October is here, which means my 3-year-old son and almost 6-year-old daughter are busy jumping on crunchy foliage! Meanwhile, I organized a menu of 10 Chinese learning activities with leaves that you can try with us!
10 simple Chinese activities with leaves
Nothing beats nature for free, educational resources!
Whether you’re intimated or comfortable with teaching Chinese to your children, these Chinese activities with leaves are simple, low-prep, inexpensive ways to make learning memorable.
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1. Begin with improving Chinese speaking skills
When you’re out leaf hunting with your children, make sure you speak Chinese consistently!
Describe the colors, shapes, and texture of the leaves that you see, and encourage your children to reply with their observations in full sentences.
If they reply back in the dominant language instead of Chinese, don’t worry. Repeat back what they said in Chinese, and keep reinforcing key words to encourage them to use it.
2. Tracing Chinese character 叶/葉 with leaves
A few years ago, 叶/葉 子 (yèzi / leaf) was one of the first Chinese characters that my daughter learned to read. Now, I’m teaching my son the leaf character in both simplified (叶) and traditional (葉) Chinese.
Printable 叶/葉 子 Chinese character templates
For these pre-writing activities with leaves, I have a few printable Chinese character templates to share!
- Solid Chinese character template, Kaiti font
- Block character template
I suggest printing these on cardstock paper for repeat use. If your child likes to glue and paste, regular printer paper or construction paper should be fine!
How to set-up the Chinese leaf-tracing activity
- Introduce Chinese character 叶/葉 to child
- Trace Chinese character with finger (consider following stroke order)
- Trace Chinese character with leaves (consider following stroke order)
- Optional: hole punch leaves and place or glue onto Chinese character
For new learners, I recommend using this printable: “solid Chinese character template, Kaiti font”.
In contrast to block font, standard Kaiti font provides more visual input with filled-in strokes. Some children might have trouble memorizing Chinese characters if they only see the outline.
To teach 子, check out this activity: Learn to Read and Write Chinese Character 子 with Seeds.
3. Leaf Shape Matching Game
After a recent trip to the park where my kids collected various leaves, I remembered a brilliant leaf activity from Little Pine Learners. (Check out her website for nature activity inspiration!)
Spending only a few minutes, I cut out part of our easel paper and traced our leaves with a Sharpie!
Voila – instant activities with leaves! With this leaf puzzle matching game, I could make easier for my son by using fewer, different leaves. For my daughter, I could increase the challenge with more similar leaves.
My 3-year-old even found the act of tracing interesting; at this age, everything is new and exciting!
Of course, in keeping with our Chinese print-rich environment, I wrote 叶 子 on each leaf shape.
Actually, I forgot to write the Chinese word for one of the leaves, and my son quickly pointed it out! Just when I think he might not be paying attention, he shows that he notices these Chinese characters!
4. Leafy letters and Chinese envelopes
Whenever we delve into Chinese New Year crafts, we find ourselves running low on paper! Therefore, we sometimes write messages on leaves, and they fit perfectly in our free printable Chinese red envelopes!
This activity with leaves was a fun way to encourage Chinese reading and writing practice!
5. Make a Chinese sentence with leaves
My daughter and I have done sentence building with leaves many times over the past few years.
This is a fun and effective method of visualizing sentence structure. By rearranging the leaves, we review which order can produce grammatically correct sentences.
6. Trilingual positive affirmations with leaves
Last year, I set up this heart of leaves to talk about positive traits with my daughter in English, and Chinese, Korean. We reviewed characteristics like being hardworking, smart, kind, strong, brave, helpful, funny, honest, caring, creative, and beautiful (especially from within!)
After our discussion, my daughter matched the trilingual words together! This was a special way to integrate our family’s 3 heritages, and what better way than with nature!
7. Chinese word matching leaves
In this example from a few years ago, we made a Thanksgiving leaf turkey craft and used it for Chinese character matching!
If you want to keep it simple, you can just write 2 sets of Chinese characters and have your child pair them up for reading practice.
For the crafty families, see what other leaf animals you can create, and talk about it in Chinese!
8. Role-playing with leaves
When we read the Fall of Freddie the Leaf 一片叶子落下来, we used real leaves to talk about the characters in the book and how life changes with seasons.
Collecting a variety of leaves is also helpful for bringing books to life! English.
Related books: Chinese and English Books About Trees and Autumn!
9. Leaf painting literacy activity
This activity is the perfect combination of nature, art, recess, and Chinese learning!
We collected leaves from the park, discussed Autumn in Chinese, and traced the leaves with paint around important Chinese characters.
Related: For details on how we incorporated spontaneous learning into a regular day, please read Autumn Leaf Painting & Chinese Literacy.
10. Autumn tree leaf art – Chinese nature activity for kids
Here’s a final throwback activity to when my daughter was learning about 秋天 (qiūtiān / autumn day)!
The action of drawing autumn tree branches and gluing leaves helped her memorize these Chinese characters long-term!
These activities with leaves are simple ways to create art with nature, strengthen fine motor skills, and reinforce relevant Chinese words about autumn!
Have you tried Chinese learning activities with leaves?
If you try this activity, please let us know in the comments below!
We’d love to hear about your learning experience!
Learn Chinese with more nature activities!
Check out our other favorite Chinese nature activities!
- Exploring Nature, Geodes, and Rock Arches with Children
- Parts of a Flower Sensory Bottles – A Nature Literacy Activity
- 4 Ways to Teach Chinese Characters at the Beach!
- Chinese 木 Radical Words – Wood Dice and Sensory Writing Game
- 4 Fun Ways to Use Stones for Chinese Reading & Writing Practice!
- Rainstick Sensory Bottles – A Musical Activity for Kids! (VIDEO)
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Tips for boosting Chinese skills
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- 5 Key Tips for Memorizing Chinese Characters (VIDEO)