Story telling activities to boost Chinese ability

A few weeks ago, we tried out some activities to help our children use stories to improve their Chinese skills. This week, we will be using different aspects of storytelling to help kids with their observational skills about life, people, and their surroundings. You can also tie these activities in with our previous article about using observation skills.


Most of these activities are engineered in such a way as to make the Chinese seem like an “afterthought.” The goal will be to teach children how to use their actual life and environment to mine details for a story - but in Chinese. If this is beyond your children’s Chinese abilities or vocabulary, it’s a good way to teach these skills in English and then teach your children the words they need in Chinese.

Observational Chinese Story Prompt Activity (age 3+, single or multiple players)

  • Sheets of paper
  • Pen/Pencil
  • If you don’t want to do this at home, you can take your kids to a park or a place with lots of people (or even a museum)
  1. Ask your child to look around their surroundings and have them point out things they find interesting. If they don’t know the words in Chinese, provide them the words.
  2. Depending on your child’s ability, ask them to explain to you why they find it interesting. Is it something they don’t see often? Find funny? Scary?
  3. Remember to have your children use all their senses. What do they see? Hear? Touch? Taste? Feel (as in emotions)?
  4. After they have pointed out a few things from their surroundings, ask your child to create a short story from the interesting things.

Depending on your child’s age, you can increase or decrease the difficulty level of the activity by taking the following steps:

  1. The younger your child, the fewer observations you can ask from them (although you may find that they’re the most observant!).
  2. To make it easier, you can provide tiny prompts as they’re telling the story. (Eg: Tell me a story about what you see.)
  3. To make it more difficult, you can ask your children to WRITE down the story in addition to telling you the story.
  4. To make it easier, you can ask a series of questions and have them answer one question the questions and have it count as the story.

Descriptive Object Story Activity (age 3+, single or multi players)

  • Random objects for your child to observe and describe
  • Pen/Pencil


  1. Place the objects in front of your child.
  2. Ask your child to describe the object to the best of their abilities.
  3. Using the descriptions your children have come up with, see if they can transfer the descriptions to other things (Eg: a tall tree can become a tall person)
  4. Ask your child to tell a story using the descriptions.

Depending on the age of your child, you can increase or decrease the difficulty level of the activity by taking the following steps:

  1. To make the activity harder, you can ask your child to transfer the descriptions onto other things in their story - or even have them try antonyms. Ask the kids what kind of objects would be the OPPOSITE of what they just described.
  2. To make the activity easier, you can have your child tell the story using the object they just described.
  3. To make the activity easier, you can use fewer objects. To make it harder, add more objects.
  4. To make the activity easier, you can give your children hints of prompts to get them started.
  5. To make the activity harder, choose objects that have no discernible relations and have your child make something up based on that.
  6. For multiple children, you can either have them write individual stories or have them write a story together.
  7. To make it more difficult, you can ask your children to WRITE down the story in addition to telling you the story.

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!


Remember: opportunities to teach Chinese are everywhere.

Our daily lives are a font of rich vocabulary if we just slow down enough to remember. Children are constantly asking questions, making random jokes and observations about their inner and outer lives. We can take advantage of their natural curiosity.

If you already know the terms in Chinese, simply provide them for your children when the topics come up. Explain things in Chinese first. If you don’t know the terms, develop the habit of pausing and then looking up key terms in a dictionary. Then explain what you can in Chinese and sub in English for the parts you don’t. Or, just use the key Chinese terms and explain the rest in English.

But in general, mine your daily lives for the words you can teach your children. After all, if you use it daily, your children will have a better chance of recalling and using the terms in the future.

很多家長都已是我們 Facebook 群組【講媽 · 講爸園地】 的成員。歡迎你也加入我們,一起互相鼓勵和支持,共同為孩子的學習而努力。

加入【講媽 · 講爸園地】