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Students discover magic behind Chinese dragons
This dragon was one of two created by students at Morrison Elementary School. After studying China, two world history classes made Chinese dragons. They are used in Chinese New Year celebrations. - photo by Lisa Hobbs

Chinese dragons are a symbol of China, and they are believed to bring good luck.
Morrison Elementary seventh-grade world history students made two of these Chinese dragons and they brought joy during a recent assembly.
“I like to get the students involved in whatever it is we are studying,” said Morrison teacher Teresa Prater. “I think the kids need something extra. I think they need something that isn’t in the textbook to make learning fun and something they will remember. Right after we finished our chapter on China and tested on it, I decided to let the students make dragons.”
Prater used to teach geography. After a change in curriculum required by the state, she now teaches two classes of world history.
In Chinese culture, it is believed the dragon represents prowess, nobility and fortune, drives out evil, and brings good luck. Chinese dragons are created for Chinese New Year celebrations, which fall between Jan. 21 and Feb. 19. This is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar.
The Chinese year 4712 begins on Jan. 31, 2014. The length of the dragon can vary from 9 to 24 sections long, with each section measuring from about 5 to 6.5 feet. Some of the dragons are 100 feet long. Prater says her students made dragons that were approximately 20 feet long.
“We didn’t measure them, but they were the length of our room and about 20 students could fit under each one,” she said. “We made the heads out of two large boxes and the bodies were made out of poster boards. The kids added the designs. They enjoyed it so much. Their creativity was just amazing.”
The Dragon Dance is an important part of the Chinese New Year celebration. The origin of the Dragon Dance dates back to ancient China with one performer manipulating the head of the dragon and the rest manipulating the body. The correct combination and property timing of the different parts of the dragon are very important for a successful dance.
Prater says the students mastered walking in the dragon, but not dancing.
Due to the size of the dragons and lack of storage, one dragon was broken down and the other was donated. It will be used in a school play about a Chinese dragon in February.