Sidewalk Chalk Activities: 12 Fun Ways to Play and Learn Chinese!

Playing while learning Chinese with sidewalk chalk activities

Summertime means playing outside all day long; when we’re in our yard, my kids are all about sidewalk chalk!  While having fun in the sun, we can sneak in learning through play.  Sidewalk chalk activities are an efficient way to practice speaking and reading Chinese in an kinesthetic way!

Benefits of learning Chinese with sidewalk chalk activities

Chinese is a minority language for my family, and our kids need their daily dose of fun Chinese experiences!

In addition, Chinese is often touted as a difficult language to learn.  However, simple activities can help with memorizing Chinese characters.

With sidewalk chalk, short lessons can be squeezed in naturally during play!

Fun and Educational Outdoor Sidewalk Chalk Activities That Teach Chinese

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Sidewalk chalk activities: Fun learning for all ages

Since my children are 3 years apart, I sometimes struggle to balance their contrasting needs and interests.

However, once we go outside with chunky chalk pieces, everybody is happy!

Sidewalk chalk activities are always a winner because they are versatile and adaptable for all ages!

Educational chalk activities: What you need

  1. Chalk – we have been using this brand for years!
  2. Concrete or tar driveway, patio, balcony, etc

Sidewalk chalk activities: Developmental Skills

  • Fine Motor – Holding chalk, pencil grip
  • Gross Motor – Running, jumping, squatting, standing
  • Verbal language – Talking and listening in target language
  • Written language – tracing, handwriting
  • Creativity – Drawing, imaginative play
Fun and Educational Outdoor Sidewalk Chalk Activities That Teach Chinese

Sidewalk Chalk Activities: 10 Fun Ways to Play and Learn Chinese!

If you’ve been following us for a while, you know that we have been doing various Chinese activities with sidewalk chalk!

Here is a summary of different ideas that my kids have loved, and I hope you can enjoy them, too!

1. Learn Chinese with Hanzi Hopscotch 

跳房子 (Tiàofángzi / Hopscotch) is one of the easiest ways to teach a variety of words while letting kids get active!

To build confidence, I always write Chinese characters that they are familiar with while mixing in only 1-2 new characters.

This approach allows them to feel less intimidated about learning new words.

Sidewalk chalk activities: Hanzi Chinese Hopscotch

Per my daughter’s idea, we have also done theme-based hopscotch grids as well!

Here are more photos and details of our Chinese hopscotch games!

2. Jump on footprints while learning left & right

Like all toddlers, my daughter used to mix up 左 (zuǒ / left) and 右 (yòu / right).

Since she could read the characters, I traced her feet with sidewalk chalk in our backyard.

While following and jumping on the footprints, the Chinese characters were a great reminder for my daughter to learn left versus right!

Learn Chinese with footprint hopping outdoor learning activity

Related: Human Body Activities in Chinese

3. Jump, turn, kick, and dance on Chinese action words!

Here’s another fun “action” course that I created with sidewalk chalk!

I incorporated the following verbs:

  • 跳 (Tiào / jump)
  • 站 (Zhàn / stand)
  • 跳舞 (Tiàowǔ / dance)
  • 转 / 轉 (Zhuǎn / turn)
  • 踢 (Tī / kick)
  • 蹲 (Dūn / squat)
Jump, turn, kick, and dance on Chinese action words!
Jump, turn, kick, and dance on Chinese action words!

4. Sidewalk chalk activity: Spray Chinese words with water

Water, especially, on a hot summer day, automatically makes Chinese learning more fun!

With sidewalk chalk, I drew 火 (huǒ / fire) on our concrete deck.

My children couldn’t wait to spray water and 扑灭火灾 (pūmiè huǒzāi / extinguish the fire) with their spray bottles!

Chinese literacy game: spray 火 with water!

5. Sidewalk chalk activity: Bilingual Shapes Jumping

For toddlers, jumping on shapes is a low-prep activity that I did with my daughter a few years ago!

I can’t wait to try this with my son!

Jumping on sidewalk chalk shapes outside and learning Chinese

Generally, we learn each language separately, but this was a good opportunity to mix and review shapes in English and Chinese.

Related: Activities That Teach Shape Names in Chinese!

6. Hide and Find Chinese words written in sidewalk chalk

Another favorite activity that I’ve done with both children is writing Chinese words throughout the deck, and my children have fun running around trying to find them!

Here is my son who is excited to have discovered a Chinese character under a plant!

Hide and find Chinese characters written outside with chalk

7. Pouring water on food pictures and Chinese words

Back to water fun, this video shows a Chinese speaking and reading activity that my daughter LOVED!

Related: Activities That Teach Food Names in Chinese

8. Sidewalk chalk activity: Paint Chinese characters with water

Children who are ready to write can practice tracing Chinese characters with water and a brush.

Make sure to first write each Chinese word in black chalk so that each stroke is clearly visible!

Water painting Chinese characters on concrete

Related: Water Painting Chalk Raindrops – Sight Word Activity

9. Trace Chinese characters with sticks and stones

While we’re outside with sidewalk chalk, my kids are always collecting sticks and stones readily available in our yard!

These nature treasures are perfect for tracing Chinese characters!

While I’m typing this, my son just peeked over my shoulder, pointed to the below image, and said “石头的’石’!” (Shítou de shí!)

Tracing Chinese character 石 with stones

Related: 4 Fun Ways to Use Stones for Chinese Reading & Writing Practice!

10. Draw pictures that represent Chinese characters

Drawing with sidewalk chalk is another child-led activity that my daughter loves.

There’s something exciting about going beyond the confines of 8×11″ paper and drawing without limits outside!

After seeing pictures of Chinese etymology, my daughter has been interested in drawing these pictographs!

As shown in the next photo, 木 (mù / wood) Chinese characters, my daughter tried to draw the progression from tree to !

Drawing Chinese character 木 etymology with chalk on concrete

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

On light concrete, black sidewalk chalk is preferred for Chinese characters to stand out!

On the other hand, if you have dark pavement, white chalk will provide great contrast!

11. Race and run to the Chinese character

Normally, my husband likes to rinse the driveway clean, but we have left one part of the concrete covered with Chinese characters.

My kids ask me to shout out a Chinese character while they race to the correct one!

12. Trace Chinese characters with chalk

Last but not least is good old tracing and writing with sidewalk chalk!  While it might not seem like an original “activity”, taking a typical academic indoor task outside can be a refreshing change.

I credit chalk for motivating my daughter to learn to write.  Thick chalk is easy for preschool hands to hold and control.

In addition, the friction against the pavement gives feedback and reinforces muscle memory.

Trace Chinese characters with chalk

Now that my daughter can write on her own, we make a game of setting the timer and seeing who can write the most number of words!

Bonus idea: Label play areas with Chinese words

Like most kids, my children get territorial about their space, and they like to mark off their “parking spots” for their tricycles and imaginary cars.

Below, I wrote 弟弟车子 (dìdì chēzi) under my son’s tricycle.

As you can see, colored chalk can be hard to see.

Label tricycle parking spot with chalk
Chinese characters and Kinderfeets tricycle

When the sun is shining on our backs, everybody is in a good mood to learn!

Have you tried teaching Chinese outdoors with sidewalk chalk activities?

If your family tries Chinese sidewalk chalk activities, please let us know! 

We love seeing how other families have fun learning at home!

Leave a comment and don’t forget to tag a photo #ChalkAcademy on Instagram and Facebook!

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Happy playful learning, friends!

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