Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Spring Book Review: A Nest in Springtime

Spring is finally upon us, and I could not be more excited to see the tips of daffodils and tulips poking through the dirt in my garden. 
To celebrate spring's arrival and the conclusion of our number study in my beginning Mandarin class, I shared the bilingual children's book, A Nest in Springtime: A Bilingual Book of Numbers by Belle Yang (Candlewick Press, 2012).
Although written for a younger audience, my 1st-3rd graders enjoyed hearing me read the endearing story, first in Mandarin and then translating to English words they had not studied yet. They participated by reading all the numbers in the story (in Mandarin, or course=).  

A great book for beginning Mandarin students and their families: It's not easy to find a Mandarin language children's book that beginning language students can read. 
  • A Nest in Springtime is great for kids who are learning to read Chinese characters, especially those who are familiar with the characters for numbers 1-8. They will be able to read 3-4 pages of the book!
  • The story is simple with a limited vocab (it's a board book). English translations are shared on opposite pages, and pinyin pronunciation for the Chinese characters in the story is provided on the last page. This option is great for people like me who aren't super at reading traditional characters (繁體字) or who are new to learning Chinese.  
  • Beautiful jewel-toned illustrations. These make story a joy to read!

To learn how to count from 1-10 in Mandarin, check out this great video put together by Daily Noodles: 

To practice writing your numbers 1-10 in Chinese characters, check out my post: Back-to-school Printable: How to write Numbers 1-10 in Chinese characters

 How will you be celebrating the arrival of spring? 

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Mandarin Adjective Match It

The big kids have started a new unit on adjectives. We're moving beyond dà (大, bigand xiǎo (小, small), to words like thick and thin (hòu, 厚; báo, ), short and tall (Ǎi, 矮; gāo, 高), heavy and light (zhòng, 重; qīng, 轻)

To help the girls learn this new vocab, I found a game called Adjective Match It on It's designed for the ESL classroom, but I thought it would be great for helping the girls become more familiar with our new set of Mandarin adjectives. 

A bit like Gin Rummy, the goal of Mandarin Adjective Match It is to collect four adjective cards that best describe the selected picture card.


These images are shared under a post about antonyms so not all are adjectives. They print out in pairs so I cut each card down the center to make smallish rectangular cards. I also made some adjective cards of my own to supplement. 
  • Cut out from magazines or print from internet 4-5 pictures that can be described using a variety of the adjective cards. You can use anything really. I looked for pictures that included more than one person, animal or object. 
  • Shuffle the adjective card deck and deal four cards to each player. Don't forget to count in Mandarin!
  • Place the remainder of the adjective card deck face down in the center of the table.
  • Choose a card from the image pile and place it face up on the table.

How to play:

  1. Player 1 discards one adjective card from her hand, the one that least describes the chosen image card, and draws a new adjective card from the deck. 
  2. Player 2 does the same. 
  3. Play continues until one of the players has four adjective cards that describe the image card and declares "Wǒ yíngle" (我赢了, I won!)
  4. Play 1 round or 20!

The Challenge:

Once your Mandarin students become familiar with the new adjective vocab, add another level of difficulty by requiring them to "make a case" for each of their winning adjectives.

For example, one of the girls won a round by using the adjectives "heavy" "wet" "tall" and "thick" to describe this picture    ----->

She said, "Shítou hěn yìng, yě hòu. Kōngqì hěn shī. Nánrén gāo." (石头很重,也厚。空气 很湿。 男人高." The rock is very hard and thick. The air is wet. The man is tall.) 

As long as they tried to explain their "win" (perfect grammar not necessary!), I let them keep the win: they held on to the picture card. 

How do you use games to practice new vocab?

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