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“We All Live in the Forbidden City” Exhibition in the Beijing Palace Museum

Since 2008, “We All Live in the Forbidden City”  education programme aims to explore and promote the modern-day significance of traditional culture. It has developed a variety of theme-oriented education activities, trials and practices with different institutions from all over the world for many years. 

The programme is finally home in July this year!

Honored to be contract partner, the Design and Cultural Studies Workshop takes part in the“We All Live in the Forbidden City” Exhibition in Palace of Great Benevolence (Jingren Gong) from 18th July to 18th October 2017 , which is jointly organized by the Palace Museum and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) of the HKSAR Government.

The exhibition includes four parts: Strolling the Palace Ground, Admiring Palatial Architecture, the Imperial Family Tree and Get Animated, and consists of displays, 3-D models and multimedia for children, teenagers and the public to appreciate Chinese culture in this imperial palace in a vivid and delightful way.

The Director of the Palace Museum Dr. Shan Jixiang, the Deputy Director of LCSD Dr. Louis Ng Chi-wa made a speech at the opening ceremony, hosted by the Executive Deputy Director of the Palace Museum Mr. Wang Yamin with the attendance of the Permanent Secretary for Home Affair Mrs. Betty Fung, the Deputy Director of the Palace Museum Mr. Lou Wei and Mr. Li Xiaocheng.

The review of the educational workshop of the Palace Museum exhibition

On 29th July, sitting straightly and orderly in lines, kids are ready for the“We All Live in the Forbidden City”education workshop in Palace of Great Benevolence (Jingren Gong). 

The classroom is relocated from schools to the palace where the Kangxi Emperor was born. Parents and kids are experiencing the solemn atmosphere of it and looking for the “treasure” by appreciating cultural knowledge, architectural techniques, people and stories from the exhibition to explore this place in an in-depth way.

Workshops are organized by the Department of Information Technology in the Palace Museum and hosted by Design and Cultural Studies Workshop.


“Good Nature” Tour Display Workshop in Singapore

After “Good Nature” Tour Display Workshop being held in certain schools in Hong Kong, the team introduced it to Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan’s affiliated schools - Tao Nan School and Kong Hwa School leading the local students to discover the unlimited possibility of the nature. Meanwhile, the team would like to say thank you to the principal of Tao Nan School Dr. Chin Kim Woon, the principal of Kong Hwa School Mrs. Cheong Ye Ling, and the teacher Mr. Ang Thiam Poh and Ms. Zhang Haiyan for all the way support and cooperation during the activity.

Due to the difference of the language and cultural background, besides translated all the content into simplified Chinese and English, the team also included more local reference of Singapore such as “Kreta Ayer (Chinatown)” and “Changi Airport”  into the workshop to help local students experience the nature just nearby their living place.

During the activity, the team, making use of game, animation and teaching prop, guided the local students to explore the connotations of 4 natural elements: soil, wood, stone and water, and learn how the ancient Chinese to gear up their creativity on building their homes and gardens through different senses like seeing, hearing and touching. Apart from the workshop session, the tutors did provide a guided tour to students reviewing the information and meanings behind the content of the displays.

After the activity, the teams also invited the principals and participated teachers for exchange comments and ideas. All the teachers admitted the new format of the activity allows students to get involved the activity easily and appreciated the integration of local natural elements into the content for their students. On the other side, they did also provide some suggestions to improve the structure and compatibility of the workshop with school curriculums leading the team to further understand the needs of the audience in Singapore. 

<p>The principal of Kong Hwa School Mrs Cheong Ye Ling (front row: 2nd from left) was expressing her comments to the activity. (Student Hall in Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan&rsquo;s affiliated schools Tao Nan School)</p>

The principal of Kong Hwa School Mrs Cheong Ye Ling (front row: 2nd from left) was expressing her comments to the activity. (Student Hall in Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan’s affiliated schools Tao Nan School)

The pre-school experimental workshop “Hugging Nature” in Singapore

In order to share the goodness of nature and the delights of the Chinese culture with the children in Singapore, from March 20 to 24, the education team revisited the city for holding a series of the pre-school workshops “Hugging Nature” in Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan’s affiliated school - Tao Nan School and Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan Pre-School respectively. The education team especially thanks to the principal of Tao Nan School Dr Chin Kim Woon, the principal of Hokkien Huay Kuan Pre-School Ms Tham Kum Fong and all the participated teachers for the support and cooperation on the activity.

The experimental workshop in Singapore, which includes 2 topics, “water” and “wood”, addressed on the characteristics and usages of natural elements aiming at  revealing various positive values such as “working together in harmony”, “working in cooperation” and “bringing talent into full play” through a series of activity: rhythmic movement, animation, story-telling and craft-making. During the workshop, the children did get involved so much into the activity. They became so excited while seeing the protagonist of the animation, “water drop” moving in a funny way; at the same time, they enjoyed helping each other during the drawing session.

After the activity, the teachers did mentioned the overall activity, which is able to enhance the multiple training to the children, is interactive and comprehensive, and the teaching props and animation are attractive and interesting. On the other side, they would also expect to see more real objects of natural elements and get more guidance in outdoor experience for their students from ours workshop in the future.

During the exchange session, the principal of Hokkien Huay Kuan Pre-School Ms Tham Kum Fong led the team to look around the facilities of the school and explain the school visions as well. She also introduced us a mini farm in school, called “life garden”, in which the children can nurture different kinds of plant. She believed it’s a good learning process for children even not all the plants would bloom and bear fruit and reckoned the pre-school activity “Hugging Nature” could be a good start for children to get familiar with the nature before they practice in the garden and learn appreciating the nature.

The review of the “Pre-school Education Workshop”

Starting from the preparation of the pre-school teaching plan “Hugging Nature” in 2016, the education team has gradually developed a series of learning material focused on child care which aims at uplifting children’s learning ability and building a right sense of value for their own. The main theme of the pre-school teaching plan is about “nature”, which includes 4 sub-titles “soil”, “wood”, “stone” and “water”, leading children to recognize the goodness of nature and broaden their perspective towards the world through experience and exploration.

The team luckily invited Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (TWGHs) Nursery Services for cooperation. In the period between October 2016 and February 2017, there were 18 trial lessons held in TWGHs Hung Wong Kar Gee Nursery School, TWGHs Fong Tam Yuen Leung Nursery School and TWGHs Ng Sheung Lan Memorial Nursery School. Thank you all the principals and teachers for the support, practice and comment leading the team to further optimize the programme catering the need of pre-school students.

According to the school teachers’ comments, the team included more physical teaching props and experience activities giving students a stronger impression on the nature via different senses. Since the teachers suggested to present the stories from simplest to more complex, the team further adjusted the related contents to fit pre-school students’ learning standard. For example, we made use of the daily life examples as an introduction of the lesson uplifting students’ understanding on the topics.

In conclusion, all the participated schools agreed that the trial lesson plan is creative and inspiring. It’s a supplementary for various class topics such as “Caring for the environment”, “Being helpful to others”, “Protecting the nature”, etc. and also able to arise children’s interests about nature and culture by using different kinds of teaching material like props, actual objects, interactive media, worksheets and drawing books. On the other side, the students got involved in the lesson and actively replied the questions about the natural elements from the teacher. Meanwhile, the teacher of Hung Wong Kar Gee Kindergarten mentioned after the lesson the students have already learned to ask more profound questions such as “is the wall made from soil?” and then she would further invite the class to search for the answers and share them with others afterwards.

The pre-school teaching plan “Hugging Nature” encourages the balanced development of children getting students in different levels of learning to encounter the Chinese culture. The teacher of Ng Sheung Lan Memorial Nursery School once expressed that to solidify students’ learning base they would emphasize on teaching the Chinese pronunciation of the natural elements’ titles due to the multicultural backgrounds of their students.  The team since then has further investigated on the issue of language teaching in the lesson plan. Moreover, the teachers also found their students are not simply more understanding the natural elements but learning to respect and care about the nature. For instance, their students have started reminding each other to switch off the tap after cleaning to avoid water waste.

From the development of “Hugging Nature” teaching plan to the trial lessons, not only has the education team bettered the understanding of the pre-school education but also seen a practical outcome from schools. We gladly found that the pre-school students are able to learn things, establish the right sense of value and share with the others even they are only young children. Our preset goal of the “Hugging Nature” teaching plan has initially been achieved.



<p>The tutor is explaining the method of fire extinguishing in the Forbidden City to the principal Ms. Kung Yu Ping (2nd&nbsp; from right) and the teacher Ms. Yu (1st from right) from Ng Sheung Lan Memorial Nursery School.</p>

The tutor is explaining the method of fire extinguishing in the Forbidden City to the principal Ms. Kung Yu Ping (2nd  from right) and the teacher Ms. Yu (1st from right) from Ng Sheung Lan Memorial Nursery School.

The 2nd round application of the extended workshop of "Educational Kit for Primary Schools" kicks off!

Do you want to learn the Chinese culture in an interesting way? Education team sincerely invites all of the primary school students in Hong Kong to join us for a special workshop called “Culture at a Glance” exploring the stories and values behind the ordinary things in everyday life.

Apart from other education activities, “Culture at a Glance”, which is a new workshop in a format of drama/talk show, makes use of interesting topics related to everyday life and a series of interactive game and animation, leading students to experience the delights of culture and extending the learning of the school subjects such as Chinese language, moral education, general study, visual art, etc.

Since the launch in last November, the “Culture at a Glance” workshop has been held for over 3,000 students among more than ten schools sharing the interests and values of the Chinese culture to the new generation. This education activity has received not only good response from different schools but also a lot of enquiry about applications. In order to allow more schools to join, we currently extend the workshop period until June, 2017.  Any new applications are welcome!

The activity is free of charge. Please hurry up to apply as the class slots are limited. First come, first served. The first admission priority is given to schools which never participate in our activities before or arrange a whole grade (or more) students to join.

Please click here to download the application form.

The trial lesson of “Educational Kit for Primary Schools”: “Paper and Chinese Brush”

There was a trial lesson of “Educational Kit for Primary Schools”in the topic of “Paper and Chinese Brush”taking place at A.D.&F.D. of Pok Oi Hospital Mrs. Cheng Yam On Millennium School for P.4 students recently.

Chinese Brush is a tool to record knowledge and memories; moreover, the brush strokes can also record not only the gestures but also the mentality of the users.  On the other hand, paper, being light and inexpensive, is the best medium for ink writing. The invention of Chinese brush and paper allows us to share our experience, thinking and emotion with the coming generations. The education team looks forward to seeing the students can learn more about the relationship between people and the tools/medium they are using, and think deeper of the attitudes and meanings behind the act of recording.

At the beginning of the trial lesson, the teacher recalled the students about the importance of recording via their experience of carelessness in daily lives. She also encouraged them to make use of different tools such as stones, ropes, pens and papers to record. As a result, different students tried various ways to record: some tied knots over the ropes and some carved scars on the stones. 

In one of the activities, students were required to write a Chinese character in different time-frames in order to reveal that brush stokes help express not simply the meaning of the character but also the writer’s gestures, motions and emotions.  Through the experience of using “Paper and Chinese Brush”, the workshop aimed to share with students about the serious attitude on recording and the respect to the knowledge. Today, the traditional medium has been gradually replaced by digital media to obtain information quickly; however, should we revisit the relationship between recording tools/medium and recording/reading. Perhaps we can find the answer from the stories of “Paper and Chinese Brush”.

After the lesson, the teachers agreed the students have learned more about the characteristics of paper and Chinese brush and the importance of recording. They also shared their experiences based on school activities. For example, in order to let students experiencing the process of book making and sharing, they once arranged a group of students to create student handbooks through their creativity on papers and displayed them in an exhibition for sharing.

Visiting “From Son of Heaven to Commoner – Puyi, the Last Emperor of China” in Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence

Our education team visited "from Son of Heaven to Commoner - Puyi, the Last Emperor of China", scheduled to close on Feb 13, in Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence, in which 73 exhibits, own by Aisin-Gioro Puyi, were demonstrated. The exhibition showed his legendary life and the social conditions at that time, beginning with the young Puyi designated heir to the throne by Empress Dowager Cixi in 1908, then his experience from the 1911 Resolution, to the Machu Restoration, to the administration of Empire of Manchukuo, to the reform in Fushun War Criminals Management Centre, and ultimately he was granted amnesty.

Puyi's clothing were impressive, for instance, the small dragon robe, the uniform of Concordia Association of Manchukuo, the uniform at Fushun and padded cotton jacket, reflecting his different roles and the changes of time - the small dragon robe, was worn only once by Puyi when he ascended to the throne at about three years old, which represents his role of emperor in a closed society stepping towards the peace before the revolutionary movements. the uniform of Concordia Association of Manchukuo, implied Puyi became Japanese puppet - the association, founded in 1932, nominally enhanced the united glory of five races including Manchus, Hans, Japanese, Korean and Mongols, but it was the political tool of the Japanese for overseeing the Empire of Manchukuo. As for the uniform at Fushun, it represented the foundation of new China. He became a war criminal and experienced ten-year re-education and reform. Lastly, he was a commoner who wore the mended jacket, revealing his frugal life after returning to Beijing.

The idea of "emperor" seems far away with his high status from us. Nonetheless, we could see the other aspects of his life. Puyi was talented with languages. Starting learning English in 16 years old, he could use full sentences for public speech. At the same time, he was inspired and affected by his English teacher, Reginald Fleming Johnston, being fond of western lifestyle, which can be shown in the exhibition by demonstrating his camera, radio, telephone, vinyl records and short-sightedness correction glasses. However, after the Second World War, in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East where he testified for eight days, he claimed he had no recollection of the events related to Japanese invading and emphasized he was the victim for covering up being in collusion with Japan. Finally he was released for no crime. As the last emperor of the last dynasty in China, his encounter was extremely varied from the emperors in flourishing ages. From this visit, we could see the humane side of an emperor.

Clothes reflect one's character. When our education team conceived the emperor-themed curriculum of the Primary School Kit, the relationship and meanings among the clothes of the emperor, the character and the status were encouraged to consider. One of the content of it is the Paintings of Amusement of the Emperor Yongzheng, who changed his clothes like cos-playing - pretending a westerner with a wig stabbing a tiger, an aged fisher with a straw hat fishing in a freezing river, a literati with wide-sleeve robe......Those paintings were created since the Emperor Yongzheng was busily engaged in official business. In his spare time, he found the count painter to draw him self-portraits in pursuit of playing different roles and imagining various kinds of life.

One imagined himself to be a commoner, but another one encountered the experience from the son of heaven to commoner. Though both Puyi and the Emperor Yongzhen had distinguishing destiny, they were different from the real "commoners", who can choose and accomplish their wish according to their wills. On the other hand, the emperor has power with lots of limitations. Perhaps this is the reason the Emperor Yongzhen changed his clothes in the paintings and Puyi insisted the second and the third enthronement. 

“Good Nature” Tour Display Workshop kicks off!

An education activity called “Good Nature” Tour Display Workshop, encouraging the whole school to participate including teachers and students, has finally launched officially. “Natural elements: earth, wood, stone, water” and “Home and Garden” are the themes of the activity which leads students to re-experience the nature, to explore cultural values hidden behind those natural elements and to learn the role of nature in an ideal environment of home and garden. Combined by displays, workshops and guided tours, the activity aims at arising the audience’s interest and emotion about nature, life and culture by taking various perspectives to understand “Nature” through different kinds of teaching materials such as animations, interactive media, worksheets, etc.

Our activity includes a guided tour for the school teachers, briefly introducing contents and notions of the display, encouraging them to elaborate on themes and contents of the display additionally, and sharing their own feelings and experiences of nature to students. Take an outreach activity “Nature Corners” as an example, targeting the whole school as participants – students can write down their favourite natural element on the colourful and square-shaped stickers, then the teachers can lead and instruct them to build a stunning courtyard as well as a delicate recreational area for the school.

Furthermore, a one-hour tour display workshop will be held, not only elaborating the contents of the display, but bringing students the knowledge about natural elements of Hong Kong and delivering the message that many subtle things in daily life can be related intimately to the nature. In “Good Questions about the Nature” section, via stacking building-blocks, besides introducing the tallest tree in Hong Kong -  a white jade orchid tree in Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens, tutors emphasize wood can be “stacked” and become boats, furniture and architecture, like Tai O Stilt Houses in Hong Kong, which are a kind of simple wooden construction.

Those four elements - earth, wood, stone and water, have their own features individually; meanwhile, their combination can turn into our delightful “home” and “garden”. In “Nature in My House” section, students can think of some nature-related things at home and understand natural elements are the condition of forming a good environment of our home by interactive game, to name but a few, “clayed bowl” holding “warm food”, “wooden door” bringing the house “safety”, “pavilion” providing the area for people to “share” their joy of life.



<p>Students can re-experience the natural element in an installation called &ldquo;Discovery Corner&rdquo;; for example, touching the tree ring could remind them trees have life and get old.</p>

Students can re-experience the natural element in an installation called “Discovery Corner”; for example, touching the tree ring could remind them trees have life and get old.

Visited Flagstaff House Museum of Tea

When a tree leave drops on the soil, it will become part of soil; on the other side, if it’s placed into “another kind of soil” (tea ware), it will reveal not only the taste of nature but also our attitude towards nature. Recently, the education team has visited Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware learning this kind of fired “soil” - tea ware.

Just like the habit of tea drinking, tea ware would change and develop depending on the need, interest and trend of different generations. On the ground floor of the museum, there was a permanent exhibition called “Chinese Tea Drinking” showing different kinds of tea ware from Tang Dynasty to Qing Dynasty and the history of tea making and drinking customs. For example, people in Tang Dynasty boiled tea with Chinese onion, ginger and mint; people in Song Dynasty turned tea-leaves into powder and mixed it with boiling water by bamboo whisks; people in Yuen Dynasty enjoyed adding cheese milk into tea; tea-lovers in Ming Dynasty were precise about tea-making from the amount of ingredients, boiling temperature, the size of tea leaves to the shape of the teapots; people in Qing Dynasty preferred using tea-cup with lid for both self-enjoyment and sharing.

Through the manipulation of craftsman, soil becomes a variety of delicate tea wares. On the 2nd floor of the museum, there was an exhibition "2016 Tea Ware by Hong Kong Potters Competition" displaying a series of selected tea sets created by ceramic artists in Hong Kong. Among all, the tea sets were diverse in form and looked like different objects in daily lives such as stones, ships, gardens, animals and etc. They were not simply the pottery but the art pieces reflected creators’ various thinking towards nature, life and happiness. For instance, there was a tea set which looked like a real tree truck. The creator intended to apply different wood texture on the surface of the pottery and then boil the pieces in tea suggesting a sense of nature. Through using natural materials to contain natural ingredients, people can taste the real delight of nature. Tea and tea pots are an interesting yet amazing combination ultimately.

Pre-school Education Workshop: stone

In the development of Pre-school Learning Kit “Hugging Nature”, we gladly invited  serveral schools of Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (TWGHs) Nursery Services, including Hung Wong Kar Gee Kindergarten, Fong Tam Yuen Leung Nursery School and Ng Sheung Lan Memorial Nursery School for cooperation.

Following by the topics, “water” and “tree”, the latest trial lesson is about “stone”.  With the strong support and participation from the teachers and principals of the nursery schools, the children have started finding the inner beauty of stone through learning different characteristics and usages of stone in ancient time.

The lesson began with experiencing stones. Before the class, some teachers have already invited students to collect different stones for sharing. Via observing and contacting, let them feel the thickness, weight and size of the stones. On the other side, the lesson made used of “tai wu stone” as an example to explain how weird stones can inspire children’s imagination.  The teacher said, “What have you seen on the stone?” and the students instantly yelled “butterfly”, “piggy”, “thrumpet”… One can see that not only do the students own unlimited creativity but also start feeling interested in stone.

To share with children about the stones they see today might have been eroded by rain and wind or carved by people, the team designed a series of animation and teaching material.  During the review meeting, the teachers mentioned that the lively teaching materials would strengthen not only the communication between teachers and students but also students’ impression on the learning subjects. They expected more interesting designs and images will be included in the coming curriculum.

On the other side, the workshop introduced “cobbled road” as a craft work in which ancient people made use of various stones in different colors and textures to create images and patterns. In order to put the imagination to practice, the teachers encouraged students to express their thought and interest on paper via “stone stickers”. By observation, most of the children’s works were related to everyday life and the subjects included house, MTR trains… etc., which highly reflected the children are expecting not only an ideal home but also a journey to explore and discover the unknown world.