I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 9.
This is part 1 of a 12 part a hands-on unit study on China. Study the early legends of China, design a Chinese Dynasties scroll, create a dragon puppet, & more while learning about Ancient Chinese History and the Xia Dynasty. Also included are our favorite Children's books and YouTube video clips. Use these ideas with your class, family, or homeschool co-op group!
Geography of China
1. Have children locate China on a globe or map. What do you notice about where it's located?
- YOU WILL NEED: Maps or globes (preferably ones that show geographical features) for each child or pair of children
2. With my younger children we agreed that China looks like a dragon sitting on top of India. The fire coming out its mouth is North Korea, South Korea, & Japan. Mongolia is like a saddle on the dragon's back, and Russia is the sky above it.
3. When I was in school, we didn't learn much about China until we got to the Age of Exploration with Columbus looking for the lands Marco Polo described. Why do you think Europeans probably did not interact much with China before then? (There were many geographical barriers such as enormous mountains [including Mt. Everest], the Gobi Desert, and the Pacific Ocean, which is the largest ocean.)
4. While China has a rich history which we'll focus on during this lesson, it is a modern society today. Read Living in . . . China by Chloe Perkins.
- YOU WILL NEED: Living in . . . China by Chloe Perkins or other book about modern China
5. Briefly discuss what dynasties were.
6. Have children work together to create a Scroll Timeline of the Chinese Dynasties.
- Ahead of time my older children taped together 9 sheets of paper and taped the ends to markers. They drew a line through the middle and marked off 100 year increments from 2000 BC to 2000 AD.
- Each child took a turn marking the year of the end of the dynasty, writing the name of the dynasty at the bottom, writing a few things for which that dynasty was know, and drawing a quick sketch.
- We then rolled up the Timeline like a scroll.
YOU WILL NEED: Paper on a roll or 9 sheets of paper (we used 1/3 sheets) taped together, tape, a ruler, & markers
*If you are using this lesson for older children, have them each create their own timeline AND do the research about each dynasty. If you're using this lesson with younger children, you can assist in the research and just make one scroll.*
- Xia Dynasty (2205-1766 BC) *Dragons, Silk*
- Shang Dynasty (1766-1122 BC) *Jade sculptures, Chopsticks, bronze, spices*
- Zhou/Chou Dynasty (1122-221 BC) * Confucius & Lao Tzu/Lao Zi, Science & astronomy, Literature, Chariots, Feudal lords, Roads & canals, Iron, Multiplication tables*
- Qin/Chin Dynasty (221-206 BC) *Terracotta Army, Great Wall*
- Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) *Silk Road opened, Buddha, Paper & Kites invented, Compass, Stir-fries & soy sauce used*
- Six Dynasties Period (220-589)
- Sui Dynasty (589-618) *Grand Canal*
- Tang Dynasty (618-907) *Tea drinking, Gunpowder, Bronze/silver/gold/copper, Scroll painting, Music & dancing, Painted pottery, Fancy hats & silk robes, Carp*
- Five Dynasties (907-960)
- Sung/Song Dynasty (960-1279) *Fireworks, Opera, Paper cutting, Paper money, Tangrams, Compass*
- Yuan or Mongolian Dynasty (1279-1368) *Kublai Khan, Marco Polo, Capital Zhongdu/Beijing, Blue & white porcelain, Extensive trade between East and West, & Theater*
- Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) *Forbidden City built, Great Wall rebuilt, Blue & white porcelain, Abacus, Mariner explorers like Zeng He*
- Qing/Manchu Dynasty (1644-1911) *Forbidden City, The Last Emperor, Opium Wars, Boxer Rebellion, Mandarin, Cricket pets*
Creation & the Flood
7. Read a brief account of Pan Ku. I used the one page account & illustration from Chinese Mythology by Jim Ollhoff. Are there any similarities to the creation account in the Bible?
YOU WILL NEED: Chinese Mythology by Jim Ollhoff or other account of Pan Ku
8. Read Yu the Great: Conquering the Flood by Paul Storrie. How does this story compare to the Biblical account of the flood during the time of Noah? Which son of Noah might have started the nation of China? [We don't know. Different experts have different theories.] Check out this Answers in Genesis article comparing ancient flood legends with the Biblical account.
YOU WILL NEED: Yu the Great: Conquering the Flood by Paul Storrie or other account of Yu the Great
9. Watch the below video giving an introduction to Ancient China. You can watch the full 20 minute video for free at https://www.edyoutoo.com .
EdYouToo Video: You can watch the full video for free at the above link.
10. Read a The Sons of the Dragon King by Ed Young.
YOU WILL NEED: The Sons of the Dragon King by Ed Young or other account of dragons
11. Map Work: Locate the Huang (Yellow) River and Four Sacred Mountains.
YOU WILL NEED: Maps of China
12. Create dragon puppets. We printed a copy of a dragon from https://www.madewithhappy.com/ . Cut out the stack before handing them out to make it easier. Allow children to color them, tape them together using construction paper or crepe paper, and then on 2 sticks (or straws) to the back. *If you're teaching older children, you can have them design their own dragons."
YOU WILL NEED: copies of the dragons already cut out, markers, construction paper or crepe paper, tape, and pairs of sticks or straws per dragon
Memorizing the Major Chinese Dynasties
13. Start memorizing the major Chinese Dynasties in order using the below song sung to the tune of Frère Jacques.
Shang, Zhou, Qin, Han
Shang, Zhou, Qin, Han
Sui, Tang, Song
Sui, Tang, Song
Yuan, Ming, Qing, Republic
Yuan, Ming, Qing, Republic
— Courtesy of the teachers on the College Board AP-World History
Our Favorite Xia Dynasty Books
- The Sons of the Dragon King by Ed Young
- Yu the Great: Conquering the Flood by Paul Storrie
- Cang Jie, The Inventor of Chinese Characters by Jian Li
- Treasury of Chinese Folk Tales Beloved Myths and Legends from the Middle Kingdom by Shelley Fu
- Chinese Mythology by Jim Ollhoff
- The Water Dragon by Jian Li
- KONOS History of the World: Volume II (pp. 511-516) - Activity & Discussion ideas
Another Video We Watched
- Xia Dynasty (2205-1766 BC)
- Shang Dynasty (1766-1122 BC)
- Zhou Dynasty (1122-221 BC)
- Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC)
- Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) & Six/Southern Dynasties Period (220-589)
- Sui Dynasty (589-618) & Tang Dynasty (618-907)
- Five Dynasties (907-960) & Song Dynasty (960-1279)
- Yuan or Mongolian Dynasty (1279-1368)
- Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)
- Qing/Manchu Dynasty (1644-1911)
- Revolutions in China (1911-1976)
- Modern China (1977-Present)
- Chinese New Year Celebration
Fun, FREE Hands-on Unit Studies - Over the years I have posted over 40 science and social-studies based unit studies, compromised of more than 170 lessons. The unit studies include the Human Body, Simple Machines, Earth Science, Medieval Period, American Revolution, Pioneer Life, Countries of the World, and many more! For each lesson I have included activities (with photos), our favorite books and YouTube video clips, lapbook links, and other resources.
KONOS History of the World Volume II
Would you like more? These lessons are inspired by History of the World: Volume II by KONOS Curriculum, which includes many more discussion topics, interesting facts, activities, writing topics, and book suggestions.
© 2021 Shannon