Just here to profess our love for 巧虎 (Qiǎo hǔ / clever tiger), an educational Chinese show for children. Seriously, 巧虎 rocks our world!
巧虎, also known as Qiaohu or Ciaohu, is a subscription-based program geared toward children age 6 months to 9 years. Like the popular American show Sesame Street, 巧虎 combines live action, animation, and mascots with music and dance. However, 巧虎 is MUCH better and less annoying (sorry, I really can’t stand Elmo’s voice)!
Note: I have paid for our subscription and have received no compensation for this review. This review is based on the opinions of my family. For questions about subscribing, please scroll to the end of the post for pricing, contact information, and subscription forms in English and Chinese.
巧虎 originates from the Japanese anime program Shima Shima Tora no Shimajirō. Franchises in China and Taiwan provide educational materials in Mandarin.
Due to the negative effects of excess screen-time, we allow limited television for my 4-year-old 老大 (lǎodà / oldest child) to have Chinese exposure. 老大 watches 巧虎 a few times each month.
Why is 巧虎 so great?
Let me count the ways!
1. 巧虎 is easy to understand
First of all, kids learning Chinese need exposure to native Mandarin. Compared to other popular shows dubbed in Mandarin, the speech is clear and relatively slow. As a result, young children and non-fluent adults like myself can hear each word.
In addition, they have real people on the show, so your child can see children and adults speaking native Mandarin. This is important compared to typical children’s shows which only have cartoon characters.
2. 巧虎 gives you PRESENTS each month
In our home, the start of every month is basically Christmas! On a monthly basis, we look forward to getting:
- A 20-30 minute educational DVD
- At least one interactive workbook
- Toys for younger toddlers and games for older toddlers
- A CD of songs from past episodes (this comes every few months)
3. 巧虎 (Qiaohu) grows with your child
The subscription is based on age:
- 寶寶版 Baby edition (My personal and professional opinion is that this is too young to start screentime).
- 幼幼版 Yoyo edition (This is the version that we started with when my daughter was 3.)
- 快樂版 Happy edition
- 成長版 Grow edition
- 學習版 Learn edition
- 小一版 1st grade
- 小二版 2nd grade
- 中年級 3rd-5th grade
4. 巧虎 (Qiaohu) workbooks are interactive!
To reinforce the lessons in the DVD, each workbook includes activities and stickers. In the photos below, you can see images are a mix of cartoons and photographs.
5. 巧虎 (Qiaohu) teaches manners and more
巧虎 is educational for a wide age range. For toddlers, important skills such as hand-washing, stranger danger, safety, manners, shapes, and counting are reviewed.
For Kindergartners and elementary-school aged kids, content includes math, science (eg solar system), and Zhuyin (bopomofo).
6. 巧虎 (Qiaohu) sings and dances!
Each episode has songs, rhymes/poems, and dancing! Here is 老大 signing a tooth-brushing song from one of her favorite episodes:
Nowadays, 老大 sings this every time we brush her teeth!
7. 巧虎 (Qiaohu) taught my daughter how to read traditional Chinese
Since the workbooks corresponds with the dialogue and song lyrics are provided, children can follow along with the DVD. Also, DVD subtitles are provided. Because of this show, my daughter is really excited about reading as shown in this video!
8. 巧虎 (Qiaohu) toys & games motivate kids to speak Chinese
Since the toys and games reinforce topics from the DVD and workbooks, kids are naturally motivated to speak Chinese and apply new lessons through pretend play. Below, you can see examples of different toys.
Fishing activity to review ocean animal names in Chinese
Pretend Chinese Ice Cream Shop
Learn Sushi names in Chinese
Bowling game with plastic bowling ball and pins.
9. 巧虎 (Qiaohu) reminds you not to watch too much TV
At the start of each show, 巧虎 tells you sit far back and limit your screen time. My toddler obediently turns it off at the end of each show. Yes, it’s really too good to be true!
10. 巧虎 (Qiaohu) DVDs are compatible with American DVD players
In contrast to many overseas videos, the 巧虎 DVDs should work in your regular DVD player. As a result, you don’t have to worry about changing the region code or getting a region-free DVD player!
Downsides of 巧虎 Ciaohu
To be fair, like anything in this world, 巧虎 is not perfect:
- Plastic toys: Most of the toys are plastic, and I wish they were eco-friendly. Since we try to live minimally, we end up donating most of the toys.
- Simplified Chinese is not easily accessible in the US:
- China’s 巧虎 program uses Simplified Chinese: http://www.qiaohu.com/. However, they deliver within China, so you have to know someone who lives there and can receive and then mail the package to you.
- Taiwan’s 巧虎 program uses Traditional Chinese: http://www.ciaohu.com/. This program is available for US families through their office in Garden Grove, California.
- English code-mixing: Occasionally, English is used since English is gradually introduced to Taiwanese children around age 4-5.
Learning traditional Chinese with Ciaohu
Although we are mainly learning simplified Chinese, we are using 巧虎 to ramp up my kids’ enthusiasm about Chinese learning and immerse them in native Mandarin.
Even if you’re not planning on teaching simplified and traditional Chinese, I think 巧虎 does a great job of providing exposure in a fun way.
Cost of 巧虎 Ciaohu subscription
As of 2017-2018, in the United States, a monthly subscription for 6 issues currently costs $175 USD ($29/month); 12 issues costs $322 USD (~$27/month). This cost includes free air freight shipping from Taiwan.
The cost of subscription to other countries are as follows:
- China, Hong Kong:
- Half-year: $155
- Full-year: $290
- Asia, Austrailia, New Zealand
- Half-year: $171
- Full-year: $320
- Europe, Central, and South America
- Half-year: $188
- Full-year: $345
- North America
- Half-year: $188
- Full-year: $345
Please note that the above pricing is subject to change and that you should contact the company to verify!
巧虎 Ciaohu contact information
Ciaohu versus Qiaohu
Ciaohu subscription forms
You can use the following forms to subscribe to Ciaohu. Please let them know that we referred you!
While they offer referral gifts, we do not accept them because we:
- Want to remain unbiased in our recommendation.
- Strive to live with minimal toys.
- Choose to generally live logo-free.
Since the 巧虎 program helps my kids learn and love Chinese, I recommend the monthly subscription.
Do you allow screen time for your kids? If so, what do you think is the best Chinese show for children? Please share your thoughts in the comments!
More Chinese learning resources for kids
Looking for more educational Chinese videos for children? Check out these Chinese YouTube channels.