Thursday, March 3, 2011

Continents – Asia/Cultures - China

We started the next Chapter of our Continents & Cultures unit study.   We found Asia on our large world map and outlined in with a dry erase marker.  We read about Asia in our Scholastic Atlas of the World and discussed how large and diverse of an area it covered.  We then narrowed our focus to China.   Of course, the first thing we had to do is grab the dry erase markers again and outline it on our world map.  The kids really love drawing on our map so I let them have some fun but I told them to draw everywhere but on Asia.  George drew some ducks in the Atlantic Ocean.

First we discussed the Physical Geography and Landmarks of China:
We looked at the Scholastic Atlas and discussed some of the geographical features of China.  China has high mountains, deserts, modern cities and borders the ocean.  We read The Story of Ping and found the Yangtze River on our map.  
We went to the Time for Kids Homework Helper Sightseeing Guide and clicked on various features for a brief description.   We learned about the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City and the Grand Buddha.

We did a workbook page from A+ World Geography workbook that I’m pretty sure I bought at Target’s Dollar Spot.  It’s easy to see that Georgie is not particularly interested in realism when coloring.
Our next and largest area of study was the Culture of China:
We read from Children Just Like Me, Children Just Like Me: Celebrations and World Folktales (The Blue Rose). 

I made up a summary sheet with information about China before we began our study.  It included a color picture of the flag, pictures of the currency, what language is most common (Mandarin Chinese) and how to say hello in that language (Ni Hao), and a selection of characters written in Chinese, so they could see the difference between Chinese writing and our alphabet.   I have a similar sheet for each Country that we will be studying in detail.
We listened to music from China that Georgie thought was too relaxing and said it made him fall asleep. 
Once he “woke up” again, we continued listening while they colored a picture of the flag of China.  Georgie had a real struggle with using the correct colors and ended up not finishing his picture.  Vicki’s picture is on top and this is probably the closest she has ever come to coloring within the lines.  The flag was printed from Enchanted Learning.
After discussing the meaning of the flag (the large star stands for the Communist Party, the smaller stars for the 4 classes of society – workers, peasants, soldiers and students) we were able to look at some actual currency thanks to one of daddy’s many trips to China.  Both kids thought the money was much more colorful than ours and the purple bills were their favorites.

We discussed how they don’t speak English in China.  We took a closer look at various characters and looked at how to write their names in Chinese.  Neither of the kids wanted to try and write their name in Chinese.  I couldn’t really blame them, it looks pretty complicated.   The top one is George and the bottom one is Vicki.
We went to the Time for Kids Homework Helper website and listened to the correct pronunciations for Ni Hao (hello), Zai jian (good-bye), Xie xie (thank you), Bu yong ke qi (your welcome) and Ce suo zai naer? (where is the bathroom?).   The kids already knew how to say hello from the PBS show “Ni Hao Kai-Lan” but they got a real kick out of the last one.

We read A Visit to China by Mary Packard.  It is a cute little story that mentions how red is considered a lucky color.  Georgie said “red isn’t my lucky color.  Mine is green because red means stop and green means go, and I prefer Go”. 

We learned about Chinese New Year using some materials we obtained through Panda Express’s educational program.  Other than a few mentions of the importance of food during the celebration and a brief (commercial) mention of Panda Express at the beginning, it was a very good video.  It explained the origin of the Zodiac animals, about the Dragon and Lion parades, about firecrackers and about the year of the Rabbit (2011).  The kids enjoyed watching it and Georgie had me read every animal on the zodiac and what the characteristics of it are.  Georgie and I are both Roosters, Vicki is a Boar, Steph is a Dog and Daddy is a Monkey.  Georgie decided he didn’t like that and decided I was a snake, he was a Dragon and Vicki was a rat.  Daddy was allowed to stay a Monkey (he actually put daddy down as a monkey before we knew for sure since Panda Express only listed birth years back to the 70’s) and Steph stayed a dog.
I had a coloring page on the Chinese Zodiac printed from Enchanted Learning but neither of the kids showed any interest in sitting down and coloring it.

We did play Chinese Zodiac dominos that were printed from DLTK.
We made Chinese lanterns using a print-out from Crayola.  
We played a game using pictures and descriptions that I printed off from….somewhere I can’t remember.  I thought they were from Teacher’s Book Bag but I wasn’t able to find them in any of my files so if anyone knows where these are from, please let me know so I can mention it.  I separated out the pictures and the descriptions, laid the pictures out on the table, read the descriptions and Georgie would tell me which picture went with the description.  We learned about pandas, pagodas, the Forbidden City, Buddha, rice crops and the Great Wall playing this game.  We attached the matched up pictures and descriptions to cardstock to add to our notebook.
My kids are not adventurous eaters but we did try out using chopsticks to eat dry cereal.  I did a "cheat" using a piece of paper and a rubber band since they don't quite have the motor skills to use them correctly.  They really liked the chopsticks and every day tried to find something to eat that they could use them again.

To finish up we discussed some of the differences between life in China and the US (eating utensils, clothing, foods, language, names – last name first, first name last).

Our next (and final) area of study was the Animals of China:  
We used an Animals of China print-out from Confessions of a Homeschooler.   We used our Scholastic Encyclopedia of Animals and the National Geographic and National Geographic Kids websites to find further information on each animal. 

We did some coloring pages from Enchanted Learning.  Georgie’s favorite was definitely the Giant Panda.  You can see he still likes to get creative with his colors.
We were definitely able to get the most information on the Giant Panda.  National Geographic Kids had lots of information including pictures and video about them.

As we proceeded through our study I mounted all our information to a tri-fold presentation board hanging in front of our fireplace so the kids could look at it frequently.
To finish up our study, I gave Georgie a brief quiz to see what he remembered.   He knew that China was on the Continent of Asia and he easily named an animal found in the country (Panda bear of course).  When asked to Name one thing you liked learning about this country, he answered “about panda bears and the red flag with stars and the new ways to write kind, heart and good”. 
The kids finished up by adding the China stickers to their passports.  I made their passports by printing a cover and pages watermarked with a map of each continent.  The stickers came from Highlights, either free with promotional materials or with our brief subscription to Hidden Picture Puzzles, I’m not sure which.  Those countries that we will be covering that didn’t have stickers provided, I printed off my own.
Other books we used during this study:
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  1. Very cool! We are moving to China this summer, so this would be fun to share with my kids before we do!

    I'd love to have you link your kid-inspired ideas at my For the Kids Fridays link party.


  2. I'll be sure to link up. Thank you. :-)

  3. Wow, I love this! Definitely going to try it.