After three weeks apart, I could not be more excited to welcome the Gr. 4 students into the new semester. With only one last Chinese Dynasty–Han Dynasty–and the Silk Road to cover, the students were eager and ready to jump back in to the world of Ancient China.
Before the Christmas break, the students took a close look at the different Chinese dynasties–Shang, Zhou and Qin–and their impact on ancient societies and influence on even today’s world. The numerous inventions, discoveries and contributions made by the Chinese have been a stepping stone to many important gadgets, and other pieces of technology we still use today!
One of the most exciting of those contributions and beginning to world trade was the Chinese’s contribution of silk. Silk was a well-sought out commodity that had traders/merchants traveling far and wide just to get their hands on the finely made textile. With the trading/selling of silk, the Silk Road eventually emerged. Although the name came later on in history, the Silk Road was a network of trading routes that stretched as far as the Roman Empire, to the Middle East, to India and back to China.
To give the students a taste of what it would be like to be a merchant traveling and trading on the Silk Road, the students had the opportunity to represent various regions that partook in the trading. They each then had the main objective of selling, trading or bartering their products in hopes of getting foreign products and more money. Throughout this simulation the students were met by a series of obstacles or changes. This was to give students a better understanding of what it would be like to be a trader. For example, students needed to take loans from a money lender to ensure they would have enough money for the the duration of their time on the Silk Road. Upon returning back to their assigned posts, the money lender would usually ask for their loaned money back plus interest! Another scenario that would take place on the Silk Road would be a run-in with bandits. Bandits were one of the main reasons why the Silk Road was sometimes deemed dangerous. Bandits would go as far as stealing or even killing merchants for their products and money.
After two days of this simulation, the students had a better understanding of why the Silk Road was a big part of Ancient China’s history, as well as world history too. The Silk Road did not only allow for the exchange of goods, but also allowed for ideas, inventions, and even cultures to be mixed and borrowed from various regions around the world. The students truly enjoyed this experience and it is safe to say that they also learned the tricks of the trade when it comes to bartering!
Here are some pictures from our Silk Road Simulation: