9-12 Activities

9-12 Activities

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

Ideas to try....

Career and Education Development

In China in the 19th century, young people had an opportunity for civil service jobs that required a specific course of study and exams. Compare to career preparation in the U.S. at the same time, and to today.


Investigate the website describing the Chinese House at the Peabody-Essex Museum (www.pem.org/yinyutang/). Choose an aspect of Chinese life to research.

Investigate Chinese immigration to the U.S. and to Maine in particular. Interview someone of Chinese descent. Research the coolie trade in more depth. Find examples of Chinese influence in today’s American culture.


Learn about the effects of opium on individuals and on the Chinese society. Are there any remnants of this in China today? Debate the causes and consequences of the opium trade.

Research other cultural health issues including the practice of binding girls’ feet.

Chinese medicine and western medicine were historically quite distinct. Learn more about Chinese treatments and theories of disease. Compare and contrast. Today, there is more interest in and acceptance of Chinese medical treatment methods. Give examples.

English Language Arts

When Europeans and Americans first went to Canton to trade, they were prohibited from learning the Chinese language and had to rely on interpreters. What is the definition of “pidgin?” How is it different from a “dialect?” What is the relationship between language and culture? (Compare to Deaf Culture, and issues of bilingual/bicultural education today.) Learn about Chinese writing. What is the difference between an alphabetic system and an ideographic system?

Science and Technology

When westerners pursued furs and sandalwood for trade with China, they harvested these products indiscriminately. What effects did this have on ecosystems?

Civics and Government

Compare Chinese government with American, using a timeline. Learn more about the dynasties in China.

In the development of American foreign policy towards China, how did trade and economics influence policy decisions?


Chinese decorative arts, architecture, and dress had elements of symbolism. Research some examples. Compare and contrast to other cultures.

The arts provided a link between China and the west during the nineteenth century. The art of each culture influenced the other. Learn about George Chinnery, an American artist in China and his influence on Chinese painters. Learn more about how the Chinese created decorative items specifically for westerners.