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Ancient China Lesson Plan: Qin Dynasty

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I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 9.

Hands on Lesson Plan on Ancient China & the Qin (Chin) Dynasty

Hands on Lesson Plan on Ancient China & the Qin (Chin) Dynasty

This is part 4 of a 12 part a hands-on unit study on China. Construct a Lego model of the Great Wall of China, create terracotta army warriors, & more while learning about Ancient Chinese History and the Qin (Chin) 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!

Be sure to check the Scroll Timeline again. It's amazing how occurred during such a short dynasty!

Be sure to check the Scroll Timeline again. It's amazing how occurred during such a short dynasty!

Learn About the Terracotta Army

1. The two most well know remnants of Chinese history are both from the Chin/Qin Dynasty: the terracotta army and the Great Wall of China.

  • Be sure to check the Scroll Timeline again. It's amazing how occurred during such a short dynasty!
  • Read about the Terracotta Army by reading Hidden Army: Clay Soldiers of Ancient China by Jane O'Connor.

YOU WILL NEED: Hidden Army: Clay Soldiers of Ancient China by Jane O'Connor or other book on the terracotta army

2) Watch the below videos on the terracotta army.

A salt dough "terracotta" soldier created by a middle-school aged child

A salt dough "terracotta" soldier created by a middle-school aged child

Creating "Terracotta" Soldiers or Horses

3. Form "terracotta" soldiers or horses.

  • Create salt dough: Mix together 2 cups of flour and 1 cup of salt. Add 1 cup of water. Mix/knead for at least 5 minutes.
  • Cover the work surface.
  • Using pictures of the terracotta soldiers and horses, allow children to each create either a soldier or horse. Use water as "glue" to attach pieces. Use toothpicks to carve into the dough.
  • Bake the soldiers and horses at 250 for at least 2 hours or until they are completely dry. (We baked ours for 4 hours.)

YOU WILL NEED: salt dough (salt, flour, water), baking materials (mixing bowl, spoon, measuring cups, & baking sheet), covered work surface (such as parchment or wax paper), & toothpicks.

Children also had the option of creating horses. This was formed by a kindergarten-aged child.

Children also had the option of creating horses. This was formed by a kindergarten-aged child.

The First Emperor of China: Qin Shihuangdi

4. Read about China's First Emperor, Qin Shihuangdi using The Emperor Who Built The Great Wall: Qin Shihuang (Once Upon A Time In China) by Jillian Lin. A few interesting facts and legends:

  • Qin Shihuangdi began ruling at age 13 and shortly thereafter began conquering the other regions of China, taking them under his control and thus "unifying" China under his ruthless dictatorship.
  • Because he lived in fear of assassination, he installed gates made of immense magnets to his bedchamber to prevent swords or other weapons from being used there.
  • He had a great desire for eternal life and sent men out in search for a plant that gave man immortality. One man, Captain Shu, was sent out with 3,000 men and never returned. According to legend, they colonized Japan.
  • Qin Shihuangdi reign was summed up by a 4-character phrase, fenshu kengru, “He burned the books and buried the Confucian scholars alive.” He burned many philosophical books and the histories of the defeated rival states He also supposedly buried alive 460 Confucian scholars.

YOU WILL NEED: The Emperor Who Built The Great Wall: Qin Shihuang (Once Upon A Time In China) by Jillian Lin or other book on Qin Shi Huang

A part of the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China

A part of the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China

Learn About the Great Wall of China

5. Read about the Great Wall of China by reading though You Wouldn't Want to Work on the Great Wall of China! : Defenses You'd Rather Not Build by Jacqueline Morley.

YOU WILL NEED: You Wouldn't Want to Work on the Great Wall of China! : Defenses You'd Rather Not Build by Jacqueline Morley or other book on the Great Wall of China

6. Watch the below videos on the Great Wall of China.

7. Dimensions & Length: On average the Great Wall of China is about 6 horses wide at the top (12 feet), 8 horses wide at the bottom (20 feet), and 5 men high (25 feet).

  • Step off these distances to get a perspective of the size of the Great Wall of China.
  • The Great Wall is now considered to be about 5,550 miles long. What is 5,550 miles away from our house? (I offered my older children a prize for the first person who could find an answer from looking it up online.)

(This is one of the many great ideas from KONOS History of the World II.)

Using Legos to create parts of the Great Wall of China

Using Legos to create parts of the Great Wall of China

Constructing the Great Wall of China

8. The Great Wall of China actually consists of multiple walls and fortifications that had already been built before the Qin/Chin Dynasty. Emperor Qin Shi Huang simply had the walls connected.

  • Give each child 15 minutes to use Legos to construct a wall in the fashion of the Great Wall of China.
  • After the 15 minutes are finished, say that it's not the Qin Dynasty period and time for the various fortifications to be connected. Have the children work together to connect their individual walls into one great wall.

YOU WILL NEED: Legos

Working together to combine the individual Lego walls to become the Great Wall of China

Working together to combine the individual Lego walls to become the Great Wall of China

A portrait painting of Qin Shi Huangdi, first emperor of the Qin Dynasty, from an 18th-century album of Chinese emperors' portraits.

A portrait painting of Qin Shi Huangdi, first emperor of the Qin Dynasty, from an 18th-century album of Chinese emperors' portraits.

Painting a "terracotta" soldier made from salt dough

Painting a "terracotta" soldier made from salt dough

Painting the Terracotta Soldiers and Horses

*You will need to do this at least 5 hours later (after the salt dough has cooked and dried). Planning to do it the next day is a good option.*

9. Even though most of the paint has flaked off the terracotta army, they were once colorfully painted to look life-like using at least 8 colors and 20 hues. Children should paint their terracotta soldiers and horses.

YOU WILL NEED: tempera paint, paintbrushes, table covering, & paper plates or paint palates

Painting a salt dough "terracotta" horse

Painting a salt dough "terracotta" horse

Some of the Qin//Chin Dynasty Children's Books

Some of the Qin//Chin Dynasty Children's Books

Qin Dynasty Books

qin-dynasty-lesson
qin-dynasty-lesson

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. I posted links to all of my unit studies and lessons at Fun, FREE Hands-on Unit Studies .

KONOS History of the World Volume II

KONOS History of the World Volume II

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

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