Monday, March 20, 2017

Teaching Ancient China

You know what I love most about third-grade? Learning about Ancient Civilizations! There are a multitude of fun crafts and activities for each one that kids love. Does anyone's heart not go pitter-patter when kids are stoked to learn every day?!?

You can check out my post from last year about my favorite Ancient China activities!

Every year I slightly change how I teach. There are just so many fun activities to do - I like to mix it up and keep it fresh. Otherwise my life begins to resemble Groundhog Day. Groundhog Day leads to boredom. Boredom leads to feelings of unhappiness and confusion. An unhappy and confused me results in showing up at school in a velour sweatsuit, a pair of Uggs, two days of greasy hair, and a plastic bag full of $14 worth of Taco Bell. Wait... that sounds like my ultimate dream.

Hey, see these plates? Believe it or not, you can't put them on your wedding registry. They are paper! Who knew?!?!

Okay, so I did this last year. BUT I LOVE IT SO MUCH. Who knew that black and blue tempura paint and a white paper plate that has been sitting in my armoire for a year could result in such magic? The kids will also realize the superhero teacher that you truly are when paints appear.

Now, paints can obviously end in total and utter disaster. I have a lot of rules for the paint. NO ONE can move from their table. They must be sitting, or I will take their artistic creation. I have a few boys this year who constantly wanderrrrrrrrr away to another table to poke or prod a different boy in the class. Nope, not happening when paints are involved!

I also put up pictures of Chinese calligraphy on the projector so they can paint Chinese characters. Add in some Chinese music, and you are in for a relaxing afternoon! So perfect for a fun Friday.

In our state, we teach about the methods of Ancient Chinese farming, including terracing. Terracing is cutting into the hillside so that the water doesn't slide right down the slope. Terracing can be a tough concept for a third-grader to understand who knows nothing about hills or farming practices. To demonstrate what terracing is, I use clay models!

I give each table a tray, a cup of water, and a ball of clay. First, students are directed to make the clay a perfectly smooth ball. Then, they dump half the water over it. They observe what happens to the water (spoiler alert: it rolls right off).

Next, I instruct kids to create a staircase like texture on their clay (I demonstrate). Afterwards, we pour the rest of the water on. The kids observe, then we discuss why the water holds so much better. Why is this better for crops? Why do they think the Ancient Chinese chose to do this? Finally, we look at real-life photos and a video clip to connect their new understanding with real life.


Who doesn't love a foldable? I offer a product on TPT for an Ancient China interactive notebook. For some hands-on fun and learning, these are my favorite. I don't like foldables with intricate cutting, so all of mine are a quick cut. My kids love their interactive notebooks and touching all the fun folds and flaps.


Confession time. I am addicted to Google Classroom. My students adore it, which really just feeds my addiction. Due to this insatiable need to use Google Classroom, I created Ancient China for Google Classroom! It has lots of drag-&-drop feature to engage students, as well as fun colors and pictures. My school is not 1:1, so we complete these usually in table groups or in partners. Not only do the kids work on their understanding of Ancient China, but they work on their collaboration, communication, and technology skills - all those much needed 21st century skills!

No student will be confused about Confucius!

Do you study Ancient China in your classroom? What activities, crafts, or resources do you enjoy incorporating?

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