瑜伽 Yoga

I like doing Yoga in the outdoors!

I like doing Yoga in the outdoors!

Our kids did Yoga with the lovely Areti from Sunny Soul Yoga yesterday, and enjoyed every minute of ‘being’ with Areti, their friends, and the trees around them.   

Through their Mandarin journey and travels they have come across lots of amazing arts from Lion Dancing to Hip Hop Stilt Acrobatics, and have learned that the skills needed for such arts come from the basic arts of Kung Fu…and even skills from that one where you kind of stand still on one leg like a rooster breathing and moving an imaginary ball around…Tai Chi…is also needed for such amazing performance art.    

But when I asked the kids where ‘Yoga’ comes from, they first said ‘Yoda’ :-), closely followed by ‘China’…, then a random list of countries came out waiting to hit the right one, including a desperate ‘Katkanistan’…but they didn’t get there!  They concluded it is ‘a bit like Tai Chi’.

I am sure they will learn lots about Yoga as they travel along a new Yoga journey with Areti!  But in the meantime, we have learned a little about the ‘word’ Yoga in the Chinese language….


Yoga in Chinese is 瑜伽, pronounced ‘yú jiā’.  It is what is called a ‘loan word’ in Chinese.  This means that this word never really existed in China, so they had to make one up using either sounds or meaning.  (Could this be a clue that Yoga does not come from China? :-))

This ‘loan word’ has a little bit of both ‘sound’ and ‘meaning’ in its formation.  The 瑜 character alone (yú) means ‘excellence’ or the ‘luster of gems’.  The 伽 character is pronounced ‘jiā’ in the word for Yoga.  When you break this character’s components up, it is made of ‘亻’, the ‘standing person’ radical and ‘加’ which means ‘to add, apply, give support’.  Beautiful characters to convey such a meaning for ‘Yoga’: excellence in giving support for the standing person!

伽 is also phonetic character used in names, and is also often pronounced ‘ga‘ such as when it is used in the Chinese word for ‘omega‘ and the name ‘Galileo’! You would think retaining the ‘ga‘ pronunciation sounds better for a word that sounds like ‘Yoga‘ in English…so why have it as ‘jiā’?  Well when you look at the origins of the word ‘Yoga’ it comes from the root ‘yuj’ means “to add”, “to join”, “to unite”, so the ‘jia’ pronunciation actually makes more sense and sounds more like the original word!

But until we learn more about ‘Yoga’, its origins, philosophy or what a Yoga lifestyle is, we can just ‘be’ with it and say ‘我们喜欢在户外练习瑜伽’ (wǒmen xǐhuan zài hùwài liànxí yújiā ) ‘We like doing Yoga in the outdoors’ (literally, or as Yoda would say We like in the outdoors practice Yoga).


Mandarin Motion Song and Story Time Wed 28th Sept 2016

We may ‘Pull the Turnip’ with the littlies this week!  Here is a pik of my kids (at front and back!) pulling the turnip in a story time class many years ago…can you recognise them?!


Here is a video of the song, but we will just substitute the animals names with the children’s names to come and help ‘Pull’!  Lyrics are also below.

拔萝卜    拔萝卜

嘿哟   嘿哟   拔萝卜

嘿哟   嘿哟   拔不动

小花猫    快快来


Bá luóbo bá luóbo
Hēi yō hēi yō bá luóbo
Hēi yō hēi yō bá bù dòng
Xiǎohuā māo kuài kuài lái
Kuài lái bāng wǒmen bá luóbo

Pull the turnip, pull the turnip
Hey yo hey ​​yo pull the turnip
Hey yo hey ​​yo it won’t move!
Little Kitten, come quickly
Come quickly and help us pull the turnip


用牛奶和醋制作塑料!Using milk to make plastic!

我们用牛奶和醋制作塑料!(wǒ men yòng niú nǎi hé cù zhì zuò sù liào!) We used milk and vinegar to make plastic!

我们用牛奶和醋制作塑料!(wǒ men yòng niú nǎi hé cù zhì zuò sù liào!) We used milk and vinegar to make plastic!

As the kids have been finding out more and more about what other kids are doing to help work towards the UN’s Global Goals, they found Elif Bilgin’s story, a young 16 year old girl who worked out how to make plastic from banana peel, very inspiring!  The kids identified that her hard work has contributed to the goals of ‘Industry Innovation’, ‘Responsible consumption and production’ and ‘Good health and wellbeing’and Life Below Water!

So the kids learned a little about how plastics are made and the damage they can cause , and wanted to learn more about making plastic from things other than petroleum …and found a science experiment in one of their books for making a form of plastic out of milk!  They did a little more research and found a few online videos.  So below is their experiment step by step…in Mandarin and English.

Our milk plastic was not bad! But in doing this little activity we can also appreciate Elif’s long road of trial and error, she role models commitment, risk-taking, open-mindedness and creativity to create a really usable practical ‘plastic’ towards achieving our sustainable development goals. Elif’s video was a great springboard and inspiration for our kids to learn about the science, social issues, environmental issues and health issues of plastic, and try their own very first experiment in making such a material! At the bottom of the post is the video that helped them! We might try banana peel next time!


实验材料: 纸巾,勺子,饼干模子,四勺醋,一杯牛奶,滤器。(shí yàn cái liào : zhǐ jīn , sháo zi , bǐng gān mú zi , sì sháo cù , yī bēi niú nǎi , lǜ qi). Experiment materials: paper towel, tea spoon, biscuit shape cutter, 4 teaspoons vinegar, I cup milk, a sieve or strainer.


首先加热一杯牛奶。 (shǒu xiān jiā rè yī bēi niú nǎi). First, heat one cup of milk


加入四勺醋搅拌约一分钟。(jiā rù sì sháo cù jiǎo bàn yuē yī fēn zhōng). Add 4 teaspoons of vinegar and mix for about a minute.


加了醋的牛奶中会慢慢出现固体。(jiā le cù de niú nǎi zhōng huì màn màn chū xiàn gù tǐ ). The milk mixed with the vinegar will slowly start to form solid bits (curdle).


把它倒入滤器中,过滤一会儿,挤出多余的水分。(bǎ tā dǎo rù lǜ qì zhōng , guò lǜ yī huìr , jǐ chū duō yú de shuǐ fèn). Put the mixture through the strainer, squeezing out all the liquid.

现在你应该得到了这样一团固体,放在纸巾上。 纸巾会吸收一切液体。

现在你应该得到了这样一团固体,放在纸巾上。 纸巾会吸收一切液体。(xiàn zài nǐ yīng gāi dé dào le zhè yàng yī tuán gù tǐ , fàng zài zhǐ jīn shàng 。 zhǐ jīn huì xī shōu yī qiè yè tǐ). Now scrape out the solid bits, and put on the paper towel to absorb all the remaining liquid.

然后捏起来有点像面团,你可以用饼干模子把它做成各种你喜欢的形状。(rán hòu niē qǐ lai yǒu diǎn xiàng miàn tuán , nǐ kě yǐ yòng bǐng gān mú zi bǎ tā zuò chéng gè zhǒng nǐ xǐ huan de xíng zhuàng). Then

然后捏起来有点像面团,你可以用饼干模子把它做成各种你喜欢的形状。(rán hòu niē qǐ lai yǒu diǎn xiàng miàn tuán , nǐ kě yǐ yòng bǐng gān mú zi bǎ tā zuò chéng gè zhǒng nǐ xǐ huan de xíng zhuàng). Then pinch together the solids like dough and uses the biscuit cutter to make whatever shapes you like.

等待2天左右。牛奶塑料就会慢慢变硬。děng dài 2 tiān zuǒ yòu 。 niú nǎi sù liào jiù huì màn màn biàn yìng 。

等待2天左右。牛奶塑料就会慢慢变硬。(děng dài 2 tiān zuǒ yòu 。 niú nǎi sù liào jiù huì màn màn biàn yìng). Wait about 2 days. Your milk plastic will slowly get harder!

上色,装饰 (shàng sè , zhuāng shì) add colour, and decorate

上色,装饰 (shàng sè , zhuāng shì) add colour, and decorate

牛奶塑料艺术大作就完成啦!(niú nǎi sù liào yì shù dà zuò jiù wán chéng lā!) Milk plastic work of art finished yeah!

牛奶塑料艺术大作就完成啦!(niú nǎi sù liào yì shù dà zuò jiù wán chéng lā!) Milk plastic work of art finished yeah!

Here is the video the kids used to help them, one small tip, make sure the milk is  加热了(jiā rè le) ‘heated’ first or it won’t work. (Not to boiling point though).  Thanks to this guy for the materials image we used too, but with Mandarin instead of English!


一个小时!One hour!

Candle, candle, what time is it?

Candle, candle, what time is it?

We had to play cards by candle light on our no electricity day! One of the candles we used was an ‘hour’ candle that we bought from the Tower of London many years ago! Such candles were apparently used by monks in the olden days to measure the hours of study that they did! So we lit the candle, and Lucas timed it on his stop watch, to see if it actually did take an hour to burn to the first notch! Each notch truly was ‘一个小时’  (yī gè xiǎo shí), 1 hour!  The candle had roman numerals on it, so it was a great opportunity to learn our numbers in Roman Numerals!

When we play ‘What time is it Mr Wolf?’, ‘ in Mandarin we say ‘老狼老狼几点了?’ ( lǎo láng lǎo láng jǐ diǎn le?) so this time we could say  ‘蜡烛蜡烛几点了? ‘ ( là zhú là zhú jǐ diǎn le?) Candle, candle, what time is it?

If you don’t happen to have an hour candle from the Tower of London, you can practice by playing the wolf game!  Here’s some vocab that might help!

蜡烛 là zhú Candle 两点 liǎng diǎn Two o’clock
老狼 lǎo láng Old wolf 三点 sān diǎn Three o’clock
几点了? jǐ diǎn le? What time is it? 四点 sì diǎn Four o’clock
一点 yī diǎn One o’clock 五点 wǔ diǎn Five o’clock
六点 liù diǎn Six o’clock 九点 jiǔ diǎn Nine o’clock
七点 qī diǎn Seven o’clock 十点 shí diǎn Ten o’clock
八点 bā diǎn Eight o’clock 十一点 shí yī diǎn Eleven o’clock
十二点 shí èr diǎn Twelve o’clock 小时 xiǎo shí Hour

Mandarin Motion Song and Story Time Wednesday 21st September

We will read this book this week…拉㞎㞎 (lā bǎ ba), or ‘Doing a Poo’!

doing a poo book

We will weave what we have been learning up to now with some new stuff! So keep practicing the songs from the last two sessions!

For older kids this week we will be working out how to ask ‘Where is the toilet?’ 厕所在哪里?cè suǒ zài nǎ lǐ?or 洗手间在哪里?xǐ shǒu jiān zài nǎ lǐ? by substituting words from the song ‘Where is the teacher?’ with our new words from our book!

We will also be introducing the tones of Mandarin through some funny parts of our story, for more info on tones you can see an old blog post on tones and poo!

They will also get to learn how to ask and answer questions about colour…as our main character in the story has to try many toilets with different coloured doors! 这是什么颜色? zhè shì shén me yán sè? What colour is this? A strategy to remember the colour names to answer the questions will be going through our colour songs.

Older kids will also be introduced to a technique of remembering our words called ‘kinesthetic music review’ which involves saying the words with a hand gesture to the beat of an instrumental song!

Little kids will enjoy the songs they are getting to know, enjoy our ‘Doing a Poo’ book, and keeping with the theme, get to dance and sing to this cool ‘Wiping Bottom’ song! Older kids can have a laugh at this song too! For the full transcript and lyrics of this video, you can visit an old blog post on ‘Wiping Bottoms’.



一整天没有电力! A whole day without Electricity!



一整天没有电力吗? 什么?真的吗? (yī zhěng tiān méi yǒu diàn lì ma? shén me? zhēn de ma?) A whole day without electricity? What? Really!?

NB. For link to learning about the Global Goals leading to this project click here Heroes for Change (Global Goals link to Solar Buddy Project)  

For link to promoting the Energy Poverty / Solar Buddy awareness and fundraising event click here  Sending Light

On Sunday the 18th September, we are going to spend 一整天没有电力 (yī zhěng tiān méi yǒu diàn lì) or in English spend ‘A whole day with NO ELECTRICITY!’

Here are our rules for our day without electricity…as brainstormed by me and the kids

  • Fridge/Freezer  can remain plugged in for the day {to avoid food spoilage} , but we are not allowed to use any perishable / frozen foods, or the ice machine etc. Fridge and freezer will be taped shut!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • no other electrical devices can be used
  • devices that need to be charged eg. mobile phone, iPads, computers,  power tools, blower brush etc. even if  they are charged they cannot be used
  • no electric lights cannot be used even at night
  • we cannot  shop at a store using electricity, or go to a place using electricity eg. cinema
  • we cannot go to a coffee shop / restaurant for coffee or meals!
  • only cold water can be used in shower /washing up bowls etc.
  • we can use our camping Trangia cooker (runs on methylated spirits) to cook
  • we can walk to the markets and buy fresh fruit and veg for the day, and use food items in the pantry cupboard
  • Electricity will be turned off at the meter box (leaving only the fridge connected)

How did we get to this challenge?

One of our recent projects is the ‘Solar Buddy’ project.   It is an initiative by a Qld guy Simon Doble to eradicate energy poverty.  It involves kids making a solar light to send to kids in parts of the world that have no electricity.

This video taken from the ‘World’s Largest Lesson’ resources, has helped the kids to understand the impacts of energy poverty.  From there they have researched more into the problems, and other initiatives and actions people are taking to help achieve the goal of ‘Affordable and clean energy’ for everyone.

Whenever we do a project now, we talk about whether we are working towards achieving the UN’s global goals for sustainable development.  It is obvious that by sending a solar light to an energy impoverished family we are helping achieve the goal of ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’.  But when we started to learn more about energy poverty, how energy poverty prevents people from earning a living,  developing their community, learning, and how using fuels such as kerosene for power actually causes more deaths than malaria, we realised that by taking part in this initiative, we are actually helping to achieve many other global goals too, including ‘No Poverty’, ‘Quality Education’ ‘Good Health and Well Being’, ‘Climate Action’ and ‘Reduced Inequalities’.

One little activity the kids have done, is to brainstorm everything they do in a typical day, like eating breakfast, taking a bath, keyboard lessons, researching for projects, baking, having dinner, watching TV, reading in bed etc.  Nearly everything we do, relies on electricity we take for granted!  A big connection the kids have made since watching the video on energy poverty and doing this daily routine exercise, is how much electricity we need for  our ‘learning’.  We now understand how much children’s ‘learning’ is affected in energy impoverished areas of the world.  Most of our learning involves Ipads, Computers, TV (to display stuff in our classroom), even their piano lessons includes electricity for the keyboard, Ipad, the Internet and the TV!  This made the kids want to help even more with reducing energy poverty.

The kids put together their solar lights that they are going to send to other kids (country to be advised yet).  Their next project is to come up with a creative way to share their learning of energy poverty to the community, and raise some money to send the lights, which we will share when they have completed.

In the meantime, they suggested that we go without electricity for a whole day, to try and get a feel for what it is like!   From the daily routine brainstorming, they came up with a list of electrical devices that we use.  They translated them all into Chinese.


Fridge 冰箱 bīng xiāng Toaster 烤面包机 kǎo miàn bāo jī
Cooker 炉子 lú zi Microwave 微波炉 wēi bō lú
Lights dēng Hot Water System 热水器 rè shuǐ qì
Kettle 水壶 shuǐ hú Television 电视 diàn shì
Computers 电脑 diàn nǎo Ipads /tablets 平板 píng bǎn
Mobile Phone 手机 shǒu jī Fans 电扇 diàn shàn
Washing machine 洗衣机 xǐ yī jī Piano keyboard 电子琴


diàn zǐ qín
Internet WiFi 无线网络 wú xiàn wǎng luò Coffee Machine 咖啡机 kā fēi jī
Power tools 电工具 diàn gōng jù DVD Player DVD播放机 DVD bō fàng jī

We will be turning them all off on Sunday, so we will be singing Groovi Pauli’s 关掉 ‘Turn it Off’  (for details how to access this song and a powerpoint of the lyrics to this song click on this old blog post) all day and substituting every device into the lyrics!

I don’t know how I am going to go the whole day without a decent coffee or check Facebook…but the kids seem pretty excited to have nothing but the solar buddy light to find their way to bed!

Mandarin Motion Song and Story Time Wednesday 14th September

hand-gestures-numbersOur sessions will always recycle what we have done in previous sessions, usually adding 1 or 2 new songs, or introducing a new story making connections to build on our foundation.  So keep practicing the songs from week 1, but below are a few new things we will do this week!

We will add a new colour song to enjoy, just click on the link for video and lyrics, to help us memorise those colours!

Older kids will learn how Chinese people use hand gestures for numbers…the episode below of ‘Fun Fun Elmo’ has a segment to introduce us to these.  We won’t be watching the whole Elmo episode…but it is a good series to watch at home, it is all in Mandarin but is VERY repetitive and great fun immersion for kids, both the young and older group!  This particular episode has the hand gesture segment that we will watch in class. The whole series is free to watch on You Tube!

Younger kids will enjoy the Number Rap that we didn’t get a chance to include last week!

It is also the ‘Mid Autumn Festival’ this weekend, a really important Chinese celebration.  We will watch this song/ video by Groovi Pauli, to springboard some curiosity about what this festival might be about! 

Older kids (and parents of the younger kids) will be shown a tool that will help them if they want to find out more about Mandarin Syllable Pronunciation.  This Mandarin Pinyin Chart by YoYo Chinese is a really good one, and also a really good course for parents to enrol in if they want to learn a little Mandarin too! There are lots of apps that have good pronunciation tables too that we can show at later sessions.  Just having fun singing songs is the best way to wire the brain with the new sounds of Mandarin syllables, but some kids and parents do like a ‘chart’ to refer to as well!

Grammar note : we don’t really ‘do’ grammar in our lessons!  But it is interesting to note the amazing grammar we do ‘practice’!  Every time I ask the kids to put their hands on their knees, or we jump around to the exercise songs, or we do the Hokey Pokey…they are hearing the ‘把’ (bǎ)construction sentence.  This is a really difficult grammatical concept to ‘get’ when kids and adults learn Chinese, there is no English equivalent and it makes the word order jumbled for English speakers…but when kids are exposed to this type of sentence over and over through song and classroom instruction, this grammatical construction will sound like second nature when studying more formal Chinese later down the track!  There’s always a point to what we do in a Mandarin Motion Song and Story Time Session!

Looking forward to another fun session!


Mandarin Motion Song and Story Time 7th Sept 2016

green monster

Hi all, in today’s session we will read and sing about face parts, colours, numbers, class instructions, do a fitness routine and how to ask ‘Where?’ something is!  Sound like a lot for a first session?  Don’t worry, its all about fun and moving…these songs and more are repeated over and over in our sessions…a couple of sessions and kids will be singing along in no time at all…and making their own connections to piecing a second language together!  Remember we don’t go away with vocabulary lists in this class!  We just learn through motion!!

Some links to some of the songs we will sing in this first session are below, so that you can continue learning at home!

Our Hello and Goodbye song is here!  NB. this needs Flash so won’t work on Apple devices.  When the window opens just click on the big green arrow button to start!!

Our face song, this is a little video of Aurora singing this for you! Plus the lyrics to sing along to!

Our colour song, also here with Aurora singing for you, plus lyrics!

Our number rap is here, courtesy of YOYO Chinese!

Our potato face song is here.  Courtesy of Jingle Bilingual.

Our ‘Where’s the teacher?’ song is here, courtesy of Basho and Friends.

Our exercise song (I will probably use this one for the littlies group – courtesy of Groovi Pauli)

Our exercise song (I will probably use this one for the older group)

Where is my Friend? – We don’t actually play this song in class, we will use the basic lyrics though to ‘substitute’ the word ‘Friend’ for whatever we are looking for in class when we play a game…but here is the link to the very original and well known song in Chinese if you want to become familiar with the tune and basic lyrics!

The story we will be reading is: ‘Go Away Big Green Monster’ by Ed Emberley.  You can get the English version of the book if you want to, library will have it, and just replace the face parts in Mandarin as a start to reading to your kids!  Then when you are confident with the face parts, add the colours etc.  We will read this book a few times over the coming weeks, and tell the story ourselves using the Big Green Monster Puppet! You can easily make versions of the puppet to continue the learning at home if you don’t have the book!  As well as having fun with face parts and colours, this story also exposes students to the grammatical concepts of possession (的), measure words and changing 二 to 两 when counting – connections for the future!

big green monster.htm



改革英雄!Heroes for change!

goals FB

The ‘World’s Largest Lesson’ is an initiative to help the UN achieve their 17 global goals for sustainable development by 2030! It’s about telling the world about the goals so that we can all use our creativity and super powers to work together and all be part of the solution.

 We are reading the comics, learning about the goals ourselves and have made posters of each goal, in English and Chinese, to hang in our classroom.  We have done it so that whatever project we work on in the future, we can talk about which goal we are actually working towards, to make our world a better place!  Our first project we will work on will be the Solar Buddy Project. We hope it will inspire conversation about the goals to the visitors of our classroom!  


Some links to find out more info, lesson ideas, or what your school / home school can do are World’s Largest Lesson, Global Goals, World’s Largest Lesson Toolkit

 For advanced students in Mandarin, you can use the World’s Largest Lesson Mandarin website,  Mandarin Sustainable Goal website , and read the ‘Superhero Comic’ in both Mandarin and English.   Here is the video to introduce the goals in Mandarin:

学生介绍可持续发展的全球目标 from World’s Largest Lesson on Vimeo.

And the video in English:

We watched some cool videos amongst the resources that shared what some children are doing around the world to help achieve these goals, to inspire us to use our creativity to do the same.  We already have many ideas in the pipeline! But we went to the beach for a play after watching these videos, and my little girl decided to write a message using sand, that was read by lots of other children and parents.  We also made a little joke, what else is there only one of?  ‘n’ in ‘planet’ 🙂

sand pik



木工! Woodwork!


Our classroom needed an easel with a whiteboard and poster holder to hang our song lyrics for the parents of our song and story time!  So a good little project for Lucas!

Our picture says ‘我自己做了教室的白板画架…爸爸帮我一下’  (wǒ zì jǐ zuò le jiào shì de bái bǎn huà jià…bà ba bang wǒ yī xià) ‘I made our classroom’s whiteboard easel all by myself…with a little help from my Dad’

Woodwork is an easy word in Mandarin, just wood 木 (mù) and work 工 (gong) =  木工 mùgōng!  Here is the little master doing his 木工!Thanks to Dad and Lucas for yet another great addition to our classroom!