Ancient China Unit Plan

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Ancient China Unit Overview and Rational

This unit was team taught in a 3,4,5 multi-age classroom with 54 students. My fellow student teacher and I developed and designed this entire differentiated Ancient China 10-week unit to meet the individual needs of all our students. This unit on Ancient China falls into a larger yearlong curricula theme of ancient civilizations from around the world. This unit allowed students to engage in numerous active learning opportunities that incorporated "hands-on" activities in all curricula areas. We continually integrated authentic and memorable learning experiences that made history come alive for our students. Our classroom was project-based and throughout this unit student group collaboration was incorporated into our teaching format. From tasting Chinese green tea, to making a 50-foot Imperial art dragon, students learned the unique attributes of this influential ancient civilization. Each week we introduced new topics for study and exploration; below is our weekly calendar for planning and instruction. In this calendar, you will find student artifact links and photographs for several sections. Please note that not every EALR connection and central objective has been listed due to space restraints. Two-detailed instructional lesson plans are also included and embedded within the text, just right click on any green highlighted words to view the lessons. Scrolling over the pictures and right clicking can enlarge all of the thumbnail photographs and student artifacts.

Calendar Activities Central Objectives/EALR's Artifacts/Photos
Week 1
  • Introduction video highlighting China through the ages.
  • Green tea tasting while reading a story of Ancient Chinese inventions/discoveries.
  • Brief presentation of Ancient Chinese inventions.
  • Multi-age student research groups organized and given topics.Student research begins on the following topics: kite, tea, iron, paper, wheelbarrow, silk, chopsticks, rudder, woodblock printing, gunpowder and porcelain.
Students will have a solid introduction to our Ancient China unit and begin discovery of the many monumental inventions and discoveries during this time.
 Social Studies 1 The student examines and understands major ideas, eras, themes, developments, turning points, chronology, and cause-effect relationships in the world.
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Silk Invention.JPG
Week 2
  • Research continues on inventions/discoveries and groups finish final posters.
  • Students are responsible for creating individual invention booklets highlighting all 16 topics including important facts and written descriptions on how each affected the world.
  • Students write informative pieces explaining their new knowledge of Ancient Chinese inventions. Focus on ideas and organization from Six-Traits Writing.
Students will be able to state connections between today's world and Ancient China by researching Chinese inventions and discoveries.

World History 1.3.3 Examine and analyze how the contributions of various cultural groups influence society and the world.

Writing 2.3 The student writes in a variety of forms for different audiences and purposes. Write in a variety of forms: including expository in nature.

Science 3.2.2 Understand that people have invented tools for everyday life.

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Week 3
  • Introduction of our classroom live silkworms. Begin discovery of silkworm's lifecycle and the importance of silk as a discovery.
  • Participate in Ancient Chinese interdisciplinary discovery centers as follows: Tangrams, Dragon Art, History/Geography and Folktales. Click here to view our Ancient China centers lesson plan.
Students will be able to locate Ancient China's major geographical monuments, state the literary components of Chinese folktales, describe the meaning of Chinese dragons and tangrams, and explain the lifecycle of silkworms.

World History 1.2.1 Describe ways in which stories, folktales, and the arts serve as expressions of cultures.

Science 3.2.1 Know that science and technology have been practiced by all peoples throughout history.

Silk Worms.JPG
Dragon Art Center
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Week 4
  • Field trip to the Asian Art Museum and creation of painted fans.
  • Begin our classroom discovery and celebration of the Chinese New Year through reading.
  • Make Chinese red scrolls with traditional bamboo brushes and learn the fundamentals of Chinese calligraphy. Click here to view our red scroll lesson plan.
  • Create paper lanterns with our reading buddies. Student drawn images based off of traditional Ancient Chinese symbols.
  • Give informative assessment through Chinese 'baseball' questions.
Students will be able to retell the story of the Chinese New Year dragon, state the art fundamentals of calligraphy, and recognize Ancient Chinese symbols.

Art 4 The student makes connections within and across The Arts, to other disciplines, life, cultures, and work.

Art 4.4 Understand that the arts shape and reflect culture and history. Identifies specific attributes of artworks that reflect culture.

Julia Red Scroll.JPG
Museum Art Activity.JPG
Lantern Reading Buddies.JPG
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Week 5
  • Class discussion with a KWL about Ancient Chinese/Eastern medicine. Compare and contrast with Western style methods.
  • Have a parent acupuncturist visit our classroom to discuss Eastern philosophy, medicine and administer acupuncture on my fellow teacher and myself.
  • B.C./A.D Timeline activity. Students gather in a long line holding various dates and are responsible for realigning so the dates are in chronological order.
Students will be able to name one difference and similarity between Eastern and Western medicine practices. Students will also be able to place ancient dates chronlogically on a timeline.

History 1.1 Understand and analyze historical time and chronology.

Science 3.2.3 Understand how knowledge and skills of science and technology are used in common occupations.

Week 6
  • Formative assessment through research race game-Students work in groups to research on the Internet a variety of Ancient Chinese facts.
  • Fifth graders participate in the Chinese New Year lion dance parade.
  • Parent visits to discuss experiences living in China and knowledge of Chinese writing.
Students will be able to recall the art fundamentals of calligraphy and retell parts of a story about the Chinese New Year lion dance.

Communication 3.1 The student uses communication strategies, skills and language to interact effectively and responsibly with others.

Lion Dance.JPG
Week 7
  • Confucius class discussion and quote puzzle game.
  • Working in groups students take broken apart Confucius quotes and try to figure out how to logically put them back together.
Students will be able to state Confucius' role in Ancient China and at least one of his core philosophies.

Reading 3.4.3 Analyze a variety of literature representing different cultures and traditions.

Week 8 Mid-Winter Break Mid-Winter Break Mid-Winter Break
Week 9
  • Introduction of the Qin Dynasty and the first emperor of China-Qin Shi Huangdi
  • Multi-age student groups research and create posters representing the accomplishments during the Qin Dynasty as follows: Unification, The Great Wall of China and Terra Cotta soldiers.
  • Introduction of a 2-week homework project. Students are responsible for researching varied topics on Ancient China. The final project must include notes, source listings and planning map, drawn image and typed multiple-paragraph paper.
  • Folktale introduction through in-class various folktale 'read-alouds'.
Students will be able to state Qin Shi Huangdi's role and his major contributions to Ancient China.

Writing 3.1 The student understands and uses the steps of the writing process. Prewrite: gather information.

Writing 3.5 The student understands and uses the steps of the writing process. Publish: select a publishing form and produce a completed writing project to share with chosen audience.

Reading 3.1 Read a learn information: Understand how to select and use appropriate resources to perform a specific task.

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Week 10
  • View Silk Road video and overview of Ancient China for review.
  • Read aloud folktales and participate in whole class discussions.Students either create their own folktale in writing or act out a traditional folktale for fellow students. Click here to see my folktale writing worksheet.
  • Final student reports due.
  • Administer the final Ancient China assessment. This assessment includes multiple-choice, fill in the blank and short answer questions.
Students will create their own original folktale based on Chinese folktale components or perform a folktale for the class; each must state the final folktale moral or lesson.

World History 1.2.1 Describe ways in which stories, folktales, and the arts serve as expressions of cultures.

Comm. 2.1 Communicates ideas clearly and effectively to a range of audiences for different purposes.

Writing 2.2 Write for different purposes such as telling stories.

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Folktale Horse.jpg
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Designing and developing this with my team teacher became invaluable to the experience. Working as a team, we were able to create experiences for the children that would have been impossible working in solitude. Overall, this unit was extraordinary for my own personal growth as a new teacher, but most importantly for my students. Working from limited to no understanding of the Chinese culture, our students were able to walk away with an enlightened understanding of this complex and fascinating civilization, as shown through their work. Areas within our unit could now use improvement and will become even stronger the next time I use this unit. In the future, I would like to introduce shadow puppets and have students act out their own shadow puppet plays. I would also like to spend more time exploring the different dynasties or teach more specifics about the dynamic Qin Dynasty. Several students were still interested in the process of making paper, so creating a hands-on papermaking center is a future possibility. Teaching more details about the lifecycle of silkworms would have also been beneficial. From analyzing our final assessment, I noticed that several students were still confused about the B.C. vs. A.D discussion; this timeline concept will need to be taught in a different manner. In conclusion, I look forward to the opportunity of teaching and sharing this improved unit again with my future students.


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