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Round is a Mooncake

Author: Roseanne Thong

Illustrator: Grace Lin

ISBN: 0811826767

Summary: A Chinese girl tells in a poetic style about the different shapes she sees around her.

Literature-Based Unit Study by Michelle Armstrong; additional lessons by E. Rekamah; LA lesson extensions by Ami Brainerd

View this book on-line!


Social Studies/China:
China is the fourth largest country.  Only Russia, Canada and the United States are bigger.
China Printout
Chinese Flag
Flag of China Minit Book
Kid's Culture Center-- China
In the US, we use the paper dollar, but the Chinese use the paper yuan. 
Pictures of Chinese money
Several different types of Chinese are spoken, but the most popular dialect or kind is called Mandarin.  The Chinese do not have an alphabet.  Their written language is a system of symbols or pictures called hanzi. This is how to count to ten: yee (1), uhr (2), sahn (3),  suh (4), woo (5), lyo (6), chee (7), bah (8),  jo (9), shur (10).
Worksheet for writing Chinese numbers
China is home to the Giant Panda, South Chinese Tiger, Takin, Yak, Sun Bear, Red Panda, Golden Lion Tamarin and the Chinese Alligator.
Coloring pages:
The Giant Panda
The Golden Lion Tamarin
Culture- Holidays: Chinese Moon Festival:
The Moon Festival is a very important day in the lives of the Chinese.  It is as important as Christmas or Thanksgiving for us.  The festival marks the end of one harvest season and the beginning of another.  On this day, the moon shines brighter and bigger than any other night.  Children are allowed to stay up late to watch the moon rise while eating their mooncakes.  Some will have them with tea. 
There are several legends surrounding the Moon Festival. One includes a story of a woman who drank a potion and floated to the moon.  Another tell of rebels who used the mooncakes to pass secret plans to overthrow the oppressive government.  Another tells of a man who wanted to live forever but did not have the patience to listen and learn.   Legend link

Just like the turkey is important to thanksgiving, mooncakes are important to the Moon Festival.  Mooncakes come in different flavors. Some are sweet.  Some are not.  Since the cakes are labor intensive, many choose to buy them at local bakeries.  Here is a recipe of authentic mooncakes

Since the recipe might be a little overwhelming, here is an easy recipe for moon pies, just for fun:

These are lit at dusk to await the rising of the moon.  Lanterns come in many different varities. Simple latern craft.

Chinese Lantern Shape Book (by Breezy Tulip)


Language Arts: Poetry- Rhyme
Look for the rhyme patterns in the poem.  Roseanne Thong usually rhymes the second line with the fourth.  What other rhyme patterns does she use?  If your student is old enough, you may want to type up the poem and let him label the rhyme scheme (A, B, C, B, etc.). 

You may also have fun writing some of the rhyming words down on a separate sheet of paper and see how many MORE words you and your student can think of that rhyme with the word from the poem.  For example, Ms. Thong uses the word moon to rhyme with room.  What else rhymes with those words?  (spoon, doom, tomb, balloon, tune, noon, dune, soon, etc.). 

Language Arts: Poetry- Mimic the Poet
We often encourage our aspiring artists to imitate the illustrator to learn a new art technique; we should also encourage our aspiring writers to imitate the author’s style to learn more about writing.  

Your child may want to try to write a poem similar to Roseanne Thong’s.   There are a few different options to do this (prepared pages are provided for you if you click on the link).

#1  Simple (fill in the blanks with things that are round)
#2  Difficult  (fill in the blanks with things that are round AND keep the same rhyme scheme as Ms. Thong’s).
#3  Advanced (fill in the blanks keeping the same amount of words as Ms. Thong AND keep the same rhyme scheme).  You could also add an extra challenge for your older student by requiring that he keep the same amount of syllables.

If your student enjoys this exercise, consider letting him try to mimic the lines about squares or rectangles, too. 

Language Arts: Compound Words
You may want to introduce your student to compound words-- two words joined together to form a new word.  Many examples of compound words can be found in the text and illustrations of this story.  You may want to make a list with your student, or you may want to play this prepared Concentration Game (instructions included) with your student. 

Here are some of the examples from the book (the ones used for the game mentioned above):


Concentration Game Instructions
Print one copy of this file (preferably on cardstock) and cut the cards out or make your own cards using index cards.  Place the cards on a table face down (don’t peek as you place them on the table).   You may want to place them in rows.  

Player #1 gets to turn over 2 cards.  If the cards make a compound word (from the story—the colors should match), then he gets to pick them up and add them to his pile.  If no match is made, the cards get returned to their spots (facing down).  Player #2 takes a turn following the same instructions as Player #1.

Players keep taking turns until all the matches have been made.  The player with the most matches wins the game.

Language Arts: Memory/Listmaking
The little girl in the book has a lot of pets!   Can your student remember the pets she has? (goldfish, mouse, kittens, crickets).  Make a list with your student of animals that are kept as pets; write down as many as you can think of!  This may also lead into a science lesson/discussion about pets and the care of pets.

Language Arts:  Unknown Words

Write any unknown words on a piece of paper (or in a notebook).

Abacus: A traditional Chinese "calculator" that uses beads to add, subtract, multiply and divide.
Dim Sum: small steamed or fried treats.  The word means "a little heart" in Chinese.
Inking Stones: Flat stone trays for grinding ink for Chinese paintings and writing.
Mooncakes: Round cakes with sweet fillings eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Name Chops: Wood or stone stamps carved with a person's (Chinese) name.
A few more not defined by the book:
Paintbrush racks: For hanging special brushes used in Chinese writing and painting.
Jasmine Tea: tea that has been infused with the fragrance of the Jasmine flower.
Radish cakes: a white steamed cake that is popular to eat during the festival.  These cakes are usually steamed as many homes in China do not have ovens.
Poh Poh: grandma

Math: Tangrams

Learn about tangrams. These links will show you how to make the pieces of a tangram puzzle. The puzzle includes 5 different sized isosceles triangles (triangles with two equal sides and angles), 1 square (4 equal sides) and a parallelogram (four sided with the a side parallel it's opposite). They also give examples of different puzzles you can try.


You may want to read Grandfather Tang’s Story together.  It’s a simple introduction to tangrams.

Math:  Geometry/Shapes
With your young student, introduce the shapes and definitions.  With your older student, review.  Use the following activities as appropriate. 

Rectangles have four sides.  Two are short and two are long. Draw a rectangle for your student and let him copy it.  Look around the room (or wherever you are and find some rectangles-- the front door, the power outlet, light switch plate, crib, speaker, phone, cereal box, window, etc.)
Squares have four equal sides. Draw a square or let your student draw one.  Now, draw a line from one corner of the square to the opposite corner.  Now you have two isosceles triangles. Again, wherever you are, find squares-- blocks, board books, CD Case, etc.  If you're ambitious, let your student tell you things he thinks are square and then measure them to check (all sides should be equal).  After you've found a true square, find the 2 triangles in the square.
Circles never end. Put a dot in the very middle of the circle. Draw a line from the edge of the circle straight across through the dot to the other side. This line is the diameter. Draw another line from the middle of the circle to the edge. This is the radius.
Parallel lines never cross.  Draw several sets of lines on a sheet of paper.  Have some of them intersect.  Draw some of them parallel.
More geometry ideas:
geometry dictionary for kids
You could also define each shape in a mini-book.  Add pictures cut out from magazines (or simply let your student draw the shapes). 
Look around your house or in your community like the girl did in this book for the same shapes. Then look for other shapes. Are there any you do not know? Count how many sides you see on any new shapes and learn the names of shapes with more sides.

Shape Song: (sung to Jingle Bells)
Tri-an-gles, have three sides
Rec-tan-gles have four
Pent-a-gons, have five sides
Hex-a-gons one more, OH
Sep-ta-gons have seven sides
Octa-gons have eight
Now I've learned all these shapes
And I think they're great!

For your younger learners, you may want to pick a shape book to make from Enchanted Learning


Science: Astronomy (Moon's Orbit)
Understanding orbits:
The moon orbits around the earth.  An orbit is a circular path around an object.  The moon’s path around the Earth is elliptical (oval). 
1.  Draw a circle on a sheet of paper that takes up most of the paper.  Have the child draw or color things that are on the Earth in the circle.  (Trees, water, animals, children, houses, etc).  Cut out the circle.
2. Draw a tiny circle (about the size of a half dollar) on another sheet of paper.  Have the child color the moon/draw rocks.  Cut out the circle.
Discussion: Why is the earth full of different colors, but the moon is not?  The moon doesn’t have the things people, animals, fish, insects, plants need to live: water, air, food.  Also, the moon at times is too hot and at others too cold. 
Have one person stand in the middle of the room with the earth.  Have another walk around the earth with the moon.  The moon is now orbiting the earth. 
We cannot live on the moon but we have visited it.  The men and women that have been there have had to take their own water, food and air to breathe. 
Links to space travel sites:
What astronauts wear:
The space shuttle learn and color pages (12 printable pages)
What happens before the space shuttle lifts off
The NASA kids home page

Science: Biology-- Living vs. Non-living
Unlike the moon, the earth has both living and nonliving things.  Living things are classified by several characteristics: 
1. Living things are made of cells.
2.  Living things obtain and use energy.
3. Living things grow and develop.
4. Living things reproduce.
5. Living things respond to the environment.
6. Living things adapt to the environment.

For young children, you can simplify the classifications to three questions:
1.  Does it need food/water?
2.  Does it grow?
Go through Round is a Mooncake and classify things from the illustrations into two categories (living and non-living).  You can also make a nature journal of living and nonliving things.

There are four treasured Chinese arts: painting, poetry (see Rabbit Trails), calligraphy and seal carving
Art: Calligraphy
In the book, we see the little girl using a paintbrush and ink.  She is creating calligraphy.  In China, calligraphy is an art and those who master it are recognized as artists.  The brush is held straight up and down and doesn’t touch the palm of the hand.  At this website, there are instructions on how to use the seven basic strokes and gives a few easy examples of Chinese symbols to practice:
Art: Seal Carving or Name Chops:
The seals or name chops are used to sign documents or artwork.  Usually the chops are made of wood or stone. It took a talented carver to accurately carve the symbol.  Try making your own chops.  An adult will need to do the carving, but the child will have fun stamping his mark on his paintings and calligraphy drawings.  Use the first letter of the child’s name or a number to represent the child’s age.  You can use a potato.
Art: Painting
The brush for painters is similar to a watercolor brush.  The Chinese word for brush is pi
The ink is a dry cake that is placed on an inking stone where water is added to it.  The Chinese word for ink is mo.  Traditionally, the Chinese painter would use paper or silk to paint on. The paper ranges in thickness.  Try using a variety of paper and inks.  You can use anything from watercolor paper, notebook paper, construction paper, rice paper, or even tissue paper.  Show how the difference in paper demands a reduction or addition of water in the ink. 
Other characteristics of Chinese painting: never have a crowded composition, water always is seen with it’s source, trees never have less than four branches, far and clear need to be clearly distinguished, paths should lead somewhere.  There are many others defined in the 13th century by artist, Jao Tzu-jan.
Art/Language Arts: Poetry
This "story" is written in poem form.  Read some Chinese poetry with your student.   Often the technique used in literary works is lost when translated but here are a few links to read and/or hear Chinese poetry.

Just For Fun:

Play checkers

Play ball

Have a jasmine tea party!

Make a square pizza

Color Shi Shi Lions  

Have a money tree for a special event (birthday, anniversary, holiday) 

Find a recording of traditional Chinese music to listen to

Enchanted Learning-- Shape Word Pieces Puzzle

 Have a Puppet Show!

Rabbit Trails and Resources

Science: Crickets
Study about crickets (what they eat, where they live, how they make sound, etc). Then if possible, capture and observe!
For cricket lesson plan ideas see A Song for Lena or The Very Quiet Cricket (other HSS units) 


Math: Addition/Subtraction:
Make an abacus out of popsicle sticks or Legos
And learn how to use it

More Abacus Links Gives instructions to make your own abacus; This tells much of the same as prior link with a practice “session”.
Music: Instruments
The Chinese have fashioned instruments out of clay, metal silk, bamboo, wood, gourd, animal hides and stone.  Just like an orchestra, the Chinese orchestra has different sections: plucked strings: liuqin, yangqin, ruan, yueqin, guzheng, guquin, sanzxian; bowed strings: erhu, jinghu, gaohu, gehu, banhu, matouqin; blown woodwinds: dizi, xiao, guan, xun, souna, sheng; and percussion: bangu, bo, bianzhong, tanggu, muyu, luo, yunluo.
Look these instruments up at the library or go to this link to hear samples of different instruments.

Go along books:

Grandfather Tang’s Story
The Story About Ping (FIAR Volume I)

Daisy Comes Home by Jan Brett