5-8 Activities

5-8 Activities

These activities for Maine and the Orient were updated in late 2008 and early 2009, along with the Learning Results.

Ideas to try....


Chinese culture offers many opportunities for research.  A good resource might be the Chinese House exhibit at the Peabody-Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.  They have a very good website about the house, at: www.pem.org/yinyutang/. It describes a large early 19th-century house from near Shanghai that was dismantled then reassembled at the Peabody-Essex Museum in 2003.  The house belonged to a prosperous merchant, and was continuously occupied for nearly 200 years. 

Are there people of Chinese descent in your area? If so, find out about their histories through interviews. When did their families come to Maine?  What examples can you find illustrating the influence of Chinese culture on American life today? How did American and European culture affect China in the 19th century?  What inventions are credited to the Chinese?

Compare China’s history to another place with similar climate and geography.


Learn more about the effects of opium and how it affected Chinese citizens during the 19th century.  Were there certain cultural beliefs that also affected health in China during this period?  Investigate the practice of foot-binding for women.

Science, Technology, and Math

Comparisons between different kinds of vessels used in the China trade during the nineteenth century, including early nineteenth-century ships, clippers from the mid-19th century, Down Easters, and steamships, provide opportunities for math and science activities involving tonnage (volume, capacity) measurement (different systems for various cargoes) and speed (elements of motion and energy).

Make a graph that shows the populations of China and the United States over the last two hundred years. What are the influences of such a large population on government and society?

Learn about the abacus and how the Chinese used it for mathematical calculations.


To develop mapping and modeling skills, create a board game about trade and travel to the Far East. 

Civics and Government

What kinds of government has China had, compared to the U.S.?  Compare the two countries’ governments on a timeline.


The Chinese had many products desired by western countries, but they had a completely different attitude towards trade with the west—there were very few things they felt were lacking in their society in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  Compare this situation to the amount and balance of trade engaged in by the United States with other countries during that period.  What about today?