Friday, December 26, 2014

Unit Study: Ancient China

“So, will you still be teaching her from home when she goes into Primary School?” I have been asked the question quite a few times over the past few weeks. I have also been toying with the thought quite a bit because friends with kids who are already in Primary school have said that once formal school starts, there wouldn’t be time to do any other activities / learning. Well, that certainly is a bummer for me as I strongly believe that there is more to life than being textbook smart and we have always had fun reading, learning and discussing through unit studies and activities which are Science or GK based.

But just when I thought to slow down in December, Dumpling told me one day that she wanted to learn more about China. Ancient China that is. That started a flurry of prep activities on my end as I had to research and read up on information that has long been passed back to the teachers! LOL

My style has never been the worksheet driven kind of approach and in true Mama Sue style, I decided to make it a travel adventure for the kiddo with these:

An activity book in the form of a passport AND a boarding pass!

When she was younger, I used to set up theme tables with thematic books, craft materials, relevant displays / sensory bin on a daily basis for our thematic study. It was fun for her to suddenly enter the room and see the set up and know that we have new activities to have fun and learn from. But as she got older and is able to be left to read independently, she would often be a few steps ahead and finish the books before I can even "work" with her on the topics!

(Taken in 2010 when Dumpling was 2 and we were learning about senses; taste was of course one of the senses we explored in greater details)

This was the display that greeted her when we started a new theme on that day :) And yup, Dumpling was indeed excited.

You might ask what's with the meat and the capsicum? That's part of our cookery activity that evening! Do you know that some authors have said that Sweet and Sour sauce / style of cooking originated from Hunan, China?

And so, she helped me prepare the ingredients for Sweet and Sour Chicken. Spring rolls (in the background) are of course a popular Chinese dish and we had that too. 

We learnt about the various dynasties and it is apparent that Dumpling's early intro to the Chinese language as she spotted the dynasty that the famous Poet, Li Bai was from. :)

We also learnt about inventions that came from China! Do you know that ice cream was said to have hailed from China too?!?

And so we made our own ice cream - without the use of a freezer! If you search online, most of the recommended ways are to use fresh milk and add on sugar along with vanilla essence. To save time, I used strawberry milk instead where I did not have to concoct anything.

:: What you need and the steps
You will need 2 ziplock bags (1 larger and 1 smaller), salt, ice cubes and milk!
1) In the larger bag, add in the ice cubes and sprinkle salt into it (maybe a tablespoonful of it)
2)  Shake so that the salt mixes well with the ice
3) Pour half a cup of milk into the smaller ziplock bag, seal tightly and place it in the larger bag.
4) Ensure that the ice covered the smaller bag and shake the bag
5) In less than 5 minutes, you will see that the milk starts to solidify and changes into "ice cream"!

:: The discussion
We also did one round without the salt. "So what made the milk changed to ice cream," I asked. That prompted a series of discussions about the  freezing point and the role of salt. :) How cold was cold? Below zero Degrees Celsius apparently.

I reserved more books from the library and will be picking them up and exploring this topic further and (hopefully), be able to finish it by next week before she officially starts a new journey in Primary School!

So to answer the question - are we gonna still continue with our homelearning journey? I would think (hopefully) so since homework is minimal in Primary 1 and 2. I hope to still continue on our little journey as long as she still enjoys learning and exploring. :) Leave a comment below if you would like to give us some suggestions on the next country of focus in our unit study! :)

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