China Country Study 2018-03-08T01:46:14+00:00

Welcome to Our China Country Study!

The Books:

Note: I was able to find most of these books in our local library, but some are so beautiful that they make wonderful additions to your home library. Not every book is necessary for this study, but we read all of them, one at a time, during our morning story times. Stories are a wonderful way to get familiar with a culture.

Just in case the Amazon book links didn’t load on your computer, here is a written book list:

The Boy Who Painted Dragons – Demi
The Greatest Power – Demi
Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures: Imperial China – Cole
The Luminous Pearl: A Chinese Folktale – Torre
The Magic Boat – Demi
The Magic Horse of Han Gan – Hong
The Empty Pot – Demi
The Cricket Warrior: A Chinese Tale – Chang
The Shell Woman and the King: A Chinese Folktale – Yep
Tikki Tikki Tembo – Mosel

The Greatest Treasure – Demi
The Junior Thunder Lord – Yep
Lord of the Cranes – Chen
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon – Lin
A Perfect Time for Pandas (Magic Tree House) Pope Osborne
Pandas and other Endangered Species (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker) Pope Osborne
Day of the Dragon King (Magic Tree House) – Pope Osborne
China: Land of the Emperor’s Great Wall (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker) – Pope Osborne
Giant Pandas – Gibbons

Introduction to China:

Watch the following video with your children to introduce them to the wonders of China.

Mapping China:

download (1)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.

Major Cities:

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.

Map Details:

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.

Wildlife Map of China:

download (2)Learning about the wildlife of the country you are studying is equally as important as learning about the geography and cultures, as hopefully we are raising a generation that will contribute to the well being of our planet, the protection of species, and the preservation of wildlife. There is no better way to contribute to that goal than to nurture in our children, from a young age, a respect and admiration for nature and wild life.

Materials- a cutout of China (same cutout used for the first map), a large piece of thick paper, (we always use watercolor paper so that these projects last), colored pencils, india ink pen, and either block crayons or watercolors.)

Before beginning this project, enjoy the “Wild China” documentaries below. Each documentary explores a different region of China and its wildlife.

To begin:

Outline China in dark green colored pencil. Outline the land around China in grey or brown to keep the focus on China.

Click here to learn about the wildlife of China. Click on various species to see pictures and have your children pick their favorites and draw pictures of them on their maps. Then have them label their pictures. If your children aren’t fond of drawing, you can print pictures and have them cut them out and glue them in, but if possible, I recommend drawing as this visual and kinesthetic experience really helps them remember the animals from the country you are learning about.

Click here to learn about the flora of China as well as fauna, and if your children would like to, have them draw their favorite plant species on their maps.

Have your children title their maps, “Wildlife of China.”

Then, with watercolors or block crayons (or the side of a stick crayon) have your children color China green, the surrounding land gray or brown, and the ocean blue.

Following is a series of wildlife documentaries produced by BBC entitled, Wild China. In addition to wildlife, Chinese and Tibetan culture and religious beliefs are introduced.

Flag of China:

download (1)Materials: watercolor paper, sharpie black marker, watercolors

Click here to see the flag of China and to read about its meaning. Have your children watercolor their own flag of China.

Main Religions in China:

The majority of people in China follow the folk religions of China, which include Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism as well as other elements. Other religions include Christianity, Catholicism, and Islam. To read a much more in depth explanation of religion in China, click here.


Materials: egg cartons, construction paper in various colors, tissue paper in various colors, glue, black marker.

Before beginning this project, read a few of the folktales from the list above that involve dragons. Tell your children that dragons represent good luck in China and are a symbol of strength. Explain that a very important holiday in Chinese culture is the Chinese New Year and that on the night of the Chinese New Year, people parade through the streets holding an enormous dragon followed by beautiful lanterns. Below is a video of the Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco.

For directions to make your own dragons, click on this link.

Chinese Calligraphy: How to Write Dragon in Chinese

Materials: watercolor paper, paint brush, black ink, red construction paper, glue stick

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Watch the following video and follow along. We paused the video after every stroke while we worked.

Chinese Lanterns:

Materials: a mason jar, yellow tissue paper, red construction paper, black marker, while glue, stapler, scissors, red cord

Watch the video below of the Chinese New Year Lantern Festival with your children. Explain to them that on the night of the Chinese New Year, after the parade, all the people take part in a lantern festival. During the Lantern Festival, everyone gathers together, lights lanterns, and releases them into the sky.

As red symbolizes good luck in China, the lanterns are almost always red, and there are many ideas as to the origin of the tradition. Some believe it is meant to symbolize the coming of the end of winter. To read more about the possible meanings of the Lantern Festival, click here.

To begdownload (2)in making your lantern, remove the metal circle from the lid of your mason jar. Then take your red cord and loop each side under the lid and tighten. This will be your lantern’s handle.






download (3)Cut the yellow tissue paper into pieces. Then cover your jar with white glue using a paint brush. Then cover your entire jar with yellow tissue.

When the glue dries, write “dragon” in Chinese on the yellow tissue with a black marker. (Tutorial above)



download (4)Take a piece of red paper. Landscape wise, it should now be at least 2-3 inches taller than the jar. Fold it in half.

Cut slits, from the fold till about 2 inches away from the edge, all along the paper.

Roll the red paper into a tube wide enough to fit exactly around the jar with a slight overlap. Glue along the red paper but make sure not to glue the red to the jar yet.

Now slide the ends so that they are in line with the jar. The slits should puff out and begin to look like a lantern. (glue into place)


(If you want your lanterns to be round rather than diamond shaped then instead of folding the red paper before cutting, lay it flat and make the cuts with a craft knife. I would recommend doing that for your children rather having them do it.)

Make a Chinese Rattle Drum:

Materials: 2 paper bowls or paper plates, hole puncher, red paint, yellow yarn or cord, 2 bells, stapler, black marker, stick

These are so much fun! You use the rattle drum by placing the stick between both of your hands and rolling it quickly between your hands. This causes the drum to twirl back and forth and the bells to bang on the sides. It produces a very neat sound and your children will be delighted by this unique way of drumming

Click here for directions to make your Chinese Rattle Drum.

Chinese Fans:

Chinese fans were first created 3,000 years ago and since have become a form of art. Originally invented to simply keep cool and shaded from the sun, the fan has grown to be an art form, a symbol of generosity and good luck, as well as props for dances.

Materials: markers, large construction paper, stapler

Have your children pick their favorite color paper and draw a picture on it. Traditional pictures might include dragons, flowers, or blossoming trees.

Then fold the paper in little 1 inch folds, turning the paper over between each fold, and staple the bottom.



Make Sculpey Pandas and a Panda Habitat:

Materials: black and white oven bake sculpey clay (available at most art stores), a box for the habitat, grass, rocks, and bamboo shoots if you have some growing nearby. If not then simply use some leaves.

Have your children create a panda habitat using a box and things from outside. Then have them sculpt pandas from sculpey clay and, after baking and cooling, have them place their pandas in the habitat.

Panda Research Project:

Embark on a panda research project with your children. Use this as an opportunity to teach your children about researching a topic. They can either write a report, create a presentation board and present it to family and friends, write a book including interesting facts, or even write a poem about what they have learned. The possibilities are endless.

My daughter loved creating this presentation board about pandas. She even presented it at our
4-h presentation day and received a gold.

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Cooking a Chinese Dinner: Chicken Chow Mien and Pot Stickers

Cooking day, as I have mentioned before, is by far, my children’s favorite country study activity. If you haven’t cooked with your kids before, you might be tempted to pass over this activity, but please don’t. It is such a wonderful part of the country studies and your children will have so much fun! My children always feel so proud of the meals they prepare. To make it even more exciting, we love to play music from the country we are studying while cooking.

I used a rather simple recipe for our chicken chow mien. It didn’t take long and turned out to be quite delicious.

Click here for our chicken chow mien recipe.

Click here for the pot stickers recipe.

Traditional Chinese Music and Dance: