This series of three one-hour workshops incorporates and builds on the materials from the stand-alone workshops “The Palace is like a Big Forest and “Bowls of Happiness” to strengthen the impact and reinforce the ideas of the program. This series explore the role of nature and art within the Forbidden City and Chinese culture generally and how the students can apply it to their own lives.
Session 1: The Palace is like a Big Forest
In this initial workshop children learn about the largest wooden architectural structure and largest enclosed palace in the world: the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. Students learn how the inspiration for building the palace came from nature. Through additional games, movement activities, discussion, and an animated video, children learn not only how nature influenced and inspires Chinese culture and the building of the Forbidden City, but also how nature can inspire and nurture us in our daily lives. They each design their own ideal home or place in nature. They also discuss how to respect and live sustainably within our natural environment. The students have a take-home project to complete their drawing and write about why it is their ideal home or place.
Session 2: Bowls of Happiness
The students present and discuss their take-home projects.
In the first workshop students examined how nature benefits and inspires us in our everyday lives. In this workshop they look at how people create art that reflects their inspiration from nature. By studying the art of Chinese porcelain, students discover how bowls are made and learn how to appreciate them as works of art. They learn about auspicious symbols found in Chinese culture (such as bats, butterflies, and peaches) and explore their meanings, which serve as expressions of caring between people. Using improvised Chinese song, an animated video, and a fun game using chopsticks, they learn about the Chinese language and culture, especially how beautiful elements in nature influenced the designs on Chinese artworks. For their take-home project they design a porcelain bowl on a postcard for someone they care about using the Chinese symbols discussed in the class, and write a message on the back of the postcard to that person.
Session 3: A Home in Nature, Nature in the Home
The students present and discuss their take-home projects and are encouraged to mail their postcard to the person for whom it was designed.
In this final session, students reflect on what they have learned so far in the workshop about Chinese art, architecture, and how nature can inspire us in our lives. Students watch a short video about the Forbidden City and discuss what they learned about Chinese architecture and symbols. Working in groups they design their own palace or city, thinking about how they can work together to create an ideal home for everyone, how they can use and be inspired by nature in its construction, and how it can be sustainable. Each group presents their palace. The class then looks at different buildings and homes from ancient to contemporary times that incorporate and are sustainable within their environment (such as igloos, Falling Water, modern tree houses). Finally the class talks about what they can do to protect nature in their everyday life, how they can give back to nature, and how they can take their inspiration from nature out into the world.