汉字 (Hànzì / Chinese character) 跳房子 (tiàofángzi / hopscotch) is one of my favorite ways to sneak in Chinese reading practice outdoors! All you need is chalk (affiliate link) and kids who love to jump around – it’s really a win-win for everybody!
老大 (lǎodà / oldest child) enjoys jumping across the squares as far as she can, and she likes me to draw multiple grids, so I recommend a finding a large space on the sidewalk or driveway.
If you have light-colored concrete like ours, I recommend using black chalk for the text and colorful chalk for the squares. Notice that the characters are hard to see if you use colored chalk like in the image below.
For preschoolers and kindergarteners who are just learning their first characters, you can write basic characters and ask the child to trace each character. You can set up 跳房子 with Chinese numbers 一，二，三，四，五，六，七，八, 九, 十, or you can do on with simple words such as:
- 人 (rén / person)
- 大 (dà / big)
- 山 (shān / mountain)
- 日 (rì / sun)
- 月 (yuè / moon)
After you have the hopscotch grid set up, you can call out Chinese words for your kids to jump on! Or the kids can shout each character themselves as they jump!
My 老大 currently reads about 500-600 characters, so I typically have a grid of characters related to a certain topic we are learning, or new characters that we are trying to memorize. 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!
老大 also likes choosing the words she wants me to write. 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) because I’m allergic to them!
老大 is also learning Korean, so we often have a mix of Hanzi & Hangul Hopscotch!!!
Older kids might enjoy playing with friends by challenging each other on larger grids and writing complicated characters. You could also form a sentence with the hopscotch grid!
This is a really perfect learning activity for ALL ages and abilities – reading practice and exercise all in one! If you try 跳房子 with your kids, let us know! Leave a comment and don’t forget to tag a photo #ChalkAcademy on Instagram and Facebook.
Looking for more outdoor activities? Click here!
Happy learning, friends!