Home School Years

Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Cultural Study: China

Related Posts:

Chinese New Year

Our World

Ancient River Valley Civilizations

Travel: Make A Pretend Passport

Timelines: Past, Present and Future

Animal Series

World Religions

Recommended Books:

  • Pandas and Other Endangered Species (Fact Tracker) by Mary Pope Osborne
  • A Perfect Time For Pandas (Magic Tree House) by Mary Pope Osborne
  • Animals Marco Polo Saw: An Adventure on the Silk Road by Sandra Markle
  • Old MacDonald Had A Dragon by Ken Baker
  • Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen
  • Marco Polo For Kids: His Marvelous Journey To China (21 Activities) by Janis Herbert

Bamboo & Giant Panda

Our panda and bamboo craft

Panda and bamboo craft

We learned bamboo is a tropical woody grass with hard stems originating in Asia. In addition to being a popular food for the giant pandas, we discussed how bamboo was also used by ancient Chinese people as a form of paper, which expanded the theme to include a lesson on Chinese languages. We learned the Chinese languages do not follow a written alphabet. Instead, they have symbols/characters that represent words or syllables. We also learned the Chinese language is written from right to left and from top to bottom in vertical form, whereas the English language follows a horizontal form and is written from left to right. The first people in China to leave written records (dating back to the Shang dynasty) are said to have used strips of bamboo to write on, so I decided to do an ancient bamboo strip book as a craft for that lesson.

We took a few natural wood craft sticks and painted them green to mimic bamboo strips. We let them dry overnight and then glued them together onto a sheet of black card stock. My son then created a panda face using pieces of black and white felt, and wiggly eyes. He finished the craft by writing a brief story about his panda on the bamboo strips following the right to left vertical form of Chinese writing. He really enjoyed this craft.

Tibetan Prayer Flag

Our Tibetian Prayer Quilt Flag craft

Tibetian Prayer Flag craft

Another craft we enjoyed making was a Tibetian Prayer Flag; a practice and tradition that goes back to the region’s ancient history. Tibetians use pieces of dyed cloth to write symbols and messages/wishes/prayers of goodwill to hang outdoors in a high place. They believe the wind carries these silent prayers all over the world and beyond into the universe, thus quietly benefiting people and the world around us. Tibetians traditionally use specific colors that correspond to a natural element and follow a specific order: yellow (earth), green (water), red (fire), white (air/clouds) and blue (space/sky).

For our craft, we chose to build a single flag using a quilt pattern. We cut squares of colored construction paper, arranged them in a quilt pattern and glued them onto a larger sheet of craft paper. My son then wrote symbols and messages/wishes/prayers of goodwill in the squares. We finished the craft by adding a piece of string at the top to hang the flag outdoors. This was a great way to discuss the concept of goodwill and show how different cultures incorporate prayer into their customs. Note: we used construction paper but you can use pieces of old bedding, t-shirts or other cloth type material.

In addition to learning about bamboo, giant pandas, Chinese languages and Tibet, we also discussed the following themes:

  • Geography: China on the map
  • Himalaya mountains & Mount Everest
  • Rice fields
  • Dragon – China’s national emblem and a strong part of Chinese traditions and beliefs
  • Trade: Marco Polo and Silk
  • Emperors and Dynasties
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