6 Activities to Teach Chinese Characters with 心 Heart Radical!

Heart radical Chinese character activities

Last year around Valentine’s Day, we focused on Chinese characters with the 心 (xīn / heart) radical! To reinforce words with the 心 radical, we did 6 low-prep activities throughout the month. I hope some of these activities can help your family with memorizing Chinese characters in a fun and meaningful way!

Tracing Felt Heart Valentines

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Background about Chinese heart radical characters

Chinese characters have radicals that indicate the meaning and phonetic sound of the word. Chinese words with heart radicals which are often related to emotions and thoughts.  The heart radical can be written in two ways:

  • 心 at the bottom of a character: eg, 想 (xiǎng), 恩 (ēn), 忘 (wàng)
  • 忄at the left side of a character [竖心旁 (shù xīn páng)]: eg, 快 (kuài), 情 (qíng), 忆 (yì)

Explore this: How I Taught My Child 1000 Chinese Characters as a Non-Fluent Speaker

When are activities necessary for Chinese character review?

Some Chinese characters are easier to remember than others. For many words, simply reading a few times can lead to retention. However, others take longer to stick.

Having fun and reviewing in various contexts can help with long-term retention of Chinese reading and writing skills. If you have multiple kids or students, these activities can be turned into fun games!

For Chinese words with heart radicals, I noticed that my daughter knew 息, 意, 思, and 必 only in the context of a sentence.

However, when they were presented individually, she was not confident. So we focused on each of these words as shown in the example below. This is what inspired the various hands-on Chinese activities in this post!

Common Chinese 心 Heart Radical Words

Here are common Chinese radical words that we reviewed in simplified Chinese. Only one word, “总 / 總” is different in traditional Chinese. Below are Hanyu Pinyin translations for reference.

  • 您 (nín / you)
  • 想 (xiǎng / think)
  • 息 (xī / rest)
  • 恩 (ēn / grace)
  • 怒 (nù / angry)
  • 意 (yì / meaning; idea; thought)
  • 思 (sī / think; consider; deliberate)
  • 必 (bì / must)
  • 总 / 總 (zǒng / always)
  • 念 (niàn / think of; miss)
  • 感 (gǎn / feel; sense)
  • 忘 (wàng / forget, overlook, neglect)
  • 愁 (chóu / worry)

On the Written Chinese website, you can see examples of how to use these words in sentences.

Heart puzzles and Washi tape!

Chinese heart radical words puzzle activity

This was a fun puzzle activity that we did with our printable Chinese heart radical puzzle activity!

Tactile Chinese heart valentines

Teach Chinese heart radical words

Recommended materials

  1. Colorful felt, card stock paper, or cardboard
  2. Scissors
  3. Pen or marker
  4. White puffy (dimensional) fabric paint – make sure to get the bottle with the pink tip (see image) because it is narrow and thus writing will be easier to control.
White Tulip Puffy Dimensional Paint

How to make Chinese 心 radical Heart Felt Valentines

  1. Cut heart shapes; make sure each heart is large enough to write each Chinese character carefully
  2. Write Chinese character with pen
  3. Use puffy paint to trace each Chinese character; suggest gently and slowly squeezing the paint.
  4. Repeat step 3 until desired thickness is achieved
  5. Set aside to dry and keep away from curious hands!! Some of our words were a little smudged because my kids couldn’t wait! 🙂
  6. When paint is dry, child will naturally be curious about feeling each stroke! Show them how to follow stroke order when touching the Chinese characters with 心.
Learning Chinese 心 (heart) radical - felt valentines

If your child just beginning to learn Chinese, you can adjust this activity by focusing on identifying 心 only.

Matching Chinese heart radical words

Tracing Felt Heart Valentines

Since my kids like to be active, I try to do “Chinese class” in ways that encouragement movement! This activity takes place on the floor.

Recommended materials

  1. Large roll of paper
  2. Painter’s tape
  3. Marker
  4. Previously made hearts with Chinese characters

How to set up game

Match heart-shaped cut outs to corresponding Chinese character on the ground.

Find and circle the 心 on a vertical surface

Learning Chinese 心 (heart) radical - circle the radical

Often times, it’s the simplest things that can make the biggest difference for learning.  To catch my daughter’s attention, I set up the activity in an unexpected location: the wall of our dining room!

The big Kraft paper is exciting because it’s larger than a regular sheet of paper.

In addition, the vertical surface is fun for kids because they get to stand/jump/dance! Writing on the wall also strengthens arm and core muscles.

Recommended materials

  1. Large Kraft paper roll
  2. Painter’s tape
  3. Marker

How to set up activity

  1. Tape the sheet of paper on the wall.
  2. Write Chinese characters with 心 radical.
  3. Ask your child to circle all of the 心 in each Chinese character!

Bigrams matching activity

Another quick activity that we did involved matching bigrams, which are pairs of related Chinese characters. Since my daughter loves rainbows, I used colorful paper so that they would attract her attention!

To incorporate gross motor action, place the basket or words far away from the paper! Then kids have to run back and forth when finding the correct word!

Learning Chinese 心 (heart) radical - practicing reading sentences on Melissa & Doug Easel
Chinese sentences on our easel

Reviewing Chinese 心 heart radical words on the easel

For a few days, I wrote sentences on our easel containing new words 怒 and 愁. I clipped the key Chinese character felt heart at the top for reinforcement. Repetition is extremely important for understanding and memorizing these words!

Have you tried any of these Chinese 心 radical activities?

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!

You can find more hands-on Chinese radical learning activities here.

Happy learning, friends!

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