Students in upper elementary recently began their study on Ancient China and as a way to tie into their curriculum, I taught a lesson on animal painting, one of the oldest subjects in Chinese art. What's very interesting about this subject is that in Chinese culture, all animals are believed to have specific meanings and roles in the universe. For example, artists often depicted a Chinese ruler or emperor as a dragon, or a soldier ready to fight in battle as a tiger. Students learned what characteristics each one represented and chose an animal they identified with. I provided them with visual references and they sketched it out, painted in tempera, and chose an attractive paper for the background. They also created a seal with their name translated in Chinese. Lastly, I had them write an artist's statement explaining what animal they painted, why they chose it to express themselves, and based on its meaning where they would hang it. This was a fairly long project that I hope improved their drawing and painting skills as well as empower their confidence in themselves. I was very impressed by the attention students devoted to their paintings and their thoughtful written responses.