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General

Lesson Plans China Source: Resources for Teachers [Primary Source & Harvard University Asia Center]
Primary Source and Harvard University have created a series of slideshows with lesson plans on Chinese dynasties. Many of them are suitable for upper-elementary level students. The link above will bring up a Harvard University Pin System login page. To access these resources, please select “XID Login” under login type, then enter “primary_source” under Login ID and “beijing” under PIN/Password.

Confucius & Confucianism

Classroom Exercise Confucianism: Understanding and Applying the Analects of Confucius [PDF] [Education About Asia]

What Did Confucius Say? [Asia for Educators]
A short background reading about Confucius the person and his writings, with links to selections from the Confucian Analects.

The Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE)

Lady Wenji and the Lament of the Nomad Flute [Asia Society]
An illustrated guide to the story of Lady Wenji, a Han-dynasty scholar’s daughter taken captive by Xiongnu raiders from the north.

The Liao (907-1125) and The Song (960-1279)

From China to NYC: Inspired by the Exhibition “Gilded Splendor: Treasures of China’s Liao Empire (907-1125)” [Asia Society]
What can students learn from the art of the Khitan people who ruled China as the Liao Empire? With examples of work by NYC students inspired by the art of the Khitan. Could be the basis of a discussion or a similar activity for the classroom.

The Song Dynasty in China: Life in Urban China Seen through a 12th-century Scroll [Asia for Educators]
Teaching module with maps and images covering economics, technology, urban life, society, and international affairs during China’s Song dynasty. An advanced unit more appropriate for upper-elementary students.

Marco Polo (1254-1324) in China

In the Footsteps of Marco Polo: A Journey through the Met to the Land of the Great Khan [The Metropolitan Museum of Art]
Follows the 24,000-mile journey of Marco Polo (1254-1324) from Italy through the Middle East and Central Asia to China and the court of Khubilai Khan. With maps and images of art objects. Suggested questions for discussion: 1) Marco Polo came from Venice, the most sophisticated city in Europe at the time. What did he find in China that impressed him? 2) How was Marco Polo able to travel through such a vast region under Mongol control?

Lesson Plan Marco Polo Takes A Trip [EDSITEment, National Endowment for the Humanities]
For grades K-3. During the Middle Ages, most people in Europe spent their entire lives in the village where they were born. But in the 13th century, a young Italian named Marco Polo traveled all the way to China! In this lesson, students will learn about the remarkable travels of Marco Polo.

Lesson Plans On the Road with Marco Polo [EDSITEment, National Endowment for the Humanities]
For grades 3-5. In this curriculum unit, students will become Marco Polo adventurers, following his route to and from China in order to learn about the geography, local products, culture, and fascinating sites of those regions. Students will record their “journey” by creating journal entries, postcards, posters, and maps related to the sites they explore. Unit includes eight lessons:
1) A Boy in 13th-century Venice; 2) From Venice to Hormuz; 3) From Hormuz to Kashgar; 4) Crossing the Deserts of China; 5) Marco Polo in China; 6) Sea Voyage to India; 7) From Hormuz to Venice; 8) Homecoming.

The Ming Voyages (1405-1433)

The Ming Voyages [Asia for Educators]
Unit discussing Admiral Zheng He’s voyages during the Ming dynasty, the preparation of his fleet, and the political and social problems in Ming China that brought these expeditions to a close. With discussion questions and activities for students.

The Qing Dynasty (1644-1912)

Interactive Unit • The Emperor and His Role in Qing Dynasty China [Asia for Educators]
In the following units, students can view life in China in the 1700s by viewing large hand-scrolls painted by artists of the time as documentaries of two emperors’ (Kangxi and Qianlong) inspection tours of the realm. Interactive viewing enlarges the images of people and life along the rivers and in the cities of 17th- and 18th-century China.

  1. The Grand Canal: the Qianlong Emperor Entering the City of Suzhou on the Grand Canal
  2. The Emperor’s Role in Overseeing Flood Control
    See the Qianlong emperor watching the workers at the site where the Huai River and the Yellow River meet.
  3. The Kangxi Emperor Visits the Silk Commissioner
    Select #11 on the scroll guide to get a look inside the rooms of the Silk Commissioner’s home in Suzhou.
  4. The Emperor and the Cosmic Order: The Kangxi Emperor’s Visit to Mt. Tai
    Select #4 on the scroll guide; the emperor’s party is in the lower left-hand corner.
  5. Merchants, Shops, and City Life in China in the 1700s
    Get up-close views of the shops, cafés, and street life of 18th-century Suzhou.

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