The Great Wall of China: Teacher s Guide

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1 The Great Wall of China: Teacher s Guide Grade Level: 6-8 Curriculum Focus: World History Lesson Duration: Two class periods Program Description Stretching 1,500 miles from the Yellow Sea to the central Asian desert, the 2,000-year-old Great Wall of China has shaped not only China's past, but all of Europe's as well. Meet a photographer whose passion for the Great Wall has driven him to uncover thousands of forgotten miles of the barrier built by China's dynasties. Onscreen Questions and Activities Segment 1, The Great Wall of China: Part One Pre-viewing questions: o Think of walls in your town or neighborhood. What purpose do they serve? o Why would the Chinese build a wall 4,000 miles long? o During the program, consider the planning and time it took to construct the Great Wall. Note the builders, the materials they used and the reasons why construction lasted so many years. Post-viewing questions: o While Europe entered the Dark Ages, the Tang Dynasty flourished. Discuss the impact of the Han Wall on both China and the West during this time. List ways that the wall has influenced history. o How might the world be different today if the Han Wall had never been built? Activity: Consider how the tomb of Emperor Qin was constructed and what artifacts it contained. Then design a tomb for the person you believe is the greatest leader in history. How does the tomb you envision represent your leader s legacy? Segment 2, The Great Wall of China: Part Two Pre-viewing questions: o What contributes to a leader s greatness? Consider the qualities a person might need to overthrow a powerful ruler. o What do you know about the early Chinese dynasties such as the Tang and Ming?

2 The Great Wall of China: Teacher s Guide 2 o As you watch the program, note the traits of the Chinese rulers and the Mongols that overthrew them. What made them such accomplished leaders? Post-viewing question: The wall, built during the Ming dynasty, was constructed mostly by convicts. If they died, they had to be replaced by family members until their sentences were completed. Debate the fairness of this type of punishment. Is it just? Activity: Research more about Genghis and Kublai Khan. Using historical facts, create a Chinese wanted poster, a Mongol hall-of-fame plaque, or a warrior-of-the-world trading card for each. Lesson Plan Student Objectives Understand the roles played by different dynasties in the construction of the great walls of China. Understand varied contributions of the Qin, Han, Tang, and Ming dynasties to ancient Chinese civilization. Recognize some of the events occurring in other parts of the world during the time of the early Chinese dynasties. Materials The Great Wall of China video and VCR, or DVD and DVD player Print and Internet resources related to the Qin, Han, Tang, and Ming dynasties Computers with Internet access (see Procedures for suggested Web sites) Procedures 1. Share with the class this quotation from Confucius in 500 B.C.: Learning without thinking is labor lost; thinking without learning is perilous. Talk about what Confucius meant by this. Explain that you will be challenging your students to both learn and think as they investigate the great walls and some of the great dynasties of China. Begin with a discussion of the meaning of the word dynasty. Then ask your students to hypothesize why you used the plural, walls, instead of just referring to the Great Wall of China. 2. Next explain that several different dynasties participated in the creation of the walls. List Qin (pronounced Chin ), Han, Tang, and Ming on the board. Explain that the primary architects of the walls lived during the Qin, Han, and Ming dynasties. However, the golden age of China is considered to have occurred during the Tang dynasty, when no walls were constructed. 3. Now divide the students into four groups. Each group will develop one segment of a television news magazine show (which you could call 15 Minutes) featuring one of the dynasties listed on the board. Give each student a copy of the following preparation sheet to help them prepare

3 The Great Wall of China: Teacher s Guide 3 their segment. Review its elements with the class and explain that each group member will be expected to present at least one part of the report for the class. Preparation Sheet NAME OF DYNASTY GROUP MEMBERS SEGMENT TITLE: Should be catchy and engaging, yet also descriptive. SETTING THE STAGE: Provide an opening or introduction. It should give general background about the time period. DYNASTY IN DEPTH: Briefly describe the main rulers of the dynasty and examine the dynastic achievements of each. What is the dynasty known for? What did the rulers accomplish that helped move China forward? You may want to prepare and display a timeline. EMPEROR INTERVIEW: Develop questions for the leading emperor of the dynasty. Using what you ve learned about leader, provide responses to the questions in the first person. In the case of the Qin, Han, and Ming dynasties, be sure your interview focuses on wall-building activities. ELSEWHERE IN THE WORLD: While this dynasty ruled in China, what was happening in other places around the world? If other cultures and areas have already been studied, be sure to include these. Focus on at least two other locations/civilizations. CLOSING WITH A SEGUE INTO THE NEXT ERA: Summarize your dynasty and lead into the next segment or dynasty. The Ming group will close the program. 4. Provide groups with appropriate resources print and Internet resources about to the Qin, Han, Tang, and Ming dynasties. The following Web sites may be helpful: Condensed China: Chinese History for Beginners History Timeline of China 5. Have students complete and hand in their Preparation Sheets. After you, as executive producer, have approved the Preparation Sheets, give students time to practice their segments. 6. Have the groups present their segments to the class. If possible, use a camera to tape them and share with parents, the PTA, or another class. Discussion Questions 1. What is the purpose of walls? Why did the Chinese construct them? How important is it that the Great Wall of China has survived through the centuries and remains standing today? To what extent does it serve as an icon for China?

4 The Great Wall of China: Teacher s Guide 4 2. The first Qin emperor built a huge and opulent tomb containing a life-sized army constructed of terra-cotta soldiers. It took over 700,000 men 38 years to construct it. Why would he have done this? Compare this to rulers tombs of other eras, such as the Egyptian pyramids. 3. How is archaeology important to the study of history? Compare archaeology and history. How are they similar, and how are they different? 4. Genghis Khan is frequently credited with being the most legendary warrior the world has ever known. Have your students debate the extent to which they agree or disagree with this assertion. Challenge them to nominate others deserving of this title. 5. Analyze the impact of the Great Wall(s) of China on the course of western civilization. How would the world be a different place if the Chinese had not constructed their walls? 6. The Chinese required ambassadors from other places to kowtow to the emperor. This involved three bows with three acts of prostration (having the forehead touch the ground) each time. Which world leaders throughout the course of history would you consider worthy of this act of extreme respect? Assessment Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson. 3 points: Students groups worked cooperatively and each member contributed to the Preparation Sheet and final presentation; researched and clearly reported on all the required information; interview questions and answers were engaging, accurate; included information about other events happening in at least two other civilizations in the world. 2 points: Each member of the group contributed to the Preparation Sheet and final presentation; researched and satisfactorily reported on most of the required information; interview questions and answers were complete; included information about other events happening in two other civilizations in the world. 1 point: Students groups did not work cooperatively; not all members contributed to the Preparation Sheet and final presentation; researched reported on little of the required information; interview questions and answers were inaccurate or vague; included information about other events happening in less than two other civilizations in the world. Vocabulary archaeology Definition: The scientific study of the material remains of human life in the past. Context: Archaeology has helped uncover a great deal of information about the history and construction of the walls of China. dynasty Definition: A succession of rulers of the same line of descent. Context: The rulers of the Tang dynasty, not known for building walls, led China during its golden age.

5 The Great Wall of China: Teacher s Guide 5 emperor Definition: The supreme ruler of an empire. Context: Emperor Qin is considered the first emperor of China and is the leader for whom the country is named. hordes Definition: A tribal group of Mongolian nomads. Context: Nomadic hordes terrified the Chinese as they attacked them and killed their animals. icon Definition: An emblem or symbol of something. Context: Today the Great Wall of China is protected, as it serves as an icon for China. omen Definition: A sign foretelling a future event. Context: The fact that Genghis Khan s right hand was drenched in blood at birth was considered an omen of his violent and warlike ways. terra cotta Definition: A fired clay, either glazed or unglazed, used for making statuettes and vases and for architectural features such as roofs. Context: The first Qin emperor s massive tomb contained an army of terra cotta, with each soldier having a different face, to protect the emperor s body as in life. Academic Standards Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) McREL's Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education addresses 14 content areas. To view the standards and benchmarks, visit This lesson plan addresses the following national standards: World History Early Civilizations and the Rise of Pastoral Peoples: Understands major trends in Eurasia and Africa from 4000 to 1000 BCE. World History Expanding Zones of Exchange and Encounter: Understands major developments in East Asia and Southeast Asia in the era of the Tang Dynasty from 600 to 900 CE. World History Intensified Hemispheric Interactions: Understands major global trends from 1000 to 1500 CE. The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)

6 The Great Wall of China: Teacher s Guide 6 The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has developed national standards to provide guidelines for teaching social studies. To view the standards online, go to This lesson plan addresses the following thematic standards: Time, Continuity, and Change Support Materials Develop custom worksheets, educational puzzles, online quizzes, and more with the free teaching tools offered on the Discoveryschool.com Web site. Create and print support materials, or save them to a Custom Classroom account for future use. To learn more, visit

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