Disclosure: I am an Amazon associate and this post contains affiliate links. For full disclosure, please click here and thank you for supporting my blog!
Why China?In two weeks China and other countries following the lunisolar calendar will celebrate New Year. While we have no heritage connection to China, I am fascinated by its rich culture and its impact on the Western world. We have read dozens of books about China and returned there in our virtual journeys several times over the past few years, with most recent “visit” happening last summer. I chose a lucky Chinese number of 8 to share how you and your children can learn more about this amazing country.
Look What Came From China
Sometimes we go sailing with our friends on San Francisco Bay and see huge container ships coming from China. What are they bringing? Look carefully with your children at their toys and personal belongings and see how many things in your house came from China. If you have older children, you can also discuss whether it’s a good thing that so many things that we take for granted are not produced domestically. It’s also a good time to ask children to guess what things were invented in China long time ago and read a non-fiction book Look What Came From China! by Miles Harvey.
1. Books About China
- Kids ages 3-5 will enjoy short and colorful picture books by Grace Lin like Bringing In the New Year. These books will also work for beginner readers.
- The Warlord’s Series books by Virginia Pilegard are better suited for solid independent readers (age 6-8). They also provide great tie-ins with math and/or science activities.
- Amazingly, the same Grace Lin wrote a beautiful novel for middle grade students and advanced young readers. We read Where the Mountain Meets the Moon together when Smarty was younger, and she reread it several times since.
2. Chinese Math Tools
I am not surprised that Chinese students beat the rest of the world in math test scores. After all, China has a long history in math – an abacus and tangrams come to mind right away. We tried tangrams several times already, but daughter is still finding them too hard to do without looking up an answer. But even so, she enjoyed books about tangrams (all of which contain solved tangrams). I ordered them by readers’ age – from youngest to oldest.
3. Chinese Food
Chinese Food is popular around the world. We cook simple Chinese dishes at home quite often, but last year we attempted to make homemade fortune cookies for Chinese New Year with mixed success. One of my most popular pins is a Chicken Chow Mein recipe from my blog friend Marie who spent the whole year learning more about China with her two daughters and documented this virtual journey on her blog Marie’s Pastiche.
We are big fans of board games and have a few beautifully made Chinese games at home, such as Chinese Chess and Chinese Checkers, but our daughter is still a little young for them. She does like to play dominoes – another game that originated in China.
5. Science Experiments
It’s not difficult to include science in your China study. So many amazing inventions came from China – silk, paper, gun powder, a compass. Our own experiment in making recycled paper was fun as a process, but the results were disappointing (paper ended up being too sick). MaryAnne at Mama Smiles: Joyful Parenting had a much better outcome when she tried paper making with her children.
6. Attend Community Events
We are lucky to live in Silicon Valley – one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the United States. It would be a shame not to take advantage of all the opportunities offered for free or nearly for free by local cultural centers and communities. Even if your community is not as diverse, you might find that your local libraries or churches sponsor cultural events. This picture above was taken during Harvest Moon Festival where we got to try calligraphy, listened to traditional Chinese instruments and watched a Dragon Dance.
7. Arts and Crafts
On the net you can find many wonderful places that provide a lot of craft ideas for China. Pinterest is an obvious choice, and I also like to browse The Crafty Crow while admiring creativity of my fellow bloggers and knowing that all that is not going to happen here. When my daughter wants to do an art project, she insists on doing it her way, like this Great Wall of China out of Model Magic. And this is why her Great Wall is absolutely unique and one of my best memories from our summer China unit.
8. Put Together a Simple Lapbook
We spent so much time “in China” this summer that I wanted to capture some of the things we did in a China lapbook. It is not fancy, but it could be a great memory and might even encourage your children to do some lapbooking on their own in the future.
More Resources About China
- Chinese Folk Tales at What Do We Do All Day
- Picture Books about Chinese New Year from Gift of Curiosity
- Year of the Horse from Pragmatic Mom (she pulled a lot of resources from her archives into this post)
- Miss Panda Chinese – a blog dedicated to teaching Mandarin Chinese to children
- Celebrating Chinese New Year in Preschool from Pre-K Pages
Your TurnAre you doing anything special to celebrate Chinese New Year? If yes, is it because you are connected to China or other Asian countries by heritage or because you and your children want to learn more about other cultures?
If you share your resources in comments, I will add a resource section to this post and link yours. I will also link them to my China Pinterest board.