Spring flowers are blooming, and little brother 弟弟 (dìdì) remembered seeing this pretty flower literacy activity from our Hands-On Activities Menu! Lately, my kids have been going on nature scavenger hunts and picking flowers from our yard, so I followed this interest for a writing lesson! Four years ago, big sister 姐姐 (jiějiě) had so much fun creating Chinese, English, and Korean words with flowers and grass, and many of you have since tried this activity! Little brother was excited for his turn, and I’ll share tips that have helped over the years! Check out the video tutorial at the end of the post as well.
This post was originally written in July 2017 and has since been updated with new information. Photos were first shared on social media here.
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Benefits of learning writing with flowers and grass
There’s so much pressure to sign our kids up for extracurricular activities and power through worksheets. But I believe that most kids (and adults!) need more time to do “nothing”, such as go to the park and playing at the beach (or in the snow). As much as I’m a bookaholic, protecting time for learning outside of books is top priority here.
To relieve any guilt or doubt you might have, here’s a list of potential benefits of this activity:
- Fine motor strengthening with picking flowers, cutting, gluing, and pasting
- Gross motor movement with walking/running around
- Fresh air, connection, and improved mental health with nature
- Free, natural, eco-friendly supplies for learning
- Memorable way to learn phonetic sound for “f” and “g”; tactile input helps with memorizing Chinese characters and Korean words
I love this picture from a a few years ago, because I remember my daughter literally stopped to smell the roses. She stood here for a half hour, quietly observing the different parts of each flower. I tried to rush her to continue our walk – busy parents, we are always in a hurry, right?. But she said “妈妈等一等，这里的花好美。/ 媽媽等一等，這裡的花好美。 (Māma děng yī děng, zhèlǐ de huā hǎoměi) Mama wait, the flowers are so beautiful here!”
Teaching kids Chinese, English, and Korean can be daunting, but simple activities can make the process fun and memorable. And while my kids are no longer actively learning Korean, including Hangul letters here and there is my attempt at planting positive associations that they can build from in the future.
Consider this: The Risks of Overnurturing with Multilingual Parenting
Relevant nature vocabulary in Chinese, Pinyin, and English
For other parents who are learning Chinese with their kids like me, here are key words to know in simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Hanyu Pinyin, and English.
- 花 (huā / flower)
- 花瓣 (huābàn / petals)
- 草 (cǎo / grass)
- 自然 (zìrán / nature)
- 美丽 (měilì / beautiful)
- 装饰 / 裝飾 (zhuāngshì / decorate)
Phrases you can say to demonstrate how to speak the minority language:
- 这是一朵花。/ 這是一朵花。(Zhè shì yī duǒ huā. / This is a flower.)
- 这朵花很漂亮。 / 這朵花很漂亮。 Zhè duǒ huā hěn piàoliang.
- 大自然是美丽的。 / 大自然是美麗的。(Dà zìrán shì měilì de. / Nature is beautiful.)
- 草是绿色的。 / 草是綠色的。(Cǎo shì lǜsè de. / Grass is green.)
- 用剪刀剪草。 (Yòng jiǎndāo jiǎn cǎo. / Cut the grass with scissors.)
- 我最喜欢的花是 ______ / 我最喜歡的花是 _____ (Wǒ zuì xǐhuān de huā shì _____ / My favorite flower is _____.)
- 让我们数花瓣：一，二，三… / 讓我們數花瓣：一，二，三… (Ràng wǒmen shǔ huābàn: Yī, èr, sān… / Let’s count flower petals: 1, 2, 3…)
Questions you can ask to encourage listening and speaking in Chinese:
- 草是什么颜色？/ 草是什麼顏色 (Cǎo shì shénme yánsè? / What color is the grass?)
- 花瓣是什么颜色? / 花瓣是什麼顏色？ (Huābàn shì shénme yánsè? / What color are the flower petals?)
- 你能用剪刀剪花嗎？/ 你能用剪刀剪花嗎? (Nǐ néng yòng jiǎndāo jiǎn huā ma? / Can you use the scissors to cut the flowers?)
- 你能把草放在草字头上面吗? / 你能把草放在草字頭上面嗎? (Nǐ néng bǎ cǎo fàng zài cǎozìtóu shàngmiàn ma? / Can you put the grass on the grass radical?)
If you’re worried about your kids replying in English, check out these 20 strategies to encourage kids to speak Chinese and other minority languages.
What you need for this trilingual flower and grass activity
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- Paper or cardboard
- Fresh-picked flowers
- Optional: glue
- Optional: laminator and laminating pouches (consider if reusing template or skip to avoid plastic)
*IMPORTANT NOTE: Chinese characters in outline fonts might be difficult for new learners to recognize and memorize, because the visual input is only a sheer outer edge. In contrast, sold fonts provide more visual input. While outline fonts can be fun for filling in, be sure to prioritize regular solid Chinese characters on a regular basis.
How to set up the trilingual flower and grass writing activity
- With scissors, cut a few favorite flowers and blades of grass.
- For fun water play and to get rid of any bugs, rinse flowers and grass gently with water.
- Print 花 template or handwrite 花, f, and 꽃. Print the 草 template or handwrite 草, g, and 풀.
- Place grass on the 草字头 / 草字頭 (cǎozìtóu / grass radical): “艹” , 草, g, and 풀
- Fill the rest of the 花 character, f, and 꽃 with pretty flowers!
Just for comparison, here’s how big sister’s 花 and 草 turned out 4 years ago when she was 3 years old!
For those who want to try activities with English / Korean letters and Chinese characters in outline font, you can easily change any font to outline with the Pages app on Apple devices. Please see the screenshot below.
Video tutorial for using flowers and grass for writing
Have you tried decorating English, Chinese, and Korean words with flowers and grass?
We’d love to see how your 花 / flower / 꽃 and 草 / grass / 풀 activity turned out!
If you try this activity, please let us know in the comments below! What age(s) are your kid(s), and how did it go? We’d love to hear about your learning experience!