it out so that there were no bubbles (well, I always miss a few, but it adds interest to the painting),  Then the child got the paper, a jar of yellow paint and a paintbrush.  When they were almost done with the yellow, I gave them a jar of red.  There was just a tablespoon or so of paint in each jar.  If the child wanted more, I gave it to them, but most young children will just keep on painting until the paint is all gone–most of the children in my classes are 1-3 years old.

This is the paint that we used
This is the paint that we used

Week 2:  In the second week, we designed and cut out our lanterns.  One of my families was celebrating Diwali and told us of how they cut out Lakshmi’s footprints and had them going into their house.  This was to bring good luck.  It got me thinking about how fun it would be to trace hands and/or feet for our lanterns.  I suggested that to the parents, and some did it.  I also suggested leaves, stars or any designs they wanted to make.  They could draw the design on the back in pencil.  I reminded everyone to make sure to leave at least 2 inches at the bottom which we eventually folded under to make the bottom of the lantern.  I also provided paper and crayons for the children to color on if they wanted.  We used scissors or an exacto knife (away from the children) if parents wanted a more precise design.  Some people got to the part where they glued some tissue paper over the openings, although some didn’t get to that until the following class.  Everyone who wasn’t there that week got three leaves cut out, courtesy of myself and Karen, my assistant teacher.

leaf cut-outs--I traced some fall leaves for these
leaf cut-outs–I traced some fall leaves for these
tracing leaves
tracing leaves









Week 3:  The last week, of course, was spent finishing the lanterns.  Creating a bottom, sewing the sides, adding a handle.  Here is what the paper looked like with the bottom cut and the sides punched.

ready to put together
ready to put together

I made the handles from some leftover strips of t-shirt that I had.  It was part of my nose to tail use of the t-shirts I made into aprons.  These were from the sleeves.  I colored them with the leftover paint and had them ready for everyone.

handles to be
handles to be

We sewed the sides with heavy yarn and a simple running stitch up and down and then we glued the strips with a glue stick and formed the bottom into a circle.  We added another circle of watercolor paper inside the bottom of the lantern with more glue to make it sturdier.  Finally, we put the handles through two holes we punched, twisted them together and tied them.  And voila! beautiful lanterns for our lantern walk.

more lanterns
more lanterns




Because the children were so small and the lanterns made of paper, we used LED tea lights.  We had a lantern walk on a cold cloudy evening at Emily Oaks Nature Center in Skokie.  We walked around the path and then gathered around a campfire to sing a few lantern songs.

There is something magical about seeing young children carrying their lanterns filled with light through the darkness.  It fills me with hope and joy!

Wishing you the same…….



I am a writer, handworker, artist and teacher (a WHAT!), and a mom of two beautiful daughters who are amazingly 17 and 21. I am working on getting my first book, a fantasy novel for young people, published and am busy spinning on my new spinning wheel. I have been a Waldorf early childhood teacher for 10 years now, and before that, I was a lawyer. Teaching is much more fun.

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