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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

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Make some paper lanterns

Make a decorative paper lantern to celebrate Lunar New Year or Vesak.

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You’ll need

  • Scissors
  • Sticky tape
  • Glue sticks
  • Rulers
  • Pens or pencils
  • Craft materials (for example, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, stickers)
  • A4 coloured paper/card

Before you begin 

  • Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Take a look at our guidance to help you carry out your risk assessment, including examples.  
  • Make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.
  • Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers. 

Scouts is open to everyone. We don’t identify exclusively with one faith, and we welcome people of all faiths and of none.

We know it’s important for people to learn about each other, including understanding different faiths and beliefs. Scouts always respects people’s beliefs, faiths and cultures, and everyone should be open to learn.

As an inclusive and values based movement, we support our members to engage and learn about different faiths and beliefs in an exciting and meaningful way, even if they don’t have a faith themselves.  

Celebrating and understanding differences, including differences in faiths and beliefs, is an important part of our Scout values, which are:

  • Integrity: We act with integrity; we are honest, trustworthy and loyal.
  • Respect: We have self-respect and respect for others.
  • Care: We support others and take care of the world in which we live.
  • Belief: We explore our faiths, beliefs and attitudes.
  • Co-operation: We make a positive difference; we co-operate with others and make friends.

Our value of Belief and its exploration helps Scouts to learn from other faiths and beliefs. This encourages them to develop or build their personal beliefs and understand their shared values, whether faith-based on not. 

We know that learning about faiths, beliefs and different attitudes can help to break down barriers, helps us all to recognise what we have in common, and teaches us to value and respect other people. It also helps us to build up respect, acceptance and knowledge for each other, leading to a more co-operative and inclusive society. 

In our diverse society, people can sometimes feel cautious talking about  this sensitive subject. However, it's important that Scouts offers young people safe, exciting and open spaces to explore faiths and beliefs. They should be able to engage in personal reflection, as they question and develop their opinions and understanding of the world around them.

Making time for personal reflection and developing our beliefs means exploring the places, people, communities, celebrations or stories which hold meaning for us, and it may not necessarily mean exploring a faith. 

For example, someone’s shared values may be their Scout Values and that person may choose to reflect on them at important times, such as when they make their Promise. Others may choose to reflect at certain times of the year, such as a faith-based festival, birthdays, meaningful events or at New Year. Some people may still celebrate events, such as Christmas, but use it as a time to celebrate family, friends and loved ones, as well as for charity and giving.

Discover more about Faiths and Beliefs in Scouts.

Vesak is also known as Wesak, Buddha Day or Buddha Burmina. It’s the most important day in the Buddhist calendar.  Vesak is celebrated on the full moon in May. It teaches us about the birth of Buddha and the enlightenment of his life. It’s mainly celebrated in Asia and by Buddhists around the world. In many places, Vesak’s an official public holiday. 

Often the festivities begin with a good ‘spring clean’ and homes are freshened up and decorated with bright colours and patterns to celebrate the occasion. In the morning, Buddhists visit their temples and give offerings to the monks of food, candles and flowers. There is chanting and praying, incense, music and colour. There may be exciting parades through the streets. 


Running this activity

  1. Gather everyone together and tell everyone that you’re going to make paper lanterns.
    • If you’re using them to mark Vesak, a Buddhist celebration, you could ask if anyone knows anything about Vesak and would be happy to share what they know. You could also share some facts about it.
    • If you’re using them to mark Lunar New Year, you could ask if anyone knows anything about Lunar New Year and would be happy to share what they know. You could also share some facts about it.
  2. When everyone’s ready, people should take a piece of A4 paper or card. From one of the short sides, cut off a 1-inch-wide (2.5 cm) strip of paper. Put this to one side and keep this to make the handle later.
  3. Fold the remaining large piece of paper or card in half along the long edge.
  4. Using a pencil and a ruler, draw a horizontal line 1-inch (2.5 cm) down from the long edge. It should be on the side opposite where the fold is.
  5. Using the scissors, cut from the fold up to your horizontal line, about an inch (2.5 cm) in from one of the short edges.
  6. Repeat this again, about an inch (2.5 cm) down from your first cut. Keep making these cuts, until you reach about 1-inch (2.5 cm) away from the other short side on your folded paper.
  7. Unfold the piece of paper. It should all be in one piece with several vertical cuts across the paper.
  8. Now it’s time to decorate your lantern. You can decorate it however you want. Red, yellow and gold are the traditional colours used to celebrate Lunar New Year any bright eye-catching colours for Vesak.
  9. Form your decorated paper into a lantern. To do this, make the two short edges meet and overlap slightly.
  10. Glue or tape the short edges together. This should create a tube shape, with your cut sections bending outwards from the middle.
  11. Use glue or sticky tape to attach the handle, which should be the 1-inch-wide section you cut off at the start.
  12. Your lantern’s ready to be hung up as a Vesak decoration!


Whether it’s a decoration in a window or a wreath on a front door, decorations are used at times of celebrations all around the world. This’s something that almost every festival or celebration has in common. Why do we think decorations are so popular? It could help us to spread some happiness, provide a sense of community or let us all share in the celebrations together.


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.


Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using scissors. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

Glue and solvents

Always supervise young people appropriately when they’re using glue and solvent products. Make sure there’s plenty of ventilation. Be aware of any medical conditions that could be affected by glue or solvent use and make adjustments as needed.

  • Make sure you’ve a selection of paper or card in different thicknesses, so there’s something for everyone to be able to comfortably and easily hold. 
  • You could draw the lines for people to cut along or cut up to make it easier for anyone who may struggle to measure or draw the lines accurately.
  • If anyone needs help or struggles with fine motor skills, give them the opportunity to work in pairs, with a young leader or an adult volunteer. For example, an adult or young leader could provide support with cutting the slits into the lanterns if needed.
  • Having a range of different things to decorate the lanterns with, including stickers and self-adhesive crafts, to help make sure everyone can decorate their own lanterns.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

If you enjoyed this activity, you could try our other activities linked to Buddhism. You may want to look at our badges to do with World Faiths.

If any young people in the group celebrate Vesak, you could offer them the opportunity to share their experiences, but only if they want to and are comfortable to do so. You may want to ask or chat to them before the session, so they don’t feel put on the spot or singled out.