Bamboo and the resiliency of Culture

This is our final official learning week of co-op. We started our day off with a recording session to create a cd of all the memory verse songs the kids have learned this year! It was an awesome moment to observe their joy in the songs, their knowledge of the bible and the excellent focus they showed to run through them all in one sitting!IMG_3062IMG_3063IMG_3065
After circle time we looked at a famous painting by Wu Chen found in the book Cave Paintings to Picasso. We practised quietly observing the painting for 1 minute and then each child placed their finger on the tip of their nose if they had an observation to share. Through our observations we talked about texture, perspective and line. This painting also has important symbolism. Wu Chen painted the bamboo as a gesture to Kublai Khan and his Mongolian court at the time that the Chinese culture would not be suppressed by their foreign rulers. The Chinese people value the bamboo for its ability bend without breaking, he also painted a series of characters in the free style of an earlier time when China was self-determined.

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We quickly prepped our paper for our painting project of the day. I explained to the children that we were going to be painting a copy of the bamboo painting. Since it  is roughly 3000 years old  we wanted to make our paintings look a bit older by painting our backgrounds a light gold.
While our backgrounds were drying we read The Legend of the Panda by Linda Granfield. The book features beautiful artwork and concludes with the folklore explanation of why Pandas live in their last remaining wild habitat in Sichuan province. We also talked about their endangered status and the fact that only 1000 pandas remain in the wild.


After finishing the story we used the whiteboard to create a KWL chart which consists of 3 columns entitled Know, Wonder, Learn. The children listed prior knowledge about Pandas in the Know column, we listed new facts that we learned through today’s story under the Learn column then brainstormed questions to put in the Wonder column. We have used several graphic organizers in our co-op lessons and the kids are really enjoying working together as a group to fill in the charts.

We followed our hard thinking work with a fun multi-sensory lesson in Chinese foods! We had some dry goods set up on the windowsill and a large mat on the floor. The children sat around the perimeter of the mat and then we passed around sticky rice balls, tapioca pudding with Taro and Mango, shrimp crackers and milk tea to drink. The milk tea was most popular while the sticky rice balls had a mixed response. The red bean paste was probably the least popular.




We went outside for recess and learned a beginner set of Tai Chi moves then played Catch the Dragon’s Tail and Marco Polo. Catch the Dragon’s Tail was a bit of a dangerous game and seemed to consistently end in a pile up but the children all enjoyed playing Marco Polo and had to be convinced that recess really did need to end!






Inside again we began working on our paintings.

The first step, was to show our furthest background by painting the cliffs. We emphasized the outlines and horizontal lines. We all used grey paint as an additional way to show that the cliffs are further away. We talked about the mountains in our own city and how at a distance they look blue and grey and have few details but that as we get closer we can see more details in them.

Step 2: we added a small amount of black to darken our grey and used fingers, q-tips and sponges to create the foliage in the middle distance.

Step 3: we used straight black paint to add in the strong lines of the bamboo plant in the foreground.

Step 4: we painted simplified characters for the word freedom.


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We had just enough time at the end of our co-op time to learn “Old MacDonald had a Farm” in Chinese. It was fun to sing and discuss the differences with our english version of the song. In the Chinese version the farmer is called Wang Lao which means Old Wang. The animal noises are also different than the way we say them in english, for example the chickens were “chin chin”, the pigs “gong, gong” and the dog “wong, wong”.

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