Teaching children about Korea and the history of Karate

by Mary Ann on August 12, 2011

little girl playing karate kid picture

Girl Playing Karate Kid

There were eight Karate belts laid out on the table. They were different colors. Jason was explaining each one to me; what he had to do to earn it and what he was currently working on. Jason is nine and a friend.

He said his karate style was fromKorea, taekwondo. We began talking aboutKorea. We didn’t know much but we each knew a little. I mentioned that I had some Korean money that my dad had brought back to America after the Korean War.

Eisenhower Silver Dollar picture

Jason got excited about that and told me that his dad had a money collection. He disappeared for a little while and then returned with the collection. It was a jar of coins and bills from other countries andAmerica. We began looking through them.

He was most excited about a silver dollar. I asked him if he knew what president was pictured on the front. He didn’t and so I told him President Eisenhower. He thought it was worth a lot of money because it was made of silver. I showed him the brown line on the side. We talked about how the make up of money has changed and now silver coins have other metals in them.

There was a Chinese bill and I asked him if he knew what Chinese money is called? I told him it was a yen. We talked for just a minute about the funny names other peoples money have.

This whole conversation took about 15 minutes while I was doing some work and he was watching me. I happened to get a gold coloredWashingtondollar the next week in some change. I took it to Jason this week so he could start his own collection. (I had printed off a very short explanation about the Presidential dollar collection and their spouse’s dollar collection.) I had a friend give me some bills fromIndonesiathat I will take to him next week. I am digging those old WWII bills out of my cedar chest and I will give him one of those.

Here is how I would turn this “spark” into Closet content, to teach him more about money, Karate, Korea and other countries.

  • A book on the history of Karate, with lots of pictures. The Little Bubishi: A History of Karate for Children  by Andrew O’Brien or Karate (First Book Series) by Larry Dane Brimner
  • This could lead to books about life in China,India,Japan,Korea and Tibet. These are all countries where Karate has been practiced. Find these countries on a large map and trace how the Karate tradition moved from one to another.
  • Story books aboutKorea(see below) There were so many available for all age levels that I couldn’t possibly list them all here.
  • Introduce Sijo poems – Tap Dancing on the Roof: Sijo (Poems) by Linda Sue Park. Have materials available for each family member to write their own Sijo poem. New pencils and pads are always an incentive to write. Then have a family event to read them to each other with treats!
  • A book of Korean proverbs – Tigers, Frogs, and Rice Cakes: A Book of Korean Proverbs by Soma Han Stickler. Make a list of proverbs that the family can think of that we use a lot in theUSA and find those in this book that are similar.
  • A book of Korean Folktales or a chapter book to add to family reading time – The Land of the Dragon King and other Korean Stories  by Gillan McClure or The Karate Class Mystery (Level 4 reader) by Elizabeth Levy
  • The video Karate Kid or Karate Kid 2 to watch as a family with lots of pop corn.
  • Because two children in the family I have been sharing with you take Karate lessons I would have them put on a Karate display for a family evening event.
  • Books and/or pictures of different types of currency and how money got started. Find pictures of each of these monies – ducat”, “florin”, “nobel”, “grosh”, “zloty”, “guinea”, and the “escudos” — better known as the “doubloon. Find pictures of different world currencies here – http://library.thinkquest.org/28718/currencies.htm
  • Books or other information on how our own monetary system has changed. Here is a video on the history of the American dollar that eight and up might find interesting.
  • A book about President Eisenhower – A Picture Book of Dwight David Eisenhower (Picture Book Biographies) by David A Adler
  • A frame for the Eisenhower silver dollar and a hanger for the wall.
  • A book, jar or box for his collection with some type of system to label or track his collection.
  • Download the Olivia the pig coloring book (necessity vs need) http://www.nickjr.com/printables/what-olivia-needs-coloring-book.jhtml
  • Make some coin rubbings
  • Make a birth year coin collection
  • A Korean craft or a craft from one of the other countries that ties in with Karate
  • Cook and eat a Korean Meal
  • Play some Korean games

Karate is a class that the boys in this family take. They really like it. It is a wonderful springboard for learning about a great many things and for sharing it as a family rather than as just a class for a couple of the children.

Books on Korea for Children:

  • Korean Children’s Favorite Stories  by Kim So-Un
  • Mini Picture Dictionary: English-Korean  by Sedat Turhan
  • Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park
  • My first Korean Words by Katy R. Kudela
  • The Green Frogs: A Korean Folktale  by Yumi Heo
  • Land of Morning Calm: Korean Culture Then and Now  by John Stickler
  • Look What We’ve Brought you From Korea: Crafts, Games, Recipies, Stories, and other Cultural Activities from Korean Americans by Phyllis Shalant
  • I Love Korea (Bilingual) by Andrew C. Nahm
  •  South Korea (Countries of the world)  by Lucile Davis
  •  South Korea: A Question and answer Book  by Susan E. Haberle

Books on the History of Money for Children:

  • The Story of Money by Betsy Maestro
  • The History of Money (First Facts. Learning about Money) by Roberta Basel
  • History Of The United States Mint and Its Coinage by David W. Lange
  • Ultimate Kids Money Book by Neale S. Godfrey


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jason Flynn August 13, 2011 at 7:16 pm

I liked how you taught me about money. And I was hoping that you could bring a gold dollar. I really want one of those. The video was long but it was interesting. I liked it a lot. I learned that money is actually harder to agree on for it to be money. Back then they used to not have money. So I guess they had to trade.


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