Welcome back to school in the new year. I hope that your family had an enjoyable December break. For the next six weeks we will be studying China and its many rich cultural traditions. When studying a country I strive to include as many aspects of culture as possible. Much of what will be learned during this unit study is China’s history in relation to items invented there and shared with the world; rice, tea, noodles, silk, kites, and fireworks. The students will learn about Mt. Everest, the Gobi Desert, and the Huang He and Yangtze rivers. They will learn to identify the flag of the People’s Republic of China and will learn about the Great Wall of China. We will discuss the great panda and bamboo, which is not only the pandas’ food source but is becoming a very important sustainable resource in the creation of a variety of items. The students will see examples of calligraphy and will be using a board in class to try to create brush strokes of their own. I am working on arranging several presenters for cultural presentations throughout the study. The students will celebrate Chinese New Year and then will continue to celebrate for the next fourteen days, with the celebration culminating in the Lantern Festival. The students will be dancing a dragon dance for your enjoyment at Parent Night, which we will be learning about and practicing throughout the six weeks.
The students will learn to count from 1-10 in Mandarin and will learn greetings and courtesy words. The vocabulary will be presented and then practiced throughout the unit study. I will be encouraging the students to say “nǐ hǎo” in the mornings when they see me. Chinese music will play in the classroom during work cycle, and we will watch Big Bird in China in short increments during the unit study. Filmed in 1983, the movie shows Big Bird, Barkley, and Little Xiao Fu traveling through China to find Feng Huang, the Phoenix. The movie shows a school, people practicing Tai Chi in a park, and many other every day activities involving the Chinese people. The Monkey King is also featured, an important character in Chinese lore. The students will also learn about Martin Luther King Jr. this month and equality.
The students are adjusting to removing their shoes before entering the classroom, placing their identification card inside or under their shoes. This unit study will help students perfect shoe skills as they practice each day taking their shoes on and off. During work cycle students are completing Practical Life works manipulating tāngchí (Chinese soup spoons), chopsticks, and tea items among others. Large laminated cards show pictures of aspects of Chinese life, and decorations abound. There is a cultural examination table this month with items from China. Here students can handle a variety of items; looking at the hanzi (the written Chinese characters) on the noodle packages, smelling lemongrass, handling a small ceramic panda, examining the flag, and more.
Here is a list of some of the books that will be read in class this unit study. Feel free to explore these and others at your local library to help your child think about China and topics discussed in class.
Ruby’s Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges
Xinmin’s Story, A Family in China by Helene Tremblay
Count Your Way through China by Jim Haskins
Lon Po Po, A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young
Kite Flying by Grace Lin
Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin
Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin
Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures, Imperial China By Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen
Watch Me Grow Panda DK Publishing
Everybody Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley
During cold weather we ask that you make sure your child brings a jacket to school. Hats are also allowed and encouraged. We do go outside when the weather is cold, and children need to be dressed appropriately in layers. We eat inside when the wind is biting since our patio is in the shade.
Have a nice weekend,