Eight years ago, we stumbled on a lovely way to embrace the change so many of us feel as we turn the clocks back in fall— make lanterns to light up and welcome the first night of darkness. Eight years later, we make lanterns as part of our Fall Lantern Walk—now a virtual event that involves hundreds of thousands of families across the world!
From the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrated in China and Vietnam to Germany's St. Martin's Day festival, cultures around the world celebrate late fall and early winter with festivals of light. This time of year is an incredible opportunity to stop and be mindful of the cycles of nature. It is also a chance to teach kids not to fight but to lean into change—a habit of mind that will help them navigate life. And, what better way to construct a learning moment than to take children outdoors at night with a colorful lantern that they have made?
Even more so, this year has been heavy for all of us, and we all need a chance to stop and reflect on what has given us hope in the midst of such challenges and what hope we will bring into the winter and the new year to come. There has never been a more important time for rituals of connection, hope and light
There's no shortage of ways to make lanterns. We really like this method and love doing it outside.
In addition to helping your kids learn to embrace and even celebrate life's inevitable changes, this activity helps kids develop several critical skills.
As kids hold and use a paintbrush, pick up delicate tissue paper squares, and press the paper firmly but gently into place, they develop fine motor control in their hands. If you know that your child struggles with this, work “as a team” with him or her on the frustrating parts. Working with tricky materials like glue, tissue paper (especially outside in the fall breeze) and a round jar requires that kids attend to the task at hand.
Provided you let kids do as much lantern decorating on their own as they can, their approach to lantern-making is also a window into who they are. Kids make their own choices about the colors, shapes and placement they use, expressing their tastes and sense of design. When a finished product feels to a child the true result and reflection of him or herself, then he or she develops a sense that "I am capable" and that "I am worthy." These are aspects of a positive self concept that kids will need to tackle academic and social challenges as well as to find and maintain happiness in life.