Uncle Goose is an American company that specializes in non-toxic, wood blocks with educational content for kids. As a parent of multilingual children, I greatly appreciate that Uncle Goose offer blocks in many languages! Years ago, I bought the Uncle Goose Korean and Chinese language blocks. Since then, the design has changed and looks quite different than what we have. However, I am sharing photos of the prior version of the Uncle Goose Chinese blocks since many parents have found them at small retailers or secondhand shops. These wood blocks are best suited for children age 2 years and up. Are they a must-have for your family? Keep reading to learn pros and cons as well as suggest playful learning activities.
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Uncle Goose Chinese Blocks Product Details (Discontinued Version)
- 32 – 1.75 inch basswood cubes
- Handcrafted from sustainable Michigan basswood
- Printed using non-toxic, mouth safe inks
- Comes in a cardboard box
- Six sided design includes:
- Picture of an object (body part, animal, or nature) with Hanyu Pinyin
- 32 Debossed Simplified Chinese character with English translation
- 32 Debossed Simplified Chinese character with no translation
- Stroke order grid
- Numbers in Chinese and English
- Discontinued version has a map of China with a yellow dragon. This has been replaced with a colorful Chinoiserie design
You can find product details and reviews of the current Uncle Goose Chinese blocks here.
Uncle Goose Chinese Blocks Review
Generally, I prefer blank, natural, unpainted blocks for open-ended building and discovery (such as these). However, since Chinese is a minority language for our family, I am always looking for more ways to increase Chinese print to create a language-rich home environment. I bought these blocks around 4 years ago when my daughter was age 1. At that time, I was not sure if I wanted her to learn Chinese since I forgot how to speak Mandarin at the time. But it’s one of the first Chinese items that we have owned before I discovered the wealth of Chinese learning materials on TaoBao. And both of my kids (2-year-old son and almost 5-year-old daughter) have used them intermittently.
- Detailed images
- Easy-to-read text. Chinese characters are most prominent while supporting Pinyin and English are in small font
- Eco-friendly, natural, durable wood
- Great for tactile and kinesthetic learners
- Corners and edges are not quite as rounded as other building blocks (eg, Melissa and Doug, Grimms)
- Information and colors may be too busy for a young and easily distractable learner
- Simplified Chinese only (no traditional Chinese script)
- Some non-Chinese learners (eg, Taiwanese, Singaporean, Malaysian) may not prefer the China map and flag on the discontinued version. These images have since been removed on the current version
- Current version is too bright and colorful in my opinion. I have provided feedback to the Uncle Goose company, and their representative replied that the owner has no plans to return to the prior version and is happy with the current version.
Therefore, I think the Uncle Goose Chinese blocks can be a great way for toddlers to see and feel Chinese characters while playing, even if they are too young to recognize print. If anything, it serves as a reminder for me to speak Chinese to my kids! Take a look at the photos and suggested activities to see if you think it’s worth getting!
Photos of the Uncle Goose Chinese Blocks (Discontinued Version)
Here is an overview of the 32 debossed simplified Chinese characters included in the set. This side has the English translation under the Chinese character. My kids like to feel the texture of the Chinese words!
Beautiful, realistic drawings of animals, nature, and body parts!
Here is the stroke order grid! I think it’s pretty neat to see the characters side by side as shown. You can talk to your child about which characters have the most and least strokes and arrange the blocks in that order.
The blocks also have 32 Chinese numbers with English translation. Again, the Chinese word is large and easy to read, which the English text is smaller. No Hanyu Pinyin is included with the numbers in this version of the product.
Lastly, here is a view of the map and flag of China puzzle. This has since been replaced with the bright Chinoiserie design.
Suggested storage and presentation of the Uncle Goose Chinese blocks
Although the blocks come in a box, I suggest taking the blocks out of the box and putting them in a basket so that they are visible and accessible to your child. If you keep the blocks in the box, it is easy for everybody to forget about them.
For younger toddlers, the blocks may be overwhelming with abstract information on each side. Don’t expect them to take interest to all of the information. Most likely, the will be attracted to the illustration side of the block and you can talk about it in Chinese. Later, they may notice and you can point out how to say the Chinese words.
Since there is so much information on each block, I recommend introducing just a few blocks at a time. Introduce the names with the Montessori 3-period lesson as explained by the Montessori training blog here.
- Have your child close his or her eyes while choosing a random block! Make up a story about the picture on the block!
- Match animal blocks to other animal toys (eg, realistic Schleich animals)
- Sorting activities:
- Group by object type (body parts, animals, nature)
- Math: Arrange in numerical order; practice sequential counting, skip counting by 2s, sort by even and odd numbers
- Build a tower while sorting!
- Writing practice: Trace finger along Chinese character on the block. Then copy character in a sensory writing tray (read more here)
What do you think of these Chinese blocks? If you have them, how do you use them for playful learning? Leave a comment and don’t forget to tag a photo @CHALK Academy on Instagram and Facebook. Or better yet, you’re welcome to share ideas and questions with our Facebook group, Montessori-Inspired Kids Learning Chinese and English!
To see other recommended learning toys, please explore this link!
For more Chinese learning activities, click here!
Recommended articles about how to teach kids Chinese
For tips on how to teach your child Chinese, these posts are for you!
- Teach Your Child a Second Language at Home with 5 Key Steps
- How To Get Your Child To Speak the Minority Language
- Raising Multilingual Children as a Non-Fluent Parent
- How to Find a Foreign Language Teacher for Your Child
- 10 Ways to Get Your Child to Read Throughout the Day
You can also follow me on Facebook where I share my latest posts as well as favorite articles about children’s education, Chinese resources, and hands-on activities from other websites! In addition, on Instagram, I share activity highlights and how we integrate Chinese-learning in our regular daily life!