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Animals Inside the Forbidden City

A famous section of Beijing, the capital of China, is surrounded by a moat. Imagine being in The Forbidden City, where animal statues decorate streets and tops of buildings.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Have students research information about Beijing and The Forbidden City. How old is this famous area? Why does it have such an intriguing name? Why are statues of animals such as dragons, horses, and lions so prominently displayed? Students create a replica of a real or imaginary animal. They could even combine two familiar animals to make a new creature!
    2. Use a paper plate as a base when you sculpt with Crayola Air-Dry Clay. To color the clay, knead a few drops of Crayola Tempera Paint into a handful of clay—or wait until it is sculpted and paint it.
    3. To make a head, roll a small ball of clay. Add horns, ears, eyes, or mouth by pinching the clay and shaping. Use toothpicks, craft sticks, plastic dinnerware, or other sculpting tools to etch features into your animal.
    4. Form an oval for a body. Cut a roll of clay into four pieces to make legs. To attach parts, scratch the surfaces to be joined, dampen slightly with water, and press them together. Air-dry the clay for at least 3 days.
    5. Students cover their painting area with recycled newspaper. Paint the animal with Crayola Tempera Paint. Air-dry the paint.
    6. Students present their animal to the class with a story about its imagined origins in China. What memorable events have taken place in its part of The Forbidden City?
  • Standards

    LA: Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

    LA: Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

    LA: Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

    LA: Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

    SCI: Ask questions about the natural and human-built worlds.

    SCI: Construct drawings or diagrams as representations of events or systems.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    VA: Select media, techniques, and processes; analyze what makes them effective or not effective in communicating ideas; and reflect upon the effectiveness of their choices.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of their ideas.

    VA: Describe and place variety of art objects in historical an cultural contexts.

    VA: Know and compare the characteristics of artworks in various eras and cultures.

  • Adaptations

    The Forbidden City in Beijing, China is known for its symmetrical and logical plan. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a city planned by William Penn, was built with the same type of logical plan. Using a map of the two cities, compare and contrast their organizations. From today's perspective, which plan would work more efficiently? Why? Prepare your response in an electronic format using maps and photographs. In your summary, include research that defends your position on the more efficient plan.

    Students can extend this lesson by researching some aspect of Chinese history that interests them. This research should be organized in either a paper-and-pencil or electronic format for presentation.

    Using recycled boxes, cardboard, and Air-Dry Clay, students can build a replica of The Forbidden City. Add creatures to scale of their replica and place them appropriately in the city.

    Students can design a city in an organized format that they believe will be efficient for today's people. This can also be completed using recycled materials. What components will you include and why? What will you design that will attract people to come and live in your city?


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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