Ancient China

Our Ancient China Main Lesson Block has been designed to appeal to multiple students of differing abilities, interests and grade levels. We love including our picture books in our main lesson blocks, but this is not typical in a Waldorf setting as lessons are delivered orally. If you wish, you may choose to use these resources to storytell or as resources to put together your lessons. When putting together a history unit, I look for resources in a number of areas to round out our main lesson block or unit study. Before I share those categories, I want to share the difference between a main lesson and a unit study.

The Difference Between A Main Lesson Block and a Unit Study

A unit study is an educational approach in which a subject area is studied for a period of time. Usually multiple subject areas are included to round out the lessons. Unit studies are generally short in duration lasting 1 -3 weeks. A main lesson block is a focus on a particular subject area based in part on the development of the child and what stories, content or lessons are relevant and supportive of the child at that period in her life. Main lesson blocks last 3-4 weeks and often are revisited later in the year. I made a short video on the difference between a Unit Study and Main Lesson Block.

Let the Fun Begin!

I usually start off our units and main lesson blocks with some shopping. I look for materials and projects that will work for our units and bring inspiration and engagement to our lessons. I love browsing through Rainbow Resource because they carry such quality educational material, I know that what I’m buying is sure to work well. Unlike shopping from Amazon or other book retailers, Rainbow Resource caters to the homeschooling community. However, as a Christian company, they also cater to the Christian community. For that reason, and especially if you are a secular homeschooler, you’ll need to be mindful of their science selections as well as other materials. While I’ve only had to return a few resources for this reason, I’ve been as diligent as I can be when looking for books. I now tend to buy my science books from Nature-Watch or Acorn Naturalist or Amazon (let’s be honest, it’s just easiest sometimes). Now that I’m looking to put together our Ancient China and Silk Road units, I’ve been careful about the selections I’ve chosen. I want resources that represent a fair view of historical events and while I can’t look at the Asian resources with the same discerning eye as I can with the resources on the Islamic empire, I do try to teach from an unbiased perspective. I even try to hold my opinions about what is good, bad, beautiful, ugly and gross (think insects for the squeamish). Truly teaching from an unbiased standpoint is incredibly dry and uninteresting in my opinion, but what biases are you unknowingly sharing? Thoughts to ponder…

In the meantime, let’s dive into this haul video in which I share the materials we bought from Rainbow Resource to accompany our unit.

Choosing material for homeschool unit studies and Waldorf main lesson blocks is one of my favorite things to do in homeschool. I have a few go-to vendors for materials and Rainbow Resource is one of them. For the most part, I like their selection of books and even better, I love their assortment of hands on activities and kits. The materials and resources we bought in this haul are for a few units we plan to do. Our European Middle Ages unit spread into a Silk Road unit which immediately got derailed with a West Africa unit before circling back to a China unit which naturally turned into an ancient China unit. When we love a project, it’s not uncommon for us to buy it again. In this case, we love the geode kit and the huge geode kit which was actually less thrilling than the smaller geodes.

Resources for Ancient China Unit

How I put together a history unit study has been a process I have honed over the years. I like an enriching unit filled with books, projects and hands-on activities. I look for varied material so it will appeal to multiple ages, grades, abilities and skill sets. I love picture books. I feel they are an undervalued and overlooked resource in education beyond very young elementary, but I will incorporate picture books well into upper elementary and middle school. I include some non-fiction books as well. These are the kind of books that tend to be a bit drier, somewhat textbookish and readily available at your local library. I used to check them out from the library, but now I use our educational funding to buy these books. Have you been to the kitchen for your units? It’s a great way to engage the children and cultivate a love for the lessons in a meaningful and lasting way. Plus food tastes good! And we all have to eat, so why not include it in your studies for a memorable lesson. Hands-on activities is a must for me. But sometimes there aren’t pre-made kits (which I love and utilize as often as possible), so I often look for a craft or activity book to add to our units. That way, I can source the materials to make our own projects and crafts. Often I upgrade the materials and project so it becomes a lasting project as I really dislike disposable crafts. And when that’s not possible, I try to make things we can easily recycle. With this particular unit, I found some amazing Great Wall of China construction kits as well as some clay warrior projects. Those kits are well worth it because they contain materials and projects I can’t easily recreate. Historical fiction is also a must in a history unit. I find historical fiction to be a great gateway resource into the subject matter. Often historical fiction bring to life a historical period with engaging characters and storylines. You can get a feel for the history in a thrilling novel and often you learn more deeply about a historical event through the medium of storytelling. If historical fiction are available for your unit, I highly recommend you substitute with biographies. Or do both! Biographies are connection makers. When you learn about a historical figure, you become connected to that person. You either start to admire or despise the person and that creates conversation. When possible, I like to include an outing to a museum or exhibition that complements our unit. Sometimes this is a way to inspire and start the unit, to celebrate and culminate the ending or happens outside the unit entirely because it didn’t coordinate ‘perfectly’. However you do, museums, plays, exhibitions and road trips are going to be some of the most profound and memorable educational experiences.

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Ancient China Chalk Drawing

For this chalk drawing, I’m using Sargent Art Square chalk pastels from Blick Art Material and my small portable chalkboards (which can be mounted on the wall) from Paper Scissors Stone. The chalkboard I’m using for this chalk drawing measures 24″x 36″ but it comes in smaller sizes. Of all the chalkboards I’ve used, I love these the most (be sure to get the same brand if you want the same results). I find the size to be suitable for most chalk drawings, and what’s great about it is that you can have a few of them to work with rather than just one big one. It’s really hard erasing chalk drawings, and this way, I can keep them longer and have multiples at the same time. I like the surface of these chalk boards because they allow for the best blending I’ve experienced so far (I’ve used 4 types of chalkboards including one with chalkboard paint). My Sargent Art Chalk pastels are vibrant and colorful and offer a great range of colors. I do need to use a damp washcloth to fully and cleanly remove all the chalk and residue but once the chalkboard dries, it’s ready to go.

For this chalk drawing, I referred to two books for inspiration: Engineering Wonders The Great Wall of China by Rebecca Stanborough and Ancient Civilizations China by Valerie Bodden. I wanted the drawing to be as colorful as possible, so I made some changes to the images in the book and gave the sky a vibrant blue background. For such a small chalk drawing, this one took a long time, coming in at about 50 minutes to complete. Usually with chalk drawings this size, it takes me about 30 minutes. When I would on my large 4’x6′ chalkboard, I can expect to take 1-2 hours depending on the amount of detail needed.

For this chalk drawing, I procrastinated for weeks. I knew I wanted the Great Wall of China, but didn’t quite know how to go about doing it. Once I got my inspiration, I got to work. Since I anticipated getting the perspective and wall just right, I started with a simple outline and filled in things that were easy to start off with like the sky and rolling hills. Doing the detail of the Great wall took the longest time and was the most challenging to complete. I love the way it turned out in the end, and only wish there was more color and detail.


The Silk Road Chalk Drawing

Our Silk Road unit has been underway for a couple years now. You can check out the complete Silk Road blog post which includes tutorials, hauls and lesson plans. Each time we dive into it, it grows. Now this history period, that began with the Middle Ages in Medieval Europe, has grown to include our Africa Main Lesson Block which focuses on the Empires of Ghana, Mali and Songhai (900s-1400s), North Africa main lesson block on Ibn Battuta, The Travels of Marco Polo and the Great Khans of Mongolia, Ancient and Middle Ages China, The Silk Road and the Islamic Empire (600s-1500s). No wonder what started out as a one year unit study grew into a multiple year endeavor. I like to start out our units with a haul video, a how we put this unit together video and a chalk drawing video. The chalk drawing sets the stage for the unit and is often the only drawing we’ll have up for the unit. For this chalk drawing, I’m using Sargent Art Square chalk pastels from Blick Art Material. Drawing inspiration comes from the book The Silk Road, and I’m drawing on my 4’x6′ chalkboard by Ghent. While I really dislike this chalk drawing, I didn’t have the desire to redraw it. I don’t like the colors, lack of detail and yellow accents. In the end, the books I put on display in front of the chalkboard covered most of the caravans. and the map was helpful, but not referred to as much as I hoped. The following year, however, I drew several smaller chalk drawings for our continued Silk Road unit as this large chalkboard held our math main lesson block drawing.

Biographies

It’s not a history unit if you don’t talk about the people. After all history is His Story right? Her story is mixed in there, but is rarely the focus. While I have not made an effort to explore female historical figures, I think we do ourselves, our education and our children a disservice when we don’t include their stories. One book series I recently found that does a fair job exposing what it’s like to be a girl and a boy in history is the “If You Were Me and Lived in…Ancient China” by Carole P. Roman. There are several in this series and what I like is seeing the difference in what kind of life you would have depending on whether you were a girl or a boy, or woman or man, or rich or poor. For our Ancient China and Silk Road unit, we did a mini explorative unit on Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan and Marco Polo. Other notable biographies specifically on Chinese figures would be ZhengHe, Xuanzang, and Confucius as well as emperors from the different dynasties.

The Great Khans of Mongolia: Kubla Khan and Genghis Khan

https://youtu.be/sEWKX4fKlLU

The Exploration of Marco Polo

When we first embarked on our Silk Road main lesson block, we thought we would simply add a few resources to complement our Middle Ages unit. Three years later and this little unit has grown into several deeply engaging main lesson blocks that span over 1000 years of history and half the world from North Africa to China. As we explored historical events and notable figures, we were whisked away into histories that deserved their own units rather than afterthoughts to a larger Middle Ages unit. As a result, we now have an African main lesson block which focuses on the empires of Mali, Ghana and Songhai, the king Mansa Musa and the time period of about the 900s to the 1400s. We also did a unit on Ibn Battuta, Marco Polo and the Great Khans of Mongolia. That led us to China, so a unit on Ancient China naturally emerged, which led us full circle to the Silk Road and the expansion and diversifying of ideas, culture and religion, which naturally brought us back to a unit on Islam and the Islamic Golden Age which ended up being an extensive unit in and of itself. So when looking into the Silk Road, what originally was going to be books that complement the Golden Age of Islam or Ancient China, became its own independent and focused unit. In this unit we explore what it was like for merchants and caravans on the silk road. We discover the historical figures who traversed the silk road for the sake of religion, trade and conquering. We learn how this highway changed the course of history in profound ways and how through trade, more than just products were exchanged.

https://youtu.be/YNjfUq19_Q8

The Silk Road

When we first embarked on our Silk Road main lesson block, we thought we would simply add a few resources to complement our Middle Ages unit. Three years later and this little unit has grown into several deeply engaging main lesson blocks that span over 1000 years of history and half the world from North Africa to China. As we explored historical events and notable figures, we were whisked away into histories that deserved their own units rather than afterthoughts to a larger Middle Ages unit. As a result, we now have an African main lesson block which focuses on the empires of Mali, Ghana and Songhai, the king Mansa Musa and the time period of about the 900s to the 1400s. We also did a unit on Ibn Battuta, Marco Polo and the Great Khans of Mongolia. That led us to China, so a unit on Ancient China naturally emerged, which led us full circle to the Silk Road and the expansion and diversifying of ideas, culture and religion, which naturally brought us back to a unit on Islam and the Islamic Golden Age which ended up being an extensive unit in and of itself. So when looking into the Silk Road, what originally was going to be books that complement the Golden Age of Islam or Ancient China, became its own independent and focused unit. In this unit we explore what it was like for merchants and caravans on the silk road. We discover the historical figures who traversed the silk road for the sake of religion, trade and conquering. We learn how this highway changed the course of history in profound ways and how through trade, more than just products were exchanged.


In the Kitchen

We love adding recipes from across the world when studying our history units. We love heading to the kitchen for other units as well. Our China unit was supposed to be its own unit at another time, but once we started our Middle Ages unit a few years ago, it just kept growing until that unit became a world history unit. While I have plenty of resources for this unit, there are other materials I wish to add that details the history in addition to the historical facts that are interspersed in this unit. And while I sourced some amazing hands on projects (better than all the other Silk Road units combined), I did overlook one very important resource: a cookbook. Sure my 25 year old Chinese cooking recipe cookbook is suitable, but when I dove into that book to find current inspiration, I found it lacking. Much of what I found in our cookbook are modern recipes you’re likely to find in equivalents an American restaurant. So while I’ll be adding a new cookbook to this unit (along with other materials), I’m currently sourcing my recipes from multiple places.

Smashed Cucumber Salad

I’ve been on the hunt for a cucumber salad recipe that tastes just like the one I love from a local Shabu Shabu restaurant. While this recipe, from RecipeTinEats, is so tasty, it’s not quite the same. My 10-year-old daughter, however, loved it soooo much and asks me to make it everyday. This recipe is super easy and quick, but it will take time to chill to allow all those flavors to mix and develop. For that reason, you may want to make this in the morning or the night before, or how we made it where we only let it chill for about an hour or less.

I smashed three Persian cucumbers with a volcanic rock pestle from my mortar and pestle. I roughly sliced them and tossed them in a bowl with toasted sesame seeds heated in olive oil (about 1/4 teaspoon) with raw sesame seeds (1/4 teaspoon), salt, 1-2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, 5 cloves of smashed garlic and optionally a splash of soy sauce. I altered the recipe and swapped ginger for garlic and omitted the soy sauce this time. I think ponzu sauce might be a nice alternative too. Enjoy!


Projects & Hands On Activities

Chinese Brush Calligraphy

Oriental Art Supply carries the most beautiful supplies for Chinese brush painting, Sumie and Calligraphy. The materials look beautiful online, but nothing compared to their stunning quality in person. The book 108 Flowers Book 4 by Ning Yeh shows step by step instructions on how to paint a beautiful assortment of flowers. The slate ink stone is heavy, functional and beautiful. Use it to grind your ink stick. Grinding the ink stick in a circular is easy against the slate stone. The lid keeps your ink moist. We also bought some metallic paints for details and calligraphy. The brushes are magnificent! They are beautiful, feel good in your hand and I anticipate them working well. The rice paper is thin and has good moisture control which helps beginners. You can find all the products I used below.


Great Wall of China Kit

I love this kit!! We’ve done our fair share of build kits and what I love about this one is how lovely this looks in the end. But that’s not all. This Great Wall of China kit by Wise Elk considers the project, the storage and multiple uses of it by providing versatility with this kit. The bricks are premade and are were both durable yet cut easily if necessary, and when assembled with the glue provided, the end result was stunning. But once the project was complete, you could soak the bricks in water and the glue would loosen. Once the bricks were clean and dry, they could be used again for new building projects. While this project is suitable for children 5 years and up, I imagine young children will need a fair amount of supervision or assistance. My 14-year-old did this project entirely on his own and while he’s been capable of doing more of these kinds of projects on his own since he was about 9 or 10 years old, my 9-year-old daughter would not have been able to do this on her own and would have felt discouraged along the way. Since you are building from the bottom up and each brick needs to be precisely placed, if you aren’t accurate to begin with, you’ll get a slanted wall or pieces that don’t fit well together. This project took many hours over several days even weeks to complete. As my son worked through the building, he stopped for days to let the glue dry and set completely before continuing to build up. In the end, I think this was a fabulous addition to our main lesson block and I definitely recommend it. I thought the materials were all high quality, authentic looking and helped create a realistic finished project. We like it so much, we have other products from Wise Elk on our wish list.


Excavation of Ancient Chinese Artifacts

We’ve been adding dig kits to our lessons for years and they never get old. While each company has its own unique way to do an archaeological dig kit, I especially liked this one called Discover China Ancient Dig Kit by Explorer by Tedco because the artifacts were high quality and the clay/plaster was just the right balance been hard and easy. It took my 9-year-old daughter two days to finish her excavation, she worked less than an hour each time. She did accidently break the ceremonial wine goblet, but I fixed it with Tombow Mono Adhesive. She also broke or lost the coin that came as well and I wonder if maybe she missed it while excavating. Overall, I really liked this kit and the value it brought as a hands on project for this Ancient China unit study.


4D China Puzzle with Monuments

I had high hopes for this project. Sure, assembling the puzzle was fun enough and the bonus was the three dimensional plastic pieces that fit perfectly into holed out pieces on the puzzle, but we did this puzzle for one reason…to see it through our iPad using the app suggested on the box. After searching for the app in all forms of the app’s name, and though the 3D CityScapes website, we couldn’t find the app anywhere! We were so disappointed. We did find other apps that seemed promising, but overall it wasn’t what we expected.


Art in History: Painting Terracotta Warriors Qin Dynasty

These Art in History Terracotta Warriors replicas were one of the best projects we did for our Ancient China unit. They are quite large measuring about 8 inches (21 cm) and look impressive once painted. Actually the end project looks nothing like what you see in photos depicting the Terracotta Warriors of the Qin Dynasty. That’s because the paint has deteriorated over the thousands of years they have been underground. No doubt some parts were preserved as the archeologist were able to decren the colors the clay warriors were painted. While we made some mistakes while painting, and granted it wasn’t the easiest, I think the end results were wonderful.

This project is suitable for students in elementary school through high school. It supports a hands on approach to learning history. You can find these for about $12 a kit which includes high quality supplies and materials. It comes with an abundance of paint, but be sure to cover extra paint, or only put how much you are using on a plate while working or the paint will dry up as this project was done over several days and even weeks. Each layer needs times to dry to account for this when doing the project. We would work for 15-20 minutes during each session until the project was complete.

I worked with my 10-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son. My daughter had trouble getting some of the details, but her first pass was beautiful. I did help her add details and at the end you can see both my son’s and daughter’s project and how different they look with and without the added detail suggested in the instructions. The kit also comes with a code you can enter on the website for additional information on the Terracotta Warriors. While we have used Art in History kits before, this was the first time we used the Lesson Plan Download access. The added information, history, maps and instructions added to our project. It is especially helpful if you do not have any other resource on the Terracotta Warriors. Since we had studied this in the books we used for our unit, the lesson plans were an added bonus. There was new information we hadn’t seen in books regarding the painting techniques used by the craftsmen and artisans that were insightful for us. I hadn’t know that they were all painted in vibrant colors or that a river of mercury circled around a miniature of the imperial grounds in the tomb. Overall my children enjoyed the hands on approach to this lesson and we look forward to adding more Art in History kits to our units.


Ribbon Dance Sticks

When we do our history units for homeschool, I aim to include a craft book or kits. I love hands on activities and feel it enhances a curriculum. For this unit (including China, Ancient China and the Silk Road), I found this gem of a craft book. Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts by Jennifer DeCristoforo is expertly laid out. The quality is superb! The book itself is high quality with thick sturdy pages spiral bound for ease of use and covered with a vibrant durable cover. You get to meet Jennifer in the opening pages of the book which I really appreciated and gave me a deeper fondness for the book and its aims. The craft ideas are simple, well explained and include step by step directions.

This has been one of the most easily incorporated craft books we have used as my 10-year-old daughter started making the projects easily and on her own before we began working on projects together. The back of the book includes templates you can copy and cut out. I appreciated having that available so we could complete crafts easily and beautifully.

Today’s project is the Ribbon Dance Sticks. While this project was simple and quick, we did need to give ample time for the paint to dry and even more time for the glue to dry. We used 12 inch 1/4″ diameter dowels (I mistakenly said 3/8″ in the video) painted red using Lyra watercolors and acrylic paint. I bought 3″ red ribbon, but once we started the project I noticed the ribbon size suggested was 2″ to 3″ inches. Given the smallness of our dowels, I paused the project and headed to a local craft store (Jo-Ann), and picked up 1.5″ satin ribbon. We made ribbon sticks using both sizes of ribbon. The book suggests 54-60 inches of ribbon, but we made ours 6 feet long with one at 15 feet! I also found a 15 inch dowel with a larger diameter in my supplies, so I painted that up and used the wider ribbon on that one.

Once we looked up Chinese ribbon dances we noticed that the silk or cloth or ribbon is actually much larger than 3″, so you could also try making it with a long strip of silk cloth. If you adhere it carefully to a stick, you can use it temporarily without damaging the cloth, or, as an alternative, you could hold the cloth. We used our Sarah’s Silks in red to try this out as an alternative. It was enjoyable learning different techniques and when you work together to choreography a dance, it looks especially beautiful.


How to Make Ancient Chinese Ming Porcelain

Spoiler alert: This project was a success and it turned out 100 times better than I expected! I can’t believe we made stunning faux Chinese Porcelain from the Ming Dynasty using Sculpey Soft Oven Bake Clay and acrylic paints. Instead of forming a bowl the way the book Lucky Bamboo Crafts by Jennifer DeCristoforo, I shaped it into a small oven safe bowl. I wasn’t sure it would work to bake the clay in the bowl and have the bowl release, so I tried two other methods: I laid the clay over the outside of a smaller bowl and with the third, I lifted the clay out before baking.

Once we baked the clay for 15 minutes at 275 degrees, I carefully separated the clay bowl from our existing bowl. It was hot and more malleable as a result and I kept at it, gently pulling and lifting, all the while avoiding breaking the clay. Soon I could feel all the parts release and after pulling against the small vacuum that had been created, I released the clay bowl. It was fantastic! The outside of the bowl was smooth and porcelain like. The inside was matte and textured with fingerprints and impressions. It looked just like a small bowl and was ready for painting. I used my acrylic paints from Blick Art Materials and mixed blue and white with a touch of black to get the iconic blue that is recognizable as Chinese porcelain.

I began painting a motif similar to the one in the book and found that it was easier to paint if I watered down my paint. Take care not to over dilute it or your paint will run and drip. At first I thought the painting looked sloppy and rough, but once the bowl was complete it looked stunning and authentic. All the little mistakes and brush slips are not noticeable when you look at the completed bowl…from afar. Upon close inspection, you can certainly see all the imperfections, but as an educational activity, I found it to be profound. Even for such a simple project, it ended up taking hours to complete.

I worked with my 10-year-old daughter who is doing this China unit study for homeschool, but my 14-year-old-son initially chose not to do this project. I quickly realized that the detail I had achieved in my bowl was not going to be attainable from either of my children. My daughter modified the motif and make two bowls. I found that the effort, time and patiences were an insight in how these arts were performed in modern and ancient times. From the molding, to the baking (firing) to the painting, this project was a lengthy process and mirrors the time and effort and skill required by artisans. While this is only a rough replica, we are really pleased with the outcome. We did modify the project found in the book Lucky Bamboo Crafts as we did not make our own dough/clay, and rather bought and used my favorite oven bake clay by Sculpey.

How To Make Origami Chopstick Holders

We are loving the craft book Lucky Bamboo Crafts by Jennifer DeCristoforo. We are getting tons of inspiration from this book and while we have some video tutorials to share with you, the majority of the projects we did, we didn’t make a video tutorial to accompany this blog post. What I’m enjoying about the book, aside from the superior quality (spiral bound so it lays flat, thick glossy pages so they last and won’t tear with student use), I find that this book was especially inviting to my 10-year-old daughter who worked through several projects entirely on her own with great success. She was dedicated and motivated and her projects turned out beautifully.

Today’s project is another she can do on her own, but I decided to share this super easy origami tutorial on how to make chopstick cases. I’m using Folia Origami Paper from A Child’s Dream which measures 6″x6″ which is slightly small for this project but you’ll still get great cases. I used a bit of glue to secure the back flap. A glue stick works great for that. I added a bit of gold washi tape as a decoration to secure the folded up bottom as an additional measure to just using glue for that piece.

I made three to match the chopsticks I bought over 10 years ago from a local shop, but when my children made theirs, the filled them with disposable chopsticks we’ve collected from the years of eating out at Asian restaurants.


How to Make a Puppet Theater

When I happen upon a craft book that inspires hours of independent play and deep engagement, I know it’s a winner! Lucky Bamboo Crafts by Jennifer DeCristoforo is one such a book. We are using it as part of our Ancient China Main Lesson Block for our homeschool and we are finding a ton of inspiration from this beautifully written book. One thing I especially like about this craft book are the print outs at the back of the book that you photocopy, cut out and assemble. It makes doing these crafts especially child friendly, especially when you cannot participate in the crafts with your children. That’s just what happened when I pulled this book out for our Ancient China. Before I had a chance to arrange these projects for my 10-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son, my daughter zipped through project after project for hours of engagement and learning.

These puppets are easy to assemble. If you don’t have access to a copier, you can trace or free hand the images on white copy paper. If you don’t have kite paper or transparent paper for the cut outs, skip it! And if you don’t have dowels, use bamboo sticks for the moveable limbs. The one thing I suggest getting are brads. I used an old box for the theater, but when my daughter worked on this project, she used a frame which I backed with wax paper. Adult supervision is needed for the X-Acto Knife, but everything else can be easily accomplished by a child.


Chinese Brush Painting

Chinese brush painting was my favorite of all the hands on projects we did for our Ancient China unit study for homeschool. We got this Chinese Brush Painting kit from Barnes and Noble. It comes with basic supplies of which I don’t know of the quality. Being that we were beginners, it appeared the supplies we used were good enough for our endeavor, but you can find high quality professional supplies from Oriental Art Supply. For this lesson, we explored how to make simple brush strokes using the three different hand/finger positions indicated in the book. Once we practiced those stokes, we attempted the lotus flower. It was challenging for us to find success with this project for many reasons. First, we didn’t practice the basics enough. Second, we were too hasty and did everything in one day rather than doing several short lessons for the course of a week. And third, it takes years of practice to make it look easy! The images in the book are beautiful and while some look basic, it wasn’t easy to achieve what we wanted…even with something easy. This left me deeply impressed and in appreciative of the time and skill it takes to learn this art form, master it and produce work that looks effortless. If you haven’t tried Chinese brush painting, I recommend you try it out!


Knot Tying A Chinese Traditional Art

I forget that before machines did much of the work for us, we once learned how to do things by hand. Over time, we honed and improved our skills. The Chinese square knot, made using a small square template about 1/2 an inch square with four holes punched on each side, is a beautiful and unique knot that decorates clothes and lanterns. While I show you a basic version of this knot using the book Lucky Bamboo Crafts by Jennifer DeCristoforo, I also share with you some tassels with more intricate knots we purchased online which will decorate our lanterns. We used a thin waxed thread rather than a thicker satin cording. While our knots stayed secure, they were not as thick and beautiful as the store bought knots.


Ancient China Unit Study Review

We’ve come to the end of our unit and while you may not see everything we did in our unit study review, you can always see all the projects we did by scrolling up this page to see all the recipes we tried, projects we did and books we read. When we complete a unit, we usually have a few things trailing behind that we pick up in our next unit, but sometimes, we miss things we don’t do until we circle back to a unit years later. Our Ancient China unit was put together fairly quickly as we hadn’t intended to dive this deep into this subject area while working through our Silk Road unit. I’m glad we did because we found that learning about China was absolutely relevant in truly understanding the politics and trade of the Silk Road. Many of the books we read were insightful and interesting, but there were a few that felt dry and boring. To make those boring books more interesting, I ask questions throughout the reading or break up the reading with a picture book.

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