Ancient China: The Song Dynasty and Silk Screen Painting

This week was our final week of school and we just wanted it out-of-the-way to have a short break before diving into our summer adventure box, which I will be posting about all of next week.  I kept it simple.  The children read from here and completed the multiple choice questionnaire.

Tea drinking ceremony

Tea drinking in China dates back to at least the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220), when it seemed to be used for primarily medicinal reasons.  It was during the Song Dynasty it became popular as a drink and the famous Chinese tea drinking ceremony was invented.  I had the children watch part one and two of this You Tube video which explains the ceremony in detail.

Although there really were many, many inventions during the Song dynasty and we could have gone to town with activities, we didn’t.  We focused on just the one- silk screen printing.

Screen Printing

Screen printing, a form of stencilling, was invented in China during the Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD)(Wikipedia).  I had bought in some silk especially for the purpose of screen printing, although we had stolen some of it to lacquer a couple of weeks ago.  We already had a basic screen printing kit, but only had black ink, so apologies for the lack of colour.  As the cutting required a very sharp knife, I did that, but each child had their own rectangle of silk so they each had a turn at doing the actual printing.  I copied the Chinese character for LOVE and enlarged it, photocopied it and stuck it onto the plastic sheet to give me a stencil.  I cut the characters out and lightly stuck the stencil to the piece of silk.  Each child had a go at priming the ink, and actually making the screen print:

L10 printing out onto her silk
L10 printing out onto her silk
C10 proudly showing of her silk print
C10 proudly showing of her silk print

They worked so, so well.  We were all very excited about the possibilities for future printing!  We let these dry and will be ironing and framing them as presents.

The Mongols ended the reign of the Song dynasty which brings us full circle to where we started – with Marco Polo and the Mongols during the middle ages.  No doubt we will revisit China again sometime in the future, but for now we are ready to move on.


  1. That print looks incredible! They will make such lovely gifts.
    I had no idea we could credit silk screen printing to the Chinese – I’ll have to add it to my list of things to do this summer!!

  2. What a great project to end the year! I’ve enjoyed following your studies this year. Looking forward to seeing what is in your summer adventure box.

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