Last Thursday, we embarked on our trip to China. This unit of study will go for about five months and looks at China from all angles. Our first activity was “China in a Bag”. Groups of four students were distributed a bag, full of primary sources about China. From these sources, they needed to piece together ideas about China. Some of the artifacts were pictures that I took when I traveled to China in 2004, others were pictures from the National Geographic site “China From Above” and others were artifacts such as money, playing cards with information about dynasties and artifacts, and there were Terracotta Warrior models that I carried back with me. Many groups were able to come up with great answers to “What is China?” China is deserts, mountains, rivers, religion, history, different ruling groups, art, writing,and examinations were some of the words that the students created to describe China.
On Friday, our next task was to learn more about China by creating “Big Maps.” Each of the five groups were given an outline map of China, with a specific task of either creating a map about population, climate, precipitation, agriculture, and topographical features of China. They needed to integrate our map making skills by including a title, compass rose, and legend. Once their map was complete, they needed to come up with some observations about their map. For example, the climate group felt that not many people would live in the southeastern part of China since there was so much rain that fell during a year, which would lead to floods. However, when they walked over
to the population map group, they were amazed to find out that most people live in this area. A walk over to the agricultural table revealed that the predominant crop grown in this region is rice. The students then made the connection that rice needs a lot of precipitation in order to grow and that since this is such a populated area, that there needs to be a lot of food supplied. The big maps provide a wonderful opportunity for the students to really look at China geographically and make connections.