Ancient China is called one of the world's cradles of civilization. China has the longest continuous history in the world with over 3,500 years of written history! Many superlatives can be applied to Ancient China: It has the highest mountains! The longest rivers! The largest plateau! The longest wall! And, some of the world's earliest empires. This teacher guide utilizes the popular G.R.A.P.E.S. acronym for teaching about ancient civilizations and focuses on the geography, religion, achievements, politics, economy, and social structure of Ancient China.
There are many wonderful myths and fables related to ancient China that make the history come alive for children. This story is called "The Great Race" and is the story of how the Chinese Zodiac Calendar came to be. Students can enjoy hearing the story and then retelling the tale using a illustrations and descriptions in a storyboard!
THE GREAT RACE
LEGEND OF THE CHINESE ZODIAC
THE EMPEROR MAKES A DECLARATION
I declare we shall have a race across the wide river!
THE ANIMALS ARRIVE
The Great Race is the legend of how the Chinese Lunar Calendar came to be with twelve years in a cycle each represented by a different animal.
THE RACE IS ON!
Long ago in Ancient China, there was no calendar. So the Jade Emperor proclaimed that he would create a calendar with each year named after a different animal. To decide the order of the animals the Emperor declared they would have a race across the river. The order of the finishers would determine their order in the calendar.
RAT TAKES ACTION!
Meeooow!! Rat! How could you?!
Best friends, Rat and Cat, arrived for the race. Dragon flew, Tiger prowled, Monkey swung and Snake slithered their way to the start. Ox and Pig arrived as did energetic Dog and Rabbit. Sheep, Rooster and Horse also waited nearby for the race to begin. Rat told Cat, "I am the smallest here, I'll never win." The Cat said, "Wait, I have a plan."
AND THE WINNER IS . . .
Cat flattered Ox saying he was so strong, surely he could carry Cat and Rat during the race. Ox graciously agreed. "You can depend on me!" When the race began, Ox swam so smoothly that that cat fell asleep. Dog played in the water, Pig relaxed on the shore, Rooster, Monkey and Sheep made their way on a raft while Dragon flew through the sky . Rabbit hopped from stone to stone and Tiger, horse and snake swam.
Rat looked at Cat sleeping on Ox and thought, "that lazy animal, he will have more energy than me when we arrive on land and will win!" He pushed Cat into the water! When Ox made it on land Rat scampered off his back and leapt to the finish line!
The Jade Emperor declared clever Rat the winner, next was Ox, then came Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and finally Pig! The Emperor declared that every child born during the year of each animal will share their talents. Cat did not make it onto the calendar and that is why Rat and Cat have been enemies ever since!