Chinese New Year & Extreme Weather Unit: Earthquakes & Volcanoes

Our shelves seem overloaded with activities this week.  There is no change in the number of activities on our shelves; we're just trying to cover two topics at one time.  Miraculously, everything came together.

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Our continent for the month is Asia.  Up until this week I hadn't even mentioned anything about it.  I struggle with our continent studies.  They always look so great when others share them in the blog world, but when it comes down to it, I just can't seem to find my special place.  I tried the flag theme and a few other things with South America.  Everything flopped.  The kiddos could have cared less.  I completely skipped over North America because Dinomite was sick for two weeks in November.  (I'm hoping to make it up later in the year.)  Our study of Antarctica went amazingly well, but it was easy.  All that's there is ice, snow, a few animals, and minimal people during certain seasons.  There's not an elaborate history involving several different countries, cultures, languages, etc., like... um... Asia!  Oh my goodness!  Where do I begin?  There's Russia, China, the Middle East...

Chinese New Year was also on our syllabus for the month.  It only took me a few days to decide that I would focus on China specifically, and not all of Asia. I have thrown in a few activities that encompass the whole continent.  Animals from Antarctica was such a hit, I couldn't resist putting together cards for Asia too.  Let me rephrase that.  I asked my husband to put together animal cards for Asia.  He deserves the full credit!  There are about 50 animal cards total.  Most of the other activities have a China theme. I even tried to tie in our study of earthquakes to China.  To my surprise it fit beautifully.  I really hope you enjoy the activities and all the printables.

Chinese Zodiac Nomenclature Cards
The kiddos will match up cards correctly, and then place animals on proper cards.

Source:  I created the cards used for this activity. For your free copy, click on the link for the China Printable Pack II at the bottom of the post.

First Vowel Sound Identification
I've noticed that Bulldozer and Princess are having a hard time identifying vowel sounds in words. It doesn't matter if the sounds are long sounds or short sounds.  I'm hoping this activity will help them improve those skills.

Source:  I created the cards used for this activity. For your free copy, click on the link for the China Printable Pack II at the bottom of the post.

Chinese Zodiac Animal Spelling Words
We had a lot of fun with the intro of this activity today.  Each kiddo was given a plastic bag with a dragon head and tail to color.  Once complete, we pulled out all the letter cards in the Set 1 envelope.  The kiddos took turns making Dancing Dragons out of the letters of each word.
Dinomite's Dancing Dragon

Princess' Dancing Dragon

Bulldozer's Dancing Dragon
At the end of the week, we'll replace the letter cards with a real body for our dragons.

Source: I created the spelling list for this activity. For your free copy, click HERE.  The free dragon head and tail printable can be found at Craft Jr.

Odd & Even Numbers
It's been a while since we reviewed odd and even numbers. To my surprise, everyone remembered! Hurray!  The cards can also be used for counting by 2's etc.

Source:   I created the cards used for this activity. For your free copy, click on the link for the China Printable Pack at the bottom of the post.

Measuring Dragons
I wanted to practice measuring one more time before our unit is complete.  I still can't believe how quickly the kids caught on to this and loved it.  Once again this activity is a hit. The kiddos measure the dragons and match them up to their inch number cards.

Source:   I created the cards used for this activity. For your free copy, click on the link for the China Printable Pack at the bottom of the post.

Greater Than/Less Than
Here's another review activity on our shelves this week.  The kiddos weren't as great at remembering how to do this one, but by the end of today they finally remembered.  Bulldozer surprised me, in that he caught on the quickest.

Source:   I created the cards used for this activity. For your free copy, click on the link for the China Printable Pack at the bottom of the post.

Adding with Pandas
I couldn't resist using Pandas for our addition practice this week!  As I suspected, it's been a big hit!

Source:   I created the cards used for this activity. For your free copy, click on the link for the China Printable Pack at the bottom of the post.

Asia, the Contient
The kiddos will cover the map of Asia with play dough, refreshing their memory of it's shape. I chose a physical map so they could notice the topography of the Continent and identify specific countries.  The color yellow is used because it's the Montessori color associated with Asia.

Source: The idea for this activity came from To the Lesson!  The free map for this activity can be found at

Flag of China
Even though the kiddos aren't crazy about flags, I still love to incorporate them when I can.  The kiddos will color the flag of China correctly.

Source: The free map for this activity can be found at Homeschool Creations.

Largest Cities or Towns of China
It's one thing to learn about the rich history of China, but another to realize what China is like today.  I wanted to make sure the kiddos understood the difference.
The kiddos will put the cities or towns in order from biggest to smallest.  If they so desire, they can find and mark them on the map.  (I had to write two of the cities/towns in that weren't already shown on the map.)

Source:  I created this activity. For your free printable, click HERE.

Historic Places of China Nomenclature Cards
China is such a beautiful country with so much history.  I loved teaching the kiddos about the places on each of these cards.
Source: I created this activity. For your free copy, click HERE.

Animals of Asia
Here is our newest set of animal cards, made specifically for Dinomite.  I would not be surprised if he becomes some type of animal scientist when he grows up. He knows SO MUCH already.  The kiddos will look at all the different animals on the cards, sorting them as they wish.  A special thanks to my husband for researching all of the animals and making the cards!

Source:  My husband created these cards.  For your free copy, click HERE.

Layers of the Earth
As I was planning our study of earthquakes and volcanoes, I realized we couldn't learn about them without understanding a lot about the layers of the Earth.  This was our intro activity.  I was so surprised the kiddos understood it all so well.

Source: These free cards can be found at The Helpful Garden.

How the Earth's Plates Move
After learning about the layers of the Earth, we focused on the layers of the Mantle, to better understand how earthquakes and volcano eruptions happen.  I found this really cool visual activity that I couldn't resist using.  The kiddos loved it and completely understood the difficult concepts. I was super excited!
The kiddos create the different ways the plates shift using the Oreo cookies, matching the diagrams provided.  They loved taking it one step further, having the plates collide, etc. to create earthquakes.

Source: This activity can be found HERE.

What an Earthquake Looks Like on the Surface
It's one thing to understand what happens below the surface to cause an earthquake. It's another to understand how it affects the surface and what happens.  The kiddos poured rice on the green paper, covering a metal cake pan.  They liked to say that the rice grains were people.  Then, they took the spoon and banged it against the side of the pan, (the mantle movement & collision under the surface).  It was quite entertaining to watch what happened to the rice.  We then tried the same thing with lentils.

To tie the activity into the history of China, I included picture cards of the earthquake that hit in 2008 causing tens of thousands of deaths, destruction and more.

Source: I found this fabulous idea at  

Parts of a Volcano
I loved these cards when I saw them.  I was so thankful I didn't have to make my own.  (That wouldn't have gone well.)  The kiddos will match up pictures with words and hopefully learn all the parts by the end of the week. I told them if they all could do that, we'd make a volcano and have it erupt.

Source:  This free printable can be found at The Helpful Garden.

Visual Arts:
How to Draw a Horse
Since this new year is the year of the horse, I thought it quite fitting to learn how to draw one.

The free cards for this activity can be found at Art Projects for Kids.

We continue to sing everyday, practice the piano, and have added a new song this week.

Physical Education:  We continue with our family fitness program, adding a new video this week. The kiddos LOVE it!

Practical Life/Sensorial:
Transfer with Chopsticks
The kiddos will transfer pom poms from one bowl to the other using chopsticks.

Chinese Writing
The kiddos will paint Chinese Number signs or days of the week signs. They had a lot of fun with this today, especially Dinomite.

Source: The free printable used in this activity can be found at Luxury, Travel & Lifestyle.

I'm not quite sure if we'll continue one more week with our Extreme Weather Unit, or if we'll dive into our Olympics Unit at this point.  Come back to visit and find out!  For those who are interested in the printable packs, click on the links below!

China Printable Pack Part II by Renae at Every Star is Different

Thank you so much for your comments. They always make my day!


  1. Hi Renae! Such impressive collection of ideas! I certainly miss doing these activities. When my youngest is ready, I will definitely come back here for ideas and for the abundance resources. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you Jae! Can't wait to see you back here when your youngest is ready!

  2. These are the EXACT resources I was looking for this week. I've been trying to decide whether to put together some Chinese New Year's printables and now I don't have to :) We've also been talking about the structure of the Earth and these activities are just fantastic. You are amazing!

    1. Seemi, I'm so glad I could help you! I know the feeling when you find exactly what you're looking for. I hope you have a great week!

  3. Renae, these are BRILLIANT!! What a professional and inviting set of activities! thank you for sharing! I especially loved your math ideas, like odd and even!

    1. Thank you Anastasia! I'm glad you enjoyed the activities!

  4. What fabulous activities and printables, Renae! Thanks so much for sharing another amazing unit! I was happy to feature your post as the Free Printable of the Day at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page and on Pinterest. :)

    1. Thank you Deb! I love being able to share the printables I create with others. It makes all the work worth it!

  5. Where did you get the plastic animals for the Chinese zodiac? We have the pandas. :) 3 of my kids are from China, so we love learning more about their homeland.

    1. The plastic animals used for the Chinese Zodiac Activity were pulled from Dinomite's VAST collection of animal figures. They were not a specific set, although it does sound like a great idea to pitch to Safari Toob!

  6. Thank you so much for this! You are really inspiring me to do the work to incorporate more hands-on learning into our homeschool!


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