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Lessons About Contributors

Unit 1: Geography and Environment

Lesson 1 Art and Nature Explore how artists’ choices in design and materials are informed by their environment View more
Lesson 2 Symbolic Animals Explore the symbolic meanings associated with different animals in Chinese art View more
Lesson 3 Landscape Poetry Learn about the history of Chinese landscape painting and its close connection with poetry View more
Lesson 4 Changing Landscapes Explore the impact of urbanization and overdevelopment in Shanghai View more

Unit 2: Belief Systems

Lesson 1 Contemporary Rituals Consider the role of rituals in ancient China and in contemporary life View more
Lesson 2 Body Language in Buddhist Art Discover the significance of body language in Buddhist art through movement, discussion, and storytelling View more
Lesson 3 Understanding Daoism through Mythology Learn about Daoist mythology through the famous story The Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea View more
Lesson 4 The Life of a Confucian Scholar Consider how objects and images can represent scholars’ ideals View more

Unit 3: Global Exchange

Lesson 1 Trade Along the Silk Road Introduce the concept of trade by exploring materials and goods exchanged along the Silk Road View more
Lesson 2 Travel Along the Silk Road Consider how individuals would have traveled along the Silk Road, including the kinds of objects and ideas they brought with them View more
Lesson 3 Artistic Influence Learn about the history of porcelain trade along the Silk Road and explore how other cultures appropriated Chinese materials and designs View more
Lesson 4 Connecting Cultures Explore issues of immigration and the ways in which the visual arts and writing can be used to connect cultural histories and traditions View more


The Arts of China Teaching Toolkit is designed for third grade teachers and their students with the goal of enriching their exploration of Chinese art and culture. The lessons focus on artworks from the Brooklyn Museum’s Chinese collection and exhibitions. The Arts of China collection ranges from the Neolithic era (circa 3000 B.C.E.) to today, revealing the sophistication of Chinese craftsmanship and the variety of concerns—funerary, courtly, religious, and poetic—that combined to define traditional Chinese culture. The works also demonstrate an enduring respect for antiquity as well as novel, contemporary approaches to time-honored materials such as ink and bronze.

The Arts of China Teaching Toolkit includes twelve individual lessons, divided into three thematic units: Geography and Environment, Belief Systems, and Global Exchange. Lessons are meant to be standalone but can also be combined with other lessons in the toolkit. Materials support direct instruction as well as independent activities for students. We hope teachers use these resources creatively to meet the distinct learning needs of their classes. In addition to the twelve lessons, which are available from the Brooklyn Museum as downloadable PDFs, the Teaching Toolkit includes a variety of digital resources and a supplementary, physical toolkit, with touch objects, material samples, and more, that can be requested online.

Connecting students to the vast and diverse artistic and cultural traditions throughout the world is extremely important. Exploring how communities have used artworks to celebrate, interrogate, and document their relationships with the environment, spirituality, family, and individualism enables students to enhance their empathetic and critical thinking. Similarly, the study of global cultural practices has the potential to bolster students’ self-affirmation and confidence. This is especially necessary as we face a culturally and politically divisive climate.

With that in mind, we have designed these lessons to support culturally inclusive learning by highlighting the complexity and diversity of China. We encourage teachers and students alike to challenge any stigmas, stereotypes, or false narratives that might exist about Chinese art, culture, and people—both past and present—through the use of this resource. Please share with us and your community what you and your students have learned and created through these lessons.


  • Project lead: Michael Reback 
  • Project assistant: Mellasenah Edwards
  • Project advisors: Joan Cummins, Keonna Hendrick, and Adjoa Jones de Almeida 
  • Curriculum consultants: Nicola Giardina, Cheri Ehrlich 
  • Summer Teacher Institute participants: Andrea Castellano, Emily Chen, Sara Greenfield, Kathleen Henry, Kevin Lam, Pearl Lau, Zachary Lombardi, Dalila Mendez, Delilah Rodriguez, Lisa Rosado, Patty Tabacchi, Anna Maria Trejos
  • Staff and students from P.S.029 Bardwell, P.S. 321 William Penn, P.S. 015 Patrick F. Daly, and P.S. 032 Samuel Mills Sprole.

Support for the Arts of China Teaching Toolkit was made possible by the Freeman Foundation.