Resources & Links
Online Collection of Chinese Art
View the Chinese Collection from the Library of Congress’ Asian Reading Room.
Chinese History Timeline
View a comprehensive timeline complete with maps, images and in-depth information from A Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization website.
Asian American History Timeline
China Resources Page
View Professor David K. Jordan’s China resources page.
Mandarin Pronunciation Guide
You may have noticed that the same word in Chinese can be spelled a variety of ways with the Roman alphabet. Older translations generally use the method developed by Thomas Wade and Herbert Giles in the 1800s, called “Wade-Giles.” Most modern students of Chinese and scholars (and the museum) use the method developed by the Chinese government in the 1950s called pinyin, Chinese for “spelled sound.” [Download PDF version here]
Chinese-American Museum of Chicago
The Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles
Chinese Historical Society of Southern California
Chinese Historical Society of America Museum, San Francisco
Museum of Chinese in the Americas, New York City
Pacific Asia Museum
Wing Luke Asian Museum
PRE-VISIT ACTIVITY IDEAS
Kindergarten – 2nd Grade
Students will color a picture of a Chinese fishing junk (a type of boat). San Diego’s earliest Chinese immigrants were fishermen who arrived in the San Diego area in the 1860s and established fishing villages in the Point Loma area and on San Diego Bay where downtown is now. These fishermen constructed a fleet of Chinese fishing boats called junks. [Download the coloring page here]
3rd Grade – 5th Grade
Students will read a short paragraph about the history of the Chinese community in San Diego. Following the reading, students will complete a word search puzzle activity using key terms from the reading and write one question to ask the docent when they visit the museum. [Download the activity worksheet here]
6th Grade – 8th Grade
Students will either read an online news article about the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum from the San Diego Community Newspaper [download the PDF version of the article here], or browse the museum’s website. Based on what they read, students will write a short reflection on what the museum is like and what the museum hopes to teach visitors. At the end of the reflection, students will include a few questions to ask the docent on their visit to the museum.
9th Grade – 12th Grade
Students will read one of the following articles (or an excerpt) from The Journal of San Diego History about the history of the Chinese Community Church’s historic mission building (which is now home to the museum), the history of San Diego’s early Chinese immigrant community, or information on Ah Quin, the unofficial Mayor of San Diego’s Chinatown. These articles can be found on the San Diego History Center’s website:
- “The Reclamation and Preservation: The San Diego Chinese Mission, 1927-1996” By Leland Saito, PhD [Download PDF version here].
- “San Diego’s Chinese Mission” By Elizabeth MacPhail [Download PDF version here].
- “Rebuilding the California Southern Railroad: The Personal Account of a Chinese Labor Contractor, 1884” Edited by Andrew Griego [Download PDF version here].
POST-VISIT ACTIVITY IDEAS
A Picture Tells a Thousand Words (Grades K-2)
Draw a picture from your visit to the museum. Optionally, write a sentence or two explaining what is in your picture.
Museum Reflection (Grades 2-12)
Reflect on your visit to the museum. What new things did you learn from your visit? Choose one artifact/artwork that stood out from your visit and include the answers to some or all of the following questions in your reflection: Describe the artifact/artwork in detail and/or draw a picture.
- What stood out to you about this artifact/artwork that made you select it?
- Were there other artifacts/artworks related to the one you chose? Was this artifact/artwork part of a larger exhibit? If so, what was the main message that this exhibit was trying to communicate to visitors?
- Conduct further research on this specific artifact/artwork (or a similar artifact/artwork) and try to find at least three additional facts that you did not learn at the museum.
- If this artifact/artwork comes from China, what time period or dynasty was it from? Conduct some research about that time period/dynasty. Who ruled China during that period? What were some of the major events that occurred? In what ways did the political/social context of the period influence this artwork?
- If this artifact came from San Diego’s Chinatown, what does the artifact reveal about the daily lives of San Diego’s early Chinese immigrants and about the Chinese American immigrant experience in general?
Symbolism in Art (Grades 3-12)
In the museum you learned about symbolism in Chinese art. Remember the warlord general Feng Yu-Xiang’s bed? The beautiful carving on this bed contained many symbols. Do you remember what some of them were? (butterfly=happiness, deer=long life, crane=long life, dragon=emperor, phoenix=empress, fu dogs=good luck, bats=good luck, blooming flowers=prosperity, red=good luck, gold=prosperity) You also learned about symbolism in the museum garden when the docent explained feng shui. Do you remember the message being communicated by the koi pond? (water=prosperity, fish=abundance, the waterfall was flowing toward the museum door. The message: “An abundance of prosperity is flowing into the museum.”)
Option 1: Look around the classroom and see if you can find any symbols. Make a list of the symbols and their meaning. Share this list with your partner. The teacher will write a list of all the symbols on the board. As a class, see if you can come up with any additional symbols (not necessarily from the classroom).
Option 2: Like art, poetry and literature are often filled with symbolism. Select a poem or short literary work and write an analysis of the symbolism found in the writing. (Alternately, the instructor can choose a piece of writing for the students to analyze as a class).
Letters to Home (Grades 2-12)
In the calligraphy document case there were several letters written by recent immigrants to their family or friends back home in China that recounted their daily lives and the struggles they encountered. During the museum tour you learned a lot about early Chinese immigrants and the hardships they faced. Imagine that you are an immigrant from China who arrived to San Diego in the 1880s. Write a letter to your family back home and explain what your life is like now (Use some of the examples, stories and facts you learned during your tour of the museum). Alternately, draw a picture that tells a story about your life as a recent immigrant.
The Immigrant Experience (Grades 7-12)
During the museum tour, the docent mentioned several examples of the hardships and discrimination that Chinese immigrants faced in San Diego and in the United States in general. What are some examples that you remember? Find a recent news story that addresses the topic of immigration. Summarize the news story. What are the key issues? Can you draw any parallels between the issues that early Chinese immigrants faced and the present day immigration issues? Explain the similarities or differences.