4 Ways to Teach Chinese Characters at the Beach!

Teach Chinese characters at the beach

If you think Chinese is a boring language, these 4 ways to teach Chinese characters at the beach might change your mind!

Learning Chinese characters while relaxing at the beach

We are lucky to live minutes from beautiful Californian beaches, and we try to spend at least 1 day a week by the ocean!  The air is fresh, the waves are peaceful, and the sand is full of hidden treasures.

Of course, there’s the usual building of sand castles and splashing in the ocean.  But as a part-time homeschooling mom, I can’t help but seize the opportunity for sensory literacy!

While my 老二 (lǎo èr / second child) typically searches for the perfect stick, 老大 (lǎodà / oldest child) diligently collects various rocks, wood chips, and shells.

These beachy nature treasures are free and perfect learning tools for children!

All you need is a few minutes to study Chinese characters in a fun way!

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Why Chinese learning can and should be fun for children

Chinese is one of my children’s minority languages, and I am learning Chinese with my kids.

Since we live in a small, non-diverse town in California, most of our friends are monolingual.  English is the dominant language; Chinese is technically not “necessary.”

Kids often refuse to learn Chinese when they see and hear everybody else speaking English.

Therefore, I try to make Chinese as fun as possible for my kids so that they will be motivated to learn their heritage language.

When we’re at the beach, 老大 and I have sometimes review Chinese characters with little bits of nature that my daughter collected!

As usual, these pre-writing and writing activities can be applied to any language, and you can have fun creating all types of words with your child(ren)!

Sandy toddler toes at the beach!

Teach Chinese characters at the beach: Important vocabulary

Here are commonly used Chinese words about the beach in simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, pinyin, and English.

  • 木头 / 木頭 (mùtou / wood)
  • 石头 / 石頭 (shítou / rock, stone)
  • 沙子 (shāzi / sand)
  • 贝壳 / 貝殼 (bèiké / seashells)
  • 海滩 / 海灘 (hǎitān / beach)
  • 海洋 (hǎiyáng / ocean)

What you need to teach Chinese characters at the beach

  1. Rocks, shells, wood chips and sticks, sand
  2. Just a few minutes of time!
  3. Optional: Beach pail, shovel, and rake

Honestly, we often go to the beach without any toys!  My two children are perfectly content with everything the beach offers!

Teach Chinese characters at the beach - drawing in the sand

4 Ways to Practice Chinese characters at the Beach

1. Draw Chinese characters in the sand

Chinese characters can be formed in the sand in numerous ways!

Kids can draw Chinese characters with index finger or use a rock, shovel, or tree branch. 

After drawing words in the sand, your child can trace each letter or character with the beach treasures (eg, rocks, shells)!

First, tell you child “I am going to show you something!” Then demonstrating Chinese sand writing following proper stroke order.

Tell them the character and narrate the stroke names.   

Show your child that it’s easier to write Chinese characters by the ocean where the sand is hard and wet.  For kids who already know how to write, have a race to see who can write the most Chinese characters!

If you offer your child options and follow his or her lead, they might be more willing to learn!

Related: How to Use a Montessori Salt Tray to Teach Writing!

2. Assemble Chinese characters with rocks!

Small rocks are perfect for creating Chinese characters!

You can focus on just one character, (shí / rock), teach the bigram 石头 (shítou / rock, stone), or teach Chinese words with the 石 radical.

Teach Chinese characters at the beach - writing with wood and stones

3. Form Chinese characters with wood chips and sticks!

Wood chips, sticks, and branches are also great natural elements that you can use to form words!

Again, depending on your child’s learning level, you can focus on 木 (mù / wood), 木头 (mùtou / wood), or 木 radical words.

As always, supervise your child and make sure they don’t hold jagged wood pieces that could give them splinters.

Related: Chinese 木 Radical Words – Wood Dice and Sensory Writing

4. Create Chinese characters with shells!

贝壳 (bèiké / seashells) are my 老大’s favorite item to collect at the beach!

If your child is an avid seashell collector, you can use these beach treasures to develop pre-writing skills at the beach and even at home!

Learning Chinese characters at the beach while making special memories!

If I ever homeschool my kids full-time, I would definitely want to hold class at the beach everyday!

Win-win for mommy and the kids!

Of course, the vast majority of time spent at the beach consists of unstructured, carefree playing!

However, a few minutes of learning here can make a big difference with learning Chinese characters.

My children and I will always remember having fun while learning Chinese!

These memorable minutes counts toward cumulative learning!

Have you tried teaching Chinese characters at the beach?

Does your child like to collect nature treasures?

Have you tried reviewing Chinese characters at the beach?

If you try this with your family, please let us know in the comment section below.

4 Fun and easy ways to practice writing at the beach - Teach Chinese characters outdoors

More hands-on Chinese learning activities for children

Happy playful learning, friends!

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