Idiom Matching Activities

Previously we have discussed the benefits of teaching our children Chinese idioms.  Here, we have a few activities that might help your children learn as well as remember some easy Chinese idioms.

If you’re like many of our parents, you may be at a loss as to which idioms are child-friendly and easy to remember. All the examples used in these activities were taken from our 5 Book Idiom Set. The idioms are simple enough concepts for small children to understand, introduced with a tiny story, and have a funny joke to reinforce the meaning of the idiom.

ACTIVITIES OF THE WEEK

With these activities, we hope to provide some examples of how to introduce idioms to your children, as well as help them remember the actual idioms (if not the meaning).


Chinese Idiom Activity 1: What do you think it means? (age 5+)

 HOW TO PLAY 

1. Say/show the idiom.
2. Ask your child if they understand all the words in the idiom. If not, explain what each word means without giving away the meaning of the idiom.
3. Ask your child to guess what they think the idiom means. Ask why they think so.
4. Explain the actual meaning of the idiom and why. Include a story if possible (from the Idiom Set) or point out ways your child got close to the meaning.
5. Ask your child to come up with situations where the idiom would apply.

Your kids will likely come up with strange or fanciful ideas or stories regarding what they think the idioms mean. They will more than likely be wrong - but you never know. The point of the activity is to engage them in the phrase, asking them to examine the words and interpret the meaning into something that makes sense to your child.

Then after they have come up with some possible explanations, your explanation may sink in a little more. Asking them to come up with situations that would apply to the idiom is further helping their comprehension and helping them build connections in their brain.

What do you think it means?


Chinese Idiom Activity 2: Matching Idioms (age 3+)

 WHAT YOU NEED 

- Idiom Set
- Pens, Pencils
- Paper

 HOW TO PREPARE 

- Write half an idiom on one strip of paper and the other half on another.
- Do this for 2-6 idioms.

 HOW TO PLAY 

1. Read out all the different idioms and explain what they mean.
2. Mix up all the pieces.
3. Have your child place the matching idiom pieces together.

Alternative Ways to Play: To make the game easier, you can use fewer idioms as well as separate the first and second halves of the idioms so that your child only has to figure out which halves go together instead of mixing them all up.

Matching Idioms Activity

Here are a few examples of Chinese idioms used in the videos.

開門見山
一五一十
人山人海
雞飛狗跳
七上八下
五光八色

For the more advanced children

Please check out our Chinese Idioms Crossword Puzzle post which challenges and expands your child's knowledge on idioms, all based on one idiom. Sample solutions together with English explanation are included for free download, in both traditional and simplified Chinese versions.

TIP OF THE WEEK

Setbacks are normal.

Learning new skills is rarely a straight line. It is more like a frenzied zig zag with no rhyme or reason. Sometimes, your child will seem to be bounding forward by leaps and bounds. Other times, it seems your child has regressed and forgotten everything you have ever taught them.

Don’t worry. It’s completely expected.

Many times, developmentally, some skill your child used to have perfectly will waver as they are processing another skill. Give your child a few more weeks and they will likely be back to the way they were prior to the setback. In fact, they might be even more developed!

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

紙短情長 In Search of Excellence

...A story of our search for the right paper

自從蔡倫發明了造紙術,紙就成為人類文明發展的重要催化劑。

時至今日,孩子啟蒙認讀,紙,依然是最重要的媒體。

對於「人生最重要的第一套書」的《基礎漢字500》而言,選擇用紙成為了整個設計過程中極為重要的一環。而在這個重要環節之中,卻有一個不為大多數人知曉的細節:從2006年初版至今,課本的用紙已經歷了三次重大的轉變。


When Cai Lun invented the paper making technique, paper became an important catalyst in the development of human civilisation.

To Basic Chinese 500, which is “the Most Important Book to Start Your Literary Life”, paper is an important element in its design process. While important, this has a little known story: the paper used in the books has undergone three major evolutions since its first edition in 2006.

[English version follows Chinese]

用紙的決定因素

思展的宗旨以孩子為先,因此我們在選擇用紙方面有三個基本的原則。

一. 紙張的明亮度

書本印刷用紙來說,主要有光面的粉紙和啞面的書紙兩大類。

從這兩類紙中,我們採選了光面粉紙。原因是幼童保持了人類的天性,偏愛光亮度高的東西。在原始世界,光亮度高的往往代表着水源,幼童的這種偏好來自人類基本求生的本能。

二. 紙張的潔白度

我們力求採用最潔白、最能表現出色彩光澤和對比的紙面處理,讓色彩鮮明、字體顯突,利用孩子對原始色彩對比強烈的偏好,吸引他們的專注。

另一方面,潔白度高的紙張容易造成反光,有時會有礙閱讀,因此我們的課文文字下面加上了一層淡淡的悅目底色。

三. 紙張的厚度

卡紙類的硬板紙作為課本用紙固然不實際;但紙張太薄,孩子因揭頁困難而每每要父母協助、又或者幾頁紙會貼在一起令孩子跳頁的話,會打擊他們的自立性和自信心,減低他們閱讀的興趣。

考慮到幼童的小肌肉和手眼協調發育未成熟,我們經過多番測試和篩選,採用了偏厚的紙。這樣一來,孩子既能自己一頁一頁地揭頁,而較厚的紙亦不容易割到手。

第一次更改用紙

頭兩個版次推出之後,家長反映了:因為紙厚而造成書太重的現象,出現了三個主要的問題:

  1. 孩子拿起來吃力
  2. 遇上家庭外出旅行,要隨身攜帶學習不方便
  3. 海外家長要承擔昂貴的郵費

於是,我們再度搜索尋訪,權衡各方面的要度求,在堅持以上三個原則的大前提下,更改用紙,將書的重量減輕了10%。

第二次更改用紙

這一次的更改用紙卻帶來了意想不到的問題:由於香港等東南亞地區氣候潮濕,新紙印刷的書本出現了擺放久後會出現一頁頁卷曲的現象。

於是,我們再次尋訪優質紙。

...

所幸的是,近年的各方面科技都出現了前所未有的突破,紙張亦不例外。我們的選擇比之前豐富了。

現在的《基礎漢字500》用紙,不僅比初版的用紙輕了近20%,亦不會卷曲。我們也聽到了更多孩子歡欣的朗讀之聲。

思展一貫以孩子為中心,不斷求進創新。

在往後的日子,更會再接再勵、精益求精,持續不斷地為孩子服務。

How we choose the paper for Basic Chinese 500

Sagebooks adopts a child-centred policy. We follow three basic principles when we decide on which paper we use for our books.

I. The luminosity of the paper

In printing books, there are two main types of paper: art paper and book paper.

We had chosen art paper for its high luminosity. It is children’s basic instinct to prefer objects of higher luminosity. This trait is deeply rooted in us since primitive times, when high luminosity often represented a vital source of water. Young children have this instinct for survival.

II. Whiteness of the paper

We have chosen whiter paper over off-white paper. This ensures that colours maintain their high contrast and brightness, and text is displayed clearly. As children are attracted to high contrasting colours, they will be naturally drawn to the books.

Such white paper, however, could sometimes create a reflection that disturbs reading. We have therefore added a subtle tint as the background for text.

III. Weight/Thickness of the paper

Cardboard paper are obviously not suitable for course books. However, thin paper could be difficult for young children to turn the pages one by one. Skipping pages, or relying on parents to turn the pages, can dampen children’s autonomy and confidence which in turn would reduce their interest in reading.

After many test runs and considering the fact that children have yet to develop their coordination and small motor control, we had chosen relatively thicker paper. This, we had hope, would help children to turn the pages themselves, and reduce the chance of children getting paper cuts.

First call for paper change

After the first two editions, we received feedbacks from parents. Thicker paper resulted in heavier books which in turn created three major problems:

  1. Children found it heavy to carry the set
  2. It was difficult to carry along when the family goes on trips
  3. Overseas families had to bear expensive postage

We started a new journey in search for quality paper. We managed to reduce the total weight of the books by 10% while upholding our three basic principles.

A second call for paper change

The paper change had, however, cause an unexpected problem. Hong Kong, together with other southeast Asian regions, has a subtropical climate which has high humidity. The pages of the new paper curled up when the books are left out after a while.

Once again, we set off for another paper hunt.

...

Fortunately, there have been breakthroughs in technology in all fronts in recent years, the paper industry included. Our choice of paper has expanded.

Our present edition of Basic Chinese 500 is almost 20% lighter than the first edition, and the books lie flat. The best part is that we have heard even more stories of how children enjoyed studying with our books.

Sagebooks Hongkong is dedicated to serving children.

We work ceaselessly to develop new courses and advanced educational products, and to bring you better services in the days to come.

5 Benefits of Learning Chinese Idioms

Every language has idioms and Chinese is no exception.

To many parents whose first language is not Chinese, most Chinese Idioms may seem to be a group of characters that produce a meaning not readily apparent from the actual characters used! This can all be quite confusing. When it comes to teaching our children, it also raises several other questions:

  • Are there too many for us to adequately cover?
  • Are they too obscure? Too complex?

The bottom line is: why should we teach Chinese idioms to our children?  

1. Cultural Literacy

It is virtually impossible to entirely avoid idiomatic language since idioms are ever-present in daily life and daily Chinese speech. Without some knowledge of the more common idioms, it could be very difficult to follow and grasp the true meaning of everyday conversation.

Furthermore, many Chinese idioms are based on ancient Chinese literature, history, and myths. They are also often closely linked to Chinese cultural morals and values. Learning these stories will expose our children to a common cultural literacy that native speakers are naturally steeped in by virtue of living in a Chinese speaking country.

 

2. Improve Language Comprehension

Idioms are widespread in both spoken and written Chinese. Having children  understand even just a few of the more popular idioms will allow them to read the news, stories, and text with greater facility. It is difficult to want to read something you don’t comprehend - so at the very least, this eases the obstacles to reading higher level books or those geared towards the native speaker.

Most idioms condense a full story into 4 characters. Thus, teaching our children what they mean will also increase their comprehension of the actual characters in the idiom, what the Chinese in the expanded original sources mean, and how the idioms fit in context of conversation.

 

3. Learn Metaphorical Thinking

Understanding idioms requires children to expand their thinking from the literal to the figurative. As we tell the idioms’ original stories, they will see and absorb how language can be metaphorical and symbolic. They will passively learn how simple words can encapsulate huge, complex ideas.

For example, take the idiom 井底之蛙 (a frog in a well) and its related idiom, 坐井觀天 (looking at the sky while sitting at the bottom of the well).

The story behind the idiom is that a frog lived at the bottom of a well all its life. One day, a turtle comes by and tells the frog about the sea and the sky. The frog scoffs to the turtle saying that there is nothing bigger or better than the well and that the sky is just a tiny round circle.

The idiom conveys the narrow-mindedness of people who have never ventured beyond their small spheres and think the well is an ocean or that the vast expanse of the sky is just a tiny circle. It is an illustration of people who have no idea about anything outside their world.

 

4. Increases Communication Options

When we equip children with a rich bank of Chinese words, idioms, and stories, we allow them to more fully engage their minds and express themselves. The more comfortable they feel with Chinese, the more agile and versatile their abilities, and the more confident and willing they will be to actually speak Chinese.

Without a stocked repertoire, children may feel as if the words and concepts they can verbalize do not adequately represent the complexity of their thoughts, feelings, and questions. For many children, that inability to accurately represent what they want to say is enough to prevent them from speaking in Chinese.

 

5. Forges Connections to Other Languages and Cultures

People share much similar thoughts and emotions despite differences in culture and languages. We can show our children how small the world is as well as how universal ideas are by comparing idioms across languages. By giving our children all these examples of similar idioms or concepts in other languages, we make them even more ingrained in their minds and show the relevance of Chinese idioms in their lives.

For example, 破釜沉舟 (break the cauldrons and sink the boats) means to commit oneself irrevocably. It is very close to the phrase, “Burn the ships.” The origin is from a commander trying to conquer a new land ordering his men to burn the ships so that they would have to conquer or die with no option of retreat.

Interestingly, the Korean and Japanese languages have their roots in Chinese. Coupled with the proximity of their geographic locations, the three countries share a lot of similar idioms (eg: the frog in the well).

With the several inspiring examples that we have used in this post, we hope it whets your appetite and makes the prospect of teaching Chinese idioms much more palatable and appealing.

 

Ying’s Story – learn with children and incorporate a variety of reading materials

This week’s Parent Spotlight is Ying.

She has three children and although her first two children didn’t fit with the Sagebooks curriculum well, her youngest has been doing well with the series. All the children will read along with Ying if she reads to them and they enjoy a variety of picture books, several different sets of early readers, low level magazines, and fun comic books that have zhuyin.

 FAMILY BACKGROUND (in her own words) 

Both my husband and I were born in Taiwan. He and my brother both completed 1st grade and can read pretty well; they both attended Chinese school on Saturday.

Me with my Kindergarten level Chinese didn’t have much a foundation in zhuyin or pinyin so I’m glad to be learning at least 500 basic words with my kids.

 CHILDREN 

12-year-old son (started but didn’t finish)
9-year-old daughter (started but didn’t finish)
5-year-old daughter (started: ~3-4yo; currently at: near the end of Building Reader and beginning of Confident Reader)

 

 IN HER OWN WORDS 

1. Why did you choose Sagebooks?

I wanted to learn to read and also learn to read with my kids.

2. What was your experience with going through Sagebooks?

I did it with all 3 but by far the youngest finished the most of level 4 before we slacked off. The other 2 it didn’t take as well as with my youngest daughter. She’s reading Sagebooks’s level 3 and 4 (Building Reader and Confident Reader) text books.

3. What did your typical lesson look like? Did you do additional activities? 

Initially it was a new word a day, review all previous lessons, then back to highlight word of the day and that chapter.

4. What did you like about Sagebooks? Was there anything you didn't?

I like the audio so I didn’t always have to read it. I was sad didn’t receive CDs and that the online audio files sometimes skipped chapters or were completely silent so I had to download the files.

5. If you have more than one child, would you do it again?

Yes. I went through it 3 times. Once with each child when they were about 3-5 years old.

6. Any advice for parents who are just starting?

If you just do a chapter a day, try to squeeze in 3-4 times a day. Review can be done quickly, too.  

...

Thank you so much for your answers, Ying! We love how you introduce so many types of books to the children in order to build up a love of stories and a foundation in the Chinese language. Your incorporating of Sagebooks as part of helping them read other books is what we love to see. We also admire your tenacity of spirit and willingness to persevere in Sagebooks with your youngest.

If you would like to be featured as a Parent Spotlight, please let us know!
JOIN US FOR MORE
Many of our featured families are part of our Facebook Group so if you’d like to take advantage of the collective wisdom of your fellow parents, please

JOIN SUPPORT GROUP

We’d love to hear from you.

趣味繞口令 Chinese Tongue Twisters

繞口令是傳統語文遊戲的一種,不管是哪種語言文化,甚至方言,都有它們獨特的繞口令,充份反映出該語文或方言許多的語音特色。而漢語集結了不同方言和地方風俗民情,繞口令的藏庫就更豐富了。

繞口令有長篇的,像敘事文一樣 (《施氏食獅史》就是最經典的例子);也有短的,像兒歌一樣。這些短而有節奏的繞口令,往往內容也很詼諧,讀起來其趣無窮,很適合孩子朗讀來練習。

孩子學習繞口令,不但可以集中練習語文音韻、糾正發音,還可以加深對韻語的認識和掌握,有助日後的寫作和語文運用。而事實上,不單是孩子可以透過練習繞口令幫助語文發展,很多專業的配音員或演講師,都會經常練習,或者以繞口令來作為工作/表演前的熱身。

繞口令大多着重於聲母或韻母的異同。以下的例子強調聲母的掌握:

Tongue twisters as a language game exists in all cultures. While they strongly reflect the unique characteristics of the sounds of a language or dialect, they are also culturally rich. In Chinese, as a result of her great variety of dialects and subcultures, there exist an enormously rich collection of tongue twisters.

There are essay like, long tongue twisters, such as the famous A Story of Mr. Shi Who Ate Lions《施氏食獅史》. There are also short ones, just like nursery rhymes. These little rhymes are usually humourous and fun to read. They are perfect for children to practice Chinese.

Learning some tongue twister can help children practice certain difficult sounds and improve articulation. It can be used as a speech remedy. It makes children become more sensitive to the way words sound. It also help them learn rhyming words which are important in writing. In fact, apart from children, many professional public speakers or voice artists also use tongue twisters as warm-ups or practices.

A lot of the tongue twisters focus on consonants. For example,

  • 西施死時四十四
  • 四十四隻石獅子
  • She sells seashells by the seashore.

而強調韻母的例子有 Below are examples that focus on vowels.

  • 住在六樓的柳先生留住了劉先生
  • Betty Botter bought some (better) butter

普通話和粵語

普通話的繞口令往往會在聲母和韻母都相同的基礎上,利用不同的聲調考驗讀者 (下面有不同的例子)。而粵語則除了韻母、聲母、音調之外,更要注意對字尾的開口/合口的掌握,例如:

In Putonghua (Mandarin), in additional to consonants and vowels, there are also the ever so challenging intonations (please see more examples in the following section). Cantonese tops Putonghua by adding focus on the silent consonant at the end of a character, as whether you keep your lips apart or tight makes all the difference. Below is a popular example.

入實驗室(扌禁)緊急掣

以下搜集和編寫了一些基礎漢字500課程範圍以內的繞口令。大人、小朋友都一起來玩吧!

We have compiled a list of tongue twisters below, some of which have been adapted to the Sage Formula course. Have some fun and give it a go!

畫和花 (普通話)

畫是畫,

花是花,

畫不是花,

花不是畫。

花美我來畫,

畫成畫中花。

 

小貓跳小鳥叫 (普通話)

小貓跳,小鳥叫,

小貓跳起要捉鳥。

小鳥叫,小貓跳,

小鳥小貓真熱鬧。

 

狼和羊 (普通話)

山上有隻狼,

山下有隻羊。

山上的狼要吃山下的羊,

山下的羊用角撞山上的狼。

關於使用閱讀練習卡的其他遊戲方法

購買閱讀練習卡

 

黃瓜開黃花 (普通話)

黃瓜開黃花,

黃花結黃瓜。

想要吃瓜先愛花,

朵朵黃花結黃瓜。

 

上菜市 (普通話)

四個孩子上菜市,

提着四隻小籃子,

買了四個大柿子,

路上拾把小石子。

回到家裏吃柿子,

吃完柿子玩石子。

 

雞和龜(粵語)

三蚊一斤雞,

三蚊一斤龜,

街頭買斤雞,

街尾買斤龜。

你話雞貴過龜,

定係龜貴過雞?

 

你還知道其他的經典繞口令嗎?又或者自己創作了讓孩子學習的繞口令?歡迎隨時投稿:

Have you come across other Chinese tongue twisters which are perfect for children to practice? Please share with us.

繞口令投稿 SHARE TONGUE TWISTERS

 

Jonathan’s Story – started at 6 years old and finished in 4 months

This week’s Parent Spotlight is Jonathan Lin.

Some of you may find his experience quite intimidating. However, we just want to remind you that his son started at a much later age, had lots of exposure to Chinese in a very immersive environment, and most importantly, was mature and developed enough to go at that pace.

The beauty of our Basic Chinese 500 set is that you can go at a pace that is best suited for your child. For some, that will be faster. Others, it will be slower. Only you can be the judge of that.

 FAMILY BACKGROUND (in his own words) 

I am the first generation immigrant from Taiwan. I came to the states for when I was 26. My son just turned seven and he started the Sagebooks 6 months ago. He now can recognize 1500-1800 characters and read a 4000-character book in one sitting.

 CHILDREN 

7-year-old son (started: 6.5 years old; finished: 4 months)

 IN HER OWN WORDS 

1. Why did you choose Sagebooks?

It was highly rated among Chinese learning community.

2. What was your experience with going through Sagebooks?

I started teaching my son seriously at the beginning of August 2018, and we finished by the end of November.

3. What did your typical lesson look like? Did you do additional activities? 

We read through a whole book at a time, and I wrote down the new characters in the index cards as flashcards. We review flashcards every day. We tried to review the book two to three times during the week.  During the weekend, we review all of the characters we have learned, including the ones we learned from previous books, and concluded the book.

4. What did you like about Sagebooks? Was there anything you didn't?

I have no complaints about Sagebooks except that there were some typos. For example, 飄 and 漂 were not used correctly.

5. If you have more than one child, would you do it again?

Yes, I would.  It is a very good system to start recognizing Chinese characters.

6. Any advice for parents who are just starting?

We were able to finish the whole system within four months because my son started when he was more than 6.5 years old. He did have a lot of Mandarin listening input before we started. Cartoon and CDs are the main media I used. I didn't read to him much before we started Sagebooks. Plus, we went back to Taiwan three times when he was 4/5/6 years old for 3/4/2 months respectively.  Therefore, once we started, he simply put the pronunciation to the characters accordingly.

In addition, older kids have more sophisticated logic. I can teach him more abstract characters and I taught him character roots. So, there might be merits to start later than six, I guess. (Though, the late start was purely due to my laziness.) The point is that you have to make Mandarin in daily life even though you are not actually "teaching" Chinese.

Aside from Sagebooks, we read stories for 30 minutes every day. He was "soaked/immersed" in Chinese characters for at least 1 hour daily. I think reading Chinese books helped him recognize some basic characters from the books we read.

...

Thank you so much for your detailed answers, Jonathan! We’re glad that the foundation you laid for your son in terms of language immersion and stories were such a big help as you went through our books.

If you would like to be featured as a Parent Spotlight, please let us know!
JOIN US FOR MORE
Many of our featured families are part of our Facebook Group so if you’d like to take advantage of the collective wisdom of your fellow parents, please

JOIN SUPPORT GROUP

We’d love to hear from you.

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Modern Chinese Poetry for Children

In a previous post, we included some fun ways to teach our children classic Chinese poetry that didn’t directly involve memorization.

In this post, we will be focusing on modern Chinese poetry.

Before we begin, here’s some quick background on what is considered modern Chinese poetry (新詩/xin shi). Technically speaking, it’s any poetry after the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1912) so any poetry written after 1912.

Below is from one of the most popular 新詩 (written in 1928) which just about any Chinese of secondary school level or above knows:

輕輕的我走了,
正如我輕輕的來。
我輕輕的招手,
作別天邊的雲彩。

- 《再別康橋》 徐志摩 (1897-1931)

There is a rich array of modern Chinese poetry for children. A lot of them are very descriptive, constructing vivid images of sounds and phenomenon of the nature. Still many are more philosophical ones that explore topics such as passing of time, family and relationships. Here is a simple example:

我回家,把鞋脫下
姐姐回家,把鞋脫下
哥哥、爸爸回家
也都把鞋脫下
...
大大小小的鞋
就像大大小小的船
回到安靜的港灣
享受家的溫暖

- 《鞋》 林武憲 (1944-   )

Modern poetry also appear in the forms of tongue twisters, nursery rhymes or silly poems which are always children's delight. Here is an example of such poems:

弟弟妹妹別生氣
明天帶你去看戲
我坐椅子你坐地
我吃蘋果你吃梨

And here’s one that kids are bound to like because it mentions farting.

對不起,敬個禮,
放個屁,臭死你!

ACTIVITY OF THE WEEK - MODERN CHINESE POETRY ACTIVITIES

Please feel free to download a few poems to get you started.

   

Traditional Chinese version Simplified Chinese version

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

 WHAT YOU NEED 

Modern Chinese poems or nursery rhymes for reference

 HOW TO PLAY 

1. Read 2-3 poems a few times
2. Ask your child to choose a poem and try to act it out
3. See if the other kids can guess what poem it is from the actions alone

You can make this easier for younger children by having them choose to act out a line from the poem and have kids guess the line instead. The point is to get the kids moving and active and being silly.


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

 WHAT YOU NEED 

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

 HOW TO PLAY 

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

Again, in this case, you can use nursery rhymes or silly poems. Those are much easier to capture their imaginations.

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.


Write Your Own Poem (age 5+, single or multi person)

Since modern poetry is mostly free form, it should be relatively easy in terms of concept. Application can be harder, as children may be reluctant to try.

For our purpose, you can remind kids that poetry is meant to inspire, provoke, and instill beauty (even if it’s beauty in common, everyday things).

 WHAT YOU NEED 

Paper and pencil/pen

 HOW TO PLAY 

1. Choose a subject or topic
2. Start off the poem with a line you create or copy from a nursery rhyme
3. Ask a child to say/write the next line
4. Continue through each child and then read aloud

If your children are younger, you can write most of a poem and have them choose the rhyming words - or in this case, the words don’t even have to rhyme. It’s okay if the words don’t make sense.

The point of the activity is to get the kids’ creativity going and get them used to the idea of describing a subject or object or anything in a poetic manner.

Alternatively, you can have your kids write a poem by themselves about a given topic. Just remember to have appropriated expectations. The poems will most likely be terrible but that is okay!


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!

TIP OF THE WEEK

Try lots of new things.

As people, we tend to be creatures of habit. When it comes to teaching our kids Chinese, these habits can be a good thing because it makes Chinese a routine part of our lives.

However, sometimes, that gets us in a rut and we get bored or only go for what we’re comfortable with. This usually results in our children not leveling up in vocabulary or exposure to different aspects of Chinese culture.

If you try new things – whether different teachers, activities, stories, YouTube channels, or subjects – your kids will learn new things and possibly even find new loves.

And if they end up not liking something, that’s okay! It’s all part of the process.

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

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.

ACTIVITY OF THE WEEK

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 POETRY ACTIVITIES - POETRY STRIPS

 WHAT YOU NEED 
  • Classical Chinese poems for reference
  • Paper/Pencil
 HOW TO PREPARE 
  • 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.

CLASSICAL CHINESE POETRY ACTIVITIES - DRAW THE POEM

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

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

 HOW TO PLAY 

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.

    

CLASSICAL CHINESE POETRY ACTIVITIES - WRITE YOUR OWN 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.

 WHAT YOU NEED 
  • Paper and pencil/pen

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

 HOW TO PLAY 

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!

TIP OF THE WEEK

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.