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Count on Chinese Characters

Explore Chinese culture, language, and traditional symbols. Discover how to write numerals with Chinese characters.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Have students locate China on a map and find out about people in China today. When Mandarin Chinese is written, characters (instead of letters) stand for syllables or whole words. Find out how symbols in Chinese legends, such as the dragon, turtle, phoenix, and unicorn are depicted in traditional art and calligraphy. Students will learn how to write numerals from 0 through 10 in traditional Chinese characters—and make a beautiful box in which to store them.
    2. Prepare the box. Students tear or use Crayola® Scissors to cut colorful tissue paper into pieces. Cover the art area with recycled newspaper. Mix equal parts of Crayola School Glue and water. Brush the mixture on a recycled tissue box. Cover the box with tissue paper. Be creative, using one color or layers of many hues. Air-dry the glue.
    3. Students use Crayola Washable Markers to decorate the box with Chinese symbols. Add sparkles of Crayola Glitter Glue. Air-dry the glue.
    4. Create the cards. Students cut recycled file folders into 11 (or more!) cards. With Crayola Markers, write an Arabic numeral from 0 to 10 on each one. Write the Chinese character for that numeral on the card, too. Concentrate carefully on the shapes and sizes of your lines. Choose a Chinese symbol, and draw as many as the numerals you wrote.
    5. Students use markers to add details to the cards. Store the cards in the decorated box.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

    MATH: Understand the place value system.

    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.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of their experiences and ideas.

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

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

    VA: Use subjects, themes, and symbols that demonstrate knowledge of contexts, values, and aesthetics that communicate intended meaning in artworks.

  • Adaptations

    Students groups investigate life in China today, the oral and written languages used, Chinese legends, etc. Students organize their research into an electronic presentation and upload it to a classroom computer for viewing.

    Investigate Chinese costumes from past eras. Students can use recycled materials to create a Chinese costume and wear it while presenting research on life in China.

    Make a memory game using cards, writing a Chinese character on one side and an Arabic numeral on the other. Or create similar cards with familiar words and Chinese Characters. Play a concentration game to match words r numerals.

    Research how numerals are notated in other languages such as Japanese, Cyrillic, and Thai. Make cards for each system. Compare and contrast how the numerals are formed. Or create a classroom bulletin board that displays the differences and similarities.


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