Ancient Chinese “Book”

by Jimmie Lanley on August 8, 2007

For our study of Ancient China, we made an ancient book. You may have noticed it in the ancient China lapbook pictures if you visited that Flickr set. Here’s Sprite holding it for you to see.

Paper was invented in the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). But before the invention of paper, books were made with strips of bamboo tied together with strings. Then the books could be rolled up like a scroll.

I thought, well, that sounds easy enough. I’ve seen replicas of these during my time in China. We could do that. We used popsicle sticks instead of bamboo. [grin]

Here’s a step by step of how we did it.

1. I gathered an exacto knife, a cutting board, wooden craft sticks, a ruler, and a pencil.

2.  I measured about one cm from the top of the sticks on both tips and marked it lightly.
3.  My next step was to cut notches where I’d drawn the line. I used a marker here to make it clear for you.

This is for the adult to do, obviously.

4. Then DD tied the sticks together with rafia, making sure the rafia fit into the grooves I’d cut. Twine or jute would work well too. But we had rafia.

5. Lastly Sprite wrote Chinese characters on the sticks going up and down.
Well, some of her characters are a bit creative. Chinese people may not recognize them. But to you it looks great, right? It looks just like Chinese characters!

PS We used wire first. What a disaster. It was pink, and it wasn’t flexible enough to hold together. DD kept saying, “Mom, ancient books did not have pink wire holding them together.” Okay, okay, she was right. The wire was a terrible idea. Don’t use wire. Use something natural — twine or string.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

elizabeth August 28, 2009 at 4:47 am

Thanks for the idea and pictures–you are a great help!


Jimmie August 28, 2009 at 5:42 pm

So glad that the directions are worthwhile to you!


Amy Zimmer November 4, 2009 at 7:08 pm

Awesome–next year! Thanks! Amy 7th grade humanities, Accra, Ghana


Beth February 12, 2010 at 8:52 pm

I remembered this post. I searched for popsicle sticks at home and couldn’t find time. Asked at the drug store because that was all we could get to in the snow. Came home and dug through some boxes looking for something else and found them. Decided I didn’t have an exacto knife and then saw yours and realized of course, I have one like that. Now I wonder how long it will take me to make those notches. Thanks for the great idea.


Leah January 12, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Thank you for still providing this online! Navigated here from squidoo and Homeschool Share… planning an Ancient China unit study for the Chinese New Year of the Dragon! Thank you! 🙂


Beth September 28, 2012 at 10:22 am

This is a really cute idea. We are preparing to move to Taiwan and my sons still struggle to write their characters correctly. Your daughter looks like she had a great time on this!


Erin Monasterio October 23, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Cuticle scissors work great for making notches. Just hold each tip while snipping so as to prevent the stick from splitting. Took no time at all 🙂


homeDelight November 19, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Love your creativity. We live in South East Asia as ambassador for HIS kingdom. I homeschool my kids. Always looking for lapbook ideas to supplement my teachings. it is a blessing to find your site.
In Him,


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