Web Hunt: China Yesterday and Today

  • Grades: 3–5

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As one of the world's most populated countries and largest in physical size, China is considered a world leader culturally, politically, and economically. In the summer of 2008 China's capital, Beijing, hosts the Olympics, drawing the world's attention. Put on your explorer's cap and explore.

1. Inventions
Chinese inventions have played a major role in shaping our lives today. Four of the most important inventions originating from Ancient China are paper, the compass, gunpowder, and printing. Find out more about these inventions.

Think about all the things you use in your everyday life. Can you name four inventions that are related to ancient Chinese inventions?

2. Cultural Practices
China is an ethnically diverse country made up of many sets of people with a variety of cultural practices. One popular practice recognized among many Chinese Americans is honoring deceased relatives and asking them for good favor, as if they were still alive. Explore the practice of Ching Ming.

How do you pay respect to your ancestors and older family members? How is this different than Chinese cultural practices?

3. Proverbs
Quoting ancient proverbs is common in China. Proverbs are simple, common-sense sayings that help us understand the nature of life. Read a selection of Chinese proverbs.

Based on the Chinese proverbs you read, try making up your own proverb that illustrates something you've experienced in your life.

4. Gardens
Chinese styles of gardening can be found in many places across the United States. In China, keeping a garden is considered an art form. Take a look at a painting from the 15th Century showing a Chinese garden.

What do you imagine the people in the painting are talking about? From what you see, how do you imagine they use their garden?

5. Tibetan Mandalas
Tibet is a region in western China under the rule of the Chinese government. One of the religious practices of the Tibetan people is to create a mandala, a fragile, detailed sand painting. Watch a video of a mandala being made. After spending many hours creating the sand mandala, it is destroyed. The colored sand is swept into a nearby stream, symbolizing the the temporary nature of the physical world. See a photo slideshow of the mandala dismantling ceremony.

How does the practice of creating the mandala and then sweeping it away symbolize the temporary nature of the physical world?

6. Beijing: City for the Future
In preparation for the 2008 Olympic games, many Chinese architects are eager to present Beijing as a futuristic, modern city. Take a peek at the buildings being constructed for the Olympic games.

What makes these buildings look "futuristic" to you? Why do you think that's a goal of the Chinese architects?


  • Subjects:
    Ceremony and Tradition, Asia, World History