Grade: Elementary

#3135. Understanding Chinese culture through reading

Reading/Writing, level: Elementary
Posted Thu May 27 11:41:52 PDT 2004 by Stephanie P. Lu (
UCF, Orlando
Activity Time: 40-50 mins
Concepts Taught: schemata theory ( Building prior knowledge)

Title: Reading Lesson Plan, Introducing Chinese Culture
Subject: Language Arts
Duration: 40-50 mins
Grade : 4 to 5

Purpose: The student will enhance knowledge of the Chinese culture through reading a story about the Chinese zodiac and understand the cultural difference.

Goal: The students will more knowledge on the origin of the Chinese zodiac and also understand the characteristics of the animals in the Chinese zodiac.
Material : of those twelve animals.
2. The Chinese Zodiac Calendar ( based on the Lunar Chinese Calendar)
3. Chinese folktale on Chinese Zodiac.
1. Pre-reading activity: Understanding the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac
Explain to the students that they will be learning about how animals can be used as symbols. For example, a bear might seem very powerful, a puppy playful, a deer graceful, and so forth. Tell the students that animals are used as symbols in the Chinese calendar. Explain how the calendar is divided into 12-year cycles, each year being associated with a certain animals. Ask if they have any ideas of what the animals might be. Have the students get into groups, find their zodiac, and discuss their ideas on what the animal might represent.
2. Characteristics of the 12 animals:
Explain the characteristics of the 12 animals. Discuss and see the similarities and differences of the students own character.
3. Reading the folktale of the Chinese zodiac.
4. Discussion time:
Discuss the story and cultural differences.

1. Ask students what might be the 12 animals that represent the Chinese Zodiac.
2. What are the characteristics of these 12 animals?
3. From the story, what do they think about Chinese culture?
Students have to write an essay about their reflection on the Chinese Zodiac or Chinese culture.
Reading Passage:
There is a folk story that describes how the animals were assigned to the cycle of years. A long long time ago, the Lord Buddha summoned all the animals together to assign each of them a year. When the cat heard the news, he let his friend the rat know about it and the two animals decided to go together the next day. However, the next day the rat did not wake the cat who, being a cat and loving to nap, slept through the morning. Therefore, the cat did not make it to the assembly on time and did not get a year. This is why there is no year of the cat and this is why cats hate rats.
The rat, on the other hand, made it first there and received the first year. He did not achieve this without trickery either. He knew that a small animal like him would not be able to compete with the others, so he begged the ox to let him ride on its head. The ox consented and they went together. Just when they were about to arrive, the rat jumped off the ox's head and got through the finish line first. This is why the year of the rat is the first year in the cycle and the year of the ox is the second.