Call today for a free catalog: 1-877-697-8611  
History Makes Sense Using Maps and Timelines!  
  Subscribe to the Knowledge Quest, Inc.
 e-newsletter.  Lots of freebies!  Write to:

 [email protected]

Quick Links to our Products:


Blackline Maps

Timelines and Figures

Historical Biographies

History Curricula

Other great products!



Read our blog with educational tips, everyday life examples and more...

China Unit Study

I really enjoy writing a column for the Old Schoolhouse magazine called the International Schoolhouse.  In the article, I get the chance to share with you about the landscape, the history and the culture of the highlighted country, in this case China.  However, there is so much to tell that simply overflows a 1500 word article that I have decided to compile the remainder of the information as a unit study for you. 

If you do not subscribe to the Old Schoolhouse magazine, you can read a sample issue here -  Or better yet, subscribe here - The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC - and get the fall issue this month with the China article that I have written, plus many, many more wonderful articles of encouragement from other inspirational authors.  It is their best issue yet.  Oh, and did I mention that you get a bunch of free gifts with your new subscription.

Okay, so now that you have read the article, it's time to dive in for some hands-on learning to cement your student's growing knowledge of this Asian country.

Unit Study:

1.  READING SELECTIONS - Let's start with some extra reading.  Listed below are some great books about China, or set in the Asian country of China, that will provide many hours of enjoyable reading.  The links below will take you to for more information, but you can find these at your local library.  Read for pleasure alone, or have your kids write a book report on one of these selections.

Are you new to homeschooling?

Check out our new class starting this month -


The first three books listed above are all published by DK (Dorling Kindersley) and have magnificent photos.  The first book is an adult or teen level book and the next three are for younger children in grades 2-6 or so.  If you are looking for some books about China for your very young children, here are some great choices:

C is for China by Sungwan So

Count Your Way through China by James Haskins

Moonbeams, Dumpling and Dragon Boats by Nina Simonds

Made in China by Suzanne Williams

Truly, books about China are numerous at or at your local library.  You should have no trouble finding a great selection.  For historical fiction, you might want to read the legend of Fa Mulan by Robert D. San Souci to younger children (then watch the movie).  And for a primary source, you might consider The Travels of Marco Polo by Marco Polo (this is definitely for older students, but a fascinating read).

2. HISTORY & TIMELINES - Learn more about China by compiling historical facts and events from its long and eventful history and adding them to your timeline.  If you do not have a timeline on the go, you can construct one by following these directions - How to Make a Timeline Easily.  Here is a link to a wonderful resource for timeline entries about China -,153,217. What is interesting about this timeline is that you can click on the links to your right to bring up more information and links to other sites as well.   Here is another one, however it includes some Korean history also -    

3. MAPWORK - A unit study would not be complete without taking a good look at the lay of the land.  Click here for both a labeled and unlabeled map of China.  Have your students mark some of the major cities, the neighboring countries, and the ocean to the east, at the least.  For older students, have them use your teacher's map and fill in the rest!

4. RECIPES - This is my favorite part - the food from the land!  Chinese food is probably my favorite, although I am sure that my idea of Chinese food may be quite different from those living in China.  In fact, we had an exchange student from Chengdu, who questioned what type of food we were eating when we took her out to a local Chinese restaurant.  Of course, the owners of the restaurant were from a completely different region of China and the flavors were vastly different from the food she was used to eating at home.

Here are a few favorite dishes of mine.  Enjoy!

Sesame Chicken

Sesame chicken is a very popular restaurant dish. (Note: You may want to increase the vinegar or lower the amount of sugar. It all depends on how sweet you want the sauce).

This recipe serves 3 - 4 if served with just rice, or 5 - 6 as part of a multi-course meal.

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes


  • 3 whole boneless chicken breasts
  • Marinade:
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cooking wine or dry sherry
  • a few drops of sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Sauce for Sesame Chicken:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/8 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 TB dark soy sauce
  • 2 TB sesame oil
  • 1 tsp chili paste, or more if desired
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • Other:
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (see recipe directions for link to how to toast)
  • 3 1/2 - 4 cups peanut oil for deep-frying


Directions for Sesame Chicken: Toast the sesame seeds and set aside.

Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes. Mix the marinade ingredients and marinate the chicken for 20 minutes. 

To prepare the sauce: mix together all of the sauce ingredients.  Pour them into a small pot and bring to a boil, stirring continuously. Turn the heat down to low and keep warm while you are deep-frying the chicken. 

To deep-fry the chicken: add the marinated chicken pieces a few at a time, and deep-fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remainder of the chicken. 

Just before you are finished deep-frying, bring the sauce back up to a boil.  Place the chicken on a large platter and pour the sauce over.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve the Sesame Chicken with rice.


Mongolian Beef (or chicken)



  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. sugar 
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch 
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut oil 
  • 1lb flank steak or chicken sliced into 2 inch pieces 


  • 1 whole scallion, minced
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger 
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic


  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. dry sherry 
  • 1 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. water

PLUS 8 whole scallions cut into 2-inch pieces

1 tsp. sesame oil


Mix the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl until smooth.  Put in the beef (or chicken) slices and set asid uncovered for at least 20 minutes (can be refrigerated up to 24 hours at this point).

Heat wok over high heat.  Add 1/4 cup of peanut oil.  When the oil is hot, add the meat and its marinade.  Stir-fry about 2 minutes or until the meat loses its pink color.

Remove the meat from the wok and set aside in a bowl uncovered.  Add 2 Tbsp of peanut oil to the wok.  When the oil is hot, add the minced seasonings.  Stir a few times and then add the sauce.  Stir and then add the scallion pieces.  Stir for about 1/2 minute and then return the beef (or chicken) to the wok.  Stir just to heat through.  Stir in sesame oil if desired and serve immediately.


Chinese Noodles in Peanut Sauce


  • 1 lb or 500 grams Hakka (flat) noodles
  • 2 Tbsp. dark sesame oil 
  • Dressing:
  • 6 Tbsp. peanut butter 
  • 1/4 cup water 
  • 3 Tbsp. light soya sauce 
  • 6 Tbsp. dark soy sauce 
  • 6 Tbsp. sesame paste (ground sesame seeds)
  • 1/2 cup dark sesame oil 
  • 2 Tbsp. sherry or any wine of your choice 
  • 4 tsp. white vinegar 
  • 1/4 cup honey or sugar syrup 
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, chopped fine 
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh ginger 
  • 1/2 cup hot water   
  • Garnish (all are optional, depending on your taste) 
  • 1 carrot, peeled, julienned 
  • 1/2 firm medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and julienned 
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped 
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced


Boil noodles in large pot of unsalted water over medium heat until barely tender and still firm. Drain immediately and rinse with cold water until cold. Drain well and toss noodles with (2 Tbsp) dark sesame oil so they don't stick together. For dressing, combine all ingredients except hot water in a blender or food processor fitted with steel blade and blend until smooth. Thin with hot water to consistency of whipping cream. For garnish, put carrot julienne in ice water for 30 minutes. Just before serving, toss noodles with sauce. Garnish with cucumber, peanuts, green onion, and carrot. Serve at room temperature.


Boiled Dumplings (Jiao Zi)


4 1/2 cups flour, sifted
10 1/2 oz lean boneless pork or mutton, minced
1 tsp salt, or to taste
6 1/2 tbsp
scallions, chopped
2 tsp
ginger, chopped
1/8 tsp five-spice powder
1/2 tsp MSG (optional)


1. Mix the flour with 3 1/2 oz of water to make a dough. knead until smooth and let stand for 30 minutes.

2. To prepare the filling, mix the pork or mutton with 7 oz (200 ml) of water and the salt. Stir in one direction until it becomes a paste. Add the scallions and blend well. divide filling into 100 portions.

3. Divide the dough into 4 portions and roll into long rolls. Cut each into 25 pieces. Flatten each piece and roll into 2 inches (5 cm) circles. Place 1 portion of filling in the center of each wrapper and fold the dough over it, making a bonnet-shaped pouch. Pinch the edges together to seal the dumpling. Repeat until all the dough and filling are used.

4. Bring 8 cups (2 litres) of water to a boil over high heat, Add half the dumplings. Stir them around gently with a ladel, and let the water return to a boil. Add enough cold water to stop the boiling, then bring back to a boil. When the water boils again, add more cold water and bring to a boil a third time. The dumplings will be done when they float to the surface. Remove, drain well, and serve.

(Or, if you are in a pinch for time, you can buy frozen potstickers at your local grocery store or Costco Warehouse).


Almond Cookies



2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter
2 eggs, beaten
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon almond extract
1/4 pound whole, blanched almonds


Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a food processor, mix the flour, sugar, butter, salt and baking soda until it forms little balls. Add the eggs and almond extract. Roll out the dough on floured surface. Cut with 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter. Place on greased cookie sheet and place an almond in center of each cookie. Bake for 25 minutes.





The people of China create some amazing and exquisite craft items that they use and sell to make a living.  Here are a few fun projects that you can do with your children. 

Make a Chinese Paper Lantern:

Construct Red Gift Envelopes:

Create some lovely Plum Blossoms that you can use in your table setting:

All of these crafts are appropriate for kids age 7 and up.  Here are some ideas for the under 7's: And remember to have fun!

Warm Regards,

Terri Johnson
Knowledge Quest, Inc. - try our maps free! - Are you a brand new homeschooler? - see what we're up to.

Terri Johnson is the creator of Knowledge Quest maps and timelines.  Her mission for the company is to help make the teaching and learning of history and geography enjoyable for both teacher and students.  She has created and published over 20 map and timeline products.  Her Blackline Maps of World History have been widely recommended in the education community.  Terri resides in Oregon with her husband Todd and their six children whom she teaches at home.


    Copyright 2005 Knowledge Quest, Inc. All Rights Reserved.