Winter Decorations: Paper Chains

Star-girls-chain

Decorating the house for the holidays is a cozy way to spend time with the family.  When decorating, our personalities really come out.  My dad plays with patterns and geometry. My mom gets to clean deep into the corners and ensures each favorite decoration finds a home where it can be displayed for the season.  Every ornament and object in our Christmas box brings back memories: the angel I made for the top of our tree in second grade, the glass globe ornaments from my great grandparent’s house in Brooklyn, and the paper chains from Sweden.  In fact, though my family roots are from a mish-mash of European countries, we have Swedish paper chains from both my mom’s and dad’s families.

Lucia-chain

This year, it occurred to me that making simple paper chains would be a great December project for my after-school group.  They can be very simple to make – even for young children.  Older students, however, could work on a creation closer to the complicated and beautiful chains passed down in my family.  Winter shapes, such as gingerbread people, evergreen trees, and snow men are all great shapes to use when making paper chains.  Here’s how we did it:

Cut paper strips ahead of time so everyone can get started right away.

Cut paper strips ahead of time so everyone can get started right away.  Thicker paper will stand up better and won’t rip, but thinner paper is easier to cut.

Fold a few strips, accordion style, ahead of time for younger students.  Cut out a few pattern suggestions for students who may not be comfortable thinking of their own at first.

Fold a few strips, accordion style, ahead of time for younger students. Cut out a few pattern suggestions from cardboard for students who may not be comfortable thinking of their own at first.

Get some students started tracing.  Help younger students cut.

Get some students started tracing. Help younger students cut.

Ta da!

Ta da!

Students can then color in their chains however they'd like.

Students can then color in their chains however they’d like.

Older students can invent their own shapes once they understand the key concept: let part of your picture go all the way to both sides of your accordion paper.

Older students can invent their own shapes once they understand the key concept: let part of your picture go all the way to both sides of your accordion paper.

One student made their own present chain.

One student made her own present chain.

Students young and old were quite engaged with their paper chain creations for the entire afternoon.  Now they’ll have a contribution to their family’s holiday decorations at home.  Who knows, these chains might last, bringing back memories of elementary school years when pulled from the Christmas box twenty years from now.

Santa-and-doll001

dancers

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