The Chinese house

[Episode 15 | 1868 : Minna]

Minna and her friend Adelaide visit Mr Wong's residence to give him some news about the change to a local law regarding Chinese migration. Mr Wong shows them a magic lantern that projects images of his family.


The Australian curriculum: History

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The Australian Curriculum: History aims to ensure that students develop: 

  • interest in, and enjoyment of, historical study for lifelong learning and work, including their capacity and willingness to be informed and active citizens 
  • knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the past and the forces that shape societies, including Australian society 
  • understanding and use of historical concepts, such as evidence, continuity and change, cause and effect, perspectives, empathy, significance and contestability 
  • capacity to undertake historical inquiry, including skills in the analysis and use of sources, and in explanation and communication.

History activities [2]

Activity 1: A new home in Australia
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Subtheme(s): Culture; Customs and traditions

Mr Wong says that his parents migrated to Australia. In the clip, he continues to honour some of the Chinese traditions and beliefs they passed on to him such as paying respect to his ancestors by making food offerings.

  • Ask students to share some of their family or cultural traditions with the class. Identify and list the different countries of origin of the students in the class. Discuss with students how the different ethnic groups represent the multicultural nature of Australia.
  • Make a class poster that includes symbols and words from everyone's family and cultural traditions.

  • In the clip, Mr Wong talks about bringing his promised wife to Australia. As a class, read Shaun Tan's book The Arrival. In the book, the main character has a lot of new experiences. He tries unfamiliar food, meets new people and encounters animals that he has never seen before. What other experiences does he have?
  • What new experiences might Mr Wong's wife have when she comes to Australia? Discuss some of the experiences that people might have when they make their home in a new country.


Activity 2: The magic lantern
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Subtheme(s): Customs and traditions; Inventions and electronic media

In this clip. Mr Wong shows Minna and Adelaide slide images of his family back in China. This type of technology would have been relatively rare in the 1860s.

  • Ask the students to discuss and list some new technologies and explain the positive and negative impact that these technologies have on people's lives. Ask students to consider what it is like to experience a new form of technology for the first time. Students could interview their parents or grandparents about their experiences of new technologies such as television, the internet and mobile phones. They could make notes or record the interview.
  • Ask students to research how photography has changed since Minna's time (1860s). Include a discussion on how a camera works, how the technology has changed and how images are developed.
  • Students could also explain how a family photograph was created in Minna's time and compare it to how a photograph is produced today.
  • The following websites may be useful:
  1. About Magic Lanterns,
  2. ABC3 - My Place website,

  • Create a visual family tree slideshow using PowerPoint, Kahootz 3 or Photo Story. Illustrate each family member using personal photos, drawings or other representative imagery. Trace back as many generations as possible. If students are unable to find an image of one of their relatives, they could use a substitute such as a picture of the town their ancestor came from, or the flag or symbol of their country of origin.
  • Visit the ABC3 - My Place website to see an example of a genealogical tree.


Student Activity Sheet H15.4: The magic lantern

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