K-2 Activities

K-2 Activities

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

Ideas to try....

Science and Technology

When Americans began to trade with China, technology was different in the two cultures. What are some simple examples of differences?  These might include how people get around in cities (sedan chair or rickshaw vs. carriages), style of homes, clothing, etc.

The China Trade was marked by destruction of natural resources in the effort to acquire goods that could be exchanged for tea and other Chinese goods. These included furs and sandalwood.  What happens when resources are harvested too heavily in an area?  Is there a present day example? 

Several living things were used in trade, including fur-bearing sea mammals, sea slugs, and silk from silkworms. How do these creatures compare?  Think of visual symbols for these products and use them to make graphs.  How many silkworms are needed to make a silk dress?

English Language Arts

The Chinese described their country as the Celestial Kingdom. Investigate their legends and stories about their country.  They are credited with many inventions—learn more about what the Chinese discovered and when.  Reading and writing activities may be based on Chinese vs. western fairy tales. How are they alike/different?  Students could try to make up a fairy tale in one style or another, including illustrations.

Civics and Government

Learn the words King, Queen, Emperor, President.  What is the difference?  What were some differences between American government and Chinese government in the 1800s?


Many math activities can be devised using cargo; for example, graphs of cargo carried by different vessels, measurement of clipper ship vs. Down-Easter, addition and subtraction of cargoes as ships travel around the world taking on and offloading cargoes.  Classification of objects by attribute could include vessels, types of cargo, or place of origin.


Compare your family with a Chinese family living in 1850 and with an American family living in 1850. Draw pictures of houses, clothing, food, or transportation.  Identify one unique custom of each family—for example, birthday celebrations.  Look at some artifacts of the China Trade, at the Museum or in pictures. What can you guess about the person who owned or used this artifact, just by observation?


Make a map showing two sailing routes to China. How did China compare in size to Maine?  Make a list of consumer goods and products for the United States and for China.


Chinese art was traditionally watercolor until western style oil painting was introduced. Try some painting with both media. Look at some examples from the museum. What is different or the same about two paintings, one from the U.S. and one from China?