Mandarin Motion Song and Story Time Wed 18th Jan 2017

A story all in English this week, but a lovely story to open up conversations with your little ones about the experiences of many children in China.  Often one or both parents of children in rural China must travel to the big cities for work.  Because this is usually a very long journey, parents will only get to see their kids once a year, when the whole migrant working community of China returns home for Chinese New Year celebrations! It is common for children to be raised by grand parents while their parents work away.

Here is the link to the Chinese New Year song we have been learning:

新年好呀   新年好呀  祝贺大家新年好    我们唱歌   我们跳舞    祝贺大家新年好

xīn nián hǎo ya    xīn nián hǎo ya       zhù hè dà jiā xīn nián hǎo      wǒ men chàng gē      wǒ men tiào wǔ     zhù hè dà jiā xīn nián hǎo

Happy New Year, Happy New Year   Wish everybody a happy new year    lets sing   lets dance     Wish everybody a happy new year

See you Wednesday!

Mandarin Motion Song and Story Time Wed 11th Jan 2017

NB.  10am little group only again this week

We will read 棕色的熊棕色的熊 (zōng sè de xióng zōng sè de xióng) ‘Brown Bear Brown Bear’.

Then children can be one of the animals in the story, and listen out for when we need their help to 拔萝卜 (bá luó bo)  ‘Pull the Turnip!’  Sing along to our Pull the Turnip song like usual, but replace the bold with the animal you want to come and help pull the turnip!  (We previously have substituted the children’s names). Below the video are the lyrics, and below the lyrics are animals in the story that we will replace as we sing the song.

拔萝卜    拔萝卜

嘿哟   嘿哟   拔萝卜

嘿哟   嘿哟   拔不动

小紫猫    快快来


Bá luóbo bá luóbo
Hēi yō hēi yō bá luóbo
Hēi yō hēi yō bá bù dòng
Xiǎo zǐ 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 Purple Cat, come quickly
Come quickly and help us pull the turnip

小棕熊,  小红鸟,  小黄鸭,   小蓝马,  小青蛙,  小紫猫,   小白狗,  小黑羊,  小金鱼,  小猴子,

xiǎo zōng xióng, xiǎo hóng niǎo, xiǎo huáng yā, xiǎo lán mǎ, xiǎo qīng wā, xiǎo zǐ māo, xiǎo bái gǒu, xiǎo hēi yáng xiǎo jīn yú, xiǎo hóu zi

Little Brown Bear, Little red bird,  Little yellow duck, Little blue horse, Little frog,  Little purple cat, Little white dog, Little black sheep, Little gold fish, Little monkey.

See you all Wednesday!

三条水母 3 Jelly Fish! Song and Story Time Wed 23rd Nov 2016

三条水母! (sān tiáo shuǐ mǔ!) Three Jelly Fish sitting on a rock set up in our garden for tomorrow!


Again, this is another song children have no problem understanding in Chinese, as it is exactly the same as the English version tune and translation.

We can use any animal that likes jumping from a rock into the water for this song, 青蛙 (qīngwā) ‘frogs’, 鳄鱼 (èyú) ‘crocodiles’ etc. (not that I have ever seen a Jelly Fish jump from a rock 🙂

It is a great song for exploring counting forwards and backwards, the concept of ‘none’ 没有 (méi yǒu),measure words, position, 上 and 下 (as in jumping on and off ) and onomatopoeia 扑通 (pūtōng) ‘splash’. Lyrics are at the bottom of post.

We have been singing lots of songs that have 上 (shàng) ‘up/above/over etc.’ and 下 (xià) ‘down/below/under etc.’ in them. In the Jelly Fish song these are also used for ‘on’ and ‘off’ (jumping up ON, and jumping OFF down).  Children soon start to make the connections! Because these are simple characters too, children can try and make them with their bodies like this:

A good song and video to keep watching for ‘Up/Down’  is the Groovi Pauli ‘Going Up Going Down’ song, which you can watch by clicking on the song name! And don’t forget our ‘Where is the teacher?’ song that has ‘Up there’ and ‘Down there’ in it.  We move our shoulders ‘Up and down’ in our Clap hands song.  Our ‘London Bridge’ activity too has ‘falling DOWN’ in there.  Here is a video I forgot I had of my kids a couple of friends singing this a few years back! You can watch it here but click on the London Bridge link for more details and lyrics of the song.


If you want to have fun at home, make some Jelly Fish, a rock and a bowl of water, or an indoor set up like this one below, and you can act out the song with your little one.  Talk about making the jellyfish out of waterproof materials so that they don’t go soggy and rip!  We used plastic bowls and cut up plastic shopping bags for tentacles.  You could also talk about the correct disposal of plastic bags so that we don’t hurt our Jelly Fish in the sea too!

Our 3 Jelly Fish rock and sea for our song!

3 Jelly Fish rock and sea you can use indoors

Here are the lyrics to the ‘Three Jelly Fish’ song  – Just sing to the English tune (We will make a video soon!)

三条水母,三条水母,三条水母,坐在岩石上,    一条跳下

两条水母,两条水母,两条水母,坐在岩石上,   一条跳下

一条水母,一条水母,一条水母,坐在岩石上,   一条跳下

没有水母,没有水母,没有水母,坐在岩石上,   一条跳上

一条水母,一条水母,一条水母,坐在岩石上,    一条跳上

两条水母,两条水母,两条水母,坐在岩石上,   一条跳上


sān tiáo shuǐ mǔ, sān tiáo shuǐ mǔ , sān tiáo shuǐ mǔ zuò zài yán shí shàng, yì tiáo tiào xià

liǎng tiáo shuǐ mǔ liǎng tiáo shuǐ mǔ, liǎng tiáo shuǐ mǔ , zuò zài yán shí shàng, yì tiáo tiào xià

yì tiáo shuǐ mǔ, yì tiáo shuǐ mǔ, yì tiáo shuǐ mǔ, zuò zài yán shí shàng, yì tiáo tiào xià

méiyǒu shuǐ mǔ, méiyǒu shuǐ mǔ, méiyǒu shuǐ mǔ, zuò zài yán shí shàng, yì tiáo tiào shàng

yì tiáo shuǐ mǔ, yì tiáo shuǐ mǔ, yì tiáo shuǐ mǔ, zuò zài yán shí shàng, yì tiáo tiào shàng

liǎng tiáo shuǐ mǔ liǎng tiáo shuǐ mǔ, liǎng tiáo shuǐ mǔ , zuò zài yán shí shàng, yì tiáo tiào shàng

sān tiáo shuǐ mǔ, sān tiáo shuǐ mǔ , sān tiáo shuǐ mǔ, zuò zài yán shí shàng

对不起,我的中文不好!Sorry, My Chinese is not very good!

This song  is for parents, but kids normally enjoy too!  The lyrics are a typical conversation you would have when you are spotted as a foreigner in China! So the language is very useful indeed!  If you listen to the song many times, the words will stick in your head, and you are on your way to a basic conversation in China!

The skit at the beginning has no subtitles, but highlights the problems of not using the correct tone in Chinese!  The English man asks for shuìjiào (睡觉)which means ‘sleep’.  The vendor is confused and asks if he is tired! He really means to ask for  shuǐjiǎo (水饺) ‘boiled dumplings’.  A simple tone of voice can change meaning, and was obviously a challenging and funny part of this band’s ‘Transition’ language learning in Taiwan!  Enjoy the song!

Not only can a teacher use this song for great introductory conversation skills, the song can be used as a springboard for all sorts of grammar.  I like to use it to highlight a use of 了 (le). When they sing 我的中文进步了 (wǒ de zhōngwén jìnbù le) ‘my Chinese has improved’, the 了 is used to indicate a change.  The sentence is saying that there was a time his Chinese was not very good, so there has been a change.  As you will notice, the band really delay and emphasize the 了 in the song, so students copy the same emphasis when they sing! I feel the band, who are singing about their own experiences of learning Chinese in Taiwan, have probably emphasized the 了 to make a little joke!  Students of Chinese find this 了really confusing, as it has lots of other meanings too, and beginner students are always unsure for quite a while in their Mandarin learning journey whether a sentence needs 了 on the end or not!  You will often hear students say 了 as a delayed afterthought as grammar thought processes go through their head, just like the delay in the song!

This amusing take in 了 can make beginner students feel ok in this confusion, and we can use the opportunity to compare where we have heard 了 in any of the oodles of other songs that we know, and the meaning it is trying to convey…the penny then starts to drop!

But till you get to that stage, just enjoy these 3 English gentlemen singing this catchy song!

Here are the lyrics, pinyin only for space reasons, as Chinese characters and English are on the video subtitles. (Note Chinese characters on video are traditional)


duìbuqǐ wǒde zhōngwén bù hǎo

duìbuqǐ, duìbuqǐ, wǒ bù zhīdào nǐ shuō shénme

duìbuqǐ wǒde zhōngwén bù hǎo

duìbuqǐ duìbuqǐ wǒ zhǐ xiǎng gēn nǐ dāng péngyou

Hello nǐhǎo ma ? nǐde yīngwén hǎohǎotīng

nǐ shì Měiguǒrén ma? bìng búshì Měiguǒrén

wǒ shì yī wèi Yīngguó shēnshì

rúguǒ nǐ zhuānxīn tīng nǐ huì liǎojiě wǒ

duìbuqǐ wǒde zhōngwén bù hǎo


huānyíngguānglín lǐmiàn zuò

xiānshēng nǐ yào chī shénme

wǒ yào shuìjiào. nǐ hěn léi shìbúshì?

wǒ bù lěi wǒ dùzi hěn è

wǒ xiǎngyào chī shuǐ jiǎo qǐng nǐ kuài diǎn zuò


(huānyíngguānglín duì yā huānyíng lái Běijí xióng de jiā)

Oh! I am so sorry. Oh!

méiguànxì wǒde zhōngwén jìnbù le

méiguànxì, méiguànxì, wǒ hái yào gēn nǐ dāng péngyou

repeat new chorus 2 times

圣诞老人进城来了! Santa Claus is coming to town! Song and Story Time Wed 16th Nov 2016

Let’s count our fingers this week!  We can count our fingers to the same tune as the Ten Little Friends song.  Just replace 朋友 (péng you) ‘friend’ with  手指 (shǒu zhǐ ) ‘finger’.  We will use Henre Tullet’s ’10 times 10′ book to count with.  Older kids can practice this to gain more fluency with counting and measure words.  Technically for the word ‘finger’ you can use either the measure word 个 (ge) or 只 (zhī). We will stick with ‘ge’.


We will learn Groovi Pauli’s Christmas song in class over the next few weeks so that you can sing it as a family over Xmas Dinner!   Don’t forget you can buy Groovi Pauli’s albums on iTunes, he has a whole album of celebration festival songs and are great to listen to in the car!

Below the video are the pinyin lyrics and literal translation, but you can find the Chinese characters on the attached santa claus coming to town images for song that I created.  We will learn some actions with the cards so that it is easier for you to remember!

Xiǎopéngyǒu, nǐ bùyào kū
wǒmen lái yīqǐ, hāhā dà xiào
shèngdàn lǎorén jìn chéng lái liao

tā zhīdào nǐ shuìjiàole, tā zhīdào nǐ méi shuì
tā zhīdào nǐ guāi bù guāi, suǒyǐ nǐ yào guāi

literal translation:

little children, no need to cry

lets get together and be happy

santa Claus is coming to town

he knows if you are asleep, he knows if you’re not asleep

he knows if you are good or not good, so you need to be good

十个小朋友 Ten Little Friends!

My kids made these next 2 videos for our older students to understand the concept of measure words! But little kids will enjoy watching them too!

This song is a favourite because the kids know the tune and hence the meaning very easily.  (Lyrics are at the bottom of post). When the kids know it well, it can be used in their Mandarin learning journey over and over, replacing the noun friend with whatever noun you want!  The beauty is that the measure word 个 (ge) will change, depending on what is being counted.  After the kids have heard the song with several different nouns throughout their journey, they will notice the change of the measure word too.  This is just one little piece of their learning which will make measure words not such a bizarre concept for them when they get older!  It also helps students remember that 二 (èr) ‘2’ changes to 两 (liǎng) when counting things.

For the older kids, it may seem pretty basic…but learning this basic song will help them with the concept of measure words as they come across them and make connections with the song.

This next video adds a game element to the song:

The words in the video are:

现在大家玩游戏   (xiàn zài dà jiā wán yóu xì) Now everybody lets play a game.

Start to sing the song again.  This time the last line changes to:

第七个小朋友跳跳跳   (dì qī gè xiǎo péng yǒu tiào tiào tiào) The seventh friend jumps

Students then have to find the seventh friend and make him jump.  Students can play this game with whatever they are counting and change the number, noun, measure word and action.  Students can also play this game in class using themselves, changing the action, and the correct student (the third, fifth or whomever has been called) needs to stand and do the action.

The lyrics to the song in the first video are:

一个两个三个小朋友 (yí gè liǎng gè sān gè  xiǎo péngyǒu) 1,2,3 little friends

四个五个六个小朋友 (sì gè wǔ gè liù gè  xiǎo péngyǒu)4,5,6 little friends

七个八个九个小朋友 (qī gè bā gè jiǔ gè  xiǎo péngyǒu) 7,8,9 little friends

十个可爱小朋友 (shí gè kěài xiǎo péngyǒu) 10 cute little friends

Remember another song that we have done in class that helps us build the concept of measure words and 二 (èr) ‘2’ changing to 两 (liǎng)? Remember 两只老虎 (liǎng
zhī lǎo hǔ) – those two tigers??  Here is the video again, and the words underneath.  In this case the measure word is 只 (zhī), which is a common measure word for many animals. After you have listened to the tiger song again, could you replace the ‘little friends’ song with ‘tigers’ in Mandarin?  Don’t forget to change the measure word!

一只没有 尾巴

liǎng zhī lǎo hǔ, liǎng zhī lǎo hǔ
pǎo dé kuài, pǎo dé kuài
yī zhī méi yǒu ěr duǒ
yī zhī méi yǒu wěi bā
zhēn qí guài, zhēn qí guài

Two Tigers, Two Tigers
Running very fast, Running very fast
One has no ears, One has no tail,
How strange! How strange!

你喂熊猫吗?Did you feed the panda? Song and Story Time 9th Nov 2016

你喂熊猫吗? 喂了 (Nǐ wèi xióng māo ma? wèi le). 'Did you feed the Panda? Yes I fed it'.

你喂熊猫吗? 喂了 (Nǐ wèi xióng māo ma? wèi le). ‘Did you feed the Panda? Yes I fed it’.

The older kids will be learning how to set their tablet devices up this week to be able to type in Chinese!  So don’t forget to bring your devices! When they get the hang of it, they will be able to make their own piks like the one above, or even videos like the one below that Aurora and Lucas made.

Aurora and Lucas had seen Groovi Pauli’s video of some of his students singing 你喂熊猫吗?(nǐ wèi xióng māo ma?) ‘Did you feed the Panda?’ so they decided to do their own version and ‘movie maker’ video to go with it.  They will treat both the little and older kids to a little puppet show version of the song this story time! It is a good song to learn, lots of useful language in there!

Here are the words, followed by Groovi Pauli’s version:

你为熊猫吗?喂了。    熊猫吃饱了吗?吃饱了。

你喂它什么?比萨饼。  他吃了比萨饼吗?吃了。

他吃了多少? 很多。   它还好吗?肚子疼。

他睡了吗?睡了。      他睡多久?很久。

他睡在哪里?树上。    他生病了吗?生病。

他吐了吗?吐了。      你叫谁?兽医。

兽医来了吗?来了。    他看了熊猫吗?看了。

他说什么?            熊猫不要吃比萨饼!

nǐ wèi xióng māo ma wèi le  xióng māo chī bǎo le ma chī bǎo le

 nǐ wèi tā shén me bǐ sà bǐng tā chī le bǐ sà bǐng ma chī le

tā chī le duō shǎo hěn duō      tā hái hǎo ma dù zi téng

tā shuì le ma shuì le               tā shuì duō jiǔ hěn jiǔ

tā shuì zài nǎ lǐ shù shàng       tā shēng bìng le ma shēng bìng

tā tù le ma tù le                      nǐ jiào shéi shòu yī

shòu yī lái le ma lái le           tā kān le xióng māo ma kān le

 tā shuō shén me xióng māo bù yào chī bǐ sà bǐng

Did you feed the panda?  Yes (fed)    Is the panda full?  Yes (full)

What did you feed it?  Pizza.               He ate pizza?   Yes (ate).

How much did he eat? Lots               Is he OK?  Belly hurts

Did he sleep? Yes (slept)                      How long did he sleep for? A long time

Where did he sleep? In a tree             Is he sick?  Yes (sick)

Did he vomit?    Yes (vomited)           Who did you call? The vet

Did the vet come?  Yes (came)            Did he see the panda? Yes (saw)

What did he say?       Panda must not eat pizza!




别跳在我沙发上!Don’t jump on my sofa! Song and Story Time Wed 2nd Nov 2016

We might even let the older students enjoy this story this week 🙂 About 3 cheeky cows jumping on chicken’s sofa!


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, 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

Why should our kids learn how to read Chinese?

Learning how to read Chinese sure may lead to some business deals and economical benefits for our kids in the future.  But do our kids really care about that at the moment? That maybe a bonus benefit, something our kids might, when they are adults, thank us for giving them the opportunity to learn from being a kid (because starting as early as possible is another advantage – that’s for another article though!).

But really, why would all of our kids benefit form learning how to read Chinese?


Chinese characters are pictograms, containing phonetic and semantic components.  They are like a code waiting to be cracked! It is not rocket science that the analytical skills, memory, logical thinking and attention required to learn Chinese characters would improve a child’s cognitive development.

Take Maths for example…through the fun analysis of character strokes and components, children use counting, grouping, ordering, spatial configuration, and identifying similarities, differences and patterns, so by reading Chinese our children are meaningfully consolidating skills which are all fundamental mathematical concepts! Really important skills!

But we are all becoming aware that Creativity is an even more important skill for cognitive development to take place.  Take a look at this video:

A mnemonic through story visualising is being used here. It requires a set of rules for building blocks, engaging children’s logical thinking, then creativity is called upon to use this logical system to create stories and visualisations.  Both logic and creativity used to make meaning of individual characters within the bigger story they are reading!  In the above video, a story has been created to help remember the character for ‘light’ or ‘lamp’ which is 灯 in Chinese.  The ‘fire’ and the ‘nail’ represent the components of the character.  Shrek the Ogre represents the first tone of the character, and the English word ‘dung‘ helps to remember the sound of the character ‘dēng’.  A system of rules (which can be created by the child) is combined with creativity and visualisation leading to a ‘how to learn’ strategy, a strategy that can then be used by the child independently (see Matthews reference below). This way only around 200 basic character components need to be memorised, and logical thinking and creativity are being exercised to master complex characters. These skills can be transferred to any learning area.  We can see here how the ‘skills’ of learning ‘how to learn’ Chinese are actually a more important part of the journey, than just merely learning the language!

You would expect that learning ‘Chinese grammar’ is part of learning Chinese…but what about English grammar?  Chinese has different word order, grammatical particles that don’t exist in English, different ways to convey tense, different ways to use verbs and adjectives, and so on.  When we learn Chinese through story, we experience all of this and naturally learn Chinese grammar, without the need for an isolated ‘grammar’ lesson.  But another amazing thing happens …even the youngest of children then naturally ‘compare and contrast’ these sentences with their first language.  Through learning a second language, children consolidate English grammar from a completely new perspective. This natural reflection, is far more meaningful than isolated English grammar exercises!

Take the verb ‘to be’. Not many children could conjugate this verb in English upon request! Through Chinese reading children soon learn that 是 (shì) means ‘am, is, are, was, were, will be, am being, is being, are being, were being, has been, have been…etc.’ all depending on the context of the sentence, but the word always stays the same in Chinese: 是. Children use their ‘English’ common sense to pick the right translation, because they conjugate the verb ‘to be’ in English everyday naturally without thinking! Connecting all these English words though, to one Chinese word 是, allows them to connect all these words to one verb ‘to be’.  This doesn’t happen thinking in English alone, and there is no need for children to know this in their everyday English life…which is the reason why they shut off when an isolated English grammar lesson on verbs is presented to them! The teacher literally sounds like this ‘blah blah blah…!’  Trying to make meaning in Chinese has allowed this ‘light bulb’ connection to happen without the ‘blah blah blah’ English grammar lesson!  There are endless comparisons of English and Chinese grammar that children make a ‘light bulb’ connection to as they journey through reading in Chinese.

What about deeper meaning though? Stories have long been a  springboard for integrating many learning areas.  When our children enjoy stories in a new language, not only are they experiencing the benefits of learning how to read a second language, not only can they consolidate their understanding of English grammar through the comparing and contrasting of the two languages, the story in Chinese can be a springboard for deeper learning of other learning areas.  When children (and adults) read a story in a second language, their brains are tuned and focused on a much higher, deeper level in order to make meaning. This higher level of attention, together with the natural desire to make contrasts to their existing ‘meaning’ in their first language, means that the child is actually switched on more to the actual purpose of the text.  They make connections to the purpose of the text that they may have missed reading passively in their first language.


Take the very popular song ‘Let it Go’! (Click on link for song and complete lyrics in Chinese). Often kids (and even adults!) will sing along to a song, but the lyrics are just words to be memorised.  It often takes some guidance to take a child through a textual analysis of a song text.  But when a text (in this case a song) is read in another language, there is another layer of processing that has to happen.  ‘Meaning’ or ‘Sense’ has to be made to make sure that you have understood correctly.  So take the line in the song ‘The wind is howling like the swirling storm inside’, in the Chinese version is 风在呼啸想心里的风暴一样 (fēng zài hū xiàoxiǎng xīn li de fēng bào yī yàng). Literally in Chinese the characters 心里 mean  ‘in my heart/mind’.  So to make meaning, we are picturing a ‘storm in her heart/head/mind’.  So by comparing and contrasting the Chinese and English versions, the child then has to ask ‘what does it mean the storm is in inside her?’.  Learning the song in another language has opened up the discussion of what the song actually means, there is something more than just a regular icy storm here, why would somebody feel like they had icy howling stormy wind in their heart/head?  In the bigger picture of the song, it opens the discussion for a conversation about feelings, anger, sadness, mental health, well-being, biology, psychology, family relationships,  similes, metaphors… What before were merely words belted down a hairbrush without the need to think at all (because there is no need to think in a first language when learning a song-just memorise the words), the analysis of a Chinese version has added a layer of thinking to make deeper connections to other learning areas.  This is gold when the essence of these other learning areas are connected to the child…what child has never had feelings of frustration or anger so much that they feel something weird happening in their heart or mind?  Plus the deeper meaning attached to all of this means that they will never forget those Chinese characters/words – it is a win win learning experience situation!


Then there is just that ‘Sense of achievement’. There is nothing more satisfying than reading a book in Chinese, and saying out loud ‘I just read a book in Chinese!’  It’s a pretty cool achievement!  Learning how to read Chinese is much more for our kids’ development than world economics!

For details of my awesome reading programs in Chinese visit the link!

Thanks to the book : ‘Matthews, Alison. 2007. Learning Chinese Characters. Tuttle’, which outlines the story visualising strategy for learning Chinese characters.

一颗定时炸弹 Pass the Bomb!

Firstly, the game we played with the older student group last week is on the How do I learn Chinese website.  Both older kids and little kids will enjoy the vocab building games on this site!

We will read this book this week with the little kids:


For older kids (little kids will also be singing the song linked below too), on the topic of vocab building games…my kids have a lot of fun playing the game ‘Pass the Bomb'(Junior edition) which kind of ‘groups’ vocabulary.


The idea of the game is to set the bomb timer. The timer randomly lasts anywhere between 10 and 60 seconds, so you never know when the bomb will explode.  You pick a card which has a picture and topic of say ‘at the beach’, and you have to pass the bomb around, and when you have hold of the bomb you have to think of and say a word associated with the topic.  If you have hold of the bomb when it goes off, well technically you blow up! It is a fun game that gets you thinking really quick so that you can quickly pass the bomb to the next person!

The cards are in French and German too, so great for LOTE games! But of course we will play in Chinese!

Older students have been learning many songs with very useful sentence patterns, but also with lots of face and body parts in….so this week when we 玩游戏 (wán yóu xì) ‘Play a game’, we will play ‘pass the bomb’ with the topic of body parts! I will leave all the displays up in the classroom for reference for a few games,  then we might test our memories! Don’t ask me for a vocab list – find the songs on my website and make your own body part list!  Here is a video of my kids playing the game:

Pass the Bomb game body parts

In Chinese I have called this game 一颗定时炸弹 (yī kē dìng shí zhà dàn) or ‘Time Bomb’.  To say ‘the bomb exploded!’ you can say 炸弹爆炸了!(zhà dàn bào zhà le!).  Can you see the simple character 火 (huǒ) squashed to the left of 3 of the characters in the previous sentence?  火 means ‘Fire’, and the basic component looks like the picture below:


Taken from

Taken from

When you see this simple component in more complex characters, it generally is a clue that the character has something to do with ‘fire’!  炸弹爆炸了 has the word ‘bomb’ and ‘exploded’, so lots of 火 characters!  Here are a few more examples:



In the meantime here is a new song with a few more body parts in to add to our ‘list’.  We will also learn an important verb 给(gěi) to give, and reinforce 上下 (shàng xià) or ‘Up / Down’ a little more! We will sing this with the little kids too!

Happy singing, see you all tomorrow!