Sunday, March 18, 2012

Starting Japan and Spring Break

We basically ended our unit study of China last Wednesday, and this next week we will start Japan by looking at its geography and creating a map. This is my favorite unit because students do a simulation entitled War Lords of Japan that is a lot of fun. Be prepared for your student to be excited about Japanese history and preparing for daily quizzes during the simulation. It can get quite competitive between teams, but the kids have a great time.
Also next week is Spring Break. Just want you to know that I will be in Orlando baking my heart out in the Pillsbury Bake-Off. Martha Stewart is going to be there and I will try to get a picture of me on the baking floor with her. It promises to be exciting and a lot of fun. Hopefully, you will have a relaxing, if not exciting Spring Break also.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Traveling the Silk Road

Some of the best things about our textbook are the activities that come with the chapters. This week we got to travel the Silk Road. Using blue paint tape I created a route for students to follow going over mountains, through the Taklamakan Desert, past lions and scorpions, and slipping by bandits. The kids really enjoyed it, and when our journey was finished we discussed what it would have been like for merchants to travel the Silk Road. 
This week was also the week we learned that the first emperor of China was not a black and white character. He did some great things, like create a country, but he also ruled harshly and killed a lot of people in the process. Students are starting to realize history can be complicated. 
Next week we will be finishing up our month long study of China, and there is no way you can really study China in a month. 
Below are pictures of students traveling the Silk Road.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Writing Chinese

We are deep into our Chinese curriculum and had a busy week learning about Confucianism, Daoism, and Legalism. Students had fun experiencing classroom settings where the proper behavior of Confucianism was conducted. Then they felt the peaceful harmony of Daoism’s harmony with nature, and finally felt the harsh strict rule of Legalism. We also began learning about the first emperor of China, Qin Shihuangdi. By learning about Legalism, students were able to see which style of rule the first emperor chose to use.

As well as learning about the different philosophies that developed in China during the Zhou dynasty, students got a taste of Chinese writing. They created or found their own proverb and translated it from English to Chinese. Then they copied the Chinese translation onto parchment paper, and created a decorative display of their Chinese writing. It is one of my favorite projects for students to do because when they are finished they have a beautiful piece of art. Students also enjoy working with the Chinese characters. The Chinese language is somewhat of a mystery to them since it is based on ideograms or characters instead of alphabet letters.
Next week we’ll begin looking at inventions of the Chinese. They were a very inventive people who we can thank for such innovations as the segmental arch, the crossbow, fireworks, gunpowder, the kite, silk, porcelain, and many, many other things.

Below are pictures of students experiencing Confucianism and Daoism in their groups and working on their Chinese writing project.