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5 Fun DIY Ways to Learn Chinese Characters

Push pin Chinese Characters A great fine motor exercise to strengthen those little fingers AND get some exposure to the stroke order of Chinese characters. I drew dots of different colours according to the 笔画strokes. For example, red dots for the first stroke, orange dots for the second stroke and so forth. QR seems to approve of this activity (we only do a maximum of 2 characters at one sitting) but it might not be practical for characters with many strokes.

Corkboard Push pin Character match QR loved this! It’s really simple to set up too. All you need are a cork board, plain (round) labels, push pins and rubber bands. I got all these from Daiso. The characters are coloured for control of error*. If you are worried about letting a child handle “dangerous” items like push pins, here are some tips on how I introduced them to QR since he was about 2.5 years old. I let QR press his finger on the tip of a pencil and told him “sharp”, then I invite him to gently touch the tip of the push pin or use it to gently touch his arm. He got the idea almost immediately. I do still supervise push pin activities as I am worried about them dropping onto the floor and into my cat’s mouth. We also count the number of push pins at the start and end of each activity (sneaky math) to make sure all are accounted for

*control of error is a way for the child to check his or her own work. It helps with a child’s ability to analyze and solve problems and also helps to develop the child’s independence, self-esteem, and self-discipline.

Forming Chinese characters with loose parts There is something weirdly attractive about loose parts. Here I follow the colour order of the rainbow when writing characters. I also add in numbers at the start of each stroke to help QR learn where to start forming that particular stroke. As you can see from the two photos, the one done by QR does not follow the lines exactly, but that doesn’t matter. We aim for exposure, not mastery. Always believe that children will do their best if they can.

Crocodile clip number match This was an activity I got from a busy bag exchange sometime back. She painstakingly hand painted ALL the crocodile clips! Check out the details (teeth on the sides and all). By the time I dug out this bag, QR had already mastered 1-10 so I added Chinese numerals on round labels for him to practice some Chinese word recognition. The child can work on this independently as the dots on the crocodile’s back and the cards serve as a control of error. You can modify any number cards you have that your child has outgrown. No need to always churn out new resources.

Pancake word flip QR is a big fan of pancakes, so I wanted to use this interest to my advantage in teaching him Chinese. I cut up some cardboard circles and wrote some simple Chinese characters on them for him to cook. I will read out the word, he will identify it. Assistance is rendered if necessary. Again, we are aiming for love of learning, not drill and kill (as far as possible). Once he identifys the correct pancake, he gets to put it in the mini pan to flip and cook. The video below shows our English sight word version. QR uses his hands to flip most of the pancakes. But it doesn’t matter as long as he has fun.

I hope you’ve had fun reading this and got some inspiration for exposing your child to Chinese characters. Stay tuned as I share more fun activities for learning Chinese! Or hop on over to the Play乐学 or PlayLeXue Adventures Instagram accounts for our latest Chinese learning activities!

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