Story of the Chinese Zodiac – Children’s Books & Art

We are often inspired by the illustrations in children’s books and frequently use children’s books for art lessons.  We recently read Story of the Chinese Zodiac retold by Monica Chang and illustrated by Arthur Lee last week.  Lee’s paper cutting and folding technique (kirigami) was so amazing, the kiddos wanted to try it themselves. We thereby found origami instructions for each of our zodiac animals (rat, dog, horse and rooster) on YouTube and began to try our hand at origami animals.

We selected the river scene and then worked collaboratively to create the background or scenery for our zodiacs using kirigami techniques, using layers of paper and a little chalk for shading details.  The tree trunks and grass were done with thinly cut strips of paper.  The animals (rat – red, rooster – green, horse – blue, and the dog – pink) were done in origami and thereby weren’t really able to be shown integrated into the scene as they were in the book but .. the point was to create a piece inspired by the book to help us to remember the folktale.  Goal achieved!


About Eva Varga

Eva is passionate about education. She has extensive experience in both formal and informal settings. She presently homeschools her two young children, teaches professional development courses through the Heritage Institute, and writes a middle level secular science curriculum called Science Logic. In addition to her work in education, she is an athlete, competing in Masters swimming events and marathons. In her spare time she enjoys reading, traveling, learning new languages, and above all spending time with her family. ♥