超级水果蔬菜 Super fruit and veg!

Although a marketing ploy of a major supermarket and popular chef…I can’t help but seize this opportunity to use these 超级水果蔬菜  (Chāojí shuǐguǒ shūcài / Super Fruits and Veg) in our classroom! 超级 (Chāojí) is used in Chinese to describe something as SUPER!  水果 (shuǐguǒ) is FRUIT  (see our Fruit Song) and 蔬菜 (shūcài) is VEG.

Woolies have been genius in their ploy with these card collecting books, but as a mum I have not minded…kids have learned the concept of trading, my little girl read the animal cards and book from cover to cover and is now a little zoologist, my little boy had a very meaningful task of placing his numbered cards in the right spot, right at the time he was struggling with place value concepts…and the new fruit and veg book is FANTASTIC reading and doing for kids!

Kids remain excited about these books the whole period that the promo lasts…And now they can get excited about 超级水果蔬菜, reading about healthy foods and even how to grow them and cook with them.  While the kids are excited about this craze, I am going to use the 超级水果蔬菜 not only to learn the names of these in Chinese, but to talk about their appearance, (see colours and face parts), to talk about whether they are wearing 内裤 (Nèikù / Undies!), and to use as characters in role play in other Mandarin conversations /activities.  Kids excited about fruit and veg and learning Mandarin – perfect!

So in this post we will learn who these characters are!

Here are the 超级水果!

超级莓! (Chāojí méi) Super Berry!  莓 (méi) is the word for 'BERRY'.  So you can have 蓝莓 Lánméi (blueberry) 黑莓 hēiméi (blackberry)草莓 cǎoméi (strawberry)

超级莓! (Chāojí méi) Super Berry!
莓 (méi) is the word for ‘BERRY’. So you can have 蓝莓 Lánméi (blueberry) 黑莓 hēiméi (blackberry)草莓 cǎoméi (strawberry)

超级梨 (Chāojí lí) Super Pear!

超级梨 (Chāojí lí) Super Pear!

超级橘子 (Chāojí júzi) Super Orange!  Oranges can also be 橙子 (Chéngzi) same as the 'colour' orange, but we are using 'júzi' mostly in class as this is used in our fruit song

超级橘子 (Chāojí júzi) Super Orange!
Oranges can also be 橙子 (Chéngzi) same as the ‘colour’ orange, but we are using ‘júzi’ mostly in class as this is used in our fruit song


超级香蕉! (Chāojí xiāngjiāo) Super Banana!

超级香蕉! (Chāojí xiāngjiāo) Super Banana!

超级西红柿!(Chāojí xīhóngshì) Super Tomato! Even though used in savoury dishes technically this one is a Super FRUIT!

超级西红柿!(Chāojí xīhóngshì) Super Tomato!
Even though used in savoury dishes technically this one is a Super FRUIT!

And here are our 超级蔬菜!

超级西兰花 (Chāojí xī lánhuā) Super Brocoli!

超级西兰花 (Chāojí xī lánhuā) Super Brocoli!

超级甜菜根  (Chāojí tiáncài gēn) Super Beetroot!

超级甜菜根 (Chāojí tiáncài gēn) Super Beetroot!

超级四季豆! (Chāojí sìjì dòu) Super Green Bean! There are lots of 豆类 (bean varieties) but we'll call this one green bean (literally 'four season bean' in Chinese)

超级四季豆! (Chāojí sìjì dòu) Super Green Bean!
There are lots of 豆类 (bean varieties) but we’ll call this one green bean (literally ‘four season bean’ in Chinese)


Will post some fun activities with these SUPER characters soon!

If you want to hear the pronunciation of these fruit and veg in Chinese (or for anything on this site) just copy the CHINESE CHARACTERS and paste into GOOGLE TRANSLATE (this link automatically takes you to the Chinese to English page), and click on the little speaker!

什么动物?歌 What animal? Song

We spent some of term 1 reading stories and playing games with face parts in.  We will learn this new song over the next few weeks to ensure we don’t forget the face parts we learned, see blog post for a refresher on the face song. (I have also added a video of the face song on this page for you).

It kind of goes to the ‘Skip to My Lou my darling’ tune, but here is my little girl singing this one for you.  Animals and lyrics below.  Older kids can write their own version using other animals, face/ body parts and different adjectives.

兔子  (tùzi)

兔子 (tùzi)

大象 (Dàxiàng)

大象 (Dàxiàng)


河马 (Hémǎ)

河马 (Hémǎ)


青蛙 (Qīngwā)

青蛙 (Qīngwā)

Here are the lyrics for you in characters, followed by pinyin and translation for non-Mandarin speaking parents:









 Shénme dòngwù Ěrduo cháng?

Shénme dòngwù bízi cháng?

Shénme dòngwù zuǐbɑ dà?

Shénme dòngwù Yǎnjing dà?

tùzi tùzi Ěrduo cháng

dàxiàng dàxiàng bízi cháng

hémǎ hémǎ zuǐbɑ dà

qīngwā qīngwā Yǎnjing dà

What animal has long ears?
What animal has a long nose?
What animal has a big mouth?
What animal has big eyes?
rabbit rabbit has long ears
Elephant elephant has long nose
Hippo hippo has big mouth
Frog frog has big eyes

Our ‘Living the Chinese Way of Life’ project

In November 2012, I spent 3 months in China, 2 of which were spent in an apartment in Kunming, living the ‘Chinese Way of Life’ with my kids.  It was an adventure and journey for our family to just ‘be’ in China, wander the streets and parks, shop for our food, and meet new friends.  (The third month was to study at Xian University).

I didn’t have a blog back then, but I did put together some piks and a little diary of our language and cultural experiences.  If you are planning a family trip to China, or a cultural experience anywhere with your young kids, or if you are a teacher of languages interested in our perspectives, then please click on the pdf docs below.

Our stay in Kunming

our stay in kunming continued

My little girl put together her own little project on Green Lake Park.  She worked out and typed the Chinese by herself, with minimal guidance.  For a then 7 year old, not a bad effort!

Green Lake Park

I put together some piks and some notes of my month studying in Xian:

Study in Xian

If you have any questions about taking your children for an extended time to China, please don’t hesitate to ask!



Tones and doing a poo!

Can you learn a little about Mandarin Tones from your child?  YES!

Some say this is the hardest part for the learner of Chinese to grasp…TONES!   I must admit, they are strange for adult learners to get used to, and to distinguish when listening to native speakers, who nod with a smile when asked to ‘say it again slower’ but don’t seem to actually say it any slower the second time, on top of the fact that Chinese is a language built on homonyms, makes understanding spoken Chinese very difficult indeed!!!!  And even for children, if they start learning Mandarin at middle school, these tones are so strange and weird compared to English, that students at this age become inhibited/embarrassed to actually speak Chinese with the correct tone.

But for pre-school and primary aged children, they just enjoy the delightful new sounds they are hearing, and copy the Mandarin teacher’s rising and falling tones without any effort whatsoever!  So, if they do continue to learn at middle school, the tones are natural, not ‘weird and embarrassing’.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Australian Government, fund more teachers to teach Mandarin in early childhood!!!

Not much formal teaching of syllable sounds and tones are done in the Early Years classroom! It’s all done through story and song.  But there are a few things I do to help children visualise the voice patterns that they are hearing.

During the Sesame Street episodes, (see a blogpost on Sesame Street here) children watch a ‘TONE CUBE DIM SUM’ segment.  In typical Sesame Street style they have a 神秘文字  ‘Mystery Character’ of the day, animated with its tone, and a chance for children to say the character multiple times with a visual of the animated tone mark.  We move our hands as well as our voice in the same tone movement.

sesame street tone cube

Sometimes we read a story or sing a song that has opportunities to have fun with tones and how the meaning changes.  I often bring the panda tone pictures out when we do this, another visual of the tone patterns.  (Taken from creativechinese.com)

panda tones

A book we have read this term that highlights how tones can be fun in Chinese is 拉㞎㞎 (Lā bǎ ba / Do a poo).  I bought this set of pre-school related stories last time I was in China.  You can read these books on an app. If you copy and paste  小熊宝宝 (Little precious bear) in the app store you will get an app that has these books inside, about Little Bear and his Early Years world!  Unfortunately there is no sound on the app, so you must be able to read Chinese to read them to your kids.  But the children may enjoy looking at the pictures and looking at the Chinese script, and may even be able to repeat some of the lines, as we read this book often.  It will make them feel good that they can read Chinese!

doing a poo book


As well as the fun toilet humour value the book brings, I often mention that ‘Dad’ in Chinese is 爸爸 (Bàba).  We look at the Panda sliding down the slide, and make sure that our voice goes ‘down’ as we say 你好爸爸 (Nǐ hǎo bàba / Hello Dad). Then we work out what we are saying if we say ‘baba’ with the Panda who is confused and doesn’t know if he is going down or up the tree, in third tone ‘bǎba’. The children are amused, because they can easily work out from the story we have been reading that it means poo!  So if your child comes home to Dad, and says  ‘Nǐ hǎo bǎ ba’ and laughs their head off, you now know that they are playing a little joke on you and saying ‘Hello Poo!’.

A side note on ‘Poo’:  The general word for doing a wee or a poo in Chinese is 便便biànbian.  It literally means ‘convenience’, a 大便便 (Dà biànbian) is a big convenience, or a ‘poo’, and a 小便便 (xiǎo biànbian), or little convenience is a ‘wee’.  The word 㞎㞎 (bǎ ba) is the kind of word you would use with a pre-schooler, like ‘ooooh a little poo poo!’ 🙂

Counting Backwards!

We count lots in class to make sure counting in Chinese comes as natural as counting in English!

Counting backwards can be tricky though, but feels good when you can do it without thinking!

Of course it’s best to learn in a song! Here is my little girl singing a song that will get you counting backwards in Chinese no problems!

Here are the lyrics:
七六五四三二 一
一二三    三二一

Yī’ èr sān sì wǔ liù qī
Qī liù wǔ sì sān èr yī
Yī’ èr sān     sān’èr yī
Yī’ èr sān sì wǔ liù qī

When you get more confident, you can add a little record scratching rap to the last line, saying the number four 四 3 times, (like my little girl does in the video) like this:

Heard the tune before? We used the popular Chinese song ‘Where is my Friend?’ for the tune, which you can see below:

You can see how we use this song in our class on another blogpost of mine the ‘Where is my Friends? Blogpost.