Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Chinese Fans {How to Make an Ornamental Fan}

Paper Fans
Photo Credit: Jerry Wong
Fans have been used in China for 3000 years. Initially they were used to block the sun, though it was eventually discovered they helped keep cool. They were also used as an accessory to signify high social status.

c1880 (Photo Credit: Ralph Repo)
Folded fans are made with paper, silk, feathers and leaves. Flat fans (below) are made with silk stretched over a frame. Round fans symbolize union and reunion, and often have romantic poems written on them. 

Photo Credit: Laura Ciomei & Twentyfour Students
Because the word for fan sounds like the word for "kindness" and "good", they are considered good luck charms and expressions of generosity. 

Folding fans were introduced to China by the Japanese

Photo Credit: Inge

Fans are also used as a display of grace in the Chinese fan dance- a traditional folk dance that's 2000 yrs old that you can watch in the video below:

We also found the tai chi kung fu fan pretty interesting to watch - an accessory to tai chi, its form is based on tai chi, the fan dance, and martial arts and can be seen here

Make a Chinese Ornamental Fan

What to do with the brush painting we learned? A small, ornamental fan.

All you need is a piece of paper, this template, a wooden stir stick (I got these at a craft store - they are longer and skinnier than regular popsicle sticks), and glue (we used a glue gun). We decided to paint the stick black.

1- Cut out your fan template and decorate. Maybe with some brush painting?

2- Fold the paper in accordion fold style. Make your first fold going in towards the back of the paper (see below, left). Because it's an arch, the accordion fold won't be perfectly level, and that's fine. 

3- When you've done folding, cut the second end if necessary to make sure both ends finish with a mountain fold (see below)

4- Cut the stir stick in half. Glue one half to each end of the fan on the back. Make sure they line up so the bottoms match.

5- Stretch out the paper to a position you like, then glue the two ends of the sticks together, one overlapping the other. Hold it while it dries to make sure it keeps its shape.

6- This fan was glued as part of a collage over joss paper, on a piece of our hand made paper.

You can find more cultural and historical activities at the following linkups:
You can find more creative and kid friendly activities at the following linkups:


  1. You are so clever! Your fan is beautiful. I think we decorated one, but I bought it rather than made it. I'm glad you are covering Africa before me. I shall use everything you do as my curriculum!

    1. Thanks Claire :) I'm getting pretty excited about Africa... but I'm not sure I'll be able to come up with as many projects - China had so much!!

  2. Your fan is beautiful! I love the idea of studying one country per year; I hadn't thought of doing it that way before. So glad I found your blog!

    1. Thank you Cara! It's been a fun way to get to know the world a little bit better. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. OH my goodness, I love your fans. My daughter would love to make one for herself also.

    1. Thanks Ticia! it's a pretty easy craft for kids, especially if you can't get your hands on those gorgeous Chinese fans

  4. So, so beautiful. We bought plain white fans and painted them,but I think I will try this next Chinese New Year's.


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