Tag Archive | inventions

Year of the Monkey

Well, it is that time again… Chinese New Year and our yearly revisit to all things Chinese. This year I decided to go a slightly different route and combine a look at the country with light worksheets with a monkey theme. Instead of doing a notebook like last year (which was a blast HERE), the younger ones voted for a binder like they did for Christmas, and the twins continued their special event book they also began at Christmas. The centerpiece of our unit is a lovely large map of China that Ken created and printed out for us – 9 pieces of printer paper in all. With some star stickers I lucked out and found at the Dollar Tree last year we were well on our way.

We started with the Great Wall of China. I found a video documentary on youTube and some wonderful books. We really lucked out with a series of entertaining and educational books, for the Great Wall we used  For some other helpful books!

  • 20 Fun Facts About the Great Wall of China by Therese Shea HERE
  • Great Wall of China by Elizabeth Raum HERE
  • You Wouldn’t Want to Work on the Great Wall of China HERE

One of the activities I came up with for the kids to do was make postcards based on famous landmarks in China. I basically Googled those terms and let the kids scroll through the list and images at the top of the search engine. I love it when they have that freedom to make their own choices. Granted we vetoed The Forbidden City and The Great Wall since we were covering those as a family in detail.

  • Trinity chose the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Their official site HERE is adorable. Trinity got her fact about the beginning point of this amazing place off Wiki HERE. It all began with 6 panda!
  • Emanuel chose Elephant Trunk Hill in Guilin. So called for its shape that mimics an elephant with its trunk in the water. We went to a travel site for amazing pictures and some great information HERE. Thanks to China Travel Guide.
  • Gavin chose Big Wild Goose Pagoda in Xian City. There is a lot about this Buddhist temple and some good history to cover, so he got picked to do a mini report on it as well. But for starters, we went back to the China Travel Guide HERE.
  • Zander chose Mount Sanqin in the Jiangxi Province. One of the top mountains for tourism it was chosen strictly on the amazing google search picture he found next to it HERE. We went back to our travel guide site for help with facts and numbers. Talk about and animal and plant rich mountain! HERE.

We do love our colouring pages and beyond the bounty that is Activity Village, we found some other gems… the twins love the stained glass style year of the monkey page at The Imagination Box HERE.

Sparklebox has some great stuff on their page, we specifically printed out the full list of animals and their Chinese characters HERE.

This year we spent a good week on the Forbidden City. There is so much to see and learn about, I think we could have spent a month. BUT here are the links we used:

We found two amazing books… You Wouldn’t Want to Be in the Forbidden City! by Jacqueline Morley HERE and In the Forbidden City HERE

Guangzhou is a relatively new topic for our family, but important all the same. This is the city that our dear friends and family came from. So this year I figured we needed to know more. And boy is there a lot to know! A massive place there was a wonderful official site to look through HERE. But we used so many more links, all to get a handle on the size… the lifestyle and the amazing uniqueness of a place that must be so different from anywhere we have visited ourselves.

  • Trip Advisor HERE
  • Kidz Search HERE
  • Top China Travel HERE
  • Travel China Guide HERE, HERE
  • Science Kids HERE
  • Wiki HERE
  • Connect the dots with Connect the Dots 101 HERE
  • Maps of World HERE

We covered a few cities in a relatively brief overview… Hong Kong was a rather complex concept with a few helpful links at Crayola.com for a colouring page with information of their flag HERE, Academic Exchange HERE, About Travel HERE, Travelling East HERE, Ducksters HERE, Kidz Search HERE.

One of the kids’ favourite activities this time round was to try out origami… especially once the twins figured out they could make THROWING STARS!

  • Kids Gen has videos HERE
  • Origami with Rachel Katz HERE

As something relatively new to our China unit we covered two people important to the shaping of China – Confucius and Chairman Mao. It was our first foray into this deep of a conversation for the twins and as interesting. Things like Communism and philosophy came up as did the concept of a rather brutal leadership. Here are some links!

  • Kids Philosophy Slam HERE, A China Family Adventure HERE, Biography.com HERE, My Interesting Facts HERE, Ask.com HERE,

General China sites that were helpful:

  • Science Kids HERE
  • Take a peek at language differences though I warn you there is a missing resource with Discovery Education HERE. We contacted our friends who are the true pure resource for this one.
  • Kai-Lan’s official printables thanks to Nick Jr. HERE

Of course we had to look at inventions. This was an exercise in the twins actually choosing inventions and searching for them themselves online to find out things like who, when, where… so I will just link the main ones used.

  • China Whisper had a list of top 20 HERE
  • Wiki has their own list HERE
  • Did you know toilet paper was first used by the Chinese??? Today I Found Out explains HERE

And Chinese New Year itself:

  • Asian Holidays by Faith Winchester HERE
  • Happy Chinese New Year, Kai-Lan! HERE


  • Stone Soup… and other stories from the Asian Tradition HERE
  • Beijing Travel Guide DVD 2002/2004
  • Food With Friends! (Dora) HERE

Additional Books:

  • A Gift by Yong Chen HERE
  • China by Michael Dahl HERE
  • Beijing and Shanghai HERE
  • China by Christine Juarez HERE
  • China a Question and Answer Book by Nathan Olson HERE
  • Ancient Civilizations China by Valerie Bodden HERE
  • China phrasebook by Lonely Planet HERE
  • The Magical East HERE
  • D is For Dragon Dance by Ying Chang Compestine HERE
  • Wonders of the World by Colin Dibben HERE
  • Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim HERE
  • Celebrate Chinese New Year by Carolyn Otto HERE
  • Chinese New Year by Alice K. Flanagan HERE
  • The Runaway Ricecake by Ying Chang Compestine HERE

Two books I am dying to add to our collection:

  • Little Leap Forward: A Boy in Beijing by Guo Yue HERE
  • And a family favourite… The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine HERE

To add to our unit we focused on monkeys that live in China. I won’t link all the pages we used, but I had the kids check out the list on Wiki and then we did our research online. We had the Slow Loris, Golden Snub Nosed, Black Crested Gibbon and. It is always fun to add an animal connection to a unit.

I am sure I could continue on with more and more links. We really went ALL OUT on this unit this year. But I figure I will just add those to the random resource post I plan on adding to the site later in May. I would suggest, if you have not looked into China as a homeschool or personal research project, do so! The culture, the people and the country itself is AMAZING! We are so blessed to have friends who are family who are directly from there. They have opened our eyes and our hearts to an amazing new world! 

Our Special Snack Platter with the newest addition to our decorations..  lucky orange tree!

Our Special Snack Platter with the newest addition to our decorations.. lucky orange tree!

Coming to the End

January 6-7

Well, we are coming to the end of our time with Ted… his flight home is the evening of the 8th – after the guys plan to go to a 3D showing of Top Gun at an Imax theatre. They are only showing it that way in select theatres and only for 8 days! A terrific final event for an amazing visit. Having Ted here has been amazing… we have had time to chat, time to play and time to just sit and hang out like we used to. Trinity and Echo has renewed their love of time with Uncle Ted and the boys have had him playing Skylanders and Legos and more. As you can tell from Trinity’s photo blog entry HERE, his iPhone was a hit as well!

And snow on top of it!

Ken dropped his parents at the airport hours before the rest of us were awake. They are gone for 7 weeks in sunny Mexico. It was definitely different not having them here… though we did take the day at a more relaxed pace. Any big change to the household seems to work best for us if we do that. So with a FINISHED Lego crane to enjoy I could not help but allow them to enjoy it to the fullest. They earned that one!


We watched TWO new episodes of the Wild Kratts… on Blue Jays and Grey Squirrels and the Caracal. I love it when there is an animal that I know nothing about as well like the Caracal.

Family favourite

Blue Jays and Grey Squirrels


Our Chinese New Year work continues with Thursday being our date to start the poster assembly. We have quite a bit so I am thinking there are going to be some pockets to make and some creative space use. One more book to share… once we finish reading it… and of course our crafts to complete.

Even Batman preps for the poster

The guys have enjoyed more gaming time with Ken working from home, one break at lunch for a game and the rest of the time just us with Ken locked away. It should not be much longer before he has a desk at the office! Renovations and reorganization still to be accomplished. Such a weird but AMAZING thought – Ken is WORKING again. YAY! One more step completed, next… we work toward the ability to get our own special home… not forever as I cannot say we will be here in Minnesota forever (in fact, I am sure we won’t) but a long term home full of security and normality. Just what our family has always been working towards.


I am rather proud of our Thursday – we wanted to get going on the poster and we did! There was cutting and pasting, taping and folding and even some using of markers. I am sure we will dabble on it a little more on Friday but it is pretty full! Granted, less of China the country and more about stories and celebrations but I think this year we had a lot of fun and learned more than a little about Chinese New Year!

We had one more book to finish with – Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures in Imperial China. We got a lovely list of inventions in this book, things like silk and umbrellas…

Our book

Inventions list

Ken worked from home again, in fact… he was AHEAD after yesterday so was able to run Ted and Sean back to the Source, (a first time for Sean) to pick up something Ted had seen and liked last time. That left me home alone with the kiddos. We tried something new today – I set up different Valentine themed stations, mainly crafts… it worked pretty well though I need MORE ideas or at least more COMPLEX ideas to keep them there long enough to actually get my bath accomplished in a relaxing fashion.

Around the table

This time round we had paper chains, making paper roses, a placemat activity sheet I got at Target, a Kai Lan book we are all working on (super simple purchase from Dollarama last year, not so much Chinese beyond Kai Lan herself but fun) and the book project the twins needed to finish. You can find the instructions for our paper roses thanks to Art for Kids on the Homeschool Classroom site HERE. I honestly think that these roses would be a great gift for ANYONE any age! I was going to put up the paperchain in the tree outside but when we laid it out with our roses in their cup… well they look so pretty together in the sunshine on the table!

Flowers and paper chains

We had another Wild Kratts to watch as well… this one about BEES!


I ended my evening with a visitor on top of our other visitors! Bree managed to have a decently light day of work and so was able to head over here after and spend some visiting time. She finally got to meet and talk to Ted and Sean… in fact, she played WoW with Ted eons ago! It was great to see her and Lily to be… we are on a day by day wait on the birth of the lovely Lily. When rush hour was over we headed out to Joann’s finally! I was in desperate need of some new yarn… I have a second toilet paper scarf to make AND the need to do an infinity scarf for myself. OH and I couldn’t resist the socks.

Visiting with Bree and Lily to be

Soooo soft

I am hoping to get my Facebook page sorted out for selling again this month as well! I think Bree has caught the crafting bug too… she picked up some supplies to get back to crocheting too! I love it when a friend picks up a craft again. That means someone to chat with and craft. I have missed that here in Minnesota. I had quite the crafting group in Canada.

There is nothing more fun than a box