China Unit Study
I really enjoy writing a column for the Old Schoolhouse
magazine called the International
Schoolhouse. In the article, I get the chance to share with you
about the landscape, the history and the culture of the highlighted
country, in this case China. However, there is so much to
tell that simply overflows a 1500 word article that I have decided to
compile the remainder of the information as a unit study for you.
If you do not subscribe to the Old Schoolhouse
you can read a sample issue here -
http://www.thehomeschoolmagazine.com. Or better yet, subscribe
here - The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC - and get the
fall issue this
month with the China article that I have written, plus many, many more wonderful
articles of encouragement from other inspirational authors. It is their best issue yet. Oh,
and did I mention that you get a bunch of free gifts with your new subscription.
Okay, so now that you have read the article, it's
time to dive in for some hands-on learning to cement your student's
growing knowledge of this Asian country.
READING SELECTIONS -
Let's start with some extra reading. Listed below are some great
books about China, or set in the Asian country of China, that will provide many
hours of enjoyable reading. The links below will take you to Amazon.com for more information, but you can find these at your local
library. Read for pleasure alone, or have your kids write a book
report on one of these selections.
The first three books listed above
are all published by DK (Dorling Kindersley) and have magnificent
photos. The first book is an adult or teen level book and the
next three are for younger children in grades 2-6 or so. If you
are looking for some books about China for your very young children,
here are some great choices:
C is for China
by Sungwan So
Count Your Way
through China by James Haskins
Dumpling and Dragon Boats by Nina Simonds
Made in China
by Suzanne Williams
Truly, books about
China are numerous at Amazon.com or at your local library. You
should have no trouble finding a great selection. For historical
fiction, you might want to read the legend of Fa Mulan
by Robert D. San Souci to younger
children (then watch the movie). And for a primary source, you
might consider The Travels of Marco Polo
by Marco Polo (this is definitely for older students, but a
HISTORY & TIMELINES - Learn more about
China by compiling
historical facts and events from its long and eventful history and
adding them to your timeline. If you do not have a timeline on
the go, you can construct one by following these directions -
How to Make a Timeline Easily. Here
is a link to a wonderful resource for timeline entries about China -
is interesting about this timeline is that you can click on the links
to your right to bring up more information and links to other sites as
well. Here is another one, however it includes some Korean
history also -
A unit study would not be
complete without taking a good look at the lay of the land.
Click here for both a labeled and unlabeled
map of China. Have your students mark some of the
major cities, the neighboring countries, and the ocean to the
east, at the
least. For older students, have them use your teacher's map and
fill in the rest!
This is my favorite part - the food
from the land! Chinese food is probably my favorite, although I
am sure that my idea of Chinese food may be quite different from those
living in China. In fact, we had an exchange student from
Chengdu, who questioned what type of food we were eating when we took
her out to a local Chinese restaurant. Of course, the owners of
the restaurant were from a completely different region of China and
the flavors were vastly different from the food she was used to eating
Here are a few favorite dishes of mine.
Sesame chicken is a very popular restaurant dish. (Note: You may
want to increase the vinegar or lower the amount of sugar. It all
depends on how sweet you want the sauce).
This recipe serves 3 - 4 if served with just rice, or 5 - 6 as part of
a multi-course meal.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
- 3 whole boneless chicken breasts
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon cooking wine or dry sherry
- a few drops of sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Sauce for Sesame Chicken:
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/8 cup vinegar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 TB dark soy sauce
- 2 TB sesame oil
- 1 tsp chili paste, or more if desired
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (see recipe directions for
link to how to toast)
- 3 1/2 - 4 cups peanut oil for deep-frying
Directions for Sesame Chicken: Toast the sesame seeds and set
Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes. Mix the marinade ingredients and
marinate the chicken for 20 minutes.
To prepare the sauce: mix together all of the sauce ingredients. Pour
them into a small pot and bring to a boil, stirring continuously. Turn
the heat down to low and keep warm while you are deep-frying the
To deep-fry the chicken: add the marinated chicken pieces a few at a
time, and deep-fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Repeat
with the remainder of the chicken.
Just before you are finished deep-frying, bring the sauce back up to a
boil. Place the chicken on a large platter and pour the sauce over.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve the Sesame Chicken with rice.
Beef (or chicken)
- 1 egg
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp. peanut oil
- 1lb flank steak or chicken sliced into 2 inch pieces
- 1 whole scallion, minced
- 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp. dry sherry
- 1 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
- 3 Tbsp. water
PLUS 8 whole scallions cut into 2-inch pieces
1 tsp. sesame oil
Mix the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl until smooth.
Put in the beef (or chicken) slices and set asid uncovered for at
least 20 minutes (can be refrigerated up to 24 hours at this point).
Heat wok over high heat. Add 1/4 cup of peanut oil.
When the oil is hot, add the meat and its marinade. Stir-fry
about 2 minutes or until the meat loses its pink color.
Remove the meat from the wok and set aside in a bowl uncovered.
Add 2 Tbsp of peanut oil to the wok. When the oil is hot, add
the minced seasonings. Stir a few times and then add the sauce.
Stir and then add the scallion pieces. Stir for about 1/2 minute
and then return the beef (or chicken) to the wok. Stir just to
heat through. Stir in sesame oil if desired and serve
Noodles in Peanut Sauce
- 1 lb or 500 grams Hakka (flat) noodles
- 2 Tbsp. dark sesame oil
- 6 Tbsp. peanut butter
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 Tbsp. light soya sauce
- 6 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
- 6 Tbsp. sesame paste (ground sesame seeds)
- 1/2 cup dark sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp. sherry or any wine of your choice
- 4 tsp. white vinegar
- 1/4 cup honey or sugar syrup
- 4 medium cloves garlic, chopped fine
- 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup hot water
- Garnish (all are optional, depending on your taste)
- 1 carrot, peeled, julienned
- 1/2 firm medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and julienned
- 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
Boil noodles in large pot of unsalted water over medium heat until
barely tender and still firm. Drain immediately and rinse with cold
water until cold. Drain well and toss noodles with (2 Tbsp) dark
sesame oil so they don't stick together. For dressing, combine all
ingredients except hot water in a blender or food processor fitted
with steel blade and blend until smooth. Thin with hot water to
consistency of whipping cream. For garnish, put carrot julienne in ice
water for 30 minutes. Just before serving, toss noodles with sauce.
Garnish with cucumber, peanuts, green onion, and carrot. Serve at room
Boiled Dumplings (Jiao Zi)
4 1/2 cups flour, sifted
10 1/2 oz lean boneless pork or mutton, minced
1 tsp salt, or to taste
6 1/2 tbsp scallions,
2 tsp ginger,
1/8 tsp five-spice powder
1/2 tsp MSG (optional)
1. Mix the flour with 3 1/2 oz of water to make a dough. knead until
smooth and let stand for 30 minutes.
2. To prepare the filling, mix the pork or mutton with 7 oz (200 ml)
of water and the salt. Stir in one direction until it becomes a paste.
Add the scallions and blend well. divide filling into 100 portions.
3. Divide the dough into 4 portions and roll into long rolls. Cut each
into 25 pieces. Flatten each piece and roll into 2 inches (5 cm)
circles. Place 1 portion of filling in the center of each wrapper and
fold the dough over it, making a bonnet-shaped pouch. Pinch the edges
together to seal the dumpling. Repeat until all the dough and filling
4. Bring 8 cups (2 litres) of water to a boil over high heat, Add half
the dumplings. Stir them around gently with a ladel, and let the water
return to a boil. Add enough cold water to stop the boiling, then
bring back to a boil. When the water boils again, add more cold water
and bring to a boil a third time. The dumplings will be done when they
float to the surface. Remove, drain well, and serve.
(Or, if you are in a pinch for time, you can buy
frozen potstickers at your local grocery store or Costco Warehouse).
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter
2 eggs, beaten
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon almond extract
1/4 pound whole, blanched almonds
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a food processor, mix the
flour, sugar, butter, salt and baking soda until it forms little
balls. Add the eggs and almond extract. Roll out the dough on floured
surface. Cut with 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter. Place on greased cookie
sheet and place an almond in center of each cookie. Bake for 25
The people of China create some amazing and exquisite craft items
that they use and sell to make a living. Here are a few fun
projects that you can do with your children.
Make a Chinese Paper Lantern:
Construct Red Gift Envelopes:
Create some lovely Plum Blossoms that you can use in
your table setting:
All of these crafts are appropriate for kids age 7 and
up. Here are some ideas
for the under 7's:
And remember to have fun!
Knowledge Quest, Inc.
www.kqpublishing.net - try our maps free!
www.homeschoolingabcs.com - Are you a brand new homeschooler?
www.knowledgequestmaps.blogspot.com - see what we're up to.
Terri Johnson is the creator of Knowledge Quest maps and timelines.
Her mission for the company is to help make the teaching and learning
of history and geography enjoyable for both teacher and students. She
has created and published over 20 map and timeline products. Her
Blackline Maps of World History have been widely recommended in
the education community. Terri resides in Oregon with her husband Todd and their
children whom she teaches at home.