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Ancient China Lesson Plan: China's Revolutions

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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 China's Revolutions

Hands-on Lesson Plan on China's Revolutions

This is part 11 of a 12 part a hands-on unit study on China. Dramatize the Great Leap Forward using rice & cake, make jam to learn about steel production, and more while learning about China's Revolutions under Sun Yat-sen, Chiang Kai-shek, & Mao Zedong. Children's book suggestions and video clips are included.

Sun Yat-sen tribute in Tiananmen Square

Sun Yat-sen tribute in Tiananmen Square

Sun Yat-sen

1. Discuss the Republic period by having a race to find answers.

  • Sun Yat-sen formed a political party called Kuo-Min-Tang. What do those 3 words mean in English? (Answer: kuo=nation + min = people + tang = party]
  • What were Sun Yat-sen's "Three Principles of the People"? (Answer: Nationalism, democracy, and people's livelihood)
  • What happened in 1914-1921 on an international scale? (Answer: World War I)
  • What happened in Russia in 1917 that affected China? (Answer: Fall of the House of Romanov and the Russian Revolution making the Bolsheviks the leaders of Russia)

2. In 1920, Sun Yat-seen wanted to improve the infrastructure of China. With most of Europe and America recovering from World War I, Russia was the only nation willing to help them financially. Sun Yat-seen sent one of his soldiers, Chiang Kai-shek, to Russia to study with Russia's Red Army.

3. Watch the below video on Sun Yat-seen.

Chiang Kai-shek

Chiang Kai-shek

Chiang Kai-shek

4. After Sun Yat-seen's death, the Nationalist ruled in the south of China and the Communists ruled in the north. Chiang Kai-shek made himself the head of the Nationalist party.

5. In 1934 Chiang Kai-shek forced the Communists out of the south of China, beginning the Long March, with them marching a 6,000 mile long stretch to Shensi province in northern China. Of the 100,000 Communists who began the march, only a few thousand survived. During that march, Mao Zedong became the leader of the Communist party.

  • Look on a map to trace the route of the Long March.

6. In addition to the turmoil between the Nationalist South and Communist North, Japanese continued invading China, which caused China to join the Allies in World War II. Even though Chiang Kai-shek was opposed to the Communists, he joined forces with the Communists to drive out the Japanese. When World War II ended, the Communists in China had grown so strong, they were able to overthrow Chiang Kai-shek.

  • Where did Chiang Kai-shek and his Nationalist followers flee and what nation did they establish? (Answer: Taiwan)
  • Find Taiwan on a map.

7. Watch the below videos on China's Revolutions.

Portrait of Mao Zedong at Tiananmen Gate

Portrait of Mao Zedong at Tiananmen Gate

8. In 1949 Mao Zedong, also known as Chairman Mao, founded the People's Republic of China, ruling as the chairman of the Chinese Communist Party.

  • Read Mao and Me : The Little Red Guard by Jiang Hong Chen
  • Watch the below video quickly reviewing the revolutions in China.

YOU WILL NEED: Mao and Me : The Little Red Guard by Jiang Hong Chen

Just watch the first 2 minutes. (He stops talking about China at 2:34.)

In the beginning, commune members were able to eat for free at the commune canteens. This changed when food production slowed to a halt.

In the beginning, commune members were able to eat for free at the commune canteens. This changed when food production slowed to a halt.

Great Leap Forward

9. From 1958 to 1962 Chairman Mao Zedong launched the Great Leap Forward (Second Five Year Plan) as an attempt to modernize the nation so it could rival the U.S.S.R and America in industrialization and agriculture.

  • In order to make it appear as though his plan was successful and the nation was thriving with surplus grain, he exported almost all the grain, leaving farmers to starve.
  • The Great Leap resulted in an estimated 15 to 55 million deaths of Chinese people, mostly children.

10. Watch the below video on the Great Leap Forward.

Dramatizing the Great Leap Forward by baking and decorating a cake to give away

Dramatizing the Great Leap Forward by baking and decorating a cake to give away

Dramatizing the Great Leap Forward & Agriculture

11. During the Great Leap Forward, the Chinese worked hard to produce rice that would then get sold to other countries.

  • In the same manner, bake a special treat. (They baked and decorated a dark chocolate cake.)
  • Even though the children did all the work, they will not get to eat the cake. (We took the cake to a dinner the children did not attend.)

YOU WILL NEED: a special treat to have the children make (such as a dark chocolate cake)

12. Because almost all the grain was exported to other countries, many Chinese did not have enough food to survive.

  • Serve only plain rice for dinner.
  • Remind them this would have been the meal at the beginning of the Great Leap Forward. Toward the end they might have not gotten anything at all to eat.

YOU WILL NEED: Cooked rice & chopsticks

(*Because I'm not Chairman Mao, I did let the children have snacks later in the evening and let them eat the leftover cake later as well.*)

Great Leap Forward Dinner: Rice

Great Leap Forward Dinner: Rice

Backyard furnaces to produce steel during the Great Leap Forward

Backyard furnaces to produce steel during the Great Leap Forward

Great Leap Forward & Steel Production

13. Learn about steel production.

  • Chairman Mao wanted China to produce plenty of steel, so he had the Chinese people (most of whom had been farmers) set up privative furnaces across the countryside to create steel. The steel created was less than ideal and unusable.
  • Iron is a metal element that occurs naturally on Earth. Steel is a man-made alloy that’s made by mixing iron and carbon together.
  • To make steel, iron ore is crushed and washed, rinsing away tailings (unneeded dirt). The ore is smelted (heated to a very high temperature in a blast furnace to separate most of the undesirable material from the metal). The slag (unwanted material) rises to the top, is skimmed off, and discarded. Additional chemicals can be added.
  • After smelting, the hot steel is cast (poured into a mold), rolled (rolled into thin sheets), or forged (poured/pressed, reheated, and pressed again).

(The above descriptions are from KONOS.)

14. Watch steel production:

  • Watch the below video on modern Steel production
  • Watch part of the video on Primitive iron production, which would be similar to some of the backyard furnaces during the Great Leap Forward.

Primitive Iron Production (We only watched part of this.)

Grape Jelly and Steel Production

15. To demonstrate smelting, make grape jelly.

  • Option 1: Using grapes: Add about 2 pounds of washed grapes and 1/2 cup of water to a pan. Turn the heat on high and smash the grapes. Cook until all the grapes are smashed.
  • Place the smashed grapes into a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer and squeeze or smash out as much liquid as possible. Discard or compost the grape skins and seeds.
  • Option 2 (easier): Use a 6 ounce can of grape juice concentrate, thawed
  • Add 1/2 cup of sugar to the liquid.
  • Cook on high, stirring until it comes to a boil. Allow for it to boil for 2 minutes. Don't stir during this time.
  • Pour into a canning jar or other glass container. You can serve it immediately or put it in the refrigerator.

YOU WILL NEED: Either 2 pounds of grapes and a cheesecloth or fine sieve OR a 6 ounce can of grape juice concentrate, 1/2 cup of sugar, saucepan, wooden spoon, and canning jar or other glass container

Making grape jelly while learning about backyard furnaces and steel production during the Great Leap Forward

Making grape jelly while learning about backyard furnaces and steel production during the Great Leap Forward

Struggle session of Sampho Tsewang Rigzin and his wife during the Cultural Revolution.

Struggle session of Sampho Tsewang Rigzin and his wife during the Cultural Revolution.

Cultural Revolution

16. In 1966, Chairman Mao launched the Cultural Revolution with its stated goal being to preserve Chinese communism to by purge any remaining capitalist and traditional elements from Chinese society. It also solidified Maoism, Mao Zedong thoughts and ideology.

  • What were the "Four Olds" to be erased? (Answer: old customs, culture, habits, and ideas)
  • Who made up the Red Army? (Mostly youth)
  • The Red Army was encouraged to destroy the Old Fours. This included attacking or turning into the police teachers and parents and family members.
  • Historical sites, artifacts, books, art, etc. were destroyed; for example, of the 80,000 historical buildings still intact in Beijing, less than 8,000 were still standing after the Cultural Revolution.
  • Known as "Cleansing the Class Ranks", anyone presumed to be part of the "evil" landowner class or anyone believed to not be fully dedicated to Maoism were humiliated, sometimes beaten, and taken to "reeducation camps" where they were either tortured to the point of appearing dedicated to Mao or they were killed.
  • What book was everyone supposed to carry with them at all times? (Answer: Little Red Book) It contained quotations from Chairman Mao and every Chinese citizen was expected to read it every day.

17. Watch the below videos on the Cultural Revolution.

China's Revolutions Books for Children

China's Revolutions Books for Children

Republic Period

Cultural Revolution

republic-of-china-lesson
republic-of-china-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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