Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wooden scrolls

We have been having a look at things Chinese this past month, in a casual parallel study with our friends. Our month was a bit out of wack, as you might have noticed, so we didn't get into as much as I'd thought we might, but we read some good books, watched a documentary called Wild China, ate some amazing Chinese food that we all made, and talked a lot about the things we use (paper, compasses, wheelbarrows, kites, tanagrams!) that originated in China.  While fishing around on the web, I came across some great lists of resources that included a very industrious lapbook that one homeschooling family made, which included an activity that I thought might interest our kids: making scrolls.  The girls often make scrolls with long lists or stories on them, but those are made of paper, and tied with ribbon.  These scrolls would mimic pre-paper scrolls, which were made out of bamboo.  We had a look at our Chinese scroll calendar from China Panda, which we figure is probably made out of plastic these days - Eliza loves this calendar and it hangs in her room.  Our scrolls were made out of popsicle sticks.
Very clear instructions are laid out here, but in a nutshell, I prepped the sticks by laying out what looked like a good amount - 9 sticks - then lay a ruler across them, and lightly marked where they would be attached.  I then notched them along that line with my pocket knife, leaving a little space where a knot of twine could be tied in-between each stick, along both sides.
I did all the tying for the two younger kids, but the older two wanted a go at it themselves. They needed help holding the sticks in place while they secured the knots.
We looked in some of our books on China and again, on the web, for some Chinese characters.  The kids chose words like earth, fire, water, air, peace, mountain, star, moon, sunrise.  They practiced them awhile on paper, and then wrote them on their scrolls.
It took Ani a while to warm up to the project - she preferred sitting near the woodstove, looking through First Thousand Words in Chinese. 
When she joined us she really got into it - she and her buddy A decided that they'd create their own words made up of pictures - made me think of Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Our friend O. was so careful and precise with his work - he chose the elements to copy onto his scroll and seemed really happy with how it turned out. 
O's scroll
With a little more time, it would be fun to work on making characters with a brush and ink, and then do that on a scroll. 
Ani's scroll.  Let's see...there is a castle, and a horse, and a princess, and a train and some eyeballs and a flower and some underpants and one large crocodile-looking creature at the bottom.   This project was verrrrry freeform!

If we did this again I would have them turn their scrolls so that their words or images ran down each stick, emphasizing the direction the writing is read in. We talked about how it is not read left to right but up and down, but that would have made it clearer, I think.
E's scroll - moon, mountain, the elements, and numbers 1 through 10
We don't do many projects with other families right now, outside of farm school, and it was nice to have that extra energy going into this little activity.  I was reminded of how Ani was when we belonged to the coop here, not wanting to participate just because everyone else was, but wanting to join when she was ready and interested.  It was nice to have everyone working at their own pace, but having fun sharing ideas and accomplishments. 

This post is a part of Saturday's Artist over at Ordinary Life Magic. Have a look for some grand inspiration!!


angie said...

so sweet, I'll have to try this one with my kiddos.

Phyllis said...

This is a great project. I am going to have to try this!

MJ said...

What a neat idea!! I have a ton of those popsicle sticks lying around. How about burning the elements and icons into the wood!! You have my wheels turning :)!

Stephanie said...

This is a very cool project! I never would have come up with something like it, but certainly I will remember it. :)
A terrific project for a culture club sort of activity!

slim pickins said...

the girls are still playing with them! they make great maps, royal decrees, spell books and the like..

stephanie - you had to say it. culture club. now i have karma chameleon going in my head...

Bona Fide Mama said...

i think burning the drawings into the wood is a great idea. what a fun project!

Jimmie said...

I love what you did with this craft idea! (Thanks for the links and positive feedback too.) I'd say your results were even better than ours! Bravo!

slim pickins said...

jimmie - i got so many great ideas and inspiration from your lens and your blog! we've never tried lapbooking, but it looked so thorough and fun to look at...we might have to try. thanks for sharing your journey!