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 Game!!!
We have had this educational Chinese toy for almost 2 years, and my 5.5-year-old daughter still loves it! My son, who is now 2.5 years old, has also been enjoying the colorful Chinese characters on and off over the past few months!
This article covers:
- What’s included with the Chinese Characters Magnetic Spelling Game?
- Benefits of the Chinese Characters game
- Downsides of the Chinese Characters game
- Tips for using the Chinese Characters game
- DIY Matching games with Chinese Characters puzzle
- Where to buy the Chinese Characters puzzle
(1) What’s included with the Chinese Characters Magnetic Spelling Game?
- 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.
Here is a video preview of the booklet!
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 Game!
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 Game
Since there are very small parts, it’s easy to lose pieces if they are not stored properly.
Also, 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.
During the first use, your child might need help removing the pieces until they become loose with use. Also, because some of the Chinese strokes were not cut properly, I had to cut 2 or three of the pieces out with an X-acto knife.
Sometimes the magnet backing sheds at the edge of the character.
Random color system
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.
What I would suggest is providing a “control” for your child, such as a print out of a Chinese character in the standard black Kaiti font.
The Chinese characters are totally random, and finding a desired character is not easy.
Instead of searching for particular characters, I just encourage my daughter to scan each page and find some characters she wants to create.
Error in Chinese character reference booklet
One stroke was the wrong color in the 季 character below.
No traditional Chinese language version available
If you know of any products like this in traditional Chinese, please share in the comments below this post!
Benefits outweigh shortcomings
Whew! That was a lot of complaining which I only do if absolutely necessary! But I am sharing all of these honest details so you are not surprised by the drawbacks.
Personally, despite the many shortcomings, I think this educational toy has far more pros than cons!
Both of my children love it, and many of my friends who have since purchased the set also rave about it.
(4) Tips for using 磁性拼字拼图 Chinese Characters game
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) Matching games with Chinese Characters puzzle
You can create simple Chinese character matching games in 2 ways:
1. Trace the Chinese characters and fill in the outline
2. Stamp Chinese characters in play dough
The imprinted play dough serves as an opportunity to practice matching and re-matching for hands-on Chinese character review!
(6) 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.
If you can read Chinese fluently, you can check out the Tao Bao website to see reviews from other buyers.
For those in Singapore, 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 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!
Montessori-inspired Chinese learning at home
If you’d like to see how we have set up our home learning environment, you can see the detailed Montessori-inspired homeschool tour here.
Hands-on Chinese learning activities for children
For crafty or semi-crafty parents, DIY hands-on activities are organized by topic in our Chinese Activities Library!
More Montessori-inspired toys for children
Check out our other favorite Montessori-inspired toys!
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