Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Ancient China: The Great Wall of China & Sumi-e Brush Drawing

We had not made a model yet, and when I saw this project at Confessions of a Homeschooler, I knew this was the model project we wanted to do. She gives step-by-step instructions on how to do it on her blog, so you might want to go there. I have done it a little differently.
You will need for this project : an entire box of FloraCraft Styrofoam Bricks. We used every brick in the box, so if you want to be sure you have enough, you might want to buy two (there are a million projects you could do with the leftovers), a glue gun and sticks, Foam Core Board, any other decorative scenery items such as artificial greenery, Cardboard for the floor of the wall, and you may want to use toothpicks to secure stairs on ends of Wall.
Draw two curvy lines across the cardboard, making sure that the finished strip will fit nicely on your foamcore board. Cut this out and then trace the outline of it on your foamcore board. Put your cardboard aside for now. Now, with your glue gun, put a section of glue down and then place blocks along curve. Continue in this way until you have it all outline in a layer of bricks. Continue to add a section of glue on top of this layer of bricks and add another layer of bricks, staggering them.

Repeat until it is four layers high.
(This is pictured with white glue because we did this first with white Elmer's glue, until we found out it would not hold the Styrofoam bricks together solidly, and then we went back, took it apart and used a glue gun for the glue.

Glue the cardboard that you had put aside on top of the brick layer. This is to add stability without needing to fill  in the whole wall with bricks.
(This is pictured with two pieces of cardboard because I didn't cut out the cardboard first and in trying to make the cardboard exactly fit the lines I had drawn on the foamcore board, needed to use smaller pieces. This is why I changed the directions to making the cardboard template first.)

Glue another layer of bricks on top of the cardboard layer, and build up castle on both ends of wall.

Since the bricks are foam, you can cut them as needed.

You may need to use toothpicks to secure bricks inside the natural stair formed from the staggering of each layer of bricks as the wall was made. Cut doorways in foam at the towers. Decorate as you wish.

Can't you just imagine yourself as a guard on the wall?  

We also added a page to our history journals. We wrote the Chinese character for fire using our Sumi brush and ink set.

We have done this before, but it is difficult for them to learn a new way of holding a writing instrument.

The brush is supposed to be held straight up with the arm completing the movement needed, but it is easy to go back to the fingers making the movements.

If you do not have an ink set, watercolor can be used.

Their completed journal pages looked like this.

inspiration and resources:

{Next post in China's history: China 1500-1700}


  1. Phyllis,
    This is a wonderful project. I think I will show it to my oldest in the hopes of a project for school. It looks like they would have lots of fun building.

    I'm sorry I didn't get to wish you Happy Birthday over the weekend.... so I'm doing it now! Happy Birthday!

    Have a beautiful day!

  2. OOOOH - that looks like a great project for the loooong winter months ahead - at this rate - you might keep us busy for the entire season! :)

  3. What a great project. Between you and Leah, I have so many ideas many for when Selena gets older, but hey what child wouldn't love to build something like this!

  4. Wonderful post! Love your Great Wall of China. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Your wall is amazing. A lot of patience must have gone into this. Did you know that China's Great Wall is one of the new 7 Wonders of the World?

  6. Wow! I'm impressed. We are part of a weekly homeschool history co-op that does lots of projects. Your ideas are so inspiring and you have so many. Thank you for letting me know about your weekly link-up.

  7. Hi Phyllis, I'm not sure if this worked earlier.. I was wondering if I could use one of your photographs of the model of the great wall (which looks fantastic by the way!) with link back to this post on a post I'm putting together about the great wall.


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