Looking Back – Ancient China

I’m doing a series called looking back, documenting learning the children and I did together prior to me blogging.

This week is Ancient China.  This is the civilisation I feel we didn’t do justice to, but we will be revisiting for our fun week just before Easter and may do an Easter Adventure Box to allow the children three rather than one week to explore.  We are tying it in to our study of one of the earliest known, middle age explorers Marco Polo.  Our first shot at China was during my pregnancy with B1 and so I was unable/unwilling to do a lot of the more hands on stuff, but we had lots of snuggle time reading books and the children filled in a lap book by themselves so all was not lost!  The children were about 7-8 at the time

We began our study of Ancient China using this book:

And added these:


I gave the children a t-shirt that I had cut from collar to hem at the front, ripped up chinese looking material and some fabric pens.  They proceeded to make and decorate their own costume:


Together, using red and black foam, we constructed some cool clog type shoes:


I had the children do a lapbook.  I find these really useful for times when I know we won’t be digging too deeply into a culture and I need the children to work more independently.  We always choose Hands of a Child  because they come with the information required to complete the lap book pieces, so it’s all in one place and I don’t need to do too much work.  We attach the lap book pieces to a piece of card, using both sides and slide the card into a plastic cover.  This enables us to file them as we would our normal work (primarily notebooking) and also allows for integration of lap-booking and notebooking (less restrictions – I like that!):





We learnt about the Chinese zodiac and coloured in a book mark with chinese figures:


We looked at ancient Chinese art on the computer and tried to copy it:


We looked at the inventions of ancient China, I photocopied some pictures which they popped in the inventions pocket, we flew kites and then the children made their own little ones to stick in their folders.  And finally we made a chinese book using lolly sticks, twine and calligraphy pens.  Jimmie does a great tutorial here.

DSC_0607And a close up of the book:


We read this book and I did a lesson on tangrams:

We made a note page on tangrams, cut out a set each and photocopied a sheet of sample ‘pictures’ for them to try.  These are all stored in the pouch on the note page:



The children coloured in a dragon and made a Chinese fan:


Our literature study came from this book:

This is a biography of Confucius’ life written in story form and containing many of his wise sayings.  The children LOVED this book, and went round the house for weeks saying ‘Confucius, he say……!’ in a very bad Chinese accent, and then proceeded to roll on the floor in hysterics!

I had the children write out a few of his quotes and make up a short letter to Confucius about a problem.  They then had to pretend to be Confucius writing a letter back, giving advice using one of his wise sayings:

This is the letter about the problem with some wise sayings from Confucious above in the quotation bubble
This is the letter about the problem with some wise sayings from Confucius above in the quotation bubble
And this is Confucious' reply using his own sayings, with yet more sayings in the quotation bubble
And this is Confucius’ reply using his own sayings, with yet more sayings in the quotation bubble

Whilst we were studying Ancient Greece the children learnt about Aesop’s Fables and I asked them to write a story in the style of an Aesop fable, using one of the wise sayings of Confucius.  I enjoyed the resulting work so much I thought I’d include it here.  This would have been about 6 months later, so the children were 8 and 9:

C's essay
T’s essay
T's essay
C’s essay
L's essay
L’s essay

And that was that!  Not too many hands on things but I intend to rectify that when we revisit China in the middle ages in a few weeks!


  1. Your children write very well. What writing program do you use? We have writing issues in my home. Can you give any advice or tips?

    1. Thank you! I used IEW for a few months and would still apply some of the techniques we learnt, but I haven’t used any curriculum for a couple years now. My children read SO much and I think that helps with vocab and sentence structure. The most important thing we’ve done though is to ensure the children write for at least 1/2 an hour a day, much to my son’s disgust! We used copywork and dictation when they were younger and as they were able they just started writing their own stuff. HTH!

      1. Great we have just started using IEW! My son is not a fan of writing either 🙂 Thanks for the tips!

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