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Friday, September 30, 2016

Introducing Ancient China


 If you follow our blog, you know we love making our history unit as enjoyable as possible.  We aren't big on "Interactive Notebooks" because we are creating activities for primary aged children, but introduce each new culture in a respectful and engaging manner so that kids can fall into the beauty of each and admire them for what they gave us.

(For our Homeschooling Curriculum, we are using Story of the World, in which China is introduced in chapter 10, but these ideas could certainly be applied in whatever curriculum you might be using.) 

Since I was introducing Ancient China, I created a map for us that showed the civilizations we have already covered from Egypt, the Fertile Crescent, The Indus Valley and all the way to the Yellow River Valley of this new land we were discovering:  China.  This map was our starting point. 


Then, we used the map to show a rough idea of the length of the "Silk Road", made up of many small trade routes stretching across China, India, Persia and the Middle East. 


We also decided to go out to eat at a Chinese restaurant. 


Although I attempted an Egyptian feast when we studied Egypt, (here) I figured my Chinese cuisine ability would not be on par with the little Chinese restaurant down the street.  Besides, they had place-mats covered with the Chinese zodiac.  They had Chinese styled artwork on the walls, with dragons and peacocks.   And of course, there was the delightful opportunity to try eating with chopsticks.


My kids were game to give those chopsticks a try, but we agreed it was a skill that would take some practice.   Although it was (likely) not as authentic as you might experience in the real land of China, this was a lovely way to introduce my children to some of the delights of a culture not their own.  After all, who doesn't like Chinese food?

The next thing I wish to share with you is this amazing book called "Long is a Dragon" by Peggy Goldstein.  


This book details the progression of many Chinese pictograms from ancient times to the Chinese characters we see today.


For instance, in this page from the book, you can see how the ancient pictogram (in black) developed into the Chinese character (in red) for the same word.

The book also explains how Chinese calligraphy might be used as art in Chinese homes, with benedictions of health and happiness written on them.


This information was amazing.  We decided to make some Chinese scrolls, too.


First, the kids colored sheets of cardstock in the watercolor of their choice.  Then, they chose the benediction they wanted for their scroll and drew their characters in black marker.

 My daughter's scroll reads, "May your happiness be as wide as the Eastern Sea."


 My son's simply says, "Respectful Happiness & Congratulations".

If this post has been helpful, check out one of our posts covering

the Ancient Indus Valley, Hammurabi's CodeAncient Egypt, or head over to our online store and check out our many history activities.

And if YOU create a banner using Chinese characters, please post a picture in the comments!  We would love to see your creativity on display!

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