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Chinese number 1.

Discovering China

Curriculum connections:

  • Social sciences
  • English
  • Languages – Chinese
  • Visual arts

Focus concepts:

  • Sustainability
  • Culture and heritage

Effective teaching:

  • Making connections to prior learning and experience
  • Enhancing the relevance of new learning

Learning intentions

Students will:

  • examine photos from China and show what they already know and what they want to find out
  • read about the photos and complete more of their table
  • consider how we sustain culture and heritage in New Zealand.

Activity 1 – Photo analysis

Print out the photos from Appendix 11 (and laminate if used by multiple classes). Print out the information sheets that match each photo. Keep them separate from the photos at this stage, so that students have nothing but the photo to examine. Print out the table – each group will need one copy.


  • Calligraphy in the park
  • The Great Wall
  • Temple with prayer wheels
  • Jade carving
  • Food
  • Olympic Games mascots

Divide the students into 5–6 groups. Ask each group to complete the left-hand column of the table ("What do we know?"). Tell them it's fine to leave gaps.

Hand out the information cards that link to each photo. Ask the students:

"Has anything changed about your initial understandings? If so record it on your table (middle row). Then complete the last column."

Then have each group report back to the class with their findings. As a class, brainstorm some ideas for the final questions. Display the photos and the student tables on the wall. The students may get a chance to explore some of their questions later in the unit.

Look for initial understandings. Students with a significant amount of prior knowledge/experience in Chinese cultural/language/travel etc. The table will form a diagnostic activity to indicate where to head to next.

Key questions

The aims of this activity are to explore students’ prior knowledge about Chinese culture, and to develop links between how culture is preserved and sustained and the actions of people and groups. We are using culture in the widest sense to include everyday expressions of language, food, art, music, etc.

  • What do these photos show about what is important for people?
  • How do the photos show cultural changes?
  • How do they show culture being sustained?

Activity 2 – Looking at how we show our culture in New Zealand

As a class, develop a concept map for how we show and/or communicate our culture in New Zealand. Note: This will reflect collective (national) culture, but could also reflect personal culture and heritage. Develop this by completing a T-table like the one below. Consider firstly: “How do we show/communicate our culture in NZ?” and then ask the question: “How do we preserve and sustain our culture in NZ?”.

How we show/communicate our culture

Ways we preserve and sustain our culture

For example:

  • Stories
  • Art
  • Sculpture
  • Memorials
  • Music and songs
  • National anthem
  • Logos
  • Language
  • Sport

For example:

  • Oral history
  • Written records, documents, and books
  • Recorded music
  • Art galleries and art collections
  • Museums
  • Churches
  • Marae
  • Community groups
  • Government funding
  • Heritage groups

Connect, with lines, each item on the initial list and develop it into a concept web, for example, stories – oral history and/or written records, documents, and books; art – art galleries and art collections. Note: Many of the ways we show culture we also use to preserve culture (in other words, the lists in the two columns can be very similar).


  • What do we choose to remember/preserve in society and why?
  • How do we change/adapt and develop these reflections of culture?

Language focus

Refer to language lesson 1 – Greetings and introductions and lesson 2 – The middle kingdom.

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