World Adventures: China
World Adventures Dramatic Play Series
During our school year of World Adventures, we "travel" to different countries and experience an imaginary, playful theme, based off something special from each one.
Introducing the World Adventures concepts in an age appropriate environment and format, provides a small glimpse into the beautiful diversity of life beyond their personal world. As a teacher, you will be able to know if your class is ready for themes and concepts branching beyond their immediate world view.
Begin by introducing the concepts such as near/far, up/down, ways we travel, and children around the world. As needed with all themes, the World Adventures Dramatic Play Series is open-ended (without specific requirements) and playfully (loosely) based, without requiring geographical and historical facts. The World Adventure themes offer development of social skills, problem solving, higher order thinking, as well as fine and gross motor skills. Various themes also include embedded educational concepts such as: sequencing, one-to-one correspondence, literacy and enriched vocabulary.
Children love the idea of traveling and are very curious about other children and the world around them. I introduce imaginary travel experiences through: simplified mini lessons, simple maps and globes, and a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books. We discuss what children around the world do, where they live, how they dress and the types of food they eat. Each imaginative travel theme brings an open-ended, fun, exciting and unique adventure from that particular country and area of the world. Many of the themes are made from my own experiences as a world traveler.
China: Chinese Hawker Stall
Every few years, our little family travels over to Asia to visit our relatives. The hawker stalls around the towns and cities are extremely popular places to eat. Most are small open air eating establishments, bustling with hungry customers. One of our family favorites is dim sum. Whenever we travel abroad, we look for hawker stalls or restaurants that serve dim sum and savor every authentic bite. As the Lunar New Year approaches, beautiful bright red and gold decorations adorn the restaurants, businesses and homes. To bring the iconic hawker stall experience into my classroom, I set up an imaginary hawker stall experience during the Lunar New Year and our World Adventures unit on China. The imaginary open air restaurant offers our favorite dim sum and is decorated in bright red and gold decorations.
Each world theme includes a set of calendar cards. It's important to show class events on the calendar, for students to count up to. My scholars enjoy seeing our events for the month on our classroom linear calendar. They eagerly count up to the "travel" day in excitement and often proclaim their enthusiasm while announcing the remaining days to their peers.
Simplified Altas, Maps and Globe
One of our favorite books to introduce maps and where we are, compared to the world around us, is 'Me On The Map' by Joan Sweeney. The Melissa and Doug 'World Map Learning Mat' is a small, simple version I place in the literacy center. I like to use and place the 'First Atlas' by Miles Kelly in our literacy center as well. I use the 'World ScrunchMap' at the beginning of each theme. It's more durable than a paper map and can be easily passed around, or laid out for hands-on use. It's not one I leave out through each theme, since it's much more complex. However, I do like to give my scholars a view of the incredible amount of special places around the world. I have a simple globe set out in our literacy center, that I switch out periodically with an inflatable globe, to introduce the concept of the Earth.
Passports, Stamps and Visas
Each of my scholars receives a passport, with their picture and name inside. I printed their picture and name on sticker paper, leaving a place for them to add their signature. Each World Adventures theme includes printables for passport entry visas and exit stamps. I print the visas and stamps on sticker paper. Date stamps are added when we "enter" the country on the first day and "exit" the country on the last day. On the last day of the theme, we discuss the experience, what they've learned and what they enjoyed the most.
Sign, Bunting, Mural and Decorations
Whether you choose to print out the 'Yummy Dim Sum' sign large or small, it adds an official feel to the space. The large version of the sign is printed off in segments and taped together, to make it grand for the imaginative area. The China bunting comes in full color. The mural is made from rolls of fade resistant bulletin board paper. Like all my murals, I laminate them in panels so they can be stored and reused. Any 3D hanging paper items, attached to the mural, are taped with painters tape and removed for storage. The paper lantern decorations were purchased from Amazon. Tassel decorations were purchased at our local Asian Market during the Chinese New Year.
Pictures and Environmental Print
I always add a corresponding picture book to our imagination center, with every theme. For our Chinese Hawker Stall, I add the 'Mandarin Chinese Picture Dictionary' by Tuttle Publishing. Each picture has the name listed in both Mandarin and English. My husband loves eating rice noodles with his soups and I saved the screw top container to hold our "noodles", adding a bit of environmental print.
Our imagination center has one set of cubbies, to arrange supplies for the theme. I always add a theme/activity related book to the center. Each of the themes have items that can be easily pulled from other themes and activities, used in the classroom.
Dim Sum Supplies
All of the dim sum favorites are made from felt. I use the easy to follow patterns by FeltKreations on Etsy. You can find the Felt Dim Sum Chinese Food Pattern pack HERE. The felt food only requires simple basic needle and thread stitching. Noodles are made from knit type yarn, cut into 12" lengths. All the menu items follow the FeltKreations dim sum set and yarn noodles.
Dishes and Utensils
The best place to find authentic restaurant dishes and utensils is your local Asian market. We're lucky to have quite a few well stocked Asian markets near us, with a variety of household items. The childrens panda chopsticks are purchased from Amazon. I always set out regular chopsticks, along with the childrens chopsticks. The small bamboo steamers are also from our local Asian market. The small sized steamers are perfect for the felt dim sum. The wok play set is by Learning Resources and the tea set is made by Green Toys. Both can be found on Amazon and links are below.
To reduce waste and allow supplies to be uses year after year, the hawker stall order forms are laminated for durability and set out with a dry erase marker and felt square for an eraser.
Paper Money and Coins
Included in the World Adventures: China pack is printable play currency. The play currency is available in black and white, so it can be easily printed on the colored paper of your choice. The play currency has the hawker stall name and is ready to print in denominations of 1, 5 and 10. The Chinese replica coins are from Amazon (links can be found below).
Word cards are included in the dramatic play pack, in both uppercase and upper/lowercase. I usually put a set up in our writing center, in the imagination center and also the creativity (art) center. I use additional themed center activities, including a reader, that will be available in the corresponding World Adventures Math and Literacy pack.
Many of the children's books on the market are about the zodiac animals. My scholars like to retell the story of the zodiac animal race to each other with the picture books in our library. Some of the books from my collection are: 'Ruby's Chinese New Year' by Vickie Lee, 'PoPo's Lucky Chinese New Year' by Virginia Loh-Hagan, 'Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?' by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle, 'Chengdu' by Barney Saltzberg, 'Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas' by Natasha Yim, 'Lunar New Year' by Hannah Eliot, 'Noodle Magic' by Roseanne Thong, 'Everybody Brings Noodles' by Norah Dooley, 'Panda's Amazing Journey' by Sophie Holmqvist (found at IKEA), 'Five Hungry Pandas' by Alexis Barad, 'Sweet Hearts' by Jan Carr, 'Pom Pom Panda Gets the Grumps' by Sophy Henn, 'Mimi and She in I'll Race You!' by Christian Trimmer, 'Cinese Zodiac Animals' by Shanghai Press, 'Mandarin Chinese Picture Dictionary' by Tuttle Publishing, and 'Celebrate Chinese New Year' by Carolyn Otto.
There are five books the I leave out in our library, during the entire school year: 'What We Wear: Dressing Up Around the World' by Maya Ajmera, 'People of the World' by Nancy Loewen, 'Food of the World' by Nancy Loewen, 'Homes fo the World' by Nancy Loewen, and 'Clothing of the World', also by Nancy Loewen. They have fantastic colorful photographs of the beautiful diversity of people, foods and places around the world. My advanced readers enjoy reading pages to their peers, when we travel to a new country.
Additional Activity Idea
Fine-motor Balance Game
A fun fine-motor balancing game to play is 'Panda Darake' and can be found via Amazon. The idea is to strategically balance the various posed pandas on the rocking tire. The tire can be set in two positions, for easy and advanced playing. I set out the game with optional tweezers. Panda Darake provides wonderful opportunities for problem solving and fine-motor muscle control. My scholars really enjoy playing the game and always get incredibly excited when they're able to get several of the pandas balanced, before it leans enough to have them fall off.
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