Looking for FUN ways to teach your child Chinese? Don’t have much time? Here is our family’s guide on how to incorporate simple, child-led, and educational Chinese activities into your regular routine!
Fun & Educational Chinese Activities – A How-To Guide
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 our hands-on 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.
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. And you can always set up a fun learning station in the backyard or porch!
WHEN is the best time to do activities?
The ideal time will vary from family to family, but most of the activities on this website don’t require much prep time.
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! 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 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:
- Form Chinese Words with Playdough: A sensory activity that can teach basic Chinese characters
- Chinese Hopscotch and Other Sidewalk Chalk activities: 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
- Chinese Character Sticker Tracing: An interactive way to engage Chinese characters by focusing on each stroke!
- Sun & Moon Paint Stamp – An activity with recycled paper rolls that focuses on 日 (rì / sun) and 月 (yuè / moon)
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?
Tips on creating a Chinese learning environment at home
- 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
- Encourage A Child to Love and Speak the Minority Language with 5 Strategies
- How to Find a Foreign Language Teacher for Your Child
Teaching kids how to read Chinese
- When and How to Introduce Chinese Characters to Kids?
- 5 Basic Tips for Memorizing Chinese Characters
- Create a Print-Rich Environment with Labels that Promote Literacy
- How I Taught My Child 1000+ Chinese Characters as a Non-Fluent Speaker
- When Should My Child Learn Hanyu Pinyin?
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