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The Michigan 4-H China Project, conducted in cooperation with the People’s Republic of China, is a global education program that often uses the arts for both in-school and after-school learning experiences. More than 300,000 Michigan youth have participated in this project. Michigan K-to-6th-graders can:
- Learn of the many similarities between their lives and the lives of their counterparts halfway around the world
- Gain a sense of being part of one world, whether they live in Michigan or in Shandong Province
- Have a significant learning experience that includes language, social studies, natural science and the arts
Why should Michigan youth be involved?
- To develop awareness, understanding and appreciation of other cultures that will last a lifetime.
- China is an important country with one-fifth of the world’s population; it is the third largest country in the world.
- Chinese culture is more than 3,500 years old—the oldest in the world—rich in the arts, science and philosophy.
- China is home to the fastest-growing economy in the world.
4-H Children’s Art Exchange and Teaching Kits
Program participants are invited to send “visual letters” to children their own ages in China. Teaching kits are available to facilitate teaching about China and about making art. Each teaching kit is unique and consists of nine or ten original pictures by Chinese children, a study guide and a description of the pictures that come with the kit. A selection of Michigan artwork is then sent to China as a gift to the children of China. An announcement about the art exchange usually is sent to county MSU Extension offices in the fall. The deadline for submitting artwork to the State 4-H Office is usually early May. The 4-H Children’s Art Exchange kits are available for year-round use. (The study guide and description of the pictures from Kit A are also available in the Resources section below.) Contact your county MSU Extension office to borrow materials.
“Visual Letters—The Art of Michigan Children” Traveling Art Exhibit
View a selection of Michigan artwork from the following 4-H Children’s Art Exchange traveling exhibits: (Note: In Internet Explorer, Adobe PDF files will open in full screen mode. Press right and left arrow keys to advance or go back. Press escape to leave full screen mode.)
- 2017 Art Exhibit
- 2016 Art Exhibit
- 2015 Art Exhibit
- 2014 Art Exhibit
- 2013 Art Exhibit
- 2012 Art Exhibit
- 2011 Art Exhibit
- 2010 Art Exhibit
- 2009 Art Exhibit
Discover Chinese Dance Activity Kit for K-6th graders
This kit is filled with silk dance costumes, papier-mache masks, rice straw hats, ribbon sticks and music for the Chinese Children’s Ribbon Dance. The materials help young people learn about classical and folk dance in China. A study guide is included to maximize this program’s effectiveness.
Chinese Children’s Ribbon Dance
This kit consists of 12 ribbon wands and an audiotape of music and dance instructions. The dances are easy to learn for dancers and non-dancers alike. The ribbon sticks are also fun for children to use to create their own dances.
Discover the Children of China Audiovisual Program
(Slide format and VHS video format)
This audiovisual program encourages children to think about the daily lives of children their own ages who live in the People’s Republic of China. Visits to elementary classrooms, playgrounds and after-school art activities are included. The program is about 6 minutes long. A discussion guide for grades K-4 is included.
For more information on how to get involved as a youth or volunteer, contact your county MSU Extension office or
December 7, 2017 | Jan Brinn | Participants learned about visual arts, crafts, sewing and textile projects at the 2017 Michigan 4-H Creative Arts Celebration Workshop.
October 12, 2017 | Jan Brinn | Michigan 4-H received a special gift from China in celebration of their 25 years of partnership with the Michigan 4-H China Art Exchange.
December 9, 2016 | Brian Wibby | Dollar Street is a wonderful resource for young people to explore the world without ever having to leave their own home.
August 19, 2016 | Jan Brinn | The Michigan 4-H China Art Exchange has positively impacted many youth in Michigan for 2016 including students from the Shandong Province.
July 5, 2016 | Brian Wibby | 4-H youth leadership and civic engagement programs are having a positive impact in Michigan!
April 6, 2016 | Abbey Miller | The Michigan 4-H Foundation has announced grant and award opportunities of up to $1,000 to support local 4-H clubs and county programs. 4-H volunteer leaders, members and staff members may apply for these funds.
December 14, 2015 | Makena Schultz | During the 2015 football season, MSU took the opportunity to celebrate cross-cultural exchange through art and performance.
September 29, 2015 | Jan Brinn | Part two of how Michigan’s 4-H Children’s Art Exchange with China has been positively impacting youth for over 25 years.
September 29, 2015 | Jan Brinn | Michigan’s 4-H Children’s Art Exchange with China has been positively impacting youth for over 25 years.
February 11, 2015 | Jan Brinn | Chinese New Year is February 19. Use these fun, hands-on activities to learn about another culture and have a discussion about global citizenship!