Although Thanksgiving is an American and Canadian holiday, I have been teaching my children about it in Chinese to combine our Western and Eastern cultures. Through hands-on activities, we’ve learned how to express gratitude and describe popular Thanksgiving foods in Chinese!
In this post, I’ll give an overview of important Thanksgiving vocabulary in Chinese. Then, I’ll share easy Chinese learning activities that you can try with your children!
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Important Thanksgiving vocabulary in Chinese, Pinyin, and English
In Chinese, 感恩节 / 感恩節 (Thanksgiving) literally translates to “thanks for grace holiday”.
Since I’m learning Chinese with my children, I took notes on common Thanksgiving terms in simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Hanyu Pinyin, and English. I hope this list can be helpful for other parents who are studying Chinese!
- 感恩节快乐! / 感恩節快樂! (Gǎn’ēn jié kuàilè / Happy Thanksgiving!)
- 谢谢 / 謝謝! (Xièxiè / Thank you)
- 非常感谢你! / 非常感謝你 (Fēi cháng gǎn xiè nǐ! / Thank you very much!)
- 我很感谢你们大家。/ 我很感謝你們大家。(Wǒ hěn gǎnxiè nǐmen dàjiā. / I’m so thankful for you all).
- 你对我真好! / 你對我真好! (Nǐ duì wǒ zhēn hǎo! / You’re so good to me!)
- 麻烦你了! / 麻煩你了! (Má fan nǐ le! / I‘m bothering you!)
- 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….)
- 火鸡 / 火雞 (Huǒ jī / Turkey)
- 肉汁 (Ròuzhī / Gravy)
- 土豆 (Tǔdòu / Potatoes)
- 南瓜 (Nánguā / Pumpkin, squash)
- 南瓜派 (Nánguā pài / Pumpkin pie)
10 Hands-on, Educational Chinese Thanksgiving 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.
I know you might feel the same way – who has time to teach Chinese when meals need to be cooked and dishes are piling up in the sink?
Well, here are 10 Chinese Thanksgiving activities that take only minutes to prepare! I hope these ideas can be helpful for your family!
1. Visit a pumpkin farm and bake pumpkin pie
Although I typically share pre-planned Chinese learning activities, I strongly believe that children need lots of free, unstructured free play time to explore!
Furthermore, natural experiences, like visiting a pumpkin patch and baking pumpkin pie, are the best ways to teach kids how to speak Chinese.
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!
If your family is into baking, expand your child’s Chinese vocabulary with the multisensory experience of baking and eating delicious homemade pie! These types of real life lessons are the best way to make Chinese learning relevant and meaningful.
2. 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.
3. 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!
4. 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!
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.
5. 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 the focus Chinese characters in the above photo were 好吃 (hào chī / tasty), 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!
6. Chinese Thanksgiving Activity: Giant Thankful Wall Turkey!
A few years, ago, my daughter and I had a lot of fun creating a giant thankful wall turkey. We hung this up in her bedroom, and she started and ended her day reading giant Chinese words of our many blessings!
Read more about our Chinese Thanksgiving Activity here: Giant Thankful Wall Turkey!
7. Multilingual Thanksgiving Activity: Thankful Paper Roll Turkeys
These turkey crafts are so easy to make, and we make them every year. You can see how we incorporated multiple languages in this post: Thankful Paper Roll Turkey Craft.
8. Chinese Thanksgiving Activity: Make a Turkey with Leaves
For those who enjoy nature crafting like us, check out how we made turkeys with leaves and turned it into a Chinese word matching game!
9. Free Printable Chinese Thanksgiving Coloring Book
Fortune Cookie Mom, a website about bilingual homeschooling, has a fun Chinese Thanksgiving coloring book with 6 language versions:
- Simplified Chinese
- Traditional Chinese
- Simplified Chinese with Pinyin
- Traditional Chinese with Pinyin
- Simplified Chinese and English
- Traditional Chinese and English
You can learn more about the printable Chinese Thanksgiving coloring book on Fortune Cookie Mom’s website!
10. Thanksgiving tree 感恩樹
Spot of Sunshine made a big Thanksgiving tree 感恩樹 (gǎn’ēn shù) craft as a way for her family to record and display gratitude. Check out the details on her website!
Save these Thanksgiving language learning ideas on Pinterest!
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More Thanksgiving Activities and Resources for Children
I put together a list of 11 Thanksgiving 感恩节 YouTube Videos for Kids in Mandarin Chinese! These Chinese YouTube videos given an overview of the history of the American Thanksgiving. I’ve also included a cute Chinese Thanksgiving song and poem!
We’re also reading these Thanksgiving picture books in English & Chinese, and I’d love to hear if you have any favorite books on the topic to recommend!
More Educational Autumn Activities and Resources
- 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
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感恩节快乐! / 感恩節快樂! (Gǎn’ēn jié kuàilè / Happy Thanksgiving!!!)
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