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    China | Teacher Resources

    China | Resources for Teachers

    If you are an educator teaching about China, these featured resources are designed for you. The websites linked below offer informative primary sources, organized curriculums, and other classroom materials aimed at bringing Chinese history, art, and culture into the classroom. In addition to the resources featured here, our Resources for Teachers page includes more generalized resources on East Asia as well as resource pages designated to specific East Asian countries (China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan). You can also find many other online materials listed on The National Consortium for Teaching About Asia's website. Be sure to also visit NCTA's Partner Sites, who provide excellent content on East Asia for K-12 educators.



    Chinese Calligraphy & Ink Painting (A Lesson Plan for Grades K-4)

    Are you an art teacher looking for resources on China for elementary students? Then look no further! Developed by The Kennedy Center, this lesson plan provides K-4 students with a fun art activity in the style of Chinese calligraphy. Students will learn the basics of watercolor and brush strokes, and apply this knowledge to create their own landscape painting. Students will engage in multicultural learning, as this lesson plan also provides traditional Chinese music and related vocabulary words.

    China on the globe2

    Elementary Level Resources: China | Asia For Educators

    Asia For Educators, at Columbia University's Weatherhead East Asia Institute, has compiled a collection of resources for K-5 teachers. This collection is centered around China and offers resources for a wide variety of subjects: geography, language, culture, history, science, math, literature, arts & crafts, and drama & music. 




    China in World History 

    Here you can access three free and informative videos from expert Sara Schneewind. These videos, titled "Ming Voyages in China’s History: The Truth about the Maritime Expeditions Led by Zheng He of the Ming Dynasty," "Easternization (not “Westernization”): Modernity is a Global Formation," and "Footbinding: Confronting the Very Strange" are each designed to increase your understanding of Chinese history. Each video presentation also comes with 2 Professional Development Hours. To participate, sign in or register an account on the program site: www.asiaforeducators.org 

    passion of the cut sleeveBisexuality in Ancient China

    The inclusion of LGBTQ history in curriculums is integral to teaching about world civilizations. With this featured article, high school students can be introduced to prevalent representations of bisexuality in Han Dynasty China. 

    In the Western Han Dynasty (206 BCE to 220 CE) it was common for emperors to have both wives and male companions. Both men and women at the time used intimate relationships to gain favor with the upper court, and this openness to nonheterosexual intimacy led to legendary love stories that are still prevalent as symbols of queer love. 


    Confucianism | Asia Society

    This article from the Asia Society provides helpful background context and primary source references for teachers on the subject of Confucianism. Confucianism was established between the 6th and 5th centuries B.C.E. by its founder known as Master Kong (Confucius, 551-479 B.C.E.) whose intention was to reinterpret the undefined Zhou religion. The basis of this social and ethical philosophy was tradition, defined roles within relationships, and mutual obligations. Confucianism, along with Daoism and Legalism, is one of the philosophies that has shaped China for thousands of years and represents an integral part of Chinese history. For primary source information on Confucianism, check out this translation of "The Great Learning" (one of The Four Books in Confucianism) provided by the Indiana University.

    Daoism | Asia Societydaoism

    This article from the Asia Society provides helpful background context and primary source references for teachers on the subject of Daoism/Taoism. Daoism originated in the 5th century B.C.E. from the teachings of Laozi and his classic text, the Dao De Jing. The basis of this philosophy was connection with nature, a life of simplicity, and a spiritual approach to the universe. Daoism, along with Confucianism and Legalism, is one of the philosophies that has shaped China for thousands of years and represents an integral part of Chinese history. For more information on Daoist primary sources, check out Dao Qian's "Peach Blossom Spring" provided by Asia for Educators, or a copy of Laozi's Dao De Jing provided by the University of Florida.

    shang yang

    Legalism | Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

    Legalism became popular in the latter half of the Warring States period (453–221 B.C.E.) as a representation of the teachings and beliefs of the scholars Han Fei, Shen Buhai, and Shang Yang (commemorated in the statue on the left). The goal of these legalists was to attain "a rich state and a powerful army" and to focus on the stability of the government and the people in such a turbulent time as the Warring States period. The basis of legalism was the belief that humans are inherently selfish, and shouldn't be expected to act morally and abstain from coveting wealth and power. Instead, legalists believed that commoners and elites alike should be allowed to strive for wealth and fame in ways that benefitted the state, such as agricultural pursuits and warfare. Legalism, along with Daoism and Confucianism, is one of the Chinese philosophies that has shaped the country for thousands of years and represents an integral part of Chinese history. Out of these three philosophies, Legalism can be characterized as the prominent political philosophy rather than a moral philosophy. For primary source information on Legalism, check out this translation of Han Feizi (the text attributed to Han Fei) provided by Burton Watson.

    sun wukong

    NOVEL ADVENTURES: Using the Journey to the West to Teach Tang China History and Culture

    This featured article from Education About Asia is an excellent resource that can enable history and literature teachers to teach about Tang dynasty China through the lens of multiple disciplines including art, culture, and religion using the adventure story "The Journey to the West". Accessible and easy to use for nonspecialists, "The Journey to the West" is an iconic adventure novel written by Wu Cheng'en in 1592, and though the story was produced during Ming China, the events of the story take place in the Tang dynasty and showcase many elements of early Chinese culture. The novel follows the journey of the Buddhist monk Xuanzang—based on a real historical figure—as he travels to India in search of Buddhist sutras to take back to China and translate. The novel features many characters including Xuanzang's lively disciples, the Buddha himself, Bodhisattva Guanyin (the Buddhist deity of compassion), Laozi (founder of Daoism), and the Tang Emperor. These characters, specifically the aforementioned who have a prominent place in history or religion, come together to both take part in an exciting story, and engage with topics such as Daoism, Buddhism, and The Silk Road, that heavily influenced the Tang Dynasty and the world at large today. The article below explains the value of utilizing this novel as a resource, provides primary sources to supplement the classic fictional story, and explains how to use The Journey to the West as an engaging method of teaching the Tang Dynasty. 

    Unfinished Revolution: An Overview of Three Decades of LGBTQ Activism in Chinaqueer activism in china

    Within the context of queer activism, perhaps one of the most inspiring movements is that of the Chinese LGBTQ community. In pre-modern times, China had a long history of societally accepted homosexuality, a stark contrast to pre-modern Europe that largely viewed any homosexuality as an abomination. However, in the present period, the Chinese Party-State has suppressed and censored the LGBTQ community, prompting activists to fight back. This article discusses the ups and downs queer activism in China has experienced in the last few decades, the role of nongovernmental organizations as opportunities for change, and the political sensitivity surrounding human rights activism.

    rubys wish shirin yim bridges

    Ruby's Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges

    Ruby's Wish, written by Shirin Yim Bridges and illustrated by Sophie Blackall, is a great teaching resource for elementary students to learn about Chinese history, and within it, the struggles that girls encountered and the steps they took to counteract the societal preference of boys. The story, set in an unspecified time of Chinese history, is centered around a young Chinese girl nicknamed Ruby as she loves the color red. Ruby's wish is to attend university rather than get married when she gets older, an aspiration reserved for the boys in her family. Despite the societal expectations that predicted a different future for her, Ruby used her ambition as fuel, and she worked hard to acheive her goals. This inspiring story, based on the experiences of the author's grandmother, speaks to the changing prospects of women in early 20th century China and is a great resource for teaching China to elementary students. 





    Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the need for online resources has never been greater. The ARNCTA is committed to facilitating teaching and learning about East Asia in elementary and secondary schools nationwide. As we extend our digital presence in 2021, ARNCTA will be developing original resources for teachers. For more information about COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines, please visit the CDC's website

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    Housed within the Asian Studies Program at the University of Central Arkansas, the Arkansas NCTA aims to empower elementary and secondary school teachers to center East Asian art, literature, history, and culture in their classrooms.

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