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China 1:
Qin - Tang
A look at how China went from a chaotic, violent mess of divided states to an organized, unified nation (and then pretty much right back to division and chaos) with a focus on the philosophies that guided them - Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism.
China 2:
Tang - Ming
Once united China went on an inventing spree. They created some of history most important products but didn't much like to share. We'll see how it took conquest by the Mongols to open China up to the world.


Old notes and videos

China Activities

1. Digging for the Truth: The Tomb - an introduction to China that simulates an exploration of Shi Huang Di's incredible tomb.

2.  China Walkthru - Simple introductory worksheet based on the graphics in Holt's Medieval to Early Modern Times.

3. Chinese Inventions Lab - Inquiry-based lab where students in collaborative groups examine pictures of Chinese inventions to try to determine what they were and how they functioned.

4. China Culture Shock - Experiential mini-activities including Tai Chi and playing with tangrams.

5. HA: The 10 Abominations - A comparative reading of a set of rules that guided China to the Hebrew 10 Commandments.

6. Quest for Knowledge: China - Reading-based worksheet modeled around the mostly defunct CST. Still somewhat useful for teaching critical reading skills.

7. Genghis Kahn Video - One of the few videos I show during the year. I sadly don't have time to go deep into the Mongols so a video here seemed appropriate. This one is information and engaging.

8. Law & Order: Cathay (Marco Polo Investigation) Lab - History Mystery lab examining whether Marco Polo ever truly visited China.

9. Heaven's Report Cards - Collaborative analysis activity where students examine fact sheets about Chinese dynasties and give them grades in various subjects.

Media guide


DVDDisney film about China under the Han dynasty. I do not show the whole film. I show only a couple clips to highlight the Great Wall and the use of fireworks.

What the Ancients Knew: The Chinese

DVDDocumentary about Chinese technology. Fairly entertaining and possibly worth showing in its entirity. I break it up into a few segments usually showing the papermaking and gunpowder sections only.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

DVDI discuss the importance of martial arts in China and use the "Night Fight" scene from this movie to show it. The movie is Chinese and performed in Mandarin which is also fun to expose to students.


DVDAnother Chinese-made movie this time about the Q'in dynasty. A few great scenes here about the need to unify China and showing off Chinese calligraphy.  Also just a flat out great movie.

King of the Hill Season 1: Episode 3

DVDThe hilarious opening scene to this episode involves an Asian family moving into Hank's Texas neighborhood and attempting to explain that they are neither Chinese nor Japanse but in fact Laotian. A wonderful introduction to the fact that Asian cultures and people are unique and have their own heritage and history.

Time Life's Lost Civilizations

DVDExcellent DVD set covering ancient world history. The China episode is one of the best and I use a few different clips from it. I have, in the past, shown the whole thing when I've had a sub. I have replaced this with "What the Ancients Knew" or the Genghis Kahn video. Still excellent and very worth owning.

Genghis Kahn: Rise of a Conquerer

DVDI bought this because it was on sale. Turned out to be great. Done almost entirely in reenactment form with very few talking heads, this makes for a very good classroom video.


DVDI don't teach much on the Himalayas or Everest but the cinematography in this film is incredible. I show a very short section when discussing the varying geography in China.

Simpsons Season 2: Dead Putting Society

DVDLisa uses Eastern philosophy including the Tao Te Ching to teach Bart to become a better minature golfer. Seriously, could I make that up?

The Tao of Pooh

BookDid you know Winnie the Pooh was a Taoist? Now you do. Great book to share with students if they are studying Eastern philosophies.
"To Catch a Hiccup" The Magical World of Winnie The PoohDVDThis episode, as far as I can tell, is only available in the U.K. on this DVD set. If I find another avenue I'll post it. That said, this episode perfectly fits with a discussion of Chinese philosophies. Each of the characters faces the problem in a unique way. Pooh, of course, ignores it and Owl appeals to the logic of his ancestors (Confucian thought!) I've found no better way to show the differences of these philosophies to 7th graders than this.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

DVDIf the above doesn't work for you any Pooh movie will work really. All of them have Pooh showing off his care-free attitude and insane ability to completely ignore any and all conflict. Used in conjunction with "The Tao of Pooh" above.

1. Intro and Geography
This section is roughly the first 20 slides. I often cut it to about 15 by skipping the Everest stuff so I can introduce the next section which takes quite a long time.
Lab/Assignment: China Walkthru

2. 3 Philosophies
Uses clips from The Simpsons and Winnie the Pooh to attempt to explain the 3 major religious philosophies (Buddhism, Toaism and Confucianism) of China. It is far less in-depth than I've done in past years but I feel the depth is better spent elsewhere.
Lab/Assignment: Culture Shock China

3. Chinese Contributions
Topics here range from Tangrams to toilet paper and everything in between with the focus on the major inventions of the Tang and Song period like gun powder.
Lab/Assignment: Chinese Invention Stations

Answers are: 1. seismograph 2. playing cards 3. gun 4. repeating crossbow 5. clock 6. paper money 7. land mines 8. flamethrower 9. yangqin

4. Government
Very brief lecture on Chinese dynasties hitting only the major highlights (Q'in, Han, Tang and Song). Students are simply expected to understand that China has had many different ruling dynasties not so much what each did.
Lab/Assignment: I show the Genghis Kahn video from above since the Yuan dynasty is mentioned here as well. That's about all the time I have for the Mongols. Here's some questions to go along with it.