Ancient China is such an interesting historical study. And it’s becoming more open with more resources available for the general public – and us homeschoolers – to use in our studies.
China is one of the oldest civilizations on our planet, based on historical records. They have records dating back to the time of the Babylonians. But most of these have, until recently, been kept under wraps. Chinese cultural traditions and history cannot be measured by Western ideas, and that makes for a fascinating comparison.
I love using living books to study history. And the cultural traditions of Ancient (and current) China have some stories that are very different than what we’re used to. The story of Ancient China is alien to our euro-centric cultures. And so their stories will seem exotic and strange. At the same time, the familiarity of human emotions and choices will ring true.
Picture books offer an easy-access way for even young children to be able to study history. For Ancient China, here are a few of our favorites:
- Mei Ming & the Dragon’s Daughter by Lydia Bailey
- The Seven Chinese Brothers by Margaret Mahy
- China’s Bravest Girl by Chin
- The Magic Paintbrush by Julia Donaldson
- Red Butterfly by Deborah Noyes
** A note about Red Butterfly: This is fantastic historical story. However, it does deal with the issue of child marriage. So this might be better for older children and pre-teens rather than your kindergartener. But it will spark a number of conversations about other cultural traditions and values!
Read-aloud or Chapter Books:
Ancient Chinese history provides a colourful source for many stories. It’s unfamiliar and exotic. And so the historical fiction set in this time period can be exciting. Try these read-alouds with your kids — or let them read them for themselves!
- Young Fu of the Upper Yangtzee by Elizabeth Foreman Lewis
- Sondok, Princess of the Moon & Stars by Sheri Holman
- Lady of Ch’iao Kao, Warrior of the South by Laurence Yep
For non-fiction & informative reading:
As I’ve said before, my favorite series are the DK Eyewitness, and the “You Wouldn’t Want to be… ” series. Ancient China resources are not as popular as some Ancient civilization resources. But there is a growing list of books. Here are some of the resources we’ve found most helpful.
- Life in Ancient China by Paul Challen
- DK Eyewitness Ancient China by Arthur Cotterell
- The Mongols by Robert Nicholson
- DK Eyewitness China by Arthur Cotterell
- Dragons by Gerald Legg
- Science in Ancient China by George Beshore
Ancient China archaeology has been a subject of much debate and controversy. Part of that comes from a bias on the part of Western historians refusing to believe that Chinese civilization was as advanced as it was. And part of that comes from Chinese governments refusing to allow the history of China to be fully told. But there is a growing historical interest in Ancient Chinese history.
Here are a couple of the more interesting documentaries we’ve watched.
Activities you can do:
These lapbooks from Currclick make great presentations for all your learning in Ancient Egypt.
- Ancient China Unit Study by Homeschool Learning Network
- Exploring Ancient China by A Journey Through Learning
- China Country Unit Study by Christine’s Country Unit
- Marco Polo Lapbook by Hands of a Child
- Ancient China Lapbook by Knowledge Box Central
Here are some interactive websites that will help you and your kids learn more about Ancient China:
- History: Ancient China
- Mr Donn’s Ancient China
- History for Kids: Ancient China
- Cool Kid Facts: Ancient China
- A Tour of Beijing’s National Museum of China
- The British Museum: Ancient China
Plus don’t forget to go to a museum and see Ancient Chinese artifacts for yourselves!
What’s your favorite way to study history? Do you prefer to watch it, read
about it, or get hands-on?