Mapmaking is such an exciting project for children. Not only is your child learning the geography of China in a much more memorable way than fill in the blank maps, but she is learning a historic art form. I find that my children truly learn and retain their geography when they create their own maps, as they are having a visual, kinesthetic, and artistic experience while learning the geography of the region. Here is how we approached mapping China.
Materials: watercolor paper (we use 11 x 17) waterproof India ink pen, watercolors, colored pencils, an atlas or computer for reference maps
(Prepare a cutout in the shape of China by outlining China and cutting it out for your children to trace around- or they can freehand draw China on their maps)
Begin by looking at an atlas and ask your children to locate China on the world map. Make a note that it is in Asia. Then look at a map of China. Notice bordering countries and name them out loud. Ask your children if they can find the capital of China. (Beijing)
Have your children make an outline of China on their paper that includes the surrounding land. In other words, don’t make it look like an island. It is important that children know which regions border water or land.
Have your children outline all land with the India ink pen, as well as China’s borders. They don’t need to outline any other countries’ borders unless you want them to. Have them label China. Have them locate the capital city of Beijing and label it. Now have them watercolor China any color they want, the surrounding land grey to show that we are not focusing on it, and the oceans blue.
Oceans, Seas, Rivers, and Lakes of China:
Click here to see a map of the seas that border China on the east. Find the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea, and the South China Sea, and have your children label them on their maps. Explain to your children that beyond the seas the water is a part of The Pacific Ocean.
Click here to see a river map of China. Have your children find the Yellow River, the Yangtze River, and the Xi River. Explain that these are the most famous rivers in China and have them draw them on their maps with a blue colored pencil.
Click here to see a map of lakes in China. The list below the map shows how large they are. The three largest lakes are Qinghai Saline Lake, Xingkai Lake, and Poyang Lake. Have your children find them on the map and draw them on their maps with a blue colored pencil.
Mountain Ranges and the Largest Mountain in the World:
Click here to see a map of China’s mountain ranges. Have your children find the Himalays, the Tian Shan Mountain Range, and the Kunlun Mountain Range. By making upside down V’s, have them draw them on their maps and label them. Then have them find Mount Everest and draw it on their maps and tell them that this is the largest mountain in the world.
Locate the Gobi Desert and the Taklimakan Desert. Have your children label them on their maps.
Have your children pick some of the major cities to label on their maps. (Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taipei, Changdu, etc) Here is a link to the ten largest cities in China.
Have your children draw a compass rose and add a map key. As you learn about China, your children might want to draw icons on their maps symbolizing places they learn about, such as the Great Wall of China.