When this book, Fun Things to Do with Paper Cups and Plates by Kara L. Laughlin, came through the library where I work, I had to take a minute to thumb through the pages. The cover was too cute to let it slip through my fingers without a glance!
There are lots of fun crafts to do with your kids in this one, but my son is only 2 1/2 years old, so the project would have to be basic. Unfortunately, my favorite craft from the book that I just had to make, was the dragon (a bit advanced for a two year old) made with paper cups.
I had a few ideas as to how James could participate during this project, as well as some alterations and additions I planned to put in, that differed from Kara’s original design.
The first way James could help me was to pop the holes in the center-bottom of each cup. Don’t worry, I didn’t give him any sharp objects! I actually used a small meat thermometer for lack of options. I held the thermometer steady, and he pushed it down into the cups to make the holes. Let’s just say, he kept wanting more cups even though we’d already popped holes in the eleven we needed for the project. Hadn’t considered that one!
The first alteration I made was how I did the tail cup. I ended up not wanting it to be open and instead had the last two cup openings facing each other. To keep them from coming apart, I got out my trusty hot glue gun and glued them together (see my H is for Hot Glue and Rock Sculptures post for another fun craft to make with a hot glue gun).
The next thing I did was use large googly eyes for the face instead of the streamer paper ones Kara had used. I added two different colors of felt cut with the bottom of the pieces flat, and the tops as though there were three waves on water that had sharpened points on their arcing ends. The inner pieces of felt were just smaller versions of the outer ones.
As you can see in the image below, I took my hot glue gun and glued (1) the inner piece on top of the outer piece with flat sides lining up at the bottom and waves going in the same direction, and (2) glued the outer piece to the sides of the dragon’s face.
The next part, I could bring James in on again. We had bought a bag of 150 glitter, foam star stickers from Michaels craft store, which he preceded to put all over notebook covers and a small mailbox I’d made from an old shoe-box. He had so much fun peeling the backing off each one and sticking them to everything! That was at least one hour of entertainment for him.
I knew that he would love to get another bag and get to decorating so I figured these stickers would be perfect embellishments for our dragon’s body. Back to Michaels we went, and then home with our dragon and a bag of stars. He had a blast, and at the end, the dragon was very colorful!
While at the craft store, I decided on another alteration. The streamers Kara used looked great, but I could just see James yanking on one and having it rip (again, I don’t think this pattern was meant for a two year old), so I wanted something more sturdy.
I found a ball of yarn in the clearance bin that was a variegated ribbony yarn with reds, whites, and greens mixed in and a sort of frayed look to the edges. Added to that, I bought three different 1/4 yards of fabric in red, black, and white. My plan was to poke two holes for each strip and thread them through, tying a knot at the base and letting them hang just as the streamers would have.
This would give the dragon a look similar to the Chinese New Year dragons with their beautiful fabrics hanging off of them.
I ironed out the fabric and cut it into 3/4″ – 1″ strips (I didn’t measure, but eyeballed them, so they all came out slightly different sizes). I decided not to use fray check on them so that the ends, if they frayed, would give the dragon a more rustic look. That part I leave entirely up to you.
I poked sets of two holes all along the underside of the dragon with a one-hole punch, and got to tying my yarn and fabric into knots. It can take a bit of time to get this part done, but the effect is well worth the effort.
I poked two more holes to the sides of the face closest to the nose, and fed a colorful pipe cleaner through them, bending the ends to look like a dragon’s whiskers.
All that was left was to find a way to hang it up that would be sturdy. I got a wooden dowel from Michaels, stained it to be a darker color, and cut it to fit the size I needed. After drilling two holes through the top of the first cup (the head) and eighth cup, I threaded two separate ribbons through so the dragon could be hung on the wall by the dowel.
Once the ribbons were in place, our dragon was complete. I am so pleased with how it came out! I think James is a fan too!
What do you think of our version of the dragon? Here is a fun YouTube video on my Ink & Stitches Channel where you can watch a quick photo how-to guide and then watch the dragon dance! Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel while you’re there!