Since it’s hard to find Asian language toys at mainstream stores in the United States, I greatly appreciate that Uncle Goose offer blocks in numerous languages! Years ago, I bought Uncle Goose Chinese wood blocks and Korean wood 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 local retailers or secondhand shops like Ebay. These wood blocks are best suited for toddlers and preschoolers.
Are they a must-have for your family? Keep reading to learn pros and cons as well as suggested 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
- 6-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, we 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 other amazing Chinese learning materials, like this water calligraphy cloth and these magnetic Chinese characters. And my kids (2-year-old son and almost 5-year-old daughter) have used them on and off over the years.
Related: Best Open-Ended Toys for Children
- 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
- Encourages tactile and kinesthetic learning
- 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)
- Families who are Taiwanese, Singaporean, or Malaysian might not desire China’s map and flag on the discontinued version. Please note that these images have since been removed on the current version.
- In my humble opinion, the current version is too colorful. 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 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 an open basket.
When the Chinese blocks are are visible and accessible to your child in an uncluttered area, they will be more likely to play with them. On the other hand, if you leave the blocks in the closed box, it is easy for everybody to forget about them (“out of sight, out of mind”).
For younger toddlers, the blocks could be overwhelming with abstract information on each side. Don’t expect them to take interest to all of the information. Most likely, the will initially be attracted to the illustration side of the block, and you can talk about it in Chinese. Later, they may notice the Chinese characters and show interest in reading.
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.
Activity ideas with Uncle Goose Chinese blocks
- 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
- Culture: Arrange the blocks following the Chinese Zodiac order!
- Build a tower while sorting!
- Writing practice: Trace finger along Chinese character on the block. Then copy character in a Montessori sensory writing tray
What do you think of the Uncle Goose Chinese blocks?
If you have them, how do you use them for playful learning?
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