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Sealed With a Chop

On Chinese poetry and art, a small red square announces, "I made this." Students design a personal Chinese character stamp, called a chop, to mark letters, art, greeting cards, and other items.

  • Grade 2
    Grade 3
    Grade 4
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. Four Treasures are found on every Chinese scholar/artist’s table: ink stick, ink stone, brushes, and paper/silk. Each person also has at least one personal seal or chop. Carved in relief or incised in an ancient seal script, these chops are the artist’s signature in Chinese characters (symbols). Today, chops are still used to show authorship, or ownership, even in business agreements. Chinese chops are made from jade, ivory, soapstone, or other soft precious stones. The body of the stamp may be various sizes and shapes. Often the stamp has a carved shape of a dragon, turtle, or other figure. The characters may be incised into the stone (producing white characters on a red field, like the ones at the top of the photo) or raised in relief (producing red on white like the chops at the bottom of the photo).
    2. During a student investigation into the Chinese people and culture, provide children with the opportunity to create their own personal seals using Crayola Model Magic®.
    3. Instruct children to cover work areas with recycled newspaper. Provide each with samples of Model Magic and ask them to shape the material into the body of a chop. Suggest students mix colors, such as white and green, to create a marbelized jade effect. (They can also mix white Model Magic with color grom a green Crayola Washable marker.) Allow each 24 hours for Model Magic to air-dry.
    4. Students will create the top or head of the stamp separately. Using examples of Chinese characters, children create their own in one of two ways. 1) Roll a thin snake of Model Magic to form the character. (Remember to attach the character backwards on the bottom of the stamp so the character prints correctly.) Air-dry for 24 hours. 2)Use a plastic knife to incise characters into Model Magic. Remind students to carve their characters backwards so thye will print properly. Air-dry the head 24 hours.
    5. After the head of the seal is dry, instruct students to glue it to the rest of the chop using Crayola No Run School Glue. Air-dry the chop overnight.
    6. To use the new chop, students cover art area with newspaper. Pour a bit of red Crayola Washable Paint on a foam tray. Carefully brush the seal with the paint. Print the mark on white paper. Make several impressions before re-applying paint. Wipe off any excess paint on the chop with a dry paper towel so it can be used again. Air-dry marks.
  • Standards

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    VA: Use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories.

    VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.

    VA: Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

    VA: Identify specific works of art as belonging to particular cultures, times, and places.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: DK Eyewitness Books: Ancient China by Arthur Cotterell; Chinese Brush Painting: A Hands-On Introduction to the Traditional Art by Caroline Self & Susan Self

    Students work in teams of two to research how Chinese characters are composed together. Investigate how the Chinese people read from right to left and down the page.

    Students work independently to create a personal mark to use on an original art piece using a combination of Chinese characters. Practice your mark. How does this mark represent you?


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