Fourth Grade - World History - Lesson 40 - Medieval China
 

Objective

Review topics covered in Second Grade World History: the Great Wall, the Han Dynasty, inventions.
 

Materials

Classroom-size world map
 

Suggested Books

Student Titles

Fisher, Leonard Everett. The Great Wall of China. New York: Macmillan, 1986.

This book provides a brief history of the Great Wall of China begun about 2,200 years ago to keep out Mongol invaders.
 

Teacher Reference

Michaelson, Carol. Ancient China. New York: Time Life Books, 1996.
 

Teacher Note

Draw a time line on the board starting with the Ch'in dynasty. Leave the time line up for subsequent lessons, adding each of the dynasties discussed, so that the students are able to refer to the time line to see the chronological order of the dynasties.
 

Procedure

Remind the students that as they have studied the Middle Ages they have so far learned about medieval Europe and Africa. Have students locate both continents on the classroom world map. Explain that next they will be looking at the country of China on the continent of Asia during the Middle Ages. Locate the country of China on a world map. Have the students compare the size of China to the size of the United States. Have a few students come up to the map and point to the country of China. Trace with your finger its borders. Tell the children that the country of China is slightly larger than the United States.

Tell the students that there are two important rivers in China, the Yellow River and the Yangtze River. Point out the two rivers on a world map. Explain that just as a long time ago people decided to live next to the Nile River in Africa, the early settlers in China built their communities along the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers. Tell the students that 360 years later a waterway was built joining the two rivers. Ask: How do you think the connecting waterway changed travel? What changed?

Explain to the students that Chinese history is broken down into periods of time which are named after the ruling families, which were also called dynasties (write the word on the board). Tell the students that the first emperor of China came from the Ch'in dynasty. Review with the students that it was under this dynasty that the Great Wall of China was built. If possible read The Great Wall of China by Leonard Everett Fisher aloud to the children. (This book not only tells about the Great Wall of China, but also describes the changes brought about during the Ch'in Dynasty.) You may also wish to show the children pictures of the actual wall from National Geographic or reference books on the Great Wall of China.

Ask: Can anyone recall why the Great Wall of China was built? Review with the students that the emperor had the Great Wall built to protect China from being attacked. Guards were posted along the Great Wall as lookouts and they used smoke signals to tell the soldiers if they spotted any invaders coming to attack. Tell the students that the Great Wall was built near the northern border of the Chinese empire to keep out attackers from the north. Ask: Can anyone recall how the Great Wall was built? (The Great Wall was made by fixing old walls and attaching them to new ones to make one long wall.)

Review that The Great Wall is the longest wall in the world and is the only man-made thing on the earth that can be seen from outer space. Explain that if The Great Wall were built here in the United States it could stretch all the way down the eastern seaboard--from Maine to Florida. Point out how long this would be on a map of the United States.

Tell students that building the Great Wall was a huge accomplishment and in the next dynasty, the Han dynasty, many more accomplishments followed. Review with the children that the time during the Han dynasty was a time of invention.

Hold up a piece of paper. Tell the students that the papermaking process was invented during the Han dynasty in the 1st century. Ask: Why is the invention of paper an important one? Explain that before paper was invented wood, pottery, and other heavy materials were used to write on--paper is more easily handled and transported.

Explain to the students that the following process was used to make paper: the raw material--wood, plants, bamboo--was soaked in water to soften it, the material was boiled and pounded to form a soft pulp, the pulp was spread onto a screen to form a thin sheet, the screen was left to dry on a heated wall, the finished sheet of paper was peeled off the screen. Tell the students that although the process of paper making has changed because of machines, we still use wood pulp to make paper. Explain to the students that when we recycle paper--white lined paper, newspapers, magazines, paper bags, etc.--we are saving more trees from being cut down to make paper.

Inform the students that during this time, the Chinese were also mass producing iron and steel farming tools. Explain that previously, tools were carved out of stone and animal bones, but metal tools were stronger and were easier to produce in larger numbers. Tell the students that an earthquake detector was also invented. Explain that this instrument told when an earthquake was going to come. Tell the students that the ancient Chinese earthquake detector, also called a seismograph, was a sculpture decorated with dragons and frogs. When an earthquake was going to come, a ball would drop from the mouth of one of the dragons to the mouth of one of the frogs below, indicating the direction of the earthquake. Ask: Why do you think this was a useful invention to the Chinese? Tell students that seismographs are still used today although they are now much more complicated.
 

Fourth Grade - World History - Lesson 41 - The Tang Dynasty
 

Objectives

Identify that the silk-making process was discovered in China.

Become familiar with the spice and silk trade during the Tang dynasty.
 

Materials

Classroom-size world map
 

Suggested Books

Student Titles

Hong, Lily Toy. The Empress and the Silkworm. New York: Albert Whitman, 1995.

A Chinese Empress makes an important discovery when a silkworm cocoon falls into her cup of tea. This charming book tells the story of how silk making was born and of how a woman's vision and efforts came to be respected.

Kan, Lai Po. The Ancient Chinese. Morristown, NJ: Silver Burdett, 1985.

Pages 34-35 give the story of silk and are accompanied by illustrations showing the silk growing, harvesting, and weaving process.
 

Teacher Reference

Hirsch, E. D. What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know. New York: Dell, 1992.

Michaelson, Carol. Ancient China. New York: Time Life Books, 1996.

Tao, Wang. Exploration into China. Parsippany, New Jersey: New Discovery, 1995.

Teacher Note

You may wish to refer back to the Second Grade Science lessons on the silk making process for a more detailed explanation of the process. Also, be sure the students are aware that there are two acceptable spellings of the dynasty studied in this lesson, Tang or T'ang.
 

Procedure

Ask: What process was invented during the Han dynasty? (the paper-making process) Tell the students that another process invented by the Chinese was the silk making process. Show the students a piece of silk---for example a scarf or tie. Walk around the room and let the students touch it. Ask: What does the scarf/tie feel like? (soft, smooth, light, cool) Tell the students that the object is made of silk. Explain that the Chinese discovered how to make silk. Tell the students that silk thread comes from the cocoon of the silkworm. Tell the students that a cocoon is like an envelope that serves as a covering while the silkworm, which is actually a caterpillar not a worm, changes into a silk moth.

If possible read aloud to the class The Empress and the Silkworm by Lily Toy Hong or relate the following information to the students. Explain that the Empress Si-ling-chi discovered that if she soaked a silkworm's cocoon in hot water, she could unwind it. Tell the students that the Empress found that the silkworm's cocoon was made of one very long, strong silk strand-- sometimes as long as half a mile.

Show the students a ball of yarn and have them pretend it is a silkworm cocoon. Demonstrate unwinding or unraveling the cocoon. Explain that the Empress decided it would be a good idea to use this strong thread to weave cloth. Tell the students that she had the ladies of the royal court help her unwind many cocoons and twist the strands into threads which were then woven into soft, beautiful cloth.

Tell the students that the secret of how to make silk was carefully guarded by the royal family of China because silk was considered very valuable. Explain that people involved in the silk-making process were told to conceal from foreigners the way to make silk. Tell the students that the punishment for leaking the process was punishable by death and it was not until the 3rd century A.D. that the secret leaked to the country of Japan.

Explain that rulers and wealthy people from other countries also wanted clothing made out of silk and they were willing to trade gold and jewels for Chinese silk cloth. Tell the students that trading for silk became so popular that a road was built from Eastern China to the Mediterranean Sea. Show the students the two areas that the road connected on the world map. Tell the students that this road was eventually called the Silk Road because people traveled on it to trade for silk with the Chinese.

Tell the students that during the Tang dynasty (618-906 A.D.) merchants came from all over the world to the Chinese capital of Xi'an (SHE ON) to buy and sell goods. Explain that China was an advanced commercial civilization--the Chinese had even developed an early banking system that allowed traders to deposit, and sometimes borrow, money. Ask: Why would a banking system such as the one described above be useful for traders who frequently traveled to China?

Read from What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know by E. D. Hirsch aloud to the class

Tell the students that in addition to trade, the arts, crafts, music, and literature also developed during the Tang dynasty. Therefore the Tang dynasty is also called the Golden Age.
 

Fourth Grade - World History - Lesson 42 - The Sung Dynasty
 

Objective

Become familiar with the inventions of the Sung dynasty.
 

Materials

A dollar bill, a compass, a book
 

Suggested Book

Teacher Reference

Cotterell, Arthur. Ancient China: Eyewitness Books. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994.

Tao, Wang. Exploration into China. Parsippany, New Jersey: New Discovery, 1995.
 

Procedure

Tell the students that just as the Tang dynasty was a time of trade, the next dynasty they are going to learn about, the Sung dynasty, which came into power in 960 A.D., was a time of invention. Explain that there were many useful and interesting inventions made during the 300 years that the Sung dynasty ruled. Show the students a one dollar bill, a compass, and a page of a book. Tell the students that Chinese inventions from the Sung dynasty had something to do with each of these objects. Have the students name what the objects are and guess what they think the Chinese invention was.

Have the students recall that the Chinese invented the paper-making process. Ask: During which dynasty was this process invented? (Han dynasty) Tell the students that during the Sung dynasty printing on paper was done using a printing press. Ask: How do you think the invention of the printing press improved communications? (made the mass production of printed materials easier)

Explain to the students that before printing was invented, every book had to be copied by hand. Tell the students when printing began, Chinese characters, which represent Chinese words or letters, were carved into a block of wood. Explain that this meant that a new block had to be carved for every page in a book. During the Sung dynasty movable type printing was invented around 1041 to 1048. Explain that this meant that a separate block was made for each character, so the separate blocks were arranged to print one page and then were reused to form different words on another page. Have the students discuss what changes took place after each advancement--copying by hand to woodblock printing, woodblock printing to movable type printing.

Tell the students that during the same dynasty, the Chinese were the first to use paper money. Ask: How did the invention of the printing press make it possible for the Chinese to develop and use paper money? (The press made it possible for the Chinese to print the paper money.)

Read from What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know by E. D. Hirsch.

Tell the student that two other important Chinese inventions that are still important even today are the magnetic compass and gunpowder. Ask: What is a compass? (An instrument used to determine direction. The magnetized needle indicates magnetic north.) Tell the students that Chinese scientists learned during the Sung dynasty that if they floated magnets on a reed in water, it would always point to the same direction--north. Explain that this was the birth of the modern compass. Ask: Why do you think that this was such an important invention? Explain that the compass was important because people could sail out of the sight of land to explore new areas, using the compass to help navigate.

Tell the students that sometimes discoveries are made by accident. For example in the case of gunpowder, alchemists discovered gunpowder while they were conducting experiments to find the elixir of life, which was a substance that they believed could make a person live longer or forever. Tell the students that the Chinese also invented the gun, fireworks, and the bomb. Ask: How do you think the invention of gunpowder was helpful to the Chinese? (helpful in defending themselves and in attacking others)

Have the students discuss which of the inventions they have just learned about was the most important to people living even today and why.
 

Fourth Grade - World History - Lesson 43 - Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan
 

Objectives

Become familiar with how the Mongols came to power in China.

Write a fictional story based on facts about Marco Polo.
 

Materials

Classroom-size world map

1 per student

Marco Polo reading (attached)

White lined paper
 

Suggested Books

Student Title

Cesarini, Gian Paolo. Marco Polo. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1982.

Good historical account of the life of Marco Polo. Illustrations give sense of the grandeur of the court of Kublai Khan.
 

Teacher Reference

Hirsch, Jr., E. D., ed. What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know. New York: Dell, 1992.

Tao, Wang. Exploration into China. Parsippany, New Jersey: New Discovery, 1995.
 

Procedure

Have the students recall the inventions that were created during the Sung dynasty. Tell the students that the government under the Sung dynasty had grown very strong and controlled all of China, but there was an increasing threat from the people who lived in the area north of China called the Mongols. Ask: What defenses did the Chinese have against the Mongols? (the Great Wall, guns and gunpowder)

Tell the students that the Sung army used guns against the invading Mongols, but despite all their knowledge and inventions they were overpowered by the Mongols. The Mongols took over northern China, forcing the emperor to move the capital of China south and rule from there. Explain that this arrangement lasted for a while, but it was not long until the Mongols wanted to control all of China.

Tell the students that the Mongols were a nomadic people, which means they roamed in groups across the central Asian grasslands. Explain that each group had a leader called a khan (write the word on the board). Tell the students that the Mongols were also some of the most vicious warriors of all time. When they united under one fierce, powerful leader, Genghis Khan, (whose name means "ruler of the world") the Mongols became undefeatable against the Chinese.

Explain that Genghis Khan used terror as a weapon against his enemies. He and his armies called the Golden Horde massacred whole towns to scare other towns into surrendering without a fight. For example, outside the walls of burned and raided villages, the Mongols would leave piles of the skulls of their victims as a warning to other villages.

Tell the students that Genghis Khan and the Mongol leaders that followed him would sometimes destroy everything in their path: people, animals, churches, libraries, works of art, bridges, canals, and more--Genghis Khan crashed though the Great Wall of China in 1215. Tell the students that years later Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan, came into power. He was a very different ruler. Tell the students that Kublai Khan ruled China from 1260 to 1368 and during this time he established the capital city at what is now the city of Beijing (show on the world map).

Tell the students that one man, Marco Polo, wrote about Kublai Khan and his imperial court in his book titled, The Travels of Marco Polo. Explain that Marco Polo traveled to Asia with his father and uncle who were merchants from the town of Venice in Italy. Marco and his

relatives traveled across the Mediterranean to the Tigris River to Persia, across the Pamir Mountains to the city of Peking (now Beijing). Show the students Marco Polo's route on the world map. Tell the students that his trip took four years, with him sometimes traveling across difficult terrain such as cold mountains and dry, waterless deserts. Tell the students that Marco Polo stayed in China for 17 years, traveling all over the country.

Give each student a copy of the Marco Polo reading and have them read it. Ask: Did Marco Polo record his experiences while he was traveling? (no) Tell the students they are going to pretend that they are Marco Polo and write a diary entry about one of his experiences based on the facts found in the reading. For example the students may want to write a diary entry for the day Marco Polo arrived in China and saw the palace or when he learned that he would not be allowed to return home. You may wish to model this before the students begin to write their own entries.
 

Read The Adventures of Marco Polo from What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know by E. D. Hirsch.
 

Fourth Grade - World History - Lesson 44 - The Ming Dynasty
 

Objective

Become familiar with events which occurred during the Ming dynasty.
 

Materials

Classroom-size world map
 

Suggested Books

Teacher Reference

Tao, Wang. Exploration into China. Parsippany, New Jersey: New Discovery, 1995.

Williams, Brian. Ancient China. New York: Viking, 1996.
 

Procedure

Ask the students the name of the Italian explorer who traveled to ancient China during the reign of Kublai Khan (Marco Polo). Tell the students that most of the explorers we have studied in the past have been explorers from the continent of Europe, but the Europeans weren't the only ones exploring foreign lands. Ask the students to recall the Arab traveler Ibn Battuta who wrote about his travels in Africa.

Tell the students that explorers traveled from China as well to see the world. The most famous Chinese explorer was a man named Zheng He (JUNG HE). Write the name on the board. Zheng He traveled throughout the Indian Ocean. Have a student locate the ocean on the world map. Explain that he traveled across Arabia and throughout East Africa--he even brought back an African giraffe to China.

Inform the students that during the time of Zheng He's journeys, 1405-1433, the Chinese people overthrew the Mongol dynasty and regained their own rule in China. The dynasty that followed became known as the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Tell the students that the Ming rulers tried to rebuild China after the Mongol rule. Explain that the Chinese started by rebuilding and extending the Great Wall. Ask: Why do you think this was one of the first things the Chinese emperor did? (to protect against invaders)

Explain that after the Ming dynasty reclaimed China, the Chinese entered a period of stability in their country. Explain that stability means that not many changes took place and instead it was a calm time in Chinese history. Tell the students that many Chinese traditions became an important part of daily life and the Chinese felt little need to have contact with the outside world.

Tell the students that the Ming emperor also moved the capital city north to Peking and built a new imperial palace known as the Forbidden City. (To give the students an idea of what architecture from this period looks like, show the students pictures of Chinese architecture from books listed in the bibliography.) Ask: Why do you think the new palace was known as the Forbidden City? What does its name say about its size? (as big as a city) Explain that no common people were allowed to enter the city. Tell the students that within the Forbidden City the emperor and his family enjoyed private gardens, lakes, and a river. A million workers toiled for ten years to build the Forbidden City. It was surrounded by a moat and inside there were many walled courtyards. Some chosen scholars and officials lived and worked within the Forbidden City, otherwise the emperor and his family lived separate from the rest of China. Ask: Do you think this was good for the emperor? Was it good for the citizens of China?

Tell the students that although China tried to cut itself off from the rest of the world, many foreign traders came to China to trade. Explain that previously all of China's invaders came across the land, but these new outsiders came by boat. Portuguese, Dutch, and English traders traveled to China to set up trading stations. The Chinese did not want to trade with the Europeans, but they were unable to stop it. Ask: Why do you think the Chinese were afraid of allowing strangers into their country? Explain that this problem went on for 300 years and as Western influence grew, the imperial rule in China weakened.
 


Bibliography


 


Student Titles

Fisher, Leonard Everett. The Great Wall of China. New York: Macmillan, 1986. (0-02-735220-X)

Hong, Lily Toy. The Empress and the Silkworm. New York: Albert Whitman, 1995.

Kan, Lai Po. The Ancient Chinese. Morristown, NJ: Silver Burdett, 1985. (0-382-06446-1)
 

Teacher Reference

Cotterell, Arthur. Ancient China: Eyewitness Books. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994. (0-679-96167-4)

Hirsch, Jr., E. D., ed. What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know. New York: Dell, 1992. (0-385-31260-1)

Michaelson, Carol. Ancient China. New York: Time Life Books, 1996. (0-8094-9248-2)

Tao, Wang. Exploration into China. Parsippany, New Jersey: New Discovery, 1995. (0-02-718087-5)

Williams, Brian. Ancient China. New York: Viking, 1996. (0-670-87157-5)
 

Teacher Resource

Great Explorers to the East. Calliope. Vol. 1, Number 1. Sept./Oct. 1990.