Have you heard of 巧虎 (Qiǎo hǔ / clever tiger), a popular educational Chinese show for children? 巧虎 (Qiaohu / Ciaohu) was one of the first resources we got when my children and I began to learn Chinese together!
巧虎 (Qiaohu / Ciaohu) can be helpful if you’re raising multilingual children and you don’t mind screen-time.
Instead of TV shows in English, watching the Chinese shows from 巧虎 (Qiaohu / Ciaohu) might encourage your family to speak the minority language.
巧虎 (Qiaohu / Ciaohu) review of Chinese video program for kids
Our experience with 巧虎 (Qiaohu / Ciaohu)
We first subscribed to the program when my daughter 老大 (lǎodà / oldest child) was 3 years old, and she was instantly a super fan!
Now, my 3-year-old son 老二 (lǎo èr (second child) has gotten a chance to adore 巧虎. However, 老大 is now 6-years-old and has pretty much outgrown the Chinese show and activity books. Our DVD player has also been broken for months, and we don’t miss it!
Due to the negative effects of excess screen-time, we have allowed limited television for my children to have Chinese language and cultural exposure.
Previously, my kids watched 巧虎 a few times each month, but they use the workbooks much more often.
Recently, we decided not to renew our subscription for the next year due to preference for screen-free resources (eg, Luka Reading Robot, Youdao Pen), I still think there are great aspects of 巧虎 (Qiaohu / Ciaohu) worth sharing.
For reference, I first wrote this post in November 2017 and have updated it in April 2020.
What is 巧虎 (Qiaohu, Ciaohu)?
巧虎, also known as Qiaohu or Ciaohu, is a subscription-based program geared toward young children learning Chinese.
巧虎 originates from the Japanese anime program Shima Shima Tora no Shimajirō. Franchises in China and Taiwan provide educational materials in Mandarin.
Like the popular American show Sesame Street, 巧虎 combines live action, animation, and mascots with music and dance.
However, 巧虎 is MUCH better and less annoying (sorry, I really can’t stand Elmo’s voice)!
Why is 巧虎 (Qiaohu, Ciaohu) so popular?
1. 巧虎 (Qiaohu, Ciaohu) is easy to understand
Children learning Chinese need exposure to native Mandarin speakers.
Compared to other popular shows dubbed in Mandarin, the speech is clear and relatively slow.
As a result, young children and non-fluent adults like myself can hear each word.
In addition, Ciaohu features real people on the show, so your child can see children and adults speaking native Mandarin.
This is important compared to popular children’s shows which only have cartoon characters.
2. 巧虎 (Qiaohu, Ciaohu) gives you presents each month!
With these monthly packages, the start of each month felt like Christmas for my kids!
The kids were excited about getting:
- A 20-30 minute educational DVD
- 1-2 interactive workbook(s)
- Toys for younger toddlers; games for older children
- A CD of songs from past episodes (this comes every few months)
3. 巧虎 (Qiaohu, Ciaohu) grows with your child
The subscription is geared for children between age 6 months to 9 years.
Packages are based on age:
- 寶寶版 Baby edition (My personal and professional opinion is that this is too young to start screen time).
- 幼幼版 Yoyo edition (This is the version that we started with when my daughter was 3.)
- 快樂版 Happy edition
- 成長版 Grow edition (Zhuyin is introduced)
- 學習版 Learn edition (Pinyin is introduced)
- 小一版 1st grade
- 小二版 2nd grade
- 中年級 3rd-5th grade
4. 巧虎 (Qiaohu, Ciaohu) workbooks are interactive!
To reinforce the lessons in the DVD, each workbook includes activities and stickers.
5. 巧虎 (Qiaohu, Ciaohu) teaches manners and more
巧虎 is educational for a wide age range.
For toddlers, important skills such as hand-washing, stranger danger, safety, manners, shapes, and counting are reviewed.
For Kindergartners and elementary-school aged kids, content includes math, science (eg solar system), and Zhuyin (bopomofo).
Related: Chinese science books for children
6. 巧虎 (Qiaohu, Ciaohu) sings and dances!
Each episode has Chinese songs, nursery rhymes, poems, and dancing!
In this video, 老大 is singing a tooth-brushing song from one of her favorite episodes!
Nowadays, 老大 sings this every time we brush her teeth!
7. 巧虎 (Qiaohu, Ciaohu) teaches traditional Chinese characters
Since the Chinese workbooks correspond with DVD dialogue and subtitles, children can follow along with the DVD.
Also, Chinese song lyrics are provided in the workbooks.
As you can see in the video, my daughter has been excited about reading Chinese in the 巧虎 (Qiaohu / Ciaohu) workbooks!
8. 巧虎 (Qiaohu) toys & games motivate kids to speak Chinese
Since the toys and games reinforce topics from the DVD and workbooks, kids may be motivated to speak Chinese and apply new lessons through pretend play.
Related: Best Open-Ended Toys for Children
幼幼版 Yoyo edition and 快樂版 Happy edition toys
Here are examples of different toys from the 幼幼版 Yoyo edition and 快樂版 Happy edition that my daughter received when she was 3-4 years old.
Fishing activity to review ocean animal names in Chinese
Pretend Chinese Ice Cream Shop
Learn Sushi names in Chinese
Bowling game with plastic bowling ball and pins
Please note that the amount of toys became overwhelming over time for our family.
We have donated most of the toys we have received from our monthly packages.
From the above images, we have kept only the ice cream set and the magnetic fishing game.
成長版 Grow edition activities
Dinosaur card game with paper dinosaurs
My children have been a huge fan of this interactive dinosaur game!
9. 巧虎 (Qiaohu, Ciaohu) reminds you not to watch too much TV
At the start of each show, 巧虎 tells you to sit far back and limit your screen time.
10. 巧虎 (Qiaohu, Ciaohu) DVDs are compatible with American DVD players
In contrast to many overseas videos, the 巧虎 DVDs should work in your regular DVD player.
As a result, you don’t have to worry about changing the region code or getting a region-free DVD player!
Downsides of 巧虎 (Qiaohu, Ciaohu)
To be fair, like anything in this world, 巧虎 is not perfect.
These are the aspects of the program that prompted us to cancel our subscription:
1. Plastic toys
Most of the toys are plastic, and I wish they were eco-friendly. Since we try to live minimally, we end up donating most of the toys.
The clutter really accumulates month after month.
I wish there was an option to order the DVDs and workbooks without the extra toys/games.
2. Overly busy images
Like most Chinese learning materials, many pages of the workbooks are overly cartoonified.
Unfortunately, excessive colors can distract from important teaching concepts. For example, the clock teaching workbook came with an interactive paper clock that my daughter put together independently.
For a child who has not yet previously learned this skill, you can see in the image below many competing visual elements.
My daughter learned how to tell time from various hands-on activities that I created and not through Ciaohu.
3. 巧虎 Simplified Chinese version is not easily accessible in the United States
- China’s 巧虎 program uses Simplified Chinese: http://www.qiaohu.com/. However, they deliver within China, so you have to know someone who lives there and who can receive and then mail the package to you.
- Taiwan’s 巧虎 program uses Traditional Chinese: http://www.ciaohu.com/. This program is available for US families through their office in Garden Grove, California.
4. English code-mixing:
Occasionally, English is used since it is introduced to Taiwanese children around age 4-5.
This is a downside for our family since we use 巧虎 as a Chinese immersion resource at home. Fortunately, most of the materials are in Chinese however.
Learning traditional Chinese with 巧虎 (Qiaohu, Ciaohu)
Although we are mainly learning simplified Chinese, we used 巧虎 to increase their exposure to native Mandarin.
My daughter also learned to read many traditional Chinese characters through the Ciaohu workbooks.
Even if your kids are not yet ready to read Chinese characters, 巧虎 might help their spoken language skills.
Cost of 巧虎 (Qiaohu, Ciaohu) subscription
For the year of 2017-2018, in the United States, a monthly subscription for 6 issues cost $175 USD ($29/month); 12 issues costs $322 USD (~$27/month).
This cost includes free air freight shipping from Taiwan.
The cost of subscription to other countries are as follows:
- China, Hong Kong:
- Half-year: $155
- Full-year: $290
- Asia, Austrailia, New Zealand
- Half-year: $171
- Full-year: $320
- Europe, Central, and South America
- Half-year: $188
- Full-year: $345
- North America
- Half-year: $188
- Full-year: $345
Please note that the above pricing is subject to change and that you should contact the company to verify current rates!
巧虎 Ciaohu contact information
Apex Brilliant Child Development Inc.
Ciaohu versus Qiaohu
Since the Ciaohu website uses traditional Chinese, and Pinyin is not used in Taiwan, the phonetic translation for 巧虎 is spelled with a “c” instead of “q”.
If you Google “Qiaohu”, the results are for the mainland China version, not the Taiwan version.
However, if you have questions and cannot read the website, call the Ciaohu office! In the past, they have generally responded quickly to my questions.
Ciaohu subscription forms
You can use the following forms to subscribe to Ciaohu.
Please let them know that we referred you!
While they offer referral gifts, we do not accept them because we:
- Want to remain unbiased in our recommendation.
- Strive to live with minimal toys.
- Choose to generally live logo-free.
巧虎 (Qiaohu, Ciaohu)’s Chinese shows and workbooks are popular among many families. If your family wants to include screen-time into your daily routine, the monthly subscription can help with providing exposure to native Mandarin speakers and Asian culture.
On the other hand, if your family has adequate exposure to Mandarin and you’re concerned about screen-time and clutter, then you can likely skip 巧虎.
What does your family think of 巧虎 (Qiaohu, Ciaohu) ?
Did you find the show, toys, and/or workbooks to be helpful?
Please share your thoughts in the comments! We’d love to learn about your experience!
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