Monday, November 7, 2011

Chinese Homelearning: Story box, fairy tales and pictograms

Chinese is an especially hard area for me to homelearn with Dumpling when we first started off as that is not a language that I am comfortable in. I did well in school but I did not really like the subject because it was hard hard work and frankly, a lot of rote learning which was boring for me.

Since Dumpling goes to Mandarin N1, I thought I can have a break and just opt the easy way out - outsource to the school. But as Dumpling becomes more proficient in the language, she will engage me in that language sometimes and wants to read Chinese books and do some Chinese homelearning activities.

Dumpling is a visual-audio learner so the best way for her case to teach is to read with her and get her familiarised with the words. These are some of my resources that I use with her.

I started reading classic tales with her and then extending it into something fun. With Dumpling being so young then, my aim is really to get her interested than for her to recognise the words. This works for her because the pretend-play gets them running and "playing" as she acts out the parts.

So I made a story box using a old empty cardboard box. The one on the right was what Dumpling and I did for "The Ugly Duckling".
Add on: Please leave a comment if you wish for more information on storyboxes and I will share in another post how we made ours.
Then I printed these out from here and we made toilet roll crafts and used them for as a "puppet theatre".

After the interest is established, I bought fun activity booklets  and will bring them out with me whenever we head out. In the series below, each set comes in 6 booklets and are theme based - colours, numbers, on the farm, etc.

You can find a good series of classic tales here at Happy Cottage's website. She has 2 series and you can find part 2 on the right of her page under the navigation links.

Dumpling likes stickers so this was fun to do plus because each book is thin, it is light to bring out with us too.

The titles are according to age group and I bought the first set 2 - 3YO locally (sorry, but I cannot recall where I got them from). For theses 2 other sets, I ordered via

During a PTM with the school, I understood that Dumpling was picking up on words quite quickly and so, the teacher encouraged me to do more with Dumpling at home. I chanced upon these titles also from "Happy Cottage" and I love the pictogram approach. You can view them here

Chinese words evolved from drawings from a long time ago.

So it made sense to help Dumpling make sense of how the word came about and this series does just that. From the pictures below, you can draw out each "stage" and discuss with your child.

Now, Dumpling can recall how the word looks like because there is a story behind the words.

Depending on the child's age and learning style, you will have to decide how many words you wish to teach at one go. For Dumpling, I do not teach more than three per time and I definitely do not do this daily but as and when we have extra time for Chinese homelearning or when she requests for it.

I also came across this activity book from dangdang too which further complements the approach. The only gripe I have about this title is that sometimes the stock from dangdang are very old and so, the stickers from this book do not stick anymore and I have to use a roller double sided tape to stick them on. But Dumpling does not seem to mind as she finds it fun to roll the tape on.

Dumpling and I are also using other materials and approaches to Chinese in addition to those mentioned above but I will leave them for another post. :) Please post a comment so I know that there are people reading the blog!


  1. Thanks Shir... It's really a journey, of course not doing everything in one day / week! LOL...

    Importantly, since you are already reading etc., with her, might as well extend this to other activities. Great for bonding too! :)

  2. Babe! Great resources! The sticker book got me interested... will check more on that! Btw, think there's a missing link on where to print the animals (think the wolf and pig, cos there's no hyperlink for the word "here")... hehehe, if you can share that it will be great for me!! =)

    Thanks much as always... for someone with less motivation and so uninspiring, I am looking to you for some guidelines.... *blush*

  3. Alicia: thanks for visiting my blog and for letting me know about the hyperlink!

    Its been fixed! :)There are dang dang spreeist on our forum so you can spree from dangdang from them. I will be spree-ing mine very soon too! :)

  4. Thanks for sharing! Can't share much on CL as I haven't started much with KJ. Only recited Tang poetry and sang Chinese nursery rhymes. He loves pointing along at the words in books though he can't recognise any of them haha. I must strive to be as diligent as you to do such interesting activities :)

  5. wan juan: these were done over a period of a few months slowly building up and complementing what the school is doing with her for CL... You know me, I outsource the CL stuff. But recently, she started asking for them during our sessions so no choice, I need to work a bit harder! (@_@"")

  6. Babe! Do post more about how you construct story boxes! I have a few boxes and do not know how to do this... will be great if i can explore 1 day! =)

  7. Hey Alicia,

    Sure, will use it as the next or the next following post. :) Its very simple and Kie should be able to help with the sticking and the painting :)


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