Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Mulan: Women in World History: A Multicultural Kids Blog Series...



WELCOME to our post for Women in World History: A Multicultural Kids Blog Series; our post is about the Chinese woman and warrior, Mulan.

My daughters and I had so much fun learning about Mulan and as I majored in history at university it was wonderful to devise children's activities that make history fun and exciting.

I always enjoyed studying history at school although the curriculum in the UK is very focused around the world wars.  At university it was a complete revelation to take classes in Women in Medieval history as well as one stand out class called From Pochahontas to Post-Feminism: Women in American History.

I would love to see UK schools teach more interesting history classes for our kids, but for now thank goodness we have the wonderful Multicultural blog! 

And why Mulan??  Well I used to live in Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei Province, and one day many years ago a friend took me on a trip to a small town called Mulan, rumoured to be the birthplace of  the warrior Mulan....I didn't read up much on Mulan at the time but twelve years on from that daytrip, with two small daughters in tow, I really wanted to learn about Mulan with my children....

And before starting the activities I always feel it's a good idea to get out the globes and maps and identify not only China, but Hubei Province, birthplace of Mulan.....





And now you have done that...Enjoy the activities!



I love this painting which depicts Mulan, in the album the Gathering Gems of Beauty (畫麗珠萃秀).

So as a way of introducing Mulan, I printed off this painting and got my daughters to look at it and describe the scene and asked them a series of questions...I asked them who was in the picture, what was happening in the picture, which country this was painted in, how many colours they could see in the picture, what was the stick for etc!

They were very curious and really wanted to learn more after this initial session.  

I then told them a little more about the painting and Mulan herself...
"Hua Mulan or Fa Mulan  is a legendary figure from ancient China who was originally described in a poem known as the Ballad of Mulan (木蘭辭). This poem is thought to be based on Fu Hao. In the poem, Hua Mulan takes her aged father's place in the army. She fought for twelve years and gained high merit, but she refused any reward and retired to her hometown instead.
The historical setting of Hua Mulan is uncertain. Xu Wei's play version from the 16th century places her in the Northern Wei dynasty (386–536), whereas the later romance Sui Tang Yanyi has her active around the founding of the Tang, ca. 620. The novel is consistent insofar as it describes Mulan's father as stemming from the people of the Northern Wei.

You could further this activity by getting your child to draw a picture based on the additional knowledge they have about Mulan...It could be based on a traditional Chinese ink drawing or simply felt-tip and crayons...It is up to you!





This is a wonderful book by a Chinese publisher with beautiful drawings and it is great because it is written in english and simplified Mandarin.  


I used this book to teach some simplified Chinese characters and we also loved simply looking at the illustrations and discussing some of the finer points of the tale....For example...










Now that you have read your child a bi-lingual book,it is time to grab some Chinese ink or black acrylic paint and practice Chinese calligraphy...

These individual characters all have different meanings but together they make the name Mulan, which is largely translated as Magnolia Blossom...



This is the character for Huà which means flower in Chinese.  This is also quite simple for children to practice....




Mù is the character for tree in Chinese and again this is quite simple for children to practice and paint...



Lán is the character for orchid in Chinese.  Once again this is an easy character for children to practice and paint....




Disney films are not renowned for historical accuracies (Mulan in a Japanese kimono??!!) but I must admit to being a big fan of the Disney film about Mulan!

PLus more importantly there are lots of learning opportunities before and after watching the film....

For example, I got my children to listen out for funny little expressions in the film, which we had discussed before watching.  For example, I asked them who had said these expressions:

1)‘A single grain of rice can tip the scale. One man can make the difference between victory and defeat.’ 

2. ‘You may look like a bride, but you will never bring your family honour.’ 

3. ‘I know my place. It is time you learned yours.’


They listened really well and it was interesting to discuss these sayings afterwards...


Further discussion could be introduced for older children about gender roles.  For example in 
 Mulan’s community, how are women expected to behave?  How are men expected to behave and then this could lead onto discussions about expectations for men and women in your communities and whether or not men and women should be treated the same or is it good to treat them differently in some ways?









There is nothing like dressing up!!!!  For World Book Day this year, Malika dressed up as Mulan and really enjoyed getting into character.  The outfit was made with a pair of old jeans; I cut the legs off and devised a jacket, made by sewing up the old legs with a piece of green velvet!  Simple and effective!  I don't know about dressing up day at your school, but right now we are still overwhelmed with a whole host of Anna and Elsa's....So Malika as Mulan was a real talking point in her school playground that day....

In order to engage children in historical characters it is great to get them dressed up as they quickly take on traits of their historical character...

We hope you have enjoyed exploring ways to introduce history through a variety of activities...

Have fun and please send us pictures if you try any of our activities!!

xxx






FURTHER TEACHING RESOURCES ABOUT MULAN





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