跳房子 汉字 Han Zi / Chinese Hopscotch

Hanzi Hopscotch is one of my favorite Chinese reading games. In Chinese, we can translate this to 汉字 (Hànzì / Chinese character) 跳房子 (tiàofángzi / hopscotch), and it’s such a fun way to sneak in Chinese reading practice outside! Since we’re teaching Chinese as a second language at home, we want to make the language as fun as possible for our kids.

All you need is chalk and kids who love to jump around.  If you’re a parent trying to raise multilingual children like us, or if you’re a language teacher for kids, Chinese hopscotch is truly a win-win for everybody! 🙂

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What you need to play Chinese hopscotch 跳房子

  1. Chalk – we love chunky Crayola chalk because it’s easier for little hands to hold (and adults like myself for that matter!)
  2. Concrete or tar driveway, patio, balcony, etc

How to set up Chinese hopscotch 跳房子

老大 (lǎodà / oldest child) enjoys jumping across the squares as far as she can, and she likes me to draw out multiple Chinese hopscotch grids!

Therefore, I recommend a finding a large space on the sidewalk or driveway!

TIP: If you have light-colored concrete like ours, use black chalk for the text and colorful chalk for the squares. For maximum success and fun, you want to make sure that your child can easily see the Chinese characters.

If the words are too faint, they may feel discouraged if they read the Chinese word incorrectly. Notice that the characters are hard to see if you use colored chalk like in the image below.

How to learn Chinese with hopscotch 跳房子

For preschoolers and kindergartners who are just learning their first Chinese characters, you can write basic characters and invite your child to trace each character.  

Jump and learn Chinese numbers

If your child understands rote and rational counting, you can introduce the Chinese symbol for each quantity.

In the Chinese hopscotch grids, write Chinese numbers 一,二,三,四,五,六,七,八, 九, 十, or fewer numbers if they do not know that many yet. Then practice counting in Chinese while hopping and skipping!

Jump and review simple Chinese characters

Alternatively, you can incorporate simple Chinese characters with only a few strokes.  Examples of great Chinese characters for beginners include:

  • 人 (rén / person)
  • 大 (dà / big
  • (shān / mountain)
  • 日 (rì / sun)
  • 月 (yuè / moon)

After you have the hopscotch grid set up, call out Chinese words for your kids to jump on.  In addition, the children can shout the Chinese character themselves as they jump. This is a fun way to get kids to speak Chinese!

跳房子(Chinese hopscotch): Jump and review complex Chinese characters by topic

My 老大 currently reads about 500-600 Chinese characters, so I typically have a grid of characters related to a certain topic we are learning or words that we are trying to remember.

For example, I made a 跳房子 about food, and my daughter pretended that she was at a restaurant and was going to eat each food that she jumped on! This child-led activity helped my daughter memorize the new Chinese characters.

跳房子(Chinese hopscotch): Let your child choose the Chinese words!

老大 also likes choosing the words that she wants me to write in the hopscotch squares. For example, if your child is fascinated by animals, let them pick animal names! In the video below, she requested 动物 (dòngwù / animal) 跳房子. 

She cracks me up because she said she wanted to avoid and jump over 猫 (māo / cat).

Due to my allergies, I sneeze and cough incessantly around cats.  So my daughter was also making pretend respiratory illness sounds…

Needless to say, this was hilarious for my child!

Korean hopscotch: fun way to learn Hangul!

Since my husband and nanny are Korean American, 老大 is also learning to speak and read Korean.

I usually try to separate the languages so that she has them compartmentalized in her mind.  Generally, she does not mix spoken Chinese and Korean, but she will often mix her minority languages with her dominant English language.

However, for reading purposes, she understands the different written language systems.  As you can see in the image below, the Korean words and Chinese characters are separate.

How to use Chinese hopscotch for writing practice

For children who are ready to write, setting up the hopscotch grids is a great way to practice following Chinese stroke order and writing Chinese characters.

跳房子(Chinese hopscotch):  Other challenging ideas

Older kids might enjoy playing with friends by challenging each other on larger grids.  More hopscotch squares means more reading and writing opportunities.

For young readers, you can form a sentence within the hopscotch grid.

As you can see, 跳房子(Chinese hopscotch) is a really perfect learning activity for ALL ages and abilities – reading practice and exercise all in one!

Have you tried 跳房子 (Chinese hopscotch) with your kids?

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!

More helpful ways to teach kids Chinese

Happy learning, friends!

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