Thursday, April 23, 2015

Memory Match with Chinese Characters

I am always on the lookout for fun and simple ways to review the Chinese characters we learn each week. After a few months, the number of characters start to add up and without the review, they quickly become forgotten.

Here is one easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy (as my kids would say) way to review Chinese characters. 

How to play: 

  1. Type up and print out the Chinese characters you have been learning. Use font that is large (I used 60 pt) and easy to ready (I used Hannotate SC because it looks like the characters are handwritten). 
  2. Draw their picture match, or if you are artistically-challenged (like me=) print out clip art.
  3. Gluestick characters and pictures on to cardstock squares or love the earth and re-use cards from an old memory match game.


  1. Forget steps 1-3 and print out this set:

Helpful hints: 

  • If you want to review Chinese characters that are not simple pictographs, match Chinese characters with their English translations. 
  • Start small. (My K-2 kids match 10 characters-20 cards total, at the end of each 6-week class.) Once they master a few, add to it. It will be a great way to reinforce their character recognition. 

Why this works: 

  • My kids (and probably yours too) have been playing this game since they were little tykes. They know the rules and are able to easily adapt to playing with Chinese characters.
  • It's flexible: Play as a group or individually. Play with 10 cards or 100. Change the characters on the cards as your kids' character memory bank grows.

How do you review Chinese characters in your home? 

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

HedBanz! Learn Mandarin by Playing Board Games

A few weeks ago, we discovered that the game HedBanz (by Spin Master Games) is a great way to practice asking questions in Mandarin. 

We had been studying question patterns like these:

是不是 green olive?             shìbùshì green olive? 
                                               Are you or are you not a green olive?

喜不喜欢吃 green olives?   xǐbùxǐhuān chī green olives? 
                                               Do you like or not like to eat green olives?

有没有 green olives?          Nǐ yǒuméiyǒu green olives?  
                                               Do you have or not have green olives?

Click here to read more about how to ask affirmative-negative questions in Mandarin.

So what does this have to do with playing Hedbanz? 

This is how we played:

The kids asked questions about the card on their headband, as if they were playing the game by the original rules. But instead of asking questions in English, they practiced their new, fancy affirmative-negative questions patterns, and asked questions like this: 
  • 是不是 mammal?    shìbùshì mammal?     Am I or am I not a mammal?
  • 喜不喜欢跑步?      xǐbùxǐhuān pǎobù?   Do I like or not like running?
  • 有没有尾巴?          Wǒ yǒuméiyǒu wěibā?    Do I have or not have a tail?
They swapped in English words for any they did not know how to say in Mandarin, which was absolutely fine with me because the point of the game was to get them comfortable with asking these types of questions. 

Our one round lasted a good 15 minutes, which was slower than if we had played the game in English. It took time for them to think about how to say what they wanted to say in Mandarin, but they did not lose interest in the game. In fact, when I suggested stopping, they pleaded, "Just one more question!" 

We will definitely revisit this game when we need to review this question pattern or whenever we need a fun warm-up/change of pace. 

What games to you play to practice your mad Mandarin skills? 
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