父亲节快乐! Happy Father’s Day!

Well it’s Father’s Day this weekend in Australia!  But in China it is not celebrated on the same day.  In China ‘Dad’ is 爸爸(Bà ba) which sounds like exactly the same word for the number  ‘Eight’ in Chinese 八(bā). So it makes sense to make Father’s Day on 八月八号(bā yuè bā hào) The Eight Month Eight Day! 八八=爸爸! A more formal word for father is 父亲(fù qīn), so Father’s Day in China is often referred to as 父亲节(fù qīn jié, literally father festival).  To say Happy Fathers Day we just add a ‘Happy’ onto the end 父亲节快乐!(fù qīn jié kuài lè!).

In Australia though it is this weekend (4th Sept), so here is a great song to sing along to, to your 爸爸 on Father’s Day!  Groovi Pauli has lots of other cool songs, so check out all his albums on iTunes and you can listen to them in the car! Words to the song are below.

爸爸(bà ba), 你带我去打球 (nǐ dài wǒ qù dǎ qiú). X2
(Daddy, you take me to play ball.)

爸爸(bà ba), 你陪我看书 (nǐ péi wǒ kàn shū). X2
(Daddy, you read books with me.)

爸爸(bà ba), 我和你在一起 (wǒ hé nǐ zài yì qǐ).X2
(Daddy, I am with you together.)

爸爸(bà ba),你给我鼓励 (nǐ gěi wǒ gǔ lì).X2
(Daddy, you give me encouragement.)

爸爸(bà ba), 爸爸(bà ba), 父亲节快乐! (fù qīn jié kuài lè)!
(Daddy, Daddy, happy father’s day!)

爸爸(bà ba),你带我去游泳. (nǐ dài wǒ qù yóu yǒng). X2
(Daddy, you take me swimming.)

爸爸(bà ba), 你陪我看电影.(nǐ péi wǒ kàn diàn yǐng). X2
(Daddy, you watch movies with me.)

爸爸(bà ba),你陪我玩躲猫猫. (nǐ péi wǒ wán duǒ māo māo). x2
(Daddy, you play hide and seek with me.)

爸爸(bà ba), 爸爸(bà ba), 父亲节快乐! (fù qīn jié kuài lè)! x2
(Daddy, Daddy, happy father’s day!)

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      

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!

大便便和水 Poos and Water!

We’ve been enjoying watching ‘Absolute Genius’, my kids especially loved this episode about Bazalgette’s genius sewer network idea in London at the time of ‘The Great Stink’. (The show is available on iView till 3rd May 2016).  It’s a cool show that has two seemingly not so genius dudes, Dick and Dom that take genius ideas and look at them from scientific, technological, sociological and artistic perspectives. The genius idea springboards their own crazy idea, and they then seek help from modern day geniuses on how to get their idea to fruition.  Each episode has spring boarded my kids into lots of research and their own experiments too.  Kids find poo funny and intriguing, and watching crazy explosion poo experiments have enabled us to make lots of connections, eg. why are we putting an exhaust fan in our new downstairs toilet?  If you want some Mandarin connections to ‘poo’ check out previous posts Primary School Toilet Humour and Tones and Doing a Poo   guaranteed to get kids learning Mandarin!

But it’s actually 水 (shuǐ) WATER that all this has led us to…the curiosity of where our poo goes has led us to booking on an educational tour of our local sewerage treatment facility  next week.  And our research is leading us to understanding that it’s not just what we do in the toilet that goes through our sewers…it’s water from everything we do at home and industry.  Water isn’t ‘made’, we only have what is on our planet.  Our natural water cycle ensured we always had clean water…till populations and industry grew…then it needed some help so we didn’t all die of dirty polluted water!

Connections to personal experiences make learning so much deeper, and all this new learning has reminded us of a special place we used to visit when we stayed in Kunming, China a few years ago, called Haigeng Park on the edge of  滇池, Diānchí (Lake Dian).   It was quite a surreal experience every time we visited, because on the one hand it is a place for locals and tourists to take in the beautiful vistas of the mountains and lake, on the other hand we were looking at one of the most polluted lakes in the world. Before 1990, 90 percent of Kunming’s wastewater was pumped untreated into the lake. The lake water is now undrinkable despite several billion dollars having been spent trying to clean it up. Some experts predict that over 55% of the lake’s fish population has been killed off by this disease ridden type of pollution. The water in the lake is rated grade V (the worst grade) which makes the water unfit for agricultural or industrial uses.  We remember locals fishing there, and being told that the fish would end up at markets, and seeing workers in small boats their full time job to constantly pull out blue green algae .  This experience has enabled us to have many discussions together and comparisons to how both China and Australia deal with water pollution. This new layer of experiences and knowledge is all part of a journey to understanding this problem of water pollution, which can be deceivingly, cleverly, often purposefully hidden from our view, but that we all need to understand and act on for our future sustainability. For more piks of our visits to Lake Dian you can check out the blog post Our Living The Chinese Way of Life Project

More Mandarin water connections…  The kids made the posters at the top of this post to hang over our sinks to remind us about our precious water.  They were inspired after learning Groovi Pauli’s song ‘Conserve Water’, which you can watch below! (see iTunes for his other great songs off his Green Album!). Lyrics to the song are underneath, just copy and paste them into word to enlarge if you want to do any art or write them on your own water awareness poster.  A great technique used in the song and posters, are to write in ‘Chinglish’, and rhyme Chinese and English words together, helps the brain to remember vocab, in this case ‘没有水 NOT OK’ (shui rhymes with OK).  Or you can download this  Conserve Water Poster  that we made to go with the song.

The character for water in Chinese is 水, and another great idea is to create visual art works around Chinese characters like the works above that my son and daughter did, to help visualise meaning of Chinese characters. If you would like to do this, copy the character and enlarge to print nice and big to draw your own imaginative water picture around it, or try and draw the character yourself as part of your picture.

All these poo and water connections because of an absolute genius called Bazalgette!

水,节约用水 shuǐ, jié yuē yòng shuǐ Water, conserve water.
水,节约用水 shuǐ, jié yuē yòng shuǐ Water, conserve water.

人人需要水 rén rén xū yào shuǐ Everyone needs water.
没有水not OK méi yǒu shuǐ Not OK Without water, it’s not OK
不要浪费水 bú yào làng fèi shuǐ Don’t waste water.
人人节约用水 rén rén jié yuē yòng shuǐ Everyone conserve water.

水,节约用水 shuǐ, jié yuē yòng shuǐ Water, conserve water.
水,节约用水 shuǐ, jié yuē yòng shuǐ Water, conserve water.

很多人没有水 hěn duō rén méi yǒu shu Many people don’t have water.
找水走很远 zhǎo shuǐ zǒu hěn yuǎn They walk far to find water.
有的水不干净 yǒu de shuǐ bù gān jìng Some water is not clean.
喝了会生病 hē le huì shēng bìng Drink it and become sick.

水,节约用水 shuǐ, jié yuē yòng shuǐ Water, conserve water.
水,节约用水 shuǐ, jié yuē yòng shuǐ Water, conserve water.


柿子和西红柿!Persimmons and tomatoes!


We have a persimmon tree in our back garden, a persimmon in Chinese is 柿 (shì). But what on earth does this have to do with tomatoes?

Well persimmons are native to China (as well as many other countries) but China definitely produces the most by far for market distribution. But tomatoes were never native to China…so when they were introduced they didn’t have a name…but they sure looked like a 柿子 (shìzi)or a PERSIMMON.  So they called the tomato a 西红柿 Xīhóngshì,西 means ‘west’ 红 means ‘red’ and 柿 we already know means ‘persimmon’. So tomatoes in China are literally called ‘a red thing that comes from the West that looks like a persimmon’. Cool hey!

You will notice the character for persimmon 柿 is itself made up of 2 components 木 and 市。木 means ‘tree or wood’, so we have a clue that this character is something to do with, or possibly grows in a tree! 市 means ‘city, market or trade’ and is itself pronounced ‘shì’. So this can tell us that whatever is growing on this tree maybe traded in the markets? Components of character are sometimes there just to give us a clue on how the character is pronounced, so this may also be a phonetic clue for us!!

Whatever the etymology looking for clues in characters, and compound words such as 西红柿 can be interesting and fun, and can help us to remember as our vocabulary grows!

复活节的十字面包 Easter hot cross buns


Easter is not traditionally celebrated in China, so there was never really a name for hot cross buns…so what do we call them when we want to let our Chinese friends know what we are doing for Easter? Well, the Chinese character for the number ten is written like this 十. Kind of cross shaped, so we call hot cross buns 十字面包,( shízì miànbāo ) or ‘the number ten character bread’ 😊Easter is 复活节, fùhuójié 复 meaning to duplicate, and 活 meaning life, 节 meaning festival, so kind of duplicate life festival…or being born again festival 😃

While I wheelbarrowed sand and pebbles to make our outdoor area for our new learning space, my little boy made hot cross buns all by himself following a YouTube video…they turned out pretty speccy, fluffy and yummy….so he can say ‘我自己做复活节的十字面包’ Wǒ zìjǐ zuò fùhuójié de shízì miànbāo, or ‘I made all by myself Easter hot cross buns’

Have a happy 复活节 long weekend !!

Reflecting on our MYP unit

We started the year in the Middle School posing this question ‘How does connecting with others open up my world? ‘


While learning some Mandarin, we have looked at how alternative singer Sophie Koh and some Japanese students have opened up their worlds by connecting with the people of China.  We have looked at how people within China connect with each other to open up their worlds.

We are now having some fun connecting with Jo via Skype, a Chinese teacher in Beijing who is helping the students practice the conversation skills they have worked so hard on, and is helping them choose Chinese names!

We are also looking at how these school students from Tasmania opened up their worlds by connecting with China in this Behind the News story.  The Middle School students are now doing an activity to reflect on their story and their own leanings and connections on their blogs.

博客作业 Blog assignment

The middle school have set up their blogs, all with personalized cool designs, and posted their first Mandarin welcome post!

Now for the first blog assignment:

music kinesthetic2

We have been practicing fast recall of Vocab through musical and kinesthetic review.   Talk about this in a blog post!

Things to include:

Describe to your reader what we actually do in a kinesthetic music review.

Do you think music and movement help the brain to remember things? Discuss your thoughts.

What kind of music is best?  Suggest a piece of music you like that would be a good to use for a kinesthetic music review of vocabulary.

List the words that are we recalling at the moment.  Type them in pinyin with tone marks. Typing in pinyin with tone marks is a new skill, see this ‘typing pinyin’ post for a reminder of how we did this in class) What do these words mean? Explain how you typed in pinyin.

The bold words above are MYP commands, think about them, they are useful terms in all of your subjects.

I look forward to seeing your assignments!  You will see other students’ assignment posts on your dashboard post feeder.  Comment, discuss and help each other with corrections.

For some inspiration, I have found a version of Coldplay’s ‘Clocks’ performed by the ‘Twelve Girls Band’ using traditional Chinese instruments.  Together with a backdrop of China, I think it’s a good instrumental piece to do our kinesthetic musical vocabulary review! Enjoy!

Chinese New Year…a time to connect

This post is for both primary and middle school students!

Our primary school students have reflected on the story ‘A New Year’s Reunion’ by Yu Li Qiong this week.  They have not only empathized with Mao Mao, who only sees her father once a year, but with the feelings of Mao Mao’s parents who like millions of other men and women in rural China choose to work in the big cities, away from their families, to financially support their families.


Students have discussed their own family situations, having family members who live far away, or mums and dads who work away from home sometimes for days, weeks or months, to compare with Mao Mao’s family In China.

Middle School students will also be reflecting on this, as a ‘social phenomenon’. Millions of rural men and women in China travel miles to the big cities to work and are known as ‘migrant workers’.  They go home once a year, at Chinese New Year, to be with their familes for a few days, and then back to the cities to work.

This social phenomenon is known as the biggest human migration in the world! Here are a few videos to watch, but do a search in youtube to find some more perspectives on this phenomenon that not only stretches a nation’s transport capacities, but highlights a nation of people’s tolerance, resilience and commitment…amidst love and heartache.  In this world of globalization, how important is staying connected with our ‘families’?

We will revisit our MYP question ‘How does connecting with others open up our world?’ , and compare the situations of families in China with our families in Australia.

中秋节!Mid Autumn Festival

Mid Autumn Festival (Or the Moon Festival) is on the 8th Sept this year.  Who better than Groovi Pauli to give us a great song and video to learn all about traditions for this festival.  You can purchase his ‘Celebrations in Chinese 4 Kids’ that this song comes from on album on iTunes.

Here are the lyrics:

月亮月亮圆圆圆 yuè liang yuè liang yuán yuán yuán
(moon, moon, round round round)

月饼月饼香香香 yuè bing yuè bing xiāng xiāng xiāng
(moon cakes, moon cakes, fragrant fragrant fragrant)

嫦娥嫦娥飞飞飞 cháng é cháng é fēi fēi fēi
(Chang-E Chang-E fly fly fly) Chang E is the name of the moon fairy!

中秋中秋中秋节 zhōng qiū zhōng qiū zhōng qiū jié
(Mid-Autumn, Mid-Autumn, Mid-Autumn Festival)