4 Fun Ways to Classical Chinese Poetry

As we discussed previously, knowledge of both classical and modern Chinese poetry is one way to learn new and creative applications of Chinese words. For the next two weeks, we’ll be doing activities to help our children learn about classical and modern Chinese poetry.


This week, we will be helping our children learn about the structure of some classical Chinese poems, the concept of rhyming, and the idea of painting images with words.



  • Classical Chinese poems for reference
  • Paper/Pencil
  • Write or print out several Chinese classical poems
  • Feel free to download some examples in Traditional Chinese or Simplified Chinese
  • Cut each line of poetry into its own strip of paper
  • Depending on how you plan to play, you may need to do this multiple times per poem, or even provide more than one poem.


Line Scramble (age 3+, single or multi person)

1. Mix up the strips of poetry lines
2. Have kids work together to put the lines in order

Alternatively, you can give each child a pile of poetry slips and have them see who is faster. To make it harder for older children, you can cut each poetry line in half to make more parts.

Fill in the Blanks (age 3+, single or multi person)

1. On the printed out poems, cover a few of the characters per line
2. Ask your child to fill in the blanks (either written or spoken)
3. You can take turns each blank, or hand out sheets and have them write it out.

You can make this easier for younger children by having the missing words written on the side for them to fill in. You can also put the missing words on cards so that it can be more interactive. To make the activity harder, you can add more blanks.


  • Blank paper
  • Drawing utensils (pens, crayons, paint, etc.)

Draw the Poem (age 3+, single or multi person)


1. Read and explain the poem
2. Ask if children have any questions
3. Ask them to draw how the poem makes them feel, or illustrate the story of the poem

If your children are younger, it’s easier to have them draw what happens in the poem or something tangible and concrete. For older children, you can have them draw a more abstract representation of the poem. For example, instead of what is happening in the poem, they can draw how this poem makes them feel, or how the narrator is feeling, or the ideas/themes of the poem.



Although there are many in-depth rules and structures for classic Chinese poetry, that is outside the scope of this articles. For our purposes, we will stick with some simple definitions:

  • Couplets: 2 line verse that rhymes
  • 2 Couplets (4 lines): the minimum number of lines in a poem
  • Fixed Line Lengths: typically 4, 5, and 7 characters for each line

Depending on how much you want to explain or make your children do (or how hard they think it is), you can choose to have them create couplets, two couplets, of any fixed line length.

  • Paper and pencil/pen

Write Your Own Poem (age 3+, single or multi person)


1. Explain the different types of poem structures (see above)
2. Choose which formula you want the kids to follow (or have them choose for themselves).
3. Choose a topic. (It is usually easier for children to have a topic.)
4. Write and then share/read aloud.

If your children are younger, you can write most of a poem and have them choose the rhyming words - even if it doesn’t make sense. This is to teach rhyme and rhythm and it can be very funny to the kids if it ends up being nonsense.

Or you can have the entire group of kids write a poem together about a given topic instead of making them write their own.

We would love to hear your comments and see pictures of your kids doing the activities. Make sure you join our Sagebooks HK Parent Support Facebook Group and share with us!


Keep the big picture in mind.

Because we have such limited time but so much desire for our kids, often, we obsess over tiny details out of the fear that we’re missing a learning window or some secret to teaching 5,000 characters in a year.

Don’t worry so much.

Yes, learning Chinese poetry is interesting and can be important to learning Chinese and Chinese culture. But stressing out on WHICH poem is likely not going to make a difference in the long run.

Yes, learning Chinese radicals is helpful for recognizing characters and can be a fun puzzle game. But don’t worry so much about it if your kid hasn’t memorized them all or doesn’t understand the finer nuances of Chinese characters. It’s OK. They will still learn to read.

Not everything is make it or break it. There is a lot of give and take on this bilingual journey.

Have these tips been helpful? We’d love to hear from you in our Facebook Group and we hope to see you there.