Sunday, February 27, 2011

Snow Day and Writing Chinese

It was a short week, but even so we managed to produce a little Chinese writing.  Students came Tuesday with their proverbs in hand and then translated them using an online translator. Everyone was very engaged looking up their translation and deciding how they would present their Chinese calligraphy. Some students even chose to go home, and with parent help burned the edges of their parchment. Students produced some lovely displays of family proverbs, or proverbs they just enjoyed in general.
This was also a week for learning about Confucius, Daoism and Legalism. It was also a week to examine Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of China. Students considered his effectiveness of rule. Sometimes they found him to be a very effective ruler, but many times a very harsh, and tyrannical leader. They discovered he burned books, killed scholars, and forced the common man to hard labor on the Great Wall.
So, this next week we will be looking at the many inventions we can attribute to the Chinese. They were ahead of their time. We will also try to experience the Silk Road. All of this is new for your children. They know very little about this country and have virtually no background information from which to draw. However, they are eager and committed learners. It is fun to teach when pupils are so interested. Ask your children what they know and are learning. It might surprise you!

Below are some quick pictures of Green Block students with their Chinese writing. ( FYI: This next week I intend to get closer shots of this project and will post them so you can get a better view of student work.)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Looking at the Shang Dynasty

We are starting to get deeper into our understanding of China. Last week we completed maps and looked at the early dynasty, the Shang. This dynasty was considered legendary until around the early 1900’s when archeologists finally found artifacts to support the legends. So, for an activity, we examined pictures of artifacts that were found in the tombs of this early Chinese dynasty.
On Thursday we talked about proverbs because this next week we will start learning about Confucius and other Chinese philosophers. Proverbs were important to teaching correct behavior in the Chinese culture. As an assignment, I asked students to find or create a proverb that might have been used in their families. (This is due Tuesday, Feb. 22nd.) We will then take those proverbs and translate them into Chinese characters to be copied. Students will create some beautiful art by copying the Chinese calligraphy, completing a translation, and arranging them together on a background. This is one of my favorite activities of the year. When the students are finished they have a lovely display of Chinese calligraphy.
Below are some pictures of students in the green block examining Shang artifacts and reading the chapter about this dynasty.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Studying the Geography of China and the First Dynasty

Last week we focused on the geography of China so students could have an idea where China is and how it developed. Geography always influences the way a civilization develops, and it had a great influence on Chinese civilization. Some of the biggest deserts and tallest mountains isolated this country so that it would develop its own unique culture.  To begin our study, we read about the geography in our texts and used large laminated maps with overhead pens to explore Asia. The children seem to enjoy the large maps and it is one way for them to get some hands-on experience.
This week students will finish creating a map of China (due Thursday, Feb. 17th) and they will also start examining the earliest dynasties: Shang and the legendary Xia. We will also begin exploring the beginnings of Chinese writing and next week will try our hand at it.

Below are pictures of the Blue Block. (I am trying to make up for the times I have overlooked taking pictures of their block.)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Beginning of a new term and a new unit: Asia

Students took their test last week for the end of the unit study of Egypt. Most of them did very well and I was happy with the results.  If you haven’t had a chance to debrief with your child about Egypt, now would be a good time to see what they learned. As an end to the unit, we had a guest present an assembly about the mummification process. I think most students enjoyed the presentation and learned a few new things.  With Egypt in the headlines right now, most students are very interested in seeing how things play out in this Mid-Eastern country. Their interest indicates to me that the lessons they have learned about Egypt will stick with them for a while.
Last week we also began a quick look at India and will spend the next term studying Asia. Our study will focus on ancient China and Japan. It is during this unit we will a create commercials using iMovie to show our knowledge about these ancient Asian countries. During this unit we also do a Chinese writing assignment and have fun with a simulation called “War Lords of Japan.” This is a very fun and information filled unit.
Grades will be sent out this week so look for your child’s grade in the mail next week, or check online using eSIS. The grades are already up. (Sorry, but I wasn’t able to get pictures this week, so I took an image from Mr. Donn's clip art site.)