Since pumpkins are the highlight of the season, we’ve been having fun learning Chinese with this popular autumn food! In this post, I’ll give an overview of relevant translations in Chinese and English. Then, I’ll share easy Chinese learning activities that you can try with your children!
As usual, if you don’t speak Chinese, you can adapt these concepts to your preferred language.
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Important pumpkin vocabulary in Chinese, Pinyin, and English
I hope this list can be helpful for other families who are studying Chinese!
- 我很饿! / 我很餓! (Wǒ hěn è / I am so hungry!)
- 你要吃什么? / 你要吃什麼？(Nǐ yào chī shén me? / What do you want to eat?)
- 我要吃…(Wǒ yào chī / I want to eat….)
- 南瓜 (Nánguā / Pumpkin, squash)
- 南瓜派 (Nánguā pài / Pumpkin pie)
9 Hands-on, educational pumpkin crafts and activities
Although this time of year is extra busy with the holidays approaching, I want to make sure that my children are still able to review Chinese characters in a fun way.
You might feel the same way – who has time to teach kids Chinese when meals need to be cooked and dishes are piling up in the sink?
Well, here are easy Chinese pumpkin activities that take only minutes to prepare! I hope these ideas can be helpful for your family!
More autumn activities and resources for kids
- 10 Fun and Free Chinese Teaching Activities with Leaves! (Free Printable)
- 爱心树 The Giving Tree in Chinese and English – Review and Book-Based Activity
- 5 Easy Fine Motor Math Activities with Hole-Punched Leaves!
- 16 Tree and Autumn Books for Kids in Chinese and English
Pumpkin activities that encourage speaking
Visit a pumpkin farm
Starting off the recommendations with a reminder that kids need lots of free, unstructured free play time to explore!
Furthermore, natural experiences, like visiting a pumpkin patch and baking pumpkin pie, are among the best ways to teach kids how to speak Chinese.
Since I’m not fluent in Mandarin, I try to check the dictionary for relevant words that I’m not sure about before going to the farm, like 稻草人 (dàocǎorén / scarecrow) and 拖拉机 (tuōlājī / tractor).
My kids are fascinated by gourds, and they were excited to tell me that this green one below looked like 雷龙 / 雷龍 (léi lóng / brontosaurus)!
While your children touch and pick up different pumpkins, describe each color, weight, size, and texture in Chinese and encourage your kids to chime in!
Bake a pumpkin pie 南瓜派 (nánguā pài)
If your family is into baking, expand your child’s Chinese vocabulary with the multisensory experience of baking and eating delicious homemade pie!
As you prepare the pie, describe the flavors and smells. While pouring ingredients and cutting, narrate your actions. These types of real life lessons are the best way to make Chinese learning relevant and meaningful.
If you’re looking for a Chinese pumpkin pie recipe, Chef Tinrry has a great YouTube video tutorial!
DIY Cardboard barn and pumpkin farm
As my children grow up, they are getting more creative with their crafting! Together, we made this DIY pumpkin farm small world. This has been a fun way to re-create our favorite barn experiences at home! In this we have:
- Cardboard box lid as the base
- Expired dried beans
- DIY cardboard barn made from a milk carton (inspired by Happy Tot Shelf – check out her original idea!)
- Apple trees made from toilet paper rolls and stiff felt
- Play dough pumpkins (easy playdough recipe in my post about play dough mooncakes)
- Signs made from cardboard and toothpicks
Since the barns that we go to only have English signs, for pretend play, we write our signs in Chinese to normalize print in our minority language.
Here are the new phrases that we learned from this activity:
- 红谷仓 (hóng gǔ cāng / red barn)
- 滑动的谷仓门 (huádòng de gǔ cāng mén / sliding red barn doors)
- 红谷仓有两扇滑动门 (Hóng gǔ cāng yǒu liǎng shàn huádòng mén / The red barn has 2 sliding doors).
Pumpkin-themed Chinese reading activities
Pumpkins and gourds silhouette matching
My kids are fascinated by the unique shapes of pumpkin gourds, and silhouette matching games are an easy way to create a puzzle with them!
With a black Sharpie and large sheet of white paper, I trace the outline of each pumpkin shape. For Chinese character exposure, I wrote related Chinese words in each shape.
Since my 3-year-old son is gradually learning to memorize Chinese characters, I wrote 瓜 (guā) in each shape. At the time of this activity, since he was just learning that word, I did not write 南瓜 (nánguā). I wanted to wait to teach him the 南 Chinese character.
Chinese 大中小 pumpkin dot sticker activity
@totschoolwithosh came up with this simple and smart dot sticker activity that teaches 大中小 (dà zhōng xiǎo / big, middle-sized, small). She drew a realistic looking pumpkin and wrote Chinese characters in black marker to serve as a reference for the stickers!
Pumpkin field sticker Chinese word matching
After my son mastered 瓜, I felt that he was ready to learn the more complicated 南 Chinese character!
Using sheets of green scrap paper, I cut the paper into a 田 (tián / field, farm) shape as a subtle way to introduce that Chinese character. Then I drew circles and prepared dot stickers for a 南瓜 word matching game.
Also, to serve as a control for knowing which way the Chinese word should be oriented, I told my son that the pumpkin stem should be at the top of the word!
Since my son has learned these words previously, we won’t be doing the exact activity. However, I thought this was a fantastic example to share and that you should adapt any of these activities to your child’s learning level.
Also, the stem that she drew in inspired me to draw it in the above pumpkin field matching activity to help my son orient the Chinese characters 南瓜.
Paper plate pumpkin pie word matching
Since my son has multiple food allergies and can’t eat traditional pumpkin pie, I created a pumpkin pie craft with biodegradable paper plates! This paper plate craft turned out to be a fun Chinese word-matching game.
Although 好吃 (hào chī / tasty) were the Chinese characters that we focused on in the above photo, you can add more to increase difficulty of the matching game.
The dot stickers enable the craft to be reusable – just remove or cover up learned words with new words!
DIY Thankful paper strip pumpkins
Inspired by Fireflies and Mudpies, we made pumpkins from paper strips! The technique is similar to these Valentine’s Day paper lanterns that we made earlier in the year.
To boost conversation and literacy, we wrote messages of gratitude on 1 inch wide paper strips. For this activity, we used cream, orange, and green colored construction paper with a gold sharpie.
If you can’t write Chinese, feel free to use the following templates:
- Paper strip pumpkin with gratitude phrases in simplified Chinese
- Paper strip pumpkin with gratitude phrases in traditional Chinese
What I like about this particular design is that the paper strips can be collapsed and easily stored away as shown in the above photo.
For step-by-step instructions, please check out Fireflies and Mudpies.
Pumpkin-themed Chinese writing activities
Form words with pumpkin seeds
Next time that you cook pumpkins or squash, save the 种子 / 種子 zhǒngzǐ (seeds)! They are great for sensory play as well as pre-writing practice! With pumpkin seeds, my son created a few simple words, such as 子.
Write a story or journal about pumpkins
Encourage younger kids to share their pumpkin experiences by dictating a journal entry. Older kids can record their own memories in their diaries or get creative by writing stories!
Easy Thanksgiving Turkey and Gratitude Activities
For more learning fun this Autumn, check out our 5 low-prep Thanksgiving turkey and gratitude learning crafts!
More Thanksgiving Activities and Resources
- 11 Thanksgiving 感恩节 YouTube Videos for Kids in Mandarin Chinese
- Thanksgiving picture books in English & Chinese
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