Paper Lanterns

  • Young Adult
  • Grades 1-3

Create your own paper lantern, using watercolors and tissue paper as decorations year round, day or night.


  • 25 Pack Assorted Paint Brushes
  • Watercolor Paint Palette
  • White Tissue Paper
  • Small dish of water
  • Wax Paper (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Craft Glue
  • Flameless LED tea light


Step 1. Gather your supplies.

How to make a paper lantern


How to make paper lanterns


Step 2.


Glue (4) Craft Sticks together to form a square.

how to make paper lantern for kids


Step 3.


Repeat Step 2 and create (3) more squares.

paper lantern craft


Step 4.


Cut a square piece of white tissue paper. It should be approximately 2 inches larger than the craft stick square, as shown.

How do you make paper lanterns


Step 5.


Place the tissue paper square on a piece of wax paper.  Gently wet the tissue paper using a large brush. Carefully sweep the brush across the tissue paper, always going in the same direction.  It’s best not to drag the brush back over the wet tissue paper.

paper lantern making


Step 6.


Very gently paint some abstract designs on the wet tissue paper with watercolor paint. Work slowly and carefully to avoid ripping the paper.

Colorful paper lantern craft


Step 7.


Repeat Steps 4-6 to create (3) more painted squares of tissue paper.  Once dry, you will see beautiful, soft designs emerge due to the watery effect of the watercolors.

paper lantern


Step 8.


Apply glue around the edges of one of the Craft Stick squares.

kids craft paper lantern


Step 9.


Gently press the glue side down in the middle of a painted tissue paper square.

paper lantern pattern


Step 10.


Add craft glue around the edges of the tissue paper. Don’t use too much.

children's art activity paper lanterns


Step 11.


Using the large brush, very gently brush the glue around to cover all the edges of the tissue paper, as shown.

Paper lantern kids craft


Step 12.


Fold the left and right sides into the middle, and press gently to flatten.

Tissue paper paper lantern project Step 13.


To finish the piece, fold the top and bottom pieces to the middle and gently flatten.

How to make paper lanterns kids craft activity


Step 14.


Repeat Steps 8-13 to finish 3 more pieces.



Step 15.


Glue the 4 pieces together to create a square as shown. Make sure the the sides where you folded over the tissue paper are all facing into the middle of the lantern.

Paper Lantern


Step 16.


Once dry, place an LED tea light inside the lantern to light up the painted designs. Using an LED light is a safe alternative to an actual candle light, with the same soft glow effect.

Further Discussion:

In New Mexico, luminarias, or paper lanterns, are placed outside during the Christmas season and are traditionally paper bags filled with sand and a candle. Many luminarias are set out in rows to make a light path. In China, paper lanterns are put out during festivals and carnivals. Children love the lanterns, which are shaped as circles or squares. Paper lanterns are popular in American decór, and can be seen in restaurants and homes to make guest feel welcome.