As the United States continues to grow, many people from other countries move to America to work, go to school, or raise a family. Thus, American schools consist of students from many different countries. Schools have historically taught principles based on Western thought. But with the rise of first-generation students whose parents were born in other countries, it is important to consider the culture and backgrounds of alternative countries as well. Incorporating Chinese history and culture into lesson plans allows classrooms to study the background and traditions of Chinese American students, and lets the class share in their heritage. Chinese history and culture offer a vast amount of material for study. Because the Chinese have contributed greatly in areas of invention, food, and art, these subjects can be included in classroom activities. Such topics relate to other studies that are already taking places, such as math, science, and history. Incorporating Chinese studies into everyday experiences allows students to consider aspects of a different culture while still learning in the classroom.
The history of Chinese literacy dates back many centuries to early Chinese thought and writings. Learning about these different works, such as the documents of Confucius, teach students about life in China. Students can learn about periods in the history of Chinese life through historical documents. Studies of immigration tell how and when the Chinese originally began to move to the United States and in what parts of the country they lived and worked. Finding books to use in the classroom will tell stories of people and places in China, allowing students a glimpse of life for the Chinese and giving them the opportunity to compare this to their own lives.
- Chinese Folk Tales: A lesson plan teaching language arts and historical writings from China.
- Materials on China: A list of books and Chinese resources for teaching.
The Chinese have used math concepts for centuries and their process is somewhat different from Western math ideas. Concepts such as using origami to fashion and study geometric shapes are fun ways to incorporate geometry into the classroom. The Chinese also used the abacus as an accounting method, and the comparison can be made with calculators of today. The written Chinese characters for numbers look vastly different from Western numbers, and students can learn and appreciate the differences in writing as well.
- Chinese Numbers: Details and pictures of the Chinese numerical system.
The Chinese celebrate various holidays throughout the year, and their calendar is different from those in the West. The Chinese even incorporate superstition and tradition into their holidays by naming their years after different animals of the zodiac. Classes can learn about the different Chinese holidays and why they are celebrated. When it comes to a specific time of year, students can then celebrate the Chinese holidays in the classroom. For example, the Autumn Festival usually falls in mid to late September and is a traditional harvest celebration. Students can learn about the Chinese lifestyle and make Moon Cakes, traditional sweets eaten by the Chinese during the Autumn Festival, as a way of celebrating this holiday.
- Background of Chinese New Year: Information and studies for 2nd and 3rd-grade students.
- The Chinese Calendar: Questions and information about the Chinese calendar.
The Chinese have made significant contributions to science and industry throughout history. Many inventions that people enjoy today were originally created by the Chinese. Students can learn and appreciate the many inventions that the Chinese created, such as silk, tea, or calligraphy writing. Many subjects can be incorporated into classroom activities as a way of learning Chinese history and appreciating the invention. Students can also follow recent developments in Chinese science. For example, the Great Panda, a type of animal found only in China, has neared extinction for decades. The Chinese work very hard at keeping the panda from entering extinction and have set up places to care for the animals and see to their continued procreation. Many stories of these pandas are in the news and students can follow these accounts to keep up with current events.
The art of China has a significant history, one that continues to grow and develop. There are many stereotypes about Chinese art, resigning it to simple pictures of dragons or sculptures of Buddha. The art of the Chinese spans generations and includes paintings, sculpture, calligraphy, and paper cutting, among many others. There are numerous examples of Chinese art forms that can be incorporated into the classroom setting for students to practice making or putting together. The practice of these art forms brings an appreciation of the many beautiful images and collections the Chinese have produced throughout history. Incorporating Chinese history into classroom education can be a simple way to appreciate and acknowledge another culture. As with any other group, the study of Chinese does not need to dominate all other activities, but remembering and recognizing the values of this country leads to a greater appreciation of Chinese culture for students in the classroom.
- The Chinese Art of Calligraphy: A lesson plan focused on teaching students Chinese calligraphy.