Fifth Grade Studies China


Overview of Integration of Technology

Organization of the Unit

The China Contract


See Some Flying Dragons

See Our Folktales




Fifth Graders celebrate the Chinese Year of the Tiger with their version of a lion dance.

Integration of Technology

During fifth grade's study of China, a wealth of new avenues opens for the use of technology. Using the draw function of "Microsoft Works" each student draws their own personal Chop. With this as a model, they are able to create an actual stamp of their own in art classes. Also in art, the students create dragons which move with the pull of a string. Still and video images of these "ferociously benevolent" creatures are recorded by the students, and they become the impetus for dragon poetry, as well. "MacTimeliner 4.0" is utilized to put the inventions of the Chinese into historical perspective. After writing articles based on these innovations, the students are able to publish an Inventions Newspaper using "The Writing Center."

During literature classes as the students read Homesick by Jean Fritz, the computer is used continually. After discussing the Yangtze River, classes compose group poems incorporating similes about it that are both powerful and meaningful to the students. As the students read many Chinese folktales, a database is set up that enables a thorough analysis of the characters involved, literary points made, writing style used, and the cultural and/or gender stereotypes perpetuated.

Math classes take on a "Chinese flair" as we study decimal theory, base theory through the abacus, and geometry through tangrams. "Tesselmania" is a program which has enabled students to extend their understanding of geometric principles. A problem solving activity which engrosses many of the fifth graders during our study of China is a program called "Shanghai. Great Moments." This game, based on Chinese characters, tests the thought processes and logic of the students.

Return to Index

Organization of the Unit

Fifth grade's study of China is organized around Essential Questions which are brainstormed with the children. The activities the children are expected to complete in order to answer their essential questions are listed in The China Contract. This year's essential questions are:

What's it really like in China? ...
Daily life...stereotypes...culture...geography

Why is it important to study China?
Imperial...Republic...People's Republic... contributions...Eastern philosophy

How will the study of China affect my life?
t'ai of stereotypes


Return to Index

China : AnInterdisciplinary Study
In the Year of the Horse ~ 4699

Why Study China?

China is the world's oldest, continuous civilization. It has the largest population of any country in the world. This vast land is full of fascinating resources, some remarkably different from our own. The people of China have made extraordinary contributions in the areas of math, science, technology, and culture.

Fifth graders will:
understand the significance of China in the world;
exercise math, language arts, research, and study skills within the context of an interdisciplinary study of China;
discover China's contributions in the areas of math, science, and technology;
explore cultural and racial stereotypes about Asia and its peoples; and,
learn about and appreciate a world culture different from our own.


Math in Our China Study


Decimal Theory

practicing addition, subtraction, multiplication, division
understanding equivalence among decimals and percentages
calculating percentages
problem-solving challenges
estimating, rounding
investigating negative numbers
calculating tax, tip
calculating aerodynamics: lift, drag, and thrust
applying pre-algebra concepts


Plane Geometry

identifying and measuring polygons
measuring and drawing angles
learning geometry vocabulary
learning coordinate geometry
exploring relationships among tangram pieces
exploring number bases
using compasses and protractors
applying the Pythagorean Theory


measuring volume and weight
using linear measurement
using the metric and US systems ~ conversions
determining area and perimeter
investigating diameter and radius


BCE ~ CE Number Line
Construct a Set of Tangrams
Make an Abacus
Dynasty Graph
Decimal Squares
Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley Textbooks/Workbooks
Chinese Menu Math
Checkbook Math
Geometry Test
Decimal Tests
Panoramic Pi
Kite Construction
Chinese Banquet
Study Latin/Greek prefixes and roots
Study Mathmatical Contributions of the Chinese
Computer programs for reinforcement and enrichment of skills: Decimal Fraction Maze, Integers, Percents, Decimals, Geometry Blaster, Geometry World, Math Blaster Pre-Algebra, Math Arena, Math for the Real World, Shanghai:Great Moments
Internet math challenges including Fifth Grade Online Onramp and Elementary Problem of the Week at



Contract Activity 2 "China's Art"
Choose one of the following:
i. paper cut
ii. landscape painting
iii. fan

iv. kite
v. lantern

Each work of art must have a colorful illustration on it. A landscape, Chinese flower, or other symbols of China should be used. Be sure to include an attractive sign to explain your art work

Contract Activity 3 "Chinese Character Rebus"
Write a story incorporating at least 10 different Chinese calligraphy characters. Word Process it at size 48 so you can easily place the characters using your calligraphy brush and ink.
Sign your story with your chop

Contract Activity 4 "China's Influence on the World"
Research China's contributions to the world with a partner. You can choose an invention, a discovery, or a person.
Present your findings in a multimedia format using one of the following:
i. a "HyperStudio" presentation
ii. a "Writing Center" news article
iii. a "KidPix Studio" slide show
iv. a "MacTimeliner" or "Chronos" time line

Some examples of presentations are:

Return to Index

Other Activities


Fifth grade math classes gained proficiency with checking accounts during their study of China. Checkbooks were issued and students were awarded $2500.00 to start. First, a shopping spree enabled the children to practice their computational skills of adding and subtracting decimals. Tax and special discounts brought percentages, multiplication, and division into the picture. Special bonuses for thrifty shoppers encouraged comparative shopping and careful calculations. Classmates audited each other and gained auditors' fees for finding errors. An imaginary trip to a Chinese restaurant, where the children had to pay for their family's eight-course meal, including tax and tip, forced them to spend more of their hard-earned cash. Awards for neat lockers, random acts of kindness, and success with academic challenges, helped students replenish their checking account coffers. An end-of-term bonus, a hefty percentage of their earnings, was a real high point of their financial careers. Unfortunately, tax day followed shortly thereafter and students reeled from federal tax (20%), state tax (4%), township tax (6%), school tax (2%), and even a room tax of .75%.

Language Arts

After reading numerous folktales from China and interpreting Chinese proverbs, students were each given a fortune cookie containing a proverb and were instructed to compose a folktale which would illuminate that proverb.

Ongoing Interdisciplinary Activities:
Learn how to use an abacus. Make your own abacus using cardboard and yarn.
Design and make your personal chop, using an art gum eraser.
Read and write Chinese
Learn about tangrams, decimals, tessellations.
Discover acupuncture.
Become a chef. With your small group, plan, prepare, and serve a Chinese dish at the annual Fifth Grade Chinese Banquet.
Learn some Chinese spoken and written language.
Read Homesick by Jean Fritz. Read another book on Asian culture for your book review.
Learn t'ai chi with Grandma Ruth.

Research Paper

Choose a topic for research.
Obtain two (2) reference books for your research
Decide on three essential questions for your research paper. Write one question on each of three envelopes.
Find facts which answer each question. Fill each envelope with cards containing facts which answer that question.
Organize each envelope. Write your paper.
It should be 2-3 pages in length and include an attractive cover and some pictures or illustrations. Charts, graphs, and maps are all appropriate.

Return to Index