By Jenny Stephenson
With the holidays finally behind us, homeschooling is back in full gear at my house. I love the holidays, but it sure is nice to get back to routine! The “Homeschooling Around the World” posts are back and this month is sure to be a fun country to explore. We are exploring China and there is a lot to learn about this country. Let’s get started!
China is on the continent of Asia. If you have small children, then teaching continents and the major oceans to your children can help with geography as they get older. I don’t remember where I learned the continent song, but I taught all my children the continents simply by singing, “North America, South America, Europe, Africa Asia, Kangaroos hop in Australia, Penguins waddle in Antarctica” (sung to the tone of Yankee Doodle). The song works and my children will never forget the continents.
Take a trip to your local library to learn all about China. There are great children’s books on China. Your children can experience through pictures the sites, cities, and culture of China.
One fun fact my family discovered about China is in the characters they use for writing. Did you know that the symbol for boat in Chinese character is eight people in a vessel? This character dates back to 200 B.C. and is found in many scrolls talking about a great flood. Many people believe that the symbol for “boat” is actually talking about Noah and his family of eight on the ark! My children thought this was such a cool fact to learn!
China is also known for many inventions like kites, paper lanterns, umbrellas, paper, the compass, and gun powder. There are so many interesting facts to learn about China, so have fun exploring this amazing country with your family.
- Since kites were invented in China, I’d recommend heading to your local dollar store to pick up a kite or two, then visit a park to fly kites as a family. I did this with my family just a few weeks ago and was amazed at how long flying kites held their attention. Even my littles were excited to watch their kites flying. I think they equally loved watching their kites crash too!
- Find and dine at an authentic Chinese restaurant as a family and order a few authentic foods from the menu—not just sweet and sour chicken! Eating traditional food is always an adventure and a lot of fun. While you are there, spend time talking with those who work in the restaurant. You will probably learn a lot more about China by talking with them.
- See if you have a local “Chinatown” near you. Most major cities have a Chinatown. My family used to live in California and there is a great Chinatown in San Francisco. We had a blast exploring this area and even found a fortune cookie factory. We discovered that fortune cookies warm and fresh are much better than the ones you eat at a restaurant.
- If you don’t have a Chinatown near you, check instead for a local Chinese grocery store. You’ll see all kinds of foods, vegetables, fruits, and fish you don’t normally see in a typical grocery store. Pick a new fruit or even a candy to try!
Ministry and Prayer
I’m passionate about reading missionary stories to my children. After all, they are the founding fathers of our faith—not just the founding fathers of our country—and the character we learn from missionaries is unmatched by any other biographies. These are the heroes we need to be giving our children to aspire to be like—men and women who gave up all to serve the Lord and see people come to know our Savior. There are several great Chinese missionary stories that you could read to your children. My personal favorite books are Hudson Taylor by J. Hudson Taylor and Gladys Aylward: The Little Woman by Gladys Aylward. Both of these books are short simple reads and the lives of both Hudson Taylor and Gladys Aylward are challenging and inspiring.
China is not a religiously free nation, and the underground Christian church is strong in China. Check out The Voice of the Martyrs page to learn about all that is happening currently in China and specifics on how you and your family can be praying and supporting ministry that is happening right now in China.
Another passion of my family is for orphans and adoption. Two of our children are adopted and we have found a deeper understanding of the love of our Savior through our adoption. My family has learned and grown so much through this experience, and if your family has ever talked or thought about adopting, I’d love to talk with you more about it! However, even if your family is not in a place where adoption is an option, I still believe we have a mandate from the Lord to care for the fatherless.
James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
There are orphans in America and there are orphans all over the world, but some of the worst cases I’ve heard about are in China. There is an organization called All God’s Children and, through their organization, you can sponsor an orphan in China. This sponsorship provides emergency medical care to children living with severe special needs in China. Check out their website for more details. This is one organization out of many in which you can get involved and help care for an orphan. Start investigating and digging into how you, your family, and your church can live out James 1:27.
I hope your family has a ton of fun this month exploring China. There is so much to learn, taste, and see from this country. God is at work in China and around the world. Investigate, explore, and be amazed at what a great God we serve!
Jenny Stephenson is married to Ben. They homeschool their two boys and three girls in Wimberley, Texas. Jenny and Ben have served both in local and overseas missions and have a heart for adoption, as two of their children were adopted. Jenny also owns her own business and blogs at www.vintageburlapbarn.blogspot.com.