I am always looking for hands-on ways to help my kids learn Chinese, and I am a big fan of the 磁性拼字拼图 Chinese Characters Magnetic Spelling Puzzle!!! We have had this toy for almost a year, and my 4.5-year-old daughter still loves it! This post is divided into the following sections:
- What’s included with the Chinese Characters Magnetic Spelling Puzzle?
- Benefits of the Chinese Characters Puzzle
- Downsides of the Chinese puzzle
- Tips for using the Chinese puzzle
- Where to buy the Chinese puzzle
(1) What’s included with the Chinese Characters Magnetic Spelling Puzzle?
- 6 different colors of magnetic Chinese radical pieces (pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple)
- Magnetic board with 2 grids
- Chinese characters booklet in simplified Chinese and Pinyin
磁性拼字拼图 is made by the company 木丸子 (MWZ). Although the quality isn’t the greatest, I still highly recommend this set because it teaches spatial relationship of the strokes and how to center it in the grid. I was so impressed that my daughter was able to notice that some strokes were too long and others too short for a character, even though the differences are only a few millimeters.
The 40-page booklet serves as a guide to show 804 simplified Chinese characters that you can build with the colorful pieces. Thirty six of those pages have 540 characters with pinyin and phrasing examples. The other 4 pages have 264 character examples with no pinyin or phrases.
(2) So many benefits of 磁性拼字拼图 Chinese Characters Magnetic Spelling Puzzle!
I believe this set is beneficial for improving:
- Eye-hand coordination
- Fine-motor skills
- Visual discrimination
- Enjoyment!!! (This puzzle is like a toy!)
- Reading & writing through tactile learning of each stroke!!!
Younger kids can learn pre-writing Chinese skills with the help of parents/teachers while older kids can work on this activity independently. The colors are also very pretty and attractive. Since we have a Montessori-inspired home, I keep the materials in an open tray so that my daughter can choose to work on this on her own! The magnet keeps the strokes and characters in place so they don’t accidentally move or fall off the board!
(3) Downsides of 磁性拼字拼图 Chinese Characters Magnetic Spelling Puzzle
- Since there are very small parts, please keep the pieces out of reach from infants and toddlers. This is a choking hazard risk. I will set this out on a high table so my 4-year-old daughter can notice it but my 21-month-old son cannot reach it.
- The quality of the cardboard is mediocre. You can see in the pictures that there are some creases on some characters. The cardboard is thick but can tear if removed hastily. Notice how the 春 character and 犭radical are broken in the photos below.
- You have to remove the pieces slowly and carefully so that the longer strokes do not break. Your child might need help getting some pieces out for the first time until the pieces become loose with use. I had to cut 2 or three of the pieces out because they were not properly cut.
- Sometimes the magnet backing sheds at the edge of the character.
- The color system for the pieces are totally random. The order of the characters in the booklet is also completely random. It’s not easy to find the word that you want.
- Montessori purists may consider this Chinese magnetic spelling set to be too colorful. In our experience, my daughter and I have no trouble reading the whole character despite the different colors. While it would be preferable to see the Chinese character in a single neutral color, I think it would be difficult to find the correct piece.
- One stroke was the wrong color in the 季 character below.
- I have only seen this available in simplified Chinese. The closest thing I have seen are Zhuyin magnets such as this and this. If you know of any products like this in traditional Chinese, please share!
Take a look at this video for a preview of the booklet:
Having said all this, I think this educational toy has far more pros than cons! I am sharing all of these details so you are not surprised by the quality.
(4) Tips for using 磁性拼字拼图
Demonstrate to your child how to remove the pieces carefully and place each colored stroke on the magnet board. The color coding helps with finding the piece that you need.
After forming the desired Chinese words, put the pieces back in the matching colored board immediately to keep things organized. If you take too many pieces out, it will be difficult to find the piece that you need. It will also be easy to lose a piece
(5) Where to buy the Chinese Characters puzzle:
I purchased this set from China Sprout (US-based online retailer).
Tao Bao also sells this magnet puzzle, but Tao Bao and its various agents may not ship internationally due to airline regulations. However, if you can read Chinese fluently, you can check out the Tao Bao website to see reviews from other buyers. For those in Singapore, I have heard many people use EZBuy for Taobao shopping.
You can also get a foam version from TaoBao. I have other foam toys which are not as durable as this toy, but I think it’s a good option if you cannot get this version.
There is a less expensive version which comes with a plain white board (eg, no Chinese writing grid) and fewer pieces. The description of this set says the pieces are wood, but I have see negative reviews about it, such as on Instagram.
In summary, 磁性拼字拼图 Chinese Characters Magnetic Puzzle is an excellent tool for refining reading and writing skills!
If you’d like to see how we have set up our Montessori-inspired home learning environment, you can see the detailed homeschool tour here. I also share how we update our kids’ play area on Instagram with the #chalkacademy_home hashtag and in my Instagram stories.
For crafty or semi-crafty parents, DIY hands-on activities are organized by topic here!
If you need tips on how to teach your child Chinese, these posts are for you!
- Teach Your Child a Second Language at Home with 5 Key Steps
- Raising Multilingual Children as a Non-Fluent Parent
Check out our other favorite Montessori-inspired toys!
Bilingual Facebook Group!
For families interested in learning Chinese in a Montessori-friendly environment, please join our Facebook group! Montessori-inspired Kids Learning Chinese & English is a wonderful community of parents worldwide sharing teaching tips, Chinese book recommendations, and hands-on learning materials.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions, and I’ll try my best to answer them! Please leave a note in the comments!
Happy learning, friends!