Monday, January 21, 2013

Mystery of History – Shang Dynasty: Silk Secret

After reading the lesson about the Shang Dynasty we decided to do a hands on activity.  Sammy was really interested in the fact that the Chinese people kept the secret about how the silk was made for over 3,000 years.  After Christmas and having to keep presents a secret for a few weeks he couldn’t believe they kept something a secret for that long.  So after taking a look at some silk and where China is located I came up with this silk secret hands on activity.
First I had Sammy look at what a real silkworm cocoon looked like and how small the threads are.  I then took some yarn (since that would be easier to untangle then real silk) and I made a cocoon.  I simply did this by wrapping the yarn around my finger.  Then I took my finger out and gave it to Sammy for him to unravel. 
It started out going pretty good and I wondered if my experiment wasn’t going to work to demonstrate how hard it would be to unwind silk.
But soon it got pretty tangled:
Sammy showing me the gigantic knot he made in the yarn (his face is priceless here):
I would say this experiment was a success.  Sammy realized how hard it must have been and therefore how valuable the silk thread would have been to the Chinese people and why it was so important to them to keep it a secret.