Ancient China

This week, we spend time studying ancient China.  It was fun time traveling through the past where one of the earliest civilizations was born.  Every dynasty that ruled China, left many contributions, discoveries and inventions.  Using this book as our guide, we completed a few projects from each dynasty, from the Bronze Age to the Golden Age.

  1. The Shang and Chou Dynasties- This was a time when early Chinese discovered how to make silk from silkworms.  So we read about silkworms and saw videos on how silk is made.  Then using this Silkworm life cycle, I challenged my boys to recreate the lifecycle using household objects.  They used plastic leaves from floral stems (for mulberry leaves), small black poms poms for the eggs (the real eggs are tiny but this all they could find), black chenille stems for the tiny caterpillar (they even hole punched the leaves to show it was eaten-it didn’t come through in the picture), white chenille stems, cotton balls, 1 brown gem to show the moth emerging, garlic skin for the moth.  I’ve to say that I was pretty impressed with their creativity.
  2. The Han Dynasty- It was a time of great inventions, such as paper and ink.  In China, paper is made with bamboo, hemp, silk, cloth rags and mulberry bark.  So I thought it’d be interesting to show the kids how paper is made.  Or maybe it was really for me :). I’ve to say it was a messy project and there were many trials and errors.  But we were able to get couple of good sheets.  I mostly followed some directions from the book and this site.
  3. The Tang Dynasty – This was the Golden Age of China.  Much prosperity and peace fell over China during this period.  Fine arts, like painting, calligraphy were valued.  To understand this period, we did the block printing activity mentioned in the book. This was probably the kids’ favorite and both kept stamping away for hours. We made Pagoda and panda stamps.

The boys also tried their hand at Chinese Calligraphy.  This was their very first time with Calligraphy and they quickly found that Chinese characters were not easy to draw.  I loved the skills that they learned through this project like concentration, persistence and perseverance.  It was really interesting to hop back in history and learn about Ancient Chinese civilization.

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