To learn the (confusing) Chinese family tree, I created a free printable matching game which teaches family members in Chinese! The Chinese family names printable can also be used as a coloring sheet. In addition, kids can decorate them as Valentine’s Day cards or make heart wands for relatives! At the end of the post, I have also included a link to a Chinese children’s song about family members in Mandarin Chinese!
I originally shared shared these printable family hearts in February 2018 (first created in February 2017) and have since updated this post with new ideas.
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When should kids learn Chinese family member names?
In Chinese language, words like 妈妈 / 媽媽(māma), dad – 爸爸(bàba), 哥哥 (gēgē), 姐姐 / 姊姊 (jiějiě), 弟弟 (dìdì) are used as commonly, if not more often, than names.
From a Chinese speaking standpoint, they are high yield first words for kids to learn. As for reading, although Chinese family names have several strokes, the emotional relationship and frequent use make them relatively motivating to.
My daughter began to learn Chinese between ages 2 to 3, and our construction paper hearts shown in the above image was how she learned the Chinese characters! Because the activity was so helpful for her, I decided to make a printable so you can use whenever your child is ready to read Chinese characters, doesn’t matter the age.
However, she constantly mixed up the different aunts and uncles. Honestly, I find them confusing myself! Therefore, this printable family matching game helps with naming the different relationships.
This year, my younger child has shown interest in learning some Chinese characters. It’s so fun that he can participate in Chinese activities with big sis! However, since he is still learning how to remember the spoken names, we aren’t rushing with memorizing Chinese characters.
Important Chinese family tree vocabulary:
Chinese family members: Immediate Family
- Mom – 妈妈 / 媽媽(Māma)
- Dad – 爸爸 (Bàba)
- Older brother – 哥哥 (Gēgē)
- Older sister – 姐姐 / 姊姊 (Jiějiě)
- Younger brother – 弟弟 (Dìdì)
- Younger sister – 妹妹 (Mèimei)
- Son – 儿子 (Érzi)
- Daughter – 女儿 (Nǚ’ér)
- Paternal grandpa – 爷爷 / 爺爺 (Yéyé)
- Paternal grandma – 奶奶 (Nǎinai)
- Maternal grandpa – 外公 (Wàigōng)
- Maternal grandma -外婆 (Wài pó)
Aunties and Uncles
- Dad’s older brother – 伯伯 (Bóbo)
- Dad’s older brother’s wife -伯母 (Bómǔ)
- Dad’s younger brother – 叔叔 (Shūshu)
- Dad’s younger brother’s wife -婶婶 / 嬸嬸 (Shěnshěn)
- Dad’s sister’s husband – 姑夫 (Gūfū)
- Dad’s sister – 姑妈 / 姑媽 (Gūmā)
- Mom’s brother -舅舅 (Jiùjiu)
- Mom’s brother’s wife – 舅母 (Jiùmu)
- Mom’s sister’s husband – 姨夫 (Yífū)
- Mom’s sister – 姨妈 / 姨媽 (Yímā)
Other important relationships in Chinese
- Friend – 朋友 (Péngyǒu)
- Teacher – 老师 / 老師 (Lǎoshī)
There are numerous other family relationships that you can teach your kids. For example, 妻子 (qīzi / wife) or 老婆 (lǎopó / wife), 丈夫 (zhàngfū / husband) or 老公 (lǎogōng / husband) are terms that your children may hear frequently. You can add them to our editable printables!
What you need for the heart matching game
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- Family member hearts printable available in simplified and traditional Chinese. Click on the links below to download!
- Printer paper or cardstock
- Laminator and laminating pouches
*Note: If you can write Chinese and have some time, you might consider writing the words by hand so that your child can see how each word is formed.
If you cannot write Chinese or are pressed for time, I hope our printables can help!
How to use the Chinese Family Members Heart printable
- Print 2 sheets of each page
- Optional: laminate
- Cut along solid line
- Introduce a few words at a time (less or more depending on your child’s level).
- Separate the family heart flashcards into 2 piles (eg, bowls) as shown in the tray above, and have your child find the matching card.
- Play a memory game:
- Mix up the cards.
- Place them face down on the table.
- Turn over any two cards.
- If both cards match, keep them.
- If they don’t match, turn them back over.
- Remember what was on each card and where it was.
- When all cards are matched, the game is over.
- Play a matching game:
- Cut the hearts in half (splitting up the bigrams)
- Find the matching Chinese character!
- Use them as decorations!
Examples of how to play and learn Chinese family member names
Here is an example of the Chinese family member bigram characters divided for matching! (Note: I’ve updated the printable to KaiTi font, so you’ll notice the Chinese characters in some pictures look a little different than the other pictures.)
You can also adapt this activity to other languages, such as matching letters of the English alphabet!
Please note that I did not include English letters in this printable. It would be much more time efficient to cut hearts and handwrite the alphabet or use a large heart punch like my favorite brand here!
Chinese family member search-and-find activities
On Instagram, @jhomelearningspace used the heart printable to teach family member names while reading the Odonata leveled readers with her child. She added a search-and-find element for her daughter.
In addition, she kept the heart-shaped flashcards and sensory bin in the refrigerator to surprise her daughter with the cold sensation!
Thank you @jhomelearningspace for letting us share your photos with other families! 🙂
Chinese family member memory matching game
Last year, my daughter and I also played a simple memory matching game. We mixed up the Chinese family member names and placed each heart face down. My daughter liked it so much that she even played it a few times on her own! I wish I had a video of it, but all I have is this photo!
Montessori-inspired learning area – How to adapt for different ages
To encourage my kids to independently explore activities, I try to keep them organized and accessible on the shelves in the kids’ corner of our living room. Here is how the tray is set up for my 2-year-old.
Although my daughter could have probably matched the full set up characters at that age, I don’t want to overwhelm my son. Therefore, I have only included 4 characters in his little tray. However, you may want to include only 2 characters if your child is just starting out.
Every child learns at a different pace; observation is necessary so that you know how to meet his or her developmental level!
You can see another example of a learning tray that I set up toward the top of this post. That photo was taken last year, and the objective was matching the bigram characters.
Chinese song about family member names
I highly recommend the Chinese Children’s Music album, I Can Sing in Mandarin, track 5 to go along with this Chinese lesson. This album has many catchy Chinese songs that are pleasant, in tune, and understandable. The 5th track is about family members.
Explore this: Best Chinese Children’s Songs and Nursery Rhymes
Have you taught your child(ren) family names in Chinese?
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!
More fun and simple educational activities for kids
For more heart-themed Chinese learning activities, check out these ideas!
Since Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day are around the same time of year, you can also explore these 20+ hands-on Chinese New Year activities with your kids and students!
Learning activities for every topic!
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