Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Our Year Exploring China In a Nutshell - Top Ten Posts & Chinese Activities for Kids Link Up Party

We have spent an incredible year exploring China and the Chinese culture in various ways. The oldest civilization on earth, China's culture is rich and steeped in history, with no shortage of avenues to explore. The resources available are vast and varied, and I feel like we barely scratched the surface.

Our year featured several festivals that have their roots in ancient history and legend, with our favorite celebrations being the Lunar New Year and the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. Thanks to the local Chinese society, we watched performances of traditional Chinese dance and listened to classical Chinese instruments. We made and played with traditional (and some modern) toys, subjected poor silk worms to cold Nova Scotia weather in our pursuit of silk, and learned new skills (chopsticks come to mind). Though I didn't write about it, Elle and I have been practicing tai chi on occasion, and I even dabbled in some traditional Chinese medicine by getting a student to practice her skills at acupuncture and cupping (top right) on my back while she explained to us the concept of balancing our qi.

Going to Asian grocery stores has been a big part of the fun of learning new foods - we have spent many hours over the year, browsing aisle by aisle, pointing out interesting ingredients, and coming home with a variety of them, not always knowing what to do next! While eating our way across China, we made and tried dishes we were comfortable with, and some that were more challenging for our palates. We especially enjoyed sharing these new foods with friends and family. And though there are so many more dishes to try, we now have a few new stand by recipes we have made repeatedly over the year, and will continue enjoying.

Our Top 5 Chinese recipes:

We stretched our creative muscles, especially with calligraphy and brush painting, giving us a new found appreciation for how challenging seemingly simple paintings are. It's great to see the different projects around the house, reminding us of what we've learned and done. Though we are "leaving China" before trying our hands at drawing ming dynasty vases, making and using an abacus, and making faux jade jewelry, I had to include it here in the hopes of inspiring someone else :)

Why we didn't make Fortune Cookies
and no, it wasn't my poor time management like the abacus :)
Fortune cookies are an American tradition based on Japanese cookies marketed as Chinese. You won't find fortune cookies in China. 
You can read more here.

Our Ten Most Popular Posts on China:

1. Recipe for Chicken Chow Mein. 
2. How to make a Chinese chop.
3. New Year lanterns with printable template
4. Lantern Festival lantern tutorial and template
5. Chinese toy: Bamboo Dragonfly tutorial
6. Recipe for popular drink Cocoa with Rock Salt & Cheese
7. Tangram puzzle with printable booklets
8. Chinese toy: Jianzi (shuttlecock) tutorial
9. How to make Chinese shadow puppets
10. Making your own compass - a Chinese invention

Chinese Activity Link Up Party

In the hopes of creating a resource for all those interested in exploring the Chinese culture, please join us and link up any and all posts related to learning, studying, and exploring the Chinese culture, past and present, with kids. 


  1. I absolutely love all your China-related posts. It's incredible how much you've learned and done over the course of a year! And thanks for pointing out that the Fortune Cookie is an American invention. When I first saw them in the West being associated with the Chinese culture, I had no idea what they were since I had never seen them before in the Far East!

    I'm going to add my posts to your link up now.

    I'm looking forward to seeing which country/culture you're learning about next!

    1. Thanks Hwee! It's been a great year, I'm excited to explore Africa, but I miss China already! Thanks for your input and comments over the year - especially with the pipa :) So glad you linked up!!

  2. You know, I pinned your Chow Mein recipe, and it's easily my most pinnable post. People simply love it :) Your year in China was amazing, and I look forward to West Africa.

  3. I've got a few posts I can add in to your link up. I'll dig through tomorrow and let you know.


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