科学实验!Science Experiment!

sweat experiement instructions

Well, over the last 12 months of homeschooling, and integrating Mandarin into our daily routines, I feel kids are now ready to integrate Mandarin into our other learning areas a step further…making a little transition to actually learning in Mandarin.

I bought a series of primary school science experiment books last time I was in China, and feel my kids are ready for them! We are starting on level one, the ‘science’ concepts in this level are probably a little simple for their ages, but a good place to start to allow them to get used to the terminology of a science experiment in Chinese.  For the first one, I gave them the following steps, to see how they go.

working on understanding the sweat experiment

Kids using the pop up dictionary tool to find out the words in the experiment that they were unfamiliar with

  1. Give them the experiment in Mandarin, see how much the can understand from the words and the pictures
  2. Give them the experiment typed out in Word (I typed it out for them beforehand), so that they can use a pop up dictionary tool for the words they are unfamiliar with.
  3. Perform the experiment.
  4. Write about what they did and the results in ENGLISH.

The steps may change as they become familiar with more science vocabulary, including writing or talking about it in Chinese.  Although, as expected, their translation was not perfect, they managed to follow the steps.  As expected some guidance with the ‘theory’ of what was happening was needed to write about it in English, but they got the gist!  For the first attempt a great exercise, and I feel it is something we can include each week into our schedule…it will only get better each time! Some key vocab that they will encounter EVERY experiment is below, we will spend some time on these as we do subsequent experiments, as they are important for them to learn the process and safety of a science experiment.

Doing the experiment, which involved wrapping a plastic bag round their foot, with a visit from one of their chickens!

Doing the experiment, which involved wrapping a plastic bag round their foot, with a visit from one of their chickens!

实验 shí yàn experiment 材料 cái liào materials
科学 kē xué science 过程 guò chéng Process / method
原因 yuán yīn cause 小知识 xiǎozhī shi Tip /knowledge
原理 yuán lǐ theory 危险级别 wēixiǎn jíbié Danger rating
注意 zhù yì Warning /pay attention

我们新的教室!Our new learning space!

My hubby, with a little help from the kids, has spent every weekend for the last 7 months building our new learning space for us!  It is now ready for us to move into!

It will be our learning area, and also a space to run community story times and language programs in Mandarin.

As you can see from what we had to start with….it is an awesome achievement, and we really appreciate hubby’s hard work and commitment, especially because he is not a ‘proper builder’ (Lucas’s words!!) and doing this for us while working full time, coaching, and being a Dad!

Thanks Dad!

奥林匹克! Olympics!

Kids have worked hard on an awesome Olympics project, integrating world studies, history, symbolism, design, values, maths, English and of course Mandarin!

olympic rings

My kids often get a bit mixed up with continent names and the concept of a continent and a country, even though we chat often over a world map!  So I thought the Olympics was an ideal opportunity to consolidate this a little!  We are going to be doing a unit on ‘Boundaries’ soon, so it’s also a good little intro to that!  We have been chatting about the ‘symbols’ used in the Olympics, and of course the Olympic Rings are the most well known,  representing the Continents!  So the kids drew their own Olympic Rings, and drew the outline of each continent within each ring, with the name of each continent inside.  Integrating Chinese into this activity added to the consolidation well, as the kids could clearly see that all the continents in Chinese ended in ‘洲’ , clearly distinguishing a continent from a country! The Chinese they needed for this activity follows:

Olympic Rings 奥运会五环 ào yùn huì wǔ huán The Americas 美洲 měi zhōu
Australasia 澳洲 ào zhōu Europe 欧洲 ōu zhōu
Asia 亚洲 yà zhōu Africa 非洲 fēi zhōu

We used making our own Olympic medals as another opportunity to focus on a couple of our learning values and attitudes!  We used some old ‘fun run’ medals, to turn into a Gold, Silver and Bronze medal.  On the one side they wrote ‘Olympics, 2016, Rio De Janeiro’ and on the other side they wrote whether it was Gold, Silver or Bronze.  They also had to look over our values and attitudes wall, and pick three that they thought would be needed to be an Olympian!  They chose ‘Commitment’, ‘Integrity’ and ‘Balanced’.  I thought that they were pretty good values to choose, especially as they have seen in the news a lot about cheating in the Olympics, we watched this segment of BTN about what is happening with Russia and the Olympics at the moment. Integrity is a new word in English for them, but they have something to relate it to now! Commitment is another good one as we try to ensure we finish our projects before going onto another!  And of course we also try to be Balanced, making sure we look after our bodies and minds!  The Chinese they needed to find for their medal activity follows:

Balanced 身心均衡 shēn xīn jūn héng Gold Medal 金牌 jīn pái
Commitment 投入 tóu rù Silver Medal 银牌 yín pái
Integrity 廉政 lián zhèng Bronze Medal 铜牌 tóng pái
Rio De Janeiro 里约热内卢 lǐ yuē rè nèi lú Olympics 奥林匹克 ào lín pǐ kè

Keeping with symbols, we looked into the history of the sport pictograms, learning that new pictograms are designed for each Olympic games.   The kids then printed off the new Rio pictograms, to find out the name of the sport in English and Chinese.  Finding the names for the sports against the pictograms in English, and then finding the corresponding official Chinese term of the official Chinese Olympic Site was challenging but worth it, displaying ‘commitment’ to a difficult task! They came across a few sports they had never even thought twice about in English, as well as the Chinese vocab for these.  Doing this exercise allows us to really think about the composition of these words both in English and Chinese.  We can also make so many connections to general vocab in Chinese, when we learn that Hockey in Chinese literally means ‘Bent Stick Ball’, Trampolining is literally ‘Bouncy Bed’ and BMX is literally ‘small wheel bike’!  The full list of sports are at the bottom of the post.

The kids found a site that has all the pictograms from Tokyo 1964 to Rio 2016, and the designer’s creation context. We learned that Sydney’s pictograms had boomerangs for figures’ arms and legs! Beijing’s looked like calligraphy stamp seals!  Rio’s have used curves in the figures representing their coastline, each one in a pebble shaped boundary!  We discussed why they need these sport symbols, and figured so that every country’s people, no matter what language they speak, can clearly see which sport is being reported on in the coverage. The kids then designed their own pictogram for a new Olympic sport that they thought they would qualify for! They had to come up with their own design, and use symbolism through the shapes and colours that they used.  They then wrote their own creation context.  Looks like the next Olympics will have 我的世界wǒ de shì jiè (Minecraft) and 滑板huá bǎn (Skate boarding) as 2 new sports!

We watched a little history of the Olympic games on BTN before finding out the last 8 host countries.  The kids found their flags, their names in Chinese, and made a little visual timeline to match each flag to the host city on our big map.

Boxing 拳击 quán jī Table tennis 乒乓球 pīng pāng qiú
Shooting 射击 shè jī Archery 射箭 shè jiàn
rowing 赛艇 sài tǐng Golf 高尔夫 gāo ěr fū
Triathlon 铁人三项 tiě rén sān xiàng Athletics 田径 tián jìng
Rugby 橄榄球 gǎn lǎn qiú Sailing 帆船帆板 fān chuán fān bǎn
Taekwondo 跆拳道 tái quán dào Badminton 羽毛球 yǔ máo qiú
Weight lifting 举重 jǔ zhòng Hockey 曲棍球 qū gùn qiú
Beach volleyball 沙滩排球 shā tān pái qiú Track Cycling 场地自行车 chǎng dì zì xíng chē
Volleyball 排球 pái qiú Judo 柔道 róu dào
Tennis 网球 wǎng qiú Handball 手球 shǒu qiú
BMX 小轮车 xiǎo lún chē Swimming 游泳 yóu yǒng
Basketball 篮球 lán qiú Marathon swimming 马拉松游泳 mǎ lā sōng yóu yǒng
Pentathlon 现代五项 xiàn dài wǔ xiàng Wrestling 摔跤 shuāi jiāo
Soccer 足球 zú qiú Water polo 水球 shuǐ qiú
Canoe kayak slalom 激流回旋 jī liú huí xuán Fencing 击剑 jī jiàn
Synchronised swimming 花样游泳 huā yàng yóu yǒng Diving 跳水 tiào shuǐ
Canoeing 皮划艇 pí huá tǐng Gymnastics 体操 tǐ cāo
Rhythmic gymnastics 艺术体操 yì shù tǐ cāo Trampoline 蹦床 bèng chuáng
Equestrian 马术 mǎ shù Mountain Bike 山地自行车 shān dì zì xíng chē
Road Cycling 公路自行车 gōng lù zì xíng chē      

学生素质和态度 Student Values and Attitudes

As a teacher, something I really feel is important to include in our day to day learnings, are the values and attitudes required to actually make learning happen in the first place! When we have positive attitudes and values towards our learning, it allows us to have a deeper learning experience. This isn’t rocket science, but it is something that is taken for granted in our education system, like kids should just ‘know’ this. But unless we use the vocabulary of such values with our kids, and talk about them, they probably aren’t learning to their full potential!

As always, learning something in another language, allowing a comparing and contrasting to a first language, adds another layer of ‘meaning’ to a word or concept. So learning the names of the values we would like to practice, in Chinese, is a good way to think about the meaning of these values that we wouldn’t have before! Not all in one vocabulary session of course! But just by having them visually in our space, and talking about them as they apply to what we are doing in that moment.

So in our library, we have these learning values visually on display to remind us to talk about them every now and then!  I have them nice and big, both in English and Mandarin.  I have used the same image on the English and the Mandarin equivalents, so that it is easy for the kids to understand the Chinese version instantly.  There is a kid friendly definition of each one on the English version card. Here is the vocab if you wish to do something similar:

Thinker 善于思考 shàn yú sī kǎo Cooperation 合作 hé zuò
Open-Minded 思想开放 sī xiǎng kāi fang Creativity 创新 chuàng xīn
Risk-Taker 勇于挑战 yǒng yú tiǎo zhàn Confidence 自信 zì xìn
Communicator 多元交流 duō yuán jiāo liú Tolerance 容忍 róng rěn
Reflective 自我反思 zì wǒ fǎn sī Independence 独立 dú lì
Knowledgeable 知识丰富 zhī shi fēng fù Respect 尊重 zūn zhòng
Inquirer 勤于探索 qín yú tàn suǒ Integrity 廉政 lián zhèng
Caring 充满爱心 chōng mǎn ài xīn Enthusiasm 热忱 rè chén
Balanced 身心均衡 shēn xīn jūn héng Empathy 怜悯 lián mǐn
Principled 公平正直 gōng píng zhèng zhí Commitment 投入 tóu rù
Curiosity 好奇 hào qí Appreciation 感恩 gǎn ēn

水书法:生日快乐! Water Calligraphy: Happy Birthday!

With my Chinese classroom nearly finished, we have been able to unpack teaching resources I have had in boxes since we moved to Brisbane! We found our water calligraphy brushes that we bought on one of our visits to China!  Kids are now ‘brushing’ up on their calligraphy skills!

They wrote a special message for my birthday ‘祝你生日快乐’   ‘zhù nǐ shēng rì kuài lè’   Happy Birthday!

A water calligraphy 'Happy Birthday' message

A water calligraphy ‘Happy Birthday’ message

Whenever you visit a park, a square, a temple in China, you will find artists practicing water calligraphy (水书法 shuǐ shūfǎ).  It is just as calming and in the moment to watch as it is to do!  And a cool way to practice your Chinese writing! Here are a couple of piks of our encounters with water calligraphy on a trip to Kunming 2012:

If you want to practice your Chinese writing, even if it is just your numbers 1-10, just find the largest paint brush you can, dip in water, and write away on the concrete!  The best bit is there is no mess!  And a few minutes later it is dry again for you to write some more!

跳伞!Parachute Jump!

This week the kids’ Uncle Stan dared a parachute jump over a lovely Aussie beach before he returned to England! It was awesome to watch him land, and we used the opportunity to integrate some math, science and Mandarin! Here’s a little story in Mandarin first:

Parachute open


Tiàosǎnyuán de jiàngluòsǎn dǎkāi le!

The Parachute jumper’s parachute opened! (Literally: ‘The jumping umbrella person’s dropping umbrella opened!)

safe landing


ān quán ruǎn zhuó lù!

A safe soft landing!

relieved jump


duì ānquán zhuólù gǎndào fàngxīn!

Relieved after a safe landing! (literally: towards a safe landing feeling relieved!)

Before we left to watch him land, we watched this video to try and understand what actually happens when you jump out of a plane! We learned about speed acceleration within the forces of gravity and air resistance (and their balancing point), firstly during freefall, then after the parachute has opened.  A constant dropping speed of 55 metres per second is reached during freefall!  Glad Uncle Stan safely hit the ground at a constant dropping speed of 5 metres per second after his parachute opened! To express ‘per’ in Chinese we can say: 每秒五米 měi miǎo wǔ mǐ (literally: each second 5 metres).