Even the youngest toddler can appreciate and marvel at the gigantic, winding masterpiece known as the Great Wall of China. To keep and hold your little one's interest, teach him about the Great Wall of China through short, informal lessons. Art projects and picture books can help small children process and retain information you teach about this fascinating piece of Chinese history.
Size of the Great Wall
The Great Wall of China is the world's largest military structure ever built. Depending on where you look, you will find different length estimates for the Great Wall. Factors in the difficulty of measuring include the enormous size, erosion and rebuilding. According to Travel China Guide, it is more than 5,500 miles long, end to end. You can put this information into perspective for your little one by explaining that the wall is even longer than all the way across the entire United States. The Great Wall is 25 feet tall, or the height of a tall tree. At 15 to 30 feet wide, the Great Wall is wide enough for two cars to drive side by side.
Why Was the Great Wall Built?
The Great Wall of China is actually made up of several smaller walls built by many Chinese emperors. The walls were built for protection, to keep enemies and invaders out. According to Travel China Guide, the original walls were made to protect from an ancient nomadic tribe from north China. GreatWallChina.info mentions Huns, Mongols and other nomadic tribes as possible threats. The Great Wall also includes simple to intricate forts to hide soldiers and store weapons. Watchtowers and cannons were added for protection. According to UNESCO, construction can be traced back as far as the 3rd century BC in some areas. China Highlights suggests the official construction began in the 7th century BC. Either way, to your little one, this was a really long time ago!
How Was the Great Wall Built?
Chinese princes and emperors ordered the sections of the wall to be built, but they were not the ones who actually built it. Soldiers were ordered to build it, and there were possibly more than 300,000 soldiers involved in construction. A whopping 500,000 or more regular workers also helped build it. Some of these workers included prisoners, who were forced to build as part of their sentence. Construction in the early days was grueling, with no power tools and extreme conditions like heat, cold and wind.
In the very early building stages of the Great Wall of China, the walls were built of dirt and rocks, along with some wood. As time passed, more advanced materials and tools were available and put to use. During the Ming Dynasty, which began in the 1300s, bricks, tiles and limestone were used. The Badaling section of the wall is made of mostly granite and marble, with intricate patterns carved into the bricks.