Looking for FUN ways to teach your child Chinese? Don’t have much time? Here is CHALK Academy’s guide on how to incorporate simple, creative, and educational Chinese activities into your regular routine!
Hands-on activities are key to building a well-rounded and curious child who is enthusiastic about learning Chinese! The best educational experiences engage many senses and provide context for the material at hand. Therefore, new words will be interesting and remembered in a positive way.
In general, the ideal activity is:
- Quick and easy to set up
- Free/upcycled or inexpensive
- Reusable (eg, can repeat for review)
- Sparking discussion in Chinese
- Promoting literacy
- Fun, fun, fun!
WHO can take part?
Preschoolers, elementary school-aged children, and adults! There’s no upper age limit. Adult supervision is recommended for all activities, and parental participation makes the experience extra meaningful!
WHAT kind of activities should we do?
Check out CHALK Academy’s creative activities for ideas on how to use play, games, art, and crafts to encourage Chinese dialogue and teach Chinese reading. The activities are categorized by subject. Feel free to show your child pictures of different activities and ask which one he or she would like to try! The ideal activity for each kid depends on their personality and developmental level.
WHERE should we do the activities?
Set up a “Chinese Activities Station” in your home! We don’t have a lot of extra space, so I usually set up activities on our dining table. The exact location doesn’t matter, as long as it’s in an area that is clear, accessible, and consistent. Don’t forget about outdoors!
WHEN is the best time to do activities?
The ideal time will vary from family to family. Since I work during the day, I typically brainstorm and set up activities after my kids go to bed. In the morning, my children are curious and want to check out what’s new on the table! Most of the activities here don’t require much prep or time to do. For example, we might do character review for a few minutes before my 老大 (lǎodà / oldest child) goes to school.
Over the weekend, some activities may take longer because they are just too fun! My 老大 loves sensory activities, so those activities often turn into hours of play!
As for frequency, I recommend aiming for 2-3 times per week. However, some weeks we only do 1 new activity, and some days we do a bunch!
So….HOW exactly do we get started?
If you child is just starting to learn Chinese, I suggest beginning with an activity that teaches a simple Chinese character with materials that you already have at your house. Build anticipation and tell your child that you have a surprise planned for today’s Chinese lesson!
Here are 5 super easy activities for beginners:
- Sun & Moon Paint Stamp – An art-inspired activity that focuses on 日 (rì / sun) and 月 (yuè / moon)
- Writing Chinese with Seeds: A sensory activity that focuses on the character 子 (zǐ / seed, child)
- 汉字 (Hànzì) Hopscotch: Exercise, play, and reading practice an all in one!
- Interactive Chinese Calendar: Free printable that your child can check every day and update each month
- Dot Sticker Color Matching: An interactive way to learn colors in Chinese while seeing the characters over and over!
But before you dive in, let me share these important tips:
- Be flexible with your expectations. It might take a little trial and error to figure out which activities piqué your child’s interest.
- Make sure the activity is developmentally appropriate. Don’t push them to memorize complex characters or give them tools (eg, chopsticks) that they can’t manipulate yet.
- Adapt the activity to your child’s level. Most activities can be adjusted to focus on one simple character or more complex sentence building.
- HAVE FUN! Your participation shows that you care about being part of their language learning and sharing the experience together!
Which Chinese activities will your family do first?
For more language teaching tips, check out these articles:
- Teach Your Child a Second Language at Home with 5 Key Steps
- Raising Multilingual Children as a Non-Fluent Parent: 7 Lessons Learned
- How To Get Your Child To Speak the Minority Language
- 10 Ways To Get Your Child To Read Throughout the Day
Bilingual Facebook Group
Montessori-inspired Kids Learning Chinese and English is a community of parents worldwide who are excited to share child-led, hands-on Chinese activities, bilingual book recommendations, Montessori tips, and learning materials!
For more support, I also recommend the following Facebook groups:
- Raising Bilingual Parents in Chinese & English
- Christian Parents Raising Bilingual Children in English & Chinese
You can also follow me on Facebook where I share my latest posts as well as favorite articles about children’s education, Chinese resources, and hands-on activities from other websites! In addition, on Instagram, I share activity highlights and how we integrate Chinese learning in our daily life!