突发奇想 To have an inspirational idea

突发奇想 (tū fā qí xiǎng) is an idiom in Chinese that means ‘to have an inspirational idea’.  And when given the opportunity, our children no matter where they are in the world, have lots of inspirational ideas!

Children have interests and passions, and when left to explore these themselves, they learn all the things that we really want them to learn (like language, science, maths etc).

Children are also intrinsically compassionate, and naturally want to help others, which unfortunately isn’t a specific ‘outcome’ to be developed in children in most curriculums.  So unless we allow children time and space to do their own thing, this important ingredient of ‘compassion’ and ’empathy’ that itself gives an intrinsic motivation for our children to deeply learn, can be forgotten about.

My little girl Aurora has with her love of chickens, drawing, and her involvement in the Parkrun community, had an ‘inspirational idea’ to design unique designs for Parkrunners’ Barcode cards, to raise money to give ex-battery hens a better life.  By doing this she is managing a project that is self-led and that she is passionate about, and learning ‘curriculum outcomes’ without even realising…whilst also making partnerships in the community and feeding her compassion to grow…which in turn leads to even deeper learning of those ‘curriculum outcomes’. You can follow her project on her Happy Hens blog. 

Often when children are allowed to explore their interests and passions, that will be enough to spark a self-led project.  There are lots of ways to spark ideas, but exploring the UN’s Global Goals can often spark initiative in children to use their super powers and passions to do something really good.  The link ‘Heroes for Change’  also has videos about the Global Goals in Mandarin for those integrating Mandarin into projects.

That is why, whilst learning her Chinese, Aurora was really interested in a news story about the above 3 children in China, the same age as her, who wrote, illustrated and published bilingual books to raise money to build a soccer field for students at a poor rural school.  They took their passions of dinosaurs, learning English, and soccer and combined them to help others. Their passion and compassion was their motivation, and had to manage and learn so much, but did it because they wanted to. You can read their story here (in Chinese),  the headline reads:


(shàng hǎi xué sheng zhòng chóu chū bǎn zhōng yīng shuāng yǔ xiǎo shuō wèi pín kùn dì qū xiǎo xué yuán jiàn zú qiú chǎng)

‘Shanghai students crowdfund to publish bilingual storybook, in order to raise funds to build a soccer field for an impoverished primary school’

We made an image of a few of the key words we found in this news article that we resonated with 🙂

The words in the image, taken from the article, are below, followed by a few quotes from the article.

突发奇想        tū fā qí xiǎng                           to have an inspirational idea
超级恐龙迷    chāo jí kǒng lóng mí                to be mad about dinosaurs
结合                jié hé                                        combine
兴趣爱好        xìng qù ài hào                          interests and hobbies
爱心                ài xīn                                       compassion
触动                chù dòng                                 to be touched by something
权利                quán lì                                     rights
决心                jué xīn                                     determination
筹集                chóu jí                                     raise funds


zhāng zhōu chén cóng xiǎo jiù shì gè chāo jí kǒng lóng mí

‘From as far as he can remember Zhang Zhouchen was a dinosaur fanatic’


 tā de xìng qù ài hào hé yīng wén xué xí jié hé qǐ lai

‘He started to combine his interests and English study’


yīn wèi fēi cháng xǐ huan kǒng lóng jiù tū fā qí xiǎng xiě yī běn guān yú kǒng lóng de shū suǒ yǐ hòu lái yòng yīng wén xiě le yī bù guān yú kǒng lóng de kē pǔ shū

‘Because of his love of dinosaurs, he had this inspirational idea to write a story about dinosaurs’


zhāng zhōu chén fēi cháng xǐ huan tī zú qiú měi tiān dōu yòng yī liǎng gè xiǎo shí qù tī qiú tā jué de měi ge rén dōu yīng gāi yǒu quán lì qù xiǎng shòu zhè me yī gè jiǎn dān de dōng xi

‘Zhang Zhouchen really liked soccer, every day he played for 2 hours.  He felt that everybody should have the right to enjoy such a simple thing in life’.

I hope this inspires students and teachers to let passions guide you for learning 🙂

绿绵羊在哪里? Where is the Green Sheep?

We will read  绿绵羊在哪里?(lǜ mián yáng zài nǎ lǐ?)  ‘Where is the Green Sheep?’, by Mem Fox this week.  I think our game this week might have something to do with finding this Green Sheep 🙂

The sheep in the above photo is saying 我在这里!不要告诉她!(Wǒ zài zhè lǐ ! Bù yào gào su tā !) ‘I’m here!  Don’t tell her!’ Can you remember hearing these words in any of our songs????  Listen to Where is the Teacher? and Where is my friend? to practice singing where something is and saying it’s here! And remember we sing not to tell your friend when kids drop the hanky in the Hide the Handkerchief song/game? Sing along to this one and see if you can hear the words ‘Bù yào gào su tā ‘.

Enjoy this animation Lucas and Aurora made using iMotion and iMovie to tell you the story of ‘The Green Sheep’.  Making animations of stories in a second language is an awesome project for kids to do!

See you Wednesday!

我换牙了! I lost a tooth!

Losing a tooth is a big deal!

In Chinese we can say 我换牙了(wǒ huàn yá le) which literally means ‘I am replacing my tooth!’, because when you lose a milk tooth it is because a new one is going to grow!

In Australia, we put our fallen out milk teeth under our pillow and wait for the tooth fairy to collect it in exchange for a dollar or hopefully two….:-)

In China, our friends have told us that they do something completely different!  If the tooth is from the upper jaw, the fallen out tooth is often put under the bed, to draw the new tooth coming out to grow down nice and straight!  If the tooth is from the lower jaw, the fallen out tooth is thrown onto the roof!  This will ensure that the new tooth grows upwards nice and straight 🙂

If you would like to learn a little more how to talk about losing a tooth in Chinese, and what we do here in Oz, you can watch the great Groovi Pauli here!

我换牙了。Wǒ huàn yá le (I lost a tooth.)
我换牙了。Wǒ huàn yá le (I lost a tooth.)
我的牙齿掉下来了。 wǒ de yá chǐ diào xià lái le
(My tooth has fallen out.)

牙齿仙子也来了。 yá chǐ xiān zi yě lái le (The tooth fairy also came.)
真快乐,我换牙了. zhēn kuài le wǒ huàn yá le ( So happy, I lost a tooth.)

一颗,yì kē (one tooth)
两颗, liǎng kē (two teeth)
三颗 sān kē (three teeth)
四颗, sì kē (four teeth)
五颗。wǔ kē (five teeth.)
牙齿, 全掉了!yá chǐ quán diào le
(The teeth are all gone!)

你换牙了。nǐ huàn yá le (You lost a tooth.)
你换牙了。Nǐ huàn yá le (You lost a tooth.)
你的牙齿掉下来了。 nǐ de yá chǐ diào xià lái le (Your tooth has fallen out.)

牙齿仙子也来了。 yá chǐ xiān zi yě lái le (The tooth fairy also came.)
真快乐,你换牙了. zhēn kuài le nǐ huàn yá le ( So happy, you lost a tooth.)

五只小鸭 Five Little Ducks

From Five Cheeky Monkeys jumping on a bed to 五只小鸭  ‘Five Little Ducks’ this week 🙂

We will sing a Chinglish version of this rhyme for the first time this week, but here is a version from the Mandarin Wiggles which we will start to sing when the kids are familiar with the actions. Let the kids watch it lots of times in the meantime!  The full lyrics of the Mandarin version in pinyin and characters are below the video so that you can sing along 🙂

wǔ zhī xiǎo yā chū qù wánguò liǎo yī shān yòu yī shān

yā māma jiàoguā guā guā guāzhǐ yǒu sì zhī xiǎo yā guò jiā mén kǎn

sì zhī xiǎo yā chū qù wánguò liǎo yī shān yòu yī shān

yā māma jiàoguā guā guā guāzhǐ yǒu sān zhī xiǎo yā guò jiā mén kǎn

sān zhī xiǎo yā chū qù wánguò liǎo yī shān yòu yī shān

yā māma jiàoguā guā guā guāzhǐ yǒu liǎng zhī xiǎo yā guò jiā mén kǎn

liǎng zhī xiǎo yā chū qù wánguò liǎo yī shān yòu yī shān

yā māma jiàoguā guā guā guāzhǐ yǒu yī zhī xiǎo yā guò jiā mén kǎn

yī zhī xiǎo yā chū qù wánguò liǎo yī shān yòu yī shān

yā māma jiàoguā guā guā guāméi yǒu xiǎo yā guò jiā mén kǎn

xiàn zài yā māma yī dìng hěn shāng xīn lóuméi cuòsuó yǐ tā xiàn zài yào chū qù zhǎo wǔ zhī xiǎo yā luō。》

lǎo yā māma chū jiā ménguò liǎo yī shān yòu yī shān

yā māma jiàoguā guā guā guā

suó yǒu xiǎo yā dōu huí jiā lái










小鸡、三头牛和五只小猴子! A chicken, 3 cows and 5 monkeys!

While we have cheeky monkeys jumping on the bed, we may as well have cheeky cows jumping on chicken’s sofa!  So we will read this book again by Jan Thomas before we let the monkeys loose on the trampoline 🙂 Click this link for our Monkey Song.


This is a great book by Jan Thomas, as children just have this innate desire to jump on the sofa, and so relate to the cows’ inability to control themselves, their regret as they are reminded they shouldn’t do it, and how they get around promising not to do it again!   It’s also really a great book to use repetitive and meaningful Chinese to the children.  It reinforces lots of phrases we use in the classroom regularly, apologising, and reinforces ‘Up Down’.  It will help the students talk about the location of things by using the location marker 在 (zài). Eg.

哪里? niú zài nǎ lǐ? literally ‘Cow is located where?’

you can then answer with exactly where they are:

沙发上。 niú zài shāfā shàng. literally ‘Cow is located sofa on’

To get this location marker stuck in your head, don’t forget our teacher song!

You can download a lovely finger puppet activity to act this story out at home, on the author’s website Jan Thomas Books.

Here are some of the words the children hear when sharing this book in Chinese:

小鸡           xiǎo jī                            Little chicken
小牛           xiǎo niú                         Little cow
沙发           shāfā                             sofa

准备好了吗?              zhǔnbèi hǎo le ma?                      Are you ready?
准备好了!                  zhǔnbèi hǎo le!                            Ready!
跳上跳下                      tiào shàng  tiào xià                        Jump up and down
跳舞                              tiàowǔ                                              Dance
扭来扭去                      niǔ lái niǔ qù                                  Wiggle around
在沙发上                      zài shāfā shàng                               on the sofa

别!                              biè!                                                   Don’t!
别跳!                          biè tiào!                                           Don’t jump!
别跳舞!                      biè tiào wǔ!                                     Don’t dance!

Here is the song the older students were introduced to last week to understand the really common usage of 上下 (shàng xià) or ‘Up / Down’ in Chinese.  Another cool song by Groovi Pauli!  Little kids will like singing the main part of this song! Lyrics are below.

shàng shàng shàng going up up up,
xià xià xià going down down below

上上上going up up up, 下下下going down down below.


In the up down song we sing in class, a few examples of shàng and xià are explored.  Use these around the house /community.  Let Groovi Pauli help you pronounce these by watching the video lots of times!

shàng chuáng – Getting in bed
shàng chē – Getting in the car
shàng lóu – Going up the stairs
shàng kè – starting class

xià chuáng – getting out of bed
xià chē – getting out of the car
xià lóu – going down the stairs
xià kè – finishing class