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Further inquiry

Approximate duration: 4 lessons


 Key competencies

  • Thinking
  • Relating to others

 Effective teaching

  • Enhancing the relevance of new learning
  • Facilitating shared learning

 Links to social inquiry processes

  • Finding out information
  • Exploring values and perspectives


Conceptual understandings/learning intentions:  We are learning to...

(Level 3–4)

Students will gain knowledge, skills, and experiences to:

  • investigate the key symbolic aspects of the Chinese Garden and construct their own representation of the gardens
  • justify their inclusion of specific objects in their representation.

What did we learn about the Dunedin Chinese Garden? What are the key characteristics of a scholar's garden?

An important aspect is returning to the students' KWL charts to add what they have learned about the Chinese Garden from their visit. This would work well in groups, as students could share their ideas and listen to the knowledge other students gained and add it to their own KWL.

Background information about important aspects of the Chinese Garden


  • Symbolic of male rock (long and erect)
  • Symbolic of female rock (lots of holes)
  • Shape and texture all part of an art form
  • All rocks brought from Shanghai
  • Hole in the rock designed so you can see through to first church
  • Create scenery from the outside world


  • No nails used
  • Built in Shanghai, dismantled and brought to New Zealand and then reassembled by Chinese artisans
  • Inside/outside symbolising the cross between the worlds
  • The higher the doorstep, the wealthier the person
  • Lattice windows


  • Three lions guarding the entrance – male and female and a cub
  • Lanyuan is inscribed back to front–name of the gardens
  • You pass over the lagoon to separate the inside and outside worlds
  • When you arrive at the entrance you can’t see, which creates an aura of mystery around what you will see


  • Species were specially chosen for our climate
  • Pine is an evergreen
  • Cherry blossom always flowers during winter, symbolising hope
  • Bamboo symbolises resilience
  • Lotus
  • The plants were all chosen for their shape and are an art form in themselves


  • Fish has the same pronunciation as 'abundance' in Chinese
  • Gold and silver meant money in that era
  • Goldfish would mean wealthy, with an abundance of money

Suggested follow-up activities

Take one of the key aspects of the Chinese Garden and investigate it further using the information from the power points or these websites:

Please be aware that, as Wikipedia is a public document, accuracy of information cannot be guaranteed.

Dunedin Chinese Garden on Wikipedia

Chinese Garden on Wikipedia

Dunedin City Council's Chinese Garden information

The task is to then create a model, game, poster, jingle or song about the key aspects/symbols of the Chinese Garden. This would be designed for a person who has no knowledge about the Chinese Garden or its significance to the people of Dunedin and New Zealand.

Expert/jigsaw groups

Organise students into home groups and then number them. Each student then goes to an expert group where they will investigate one of the key aspects of the Chinese Garden with other students with the same focus. They will then return to their home group, where each person will share the information that they learned at the expert group.

Brainstorm as a class some key questions that you would like answered in their expert group. Some suggested questions are:

What are the attributes of?

How are the ... organised?

What are the … made of?

Is the positioning important?

Ask the students to evaluate their representation and write a justification statement about their representation.

Other suggested activities:

View the Powerpoints of the construction of the gardens as background knowledge and look at the history of the Chinese and how this influenced the construction of the Chinese Garden.

Pretend you are a tour guide and write a guide or prepare a Powerpoint to promote the Chinese Garden.

Use the download of the T-chart to look at the challenges and opportunities created by the Chinese Garden.

Design a bookmark on the computer using a desktop publishing program to present the key aspects/facts learned about the Chinese Garden. Remind the students that you can only fit limited information on a bookmark.

Create a rock wall to share all the information learned about the Chinese Garden. On each paper rock, the students write a fact and build up a Chinese miner's hut as an attractive display.

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