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Chinese number 3.

Showcase – Chinese art


 Focus concepts:

  • Culture
  • Heritage
  • Cultural expressions – art

 Effective teaching:

  • Providing sufficient opportunities to learn


Learning intentions

Students will:

  • examine some Chinese calligraphy and consider the links between Chinese language and art
  • consider how heritage is sustained through the expression of art today
  • practise some Chinese strokes and calligraphy.

Background notes

Some of the significant inventions China brought to the world were paper, ink, and printing. These inventions enabled China to create some of the world’s earliest art forms and writing. In this activity, students examine the ancient art of calligraphy and then develop some of their own expressions by designing a scroll. If the timing of this unit links closely to the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, use that to create some of the images that could go on the scroll. If not, use any personal images that reflect culture and heritage for students.

Activity 1 – The art of writing

Print and view the photo from Appendix 9.

As a class, answer the following questions:

  • WHO is doing the ‘painting’?
  • WHO is watching?
  • WHERE are they all?
  • WHY would we choose this photo to look at?

The photo is of people painting old-style calligraphy. They are using brushes and water (not ink) so they don't mark the ground permanently. This is a very ancient form of writing and art, and more complicated than the version used in most text in China today. It is a tradition that is still practised in China, and students often go to after-school courses for special training in calligraphy (beyond the written form that all students learn).

Activity 2 – Investigating calligraphy

Look at the origins of calligraphy and read about the ancient scripts at: Ancient scripts: Chinese.

Integrate the learning of brush strokes and calligraphy with the learning of some Chinese numbers. Copy Appendix 8 and give it to the students. Work initially in pen or pencil for practice. Then, if possible, use black Indian ink on paper to develop brush strokes.

Language focus

Refer to language lesson 3 – Numbers and writing, which includes lots of information on Chinese numbers and calligraphy.

Activity 3 – Developing your own symbols and signs

You will need:

  • pencils, pens
  • paper – including newsprint, cartridge, white, and coloured paper
  • Indian ink
  • paint brushes
  • dowels or bamboo sticks (1.5 cm thick)
  • cord or ribbon for tying or hanging scroll

Encourage the students to design their own symbols and calligraphy. They could design calligraphy using:

  • their own written name in English or Chinese, or
  • another source of visual imagery, for example, personal/ancestral imagery or a personal interest (such as music).

Ask the students: "What does it say about you ?"

Have the students practise their symbols and calligraphy with brush strokes. Examine other symbols (for example, Olympic Games calligraphy pictograms) and practise writing these.

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