Teach Kids Chinese: 门 / 門 Door Radical Words (VIDEO)

Chinese door radical activity

After mastering common simplified Chinese characters the past few years, my daughter and I are now diving into traditional Chinese.  Learning the traditional form helps us understand simplified Chinese characters better, and we find characters with “fancy” strokes to be more beautiful!

Through contextual clues, my daughter can figure out many unfamiliar traditional Chinese characters. However, taking time to notice radical components of each character is important for memorizing characters long-term.

Chinese door radical activity

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/ 門 Door Radical Words Activity Inspiration

I saw a brilliant post shared by bilingual mom, Jeannie, who thought of a / 門 Door Radical Words Activity with a cardboard box and flashcards.  Immediately, I was excited to show my daughter!

Although we didn’t have a box on hand, we have tons of brown construction paper that were perfect for teaching / 門 door radical words.

In this post, I will show which / 門 door radical words that we focused on and our version of the interactive activity. I promise that this learning opportunity takes only minutes to prep! 🙂

Common Chinese / 門 Door Radical Words:

  • / 門 (Mén / Door)
  • / 問 (Wèn / Ask)
  • / 悶 (Mèn / Stuffy, smothering, bored)
  • / 閃 (Shǎn / Flash)
  • / 間 (Jiān / Time)
  • 闻 / 聞 (Wén / Smell)
  • / 閂 (Shuān / Bolt)
  • 关 / 關 (Guān / Close)
  • / 開 (Kāi/ Open)
  • / 闆 (Bǎn / Bored, Boss, Employer)

*Notice that the radical is lost in some simplified Chinese characters

What you need for the / 門 Door Radical Words Activity:

  1. Paper or box flaps that open in the middle
  2. Sharpie marker
  3. Scissors
  4. Paper fastener (also known as copper brads)
  5. Push pin

Related: Chinese 木 Radical Words – Wood Dice and Sensory Writing Game

Chinese door radical activity

How to set up the / 門 Door Radical Words Activity:

For this activity, we created a (1) “gate-fold” paper door, (2) Full Chinese / 門 door character flashcards, and (3) flashcards with the inside component of / 門 door radical words.

  1. With full sheet of paper, create a “gate-fold” door.  (We used 8 in x 12 in construction paper)
    1. Fold two ends to meet in the middle.
    2. This creates a large section in the center and two smaller ones on the sides.
    3. The result will appear like double doors.
  2. Draw the (simplified Chinese) or 門 (traditional Chinese) radical, depending on your desired language. Personally, I think that the traditional Chinese character 門 looks a lot more like door panels than the simplified version .
  3. Optional:
    1. With push pin, poke a hole in the center of each gate fold flaps.
    2. Insert copper brad into the gate fold holes.  These will be the “door knobs.”
  4. Create 2 sets of flashcards:
    1. Write the inside component of the / 門 door radical words
    2. On separate paper, write the full character.  This will serve as the “control” so that children can self-check and see how the Chinese character should appear.
Chinese door radical activity

Time to teach Chinese / 門 Door Radical Words!

  1. If this is your child’s first time learning these Chinese characters, introduce 2-3 characters at a time.  Introduce the full characters and radical components with the Montessori 3-period lesson.
  2. With the gate-fold door, how each character is comprised of / 門 and another component in the inside.  After looking at a control character, try to build the character with the gate-fold door.  Alternatively, after building a character, compare it to the “control” character.

For the radical character, / 門 (mén / door), I used a blank sheet of paper to cover up the “doorknobs” and emphasize that there is nothing inside the / 門!

Chinese door radical activity

/ 開 (Kāi/ Open) was very helpful for my daughter to see, because she’s familiar with the simplified version, and this activity showed her how the / 門 radical was dropped.

Chinese door radical activity

关 / 關 (Guān / Close) is a character that she recognizes in both scripts simply because I labeled our light switches.  However, the simplified and traditional Chinese versions are totally different!

Chinese door radical activity


  1. So that the activity is easy to find and access, you can put the various door radical activity materials in a tray on an open bookcase or table.
  2. If you are ready to store away the activity, you can keep the 2 sets of flashcards inside the flaps of the / 門 door radical gate-fold paper and save for review at another time.
Chinese door radical activity

Video of Chinese door radical activity

Have you tried this Chinese door radical activity?

If you try this activity, please let us know in the comments below! What age(s) are your kid(s), and how did it go? We’d love to hear about your learning experience!

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Happy playful learning, friends!

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