For this week’s lessons, we’re taking a trip to China to learn about Chinese culture and its rich history. We’ll explore the Silk Road and discover one of China’s most useful inventions, the magnet, while also learning about architecture, character writing, letter recognition, music, art, cooking, and ending the week with a family movie night. Zǒu ba! (Let’s go!)
As we start our first country study, it can be a great time to start your child’s Passport to the World. Learn about this fun homeschool supplementary activity here! 🌏
Note: Occasionally we include project upgrades (for kids ready for more) and modifications (which can be useful for including younger siblings). We’ll mark those with the plus (+) or minus (-) symbols.
What you need:
Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):
- The Story of Ping by Marjorie Flack (or watch this read-aloud)
- Riding on a Caravan: A Silk Road Adventure by Laurie Krebs
- What Makes a Magnet? by Dr. Franklyn M. Branley
- Ruby’s Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges
Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):
- paper + access to a printer (don’t have one? we like this model)
- hole puncher and yarn (for optional upgrade)
- laminated world map poster (we highly recommend having a laminated map for lessons, but if you’re in a pinch, you can print this one for the lesson)
- assorted tea bags (at least one red and one brown tea is recommended)
- black and white paint (we love this set to build up your supply closet)
- paint brushes
- red ribbon or yarn
- baking sheet or tray
- large sewing needle
- a cork (or just use one from a bottle at home 😉)
- a medium- to large-sized bowl
- pliers (optional, but recommended for the compass project)
- paper bag with string handles
- tissue paper
- masking tape
- twine or 16-inch dowel (depending on if you plan to fly your kite outside or inside)
- cardboard box (use one from your Amazon purchases!)
- pipe cleaners (we love this set with several commonly used homeschool supplies for a great price)
- mini cupcake liners
- googly eyes (this set linked above includes googly eyes)
- beads (you need at least two colors)
- construction paper
- wooden craft sticks
- empty toilet paper/paper towel roll
What to do:
We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on each skill your child will develop, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!
Start by reading The Story of Ping (or listen to it online here) and introduce the little duck who travels the Yangtze River. As you read, encourage your child to practice the letter Y sound for the yellow Yangtze River. The letter Y can be challenging for younger children to write, so focus on the sound for now.
Activity 1: Ping Picture Lacing – Print out this picture of Ping on cardstock, and ask your child if they would like to color Ping yellow like in the book. (If they want to use another color, that’s fine, too!) Then, instead of connecting the dots, use your hole puncher to punch them out and let your child try lacing through the numbers with yarn.
Activity 2: Find China on the Map – Using your world map, find China and point out the Yangtze River, the longest river in a single country. This short video shows what it looks like in real life. (You might also want to point out the pagoda since that’s the next craft project!)
Activity 3: Paper Pagoda – Print out this picture and create these beautiful paper pagoda pictures by cutting, gluing and decorating. Use points from this post to talk about the origins of the pagoda while your child works on his craft. You can also show them pictures of the ancient and modern pagodas in that link.
(+) Need an upgrade? Skilled builders can create this cardboard pagoda with a little grownup help.
Ready for an adventure on the Silk Road? Read Riding on a Caravan to get started.
Activity 1: Many different goods traveled along the Silk Road, including tea. As your child does this simple tea craft, tell them this legend.
Activity 2: Rice Writing – Fill a tray or baking sheet with a thin layer of rice and practice letter and number writing (work on those Y’s you talked about yesterday!). While you set up this activity, you can tell your child that rice is grown in China where the farmers flood the field with water from rivers and make rice paddies. This blog has some beautiful pictures of Chinese rice paddies you can show them.
Activity 3: Let’s learn about pandas in this video and then do this adorable panda craft. Here are a few more facts and photos for you to share with your child while you make your craft.
Activity 4: Practice your letter P with this printout.
Did you know magnets originally came from China? Today, insert a science lesson, starting by reading What Makes a Magnet? This book actually contains two experiments you can complete fairly easily (magnet “fishing” and making a compass). We recommend pausing during reading to complete the experiments as you read about them with your child—this will help bring the lessons to life for them. The activity linked below is essentially the same as the “make a magnet” experiment in the book, but it is a little simpler. Choose whichever version you prefer—they both teach the same concept!
Activity 1: Make a Compass
Activity 2: Dragon Craft – Before beginning this project, explain to your child that the dragon is especially significant in Chinese culture and that they are seen as lucky and good. (This article explains more about their significance so you can explain it to your child.) You can also play this compilation of dragon parade videos while you work on the project.
Today, read Ruby’s Wish, a beautiful book based on the true story of Ruby (the grandmother of the book’s author). This book will teach children the value of hard work and determination. Be sure to point out the lanterns, the Chinese characters, and the abacus as you read the book together.
Activity 1: Make an Abacus – This math activity will be fun to make and be useful for practicing math skills all year long. Here are a few ideas on how to use an abacus to teach elementary math. Here’s a video if you want to see it in action.
Activity 2: Character Writing Project – Just like Ruby, have your child practice their Chinese calligraphy! This activity teaches you how to write a few numbers in Chinese characters.
Today is art and music day! You can also feel free to review any projects or books from the week that your child was especially engaged in.
Activity 1: Watch this short video of a Chinese dancer performing a classical fan dance. Click here for a few interesting facts about the dance and share them while your child watches the video. (For example, did you know fan dances were used to tell stories and to entertain guests?) Ask your child about the dance and what they think the dancer is trying to tell us. Talk about the movements—you can even try to imitate them! Talk about the music and what instrument could be making that sound.
(+) Make your own paper fan to dance along with the video! This simple tutorial shows you how.
Activity 3: Elephant and two boys – Show your child the photo of the sculpture. Ask them what they see. What do they think it would feel like to touch this statue? Is it smooth? Cold? What is it made of? How old do they think it is?
Activity 4: Simple Paper Lantern Craft
Bonus: Ready for a little fun? Play this video “Let it go” in Chinese from Frozen.
(+) Bonus activity: End the week with a family movie night! Make this simple fried rice recipe together for dinner and then watch Mulan. 🎥
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