Need some Chinese learning activities for your kids ASAP? Here they are: 35+ EASIEST, low-prep activity ideas that you can do at home today!!!
Through fun activities, I have been successfully learning Chinese with my children as a work-at-home parent in a monolingual community.
We don’t have a bilingual immersion school in our area, and we haven’t been able to see our fluent language teacher for a while.
While being the main Chinese source has its challenges, I want to reassure that there’s a lot that everybody can do at home!
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We’re lucky to have a lot of resources thanks to the internet!
In order to teach kids Chinese, we need to create an immersive environment with 5 key steps:
- Speak Chinese consistently
- Listen to Chinese music
- Listen to Chinese audiobooks
- Read Chinese books
- Make memories with Chinese activities
What can my kids learn from Chinese activities?
Chinese language activities have been a regular part of our routine since we decided to raise multilingual children.
Through fun activities, we can practice Chinese listening, speaking, memorizing Chinese characters and writing.
Listening and speaking are the most important skills to prioritize at any age.
Then you can add in reading and writing when kids are ready (usually around ages 3-7).
The easiest Chinese learning activities for kids
I understand that everyone is busy, so I went through my website and Instagram to find activities that fit the following criteria:
- Easy set up (less than 5 minutes)
- Minimal supplies
- Can be easily repeated
- Adaptable different ages and fluency levels
These activities can help jump start Chinese learning or rebuild momentum if you’re in a slump.
If you need to take that important phone call or get some other work done, your child can work beside you with simple activities.
In addition, many of these options involve gross motor movement which can help kids get much-needed exercise!
You can search for Chinese activities by topic here, or you can keep reading for easy, versatile activities that can be adapted for most ages and levels!
Most of activities can be done with supplies you have at home.
In addition, just a few materials are convenient to keep on hand:
- Dot stickers (Garage sale pups (left) and Avery labels (right)
- Index cards
- Post-it Notes
- Painter’s tape
- Thick black marker (eg, Sharpie)
Tips for getting started
- Incorporate your child’s interests and input
- Demonstrate how to do each activity verbally and physically
Fun activities for Chinese listening and speaking
Listening and speaking are the foundation of Chinese learning and communication skills.
Here are fun ways to reinforce Chinese audio and verbal skills at home!
1. Dance Party / Freeze Dance
Start the day with upbeat Chinese music and have a silly dance off!
Play freeze dance during which the DJ stops the song randomly and everyone has to 停 (tíng / stop) and 不要动 / 不要動 (bùyào dòng / don’t move)!
Here are 100+ Chinese children’s songs to get you started!
Sing and learn a new Chinese song each week with these printable song lyrics in simplified (with and without pinyin) and traditional Chinese!
3. I spy with my little eye…
Describe part of an object and see if the other person can find what they are thinking of.
In Mandarin Chinese, I spy can be translated in a few ways:
- 我用眼睛偷瞄 (Wǒ yòng yǎnjīng tōu miáo / I use my eye to peek)
- 我用我的小眼睛看到一样_色的东西 / 我用我的小眼睛看到一樣_色的東西 (Wǒ yòng wǒ de xiǎo yǎnjīng kàn dào yīyàng___sè de dōngxī / I used my little eye to see a ___-colored thing)
- 猜,猜,猜猜看! 我看到___的东西 / 猜,猜,猜猜看! 我看到_的東西 (Cāi, cāi, cāi cāi kàn! Wǒ kàn dào___de dōngxī / Guess, guess, guess, guess if you can! I see a ___ thing).
4. Raise you hand if… (如果…举起手！/ 如果…举舉手! )
The “raise your hand game” works by asking everyone to raise their hand if they fit a certain characteristic.
Takes turns asking questions to ask in Chinese to encourage kids to speak the minority language!
5. 20 Questions
First think of a person, place, or thing. Then share which of the 3 categories it belongs to.
The other person can ask up to 20 close-ended, “yes” or “no” questions in Chinese!
6. Simon says / 老师说 / 老師說
One player takes on the role of “Simon” and gives instructions (eg, close your eyes, put your hand on your head) to the other players.
The actions should be performed only when prefaced with the phrase “Simon says” in English or 老师说 / 老師說 (Lǎoshī shuō / Teacher says) in Chinese.
Here’s a video of school children playing “老师说 / 老師說 (Lǎoshī shuō / Teacher says)” in Chinese!
7. Hot and cold hiding game
My kids LOVE to hide things and then we have to find where they are! 越来越热，越来越冷 / 越來越熱，越來越冷 (yuè lái yuè rè, yuè lái yuè lěng / hotter and hotter, colder and colder) are clues to whether you are closer or farther from the hidden object!
Easy activities for Chinese Character reading practice
These simple, low-prep activities have helped both my son and daughter remember Chinese characters!
1. Post-It Note Chinese word matching
I think most of us have post-it notes at home, and they can be easily turned into word-matching games!
2. Dot sticker Chinese word matching
Dot stickers are so versatile, and they can be turned into Chinese character matching activities.
See 25+ Chinese Dot Sticker Learning Activities for more examples!
3. Trace Chinese characters with small objects
For kids ages 3+ who are past the mouthing stage, small objects can be used for tracing Chinese characters!
You can even use Cheerios, beans, and macaroni which can later turn into their snack!
To create giant Chinese characters, type or copy/paste the focus word into Pages or Microsoft word. Change the font to KaiTi font and increase the size as large as possible (eg, 460pt).
4. DIY tactile Chinese characters
To encourage kids to interact with each Chinese character stroke, make tactile Chinese characters with puffy paint or glue!
Once dry, the texture is interesting to touch and can therefore help with remembering the Chinese word!
5. Flashlight word scavenger hunt
Turn off the lights and search for Chinese words with a flashlight!
For kids who are not yet reading, you can adjust this into a speaking game by shining a light on objects that you identify!
6. Fishing Chinese flashcards game
Fish for Chinese words by putting paper clips on flashcards and create a fishing rod with a stick, string, and magnet!
7. Swat-the-Chinese word
Get some energy out by hitting some Chinese words with hands or a fly swatter!
8. Jump on Chinese words
Another fun way to get moving while learning!
Use flashcards or Chinese words on post-it notes and have kids race to the Chinese word!
9. Post-It Note Tic-Tac-Toe
We love Post-It Notes, and you can also turn it into a Chinese tic-tac-toe game!
10. Scratch-off secret Chinese word
Create a secret surprise by covering Chinese words with these 1″ round scratch off stickers!
11. Chinese hopscotch and other sidewalk chalk activities
If you have a driveway or patio, write out the words your kids are writing and have them jump or spray water on it!
Here are 12 fun ways to play and learn Chinese with sidewalk chalk!
12. Sight word soccer
Do you you have a backyard or live near a field? Try Chinese sight word soccer!
Tape Chinese words to cones or trees and have fun kicking balls to each word!
13. Radicals wheel with toilet paper
Inspired by a brilliant mom, Cathy, we made spinning radical wheels with cardboard toilet paper rolls!
We’ve also done this with English CVC words (see on Instagram) and simple Korean CV sounds!
14. Envelope with Chinese sentence strips
For extra spaced repetition reading practice, I have written sentences for my kids to review Chinese characters in different contexts.
Cut the sentences into strips so they can focus on one sentence at a time and not get overwhelmed by a full page of words!
Then I put them in an envelope so that they can enjoy a surprise!
15. Lego word matching activity
Since many parents have Legos, Duplo, and Megablocks at home, you can quickly repurpose them into word matching activities!
You can also challenge older kids to build Legos into shapes of Chinese characters!
16. Chinese character golf game
DIY Golf is the original activity that my husband created on a whim!
In 5 minutes, he made a golf club with cardboard tubes while I quickly cut out mountains from green paper!
For more ideas, please read 3 Fun Ways to Teach Chinese Characters 高山 with DIY Mountains (Printable).
17. DIY object puzzle
Trace around objects with a pencil.
Then retrace pencil with black marker.
Write a Chinese character at the center so your child can see it while matching the object!
18. Paint resist activities with wax, white crayon, or tape
Kids love seeing words magically appear after painting over wax or white crayon and how the paint literally rolls away from the wax!
Tips for wax resist painting are explained in this post!
You can also try this with washi or painter’s tape!
If you prefer to avoid paint, try using a marker!
19. Dry erase floating words!
This science activity with dry erase (whiteboard) chisel tip markers (also available at Michaels) works because the ink is insoluble and is less dense than water.
Write simple Chinese characters or alphabet letters (eg, Korean, English) on a clean, dry white plate. Firm, smooth strokes are best!
Gently pour water next to the character/letter. If you pour directly on the character/letter, it might split. Then blow letters around!
Rinse, dry, & repeat! Use alcohol as needed to remove residual marker ink from plate.
The floating trick works best for characters/letters that are connected, but try all types with your kids! Trial & error is part of the learning experience!
Easy activities for Chinese Writing
1. Highlighter tracing writing practice
Write or print Chinese characters with black ink and invite your kids to trace over it with their favorite highlighter!
2. Salt or sand writing tray
Trace Chinese characters in a tray of salt! It’s as simple as it sounds!
Tips for Montessori-inspired sensory writing here!
3. Play Chinese writing tic-tac-toe
Tic-tac-toe is probably the Chinese writing game that my daughter plays most often!
We can easily do this on scrap paper anywhere and also with chalk on our driveway!
4. Write a card/letter to friends/family
Brainstorm with your children upcoming birthdays and events and prepare cards for special friends and family!
See Handmade Cards for Reading and Writing Practice (English, Chinese, and Korean) for examples of how you can involve kids of all ages, from toddlers to teenagers!
5. Copy favorite Chinese song lyrics
For a relaxing and therapeutic way to write Chinese, invite your child to copy their favorite Chinese song lyrics!
Benefits and tips for copywork are explained here!
Have you tried these easy Chinese learning activities with your kids or students?
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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