Lahlahbanana recently introduced me to this amazing Chinese-learning platform Lingobuddies (here). After browsing the website as a premium member, the first thing I downloaded was a Goldfish Journal Template and a 5-Senses dice. As some of you may recall, I have posted about using sensory details to help a child write descriptively (See post here .) Guiding children to explore and describe their experience using their 5 senses (sight, smell, sound, taste, touch) can help them add concrete details to their writing.
This goldfish project, similar to the Flat Stanley project (here), was exactly what I was looking for during the spring break. The idea is to create a paper cut-out of a goldfish (which happens to be Kai’s favorite animal), and have it alongside your child during their daily routines and special outings. You can take photos of the cut-out in the various places that it goes, and the child can recount its adventure in the form of stories or journals.
This specific journal template from Lingobuddies encourages a child to describe using their five senses. A young child can either draw pictures or write short phrases when adding details. An older child could use this template to plan a descriptive paragraph about their outing.
Below are the different places where I took Kai and the goldfish!
1. Soccer Practice Outing
We brought the goldfish along to Kai’s soccer practice, and worked on our journal the next day. Kai rewatched some videos and pictures of the day at the soccer field, and he drew a picture in the box. Kai told me some of the things that he saw, heard, smelled, touched and tasted. I wrote the characters on the whiteboard and Kai copied them in his Goldfish journal.
Kai wrote: I saw Mommy. I heard Tsubaki’s voice. I smelled air. I touched the grass. I tasted water.
2. Hawker Center Adventure
The next day, we brought the goldfish with us to the hawker centre in our neighbourhood, and completed our second goldfish journal. Do keep in mind that it’s not necessary to complete all 5 sensory details, but rather, choose the ones that are relevant for the experience.
Kai wrote: I saw many people. I heard a lot of noise. I tasted ice-cream
3. Long Kang Fishing
On the fifth day of the Japanese school holiday, I took Kai to a fish farm in Ang Mo Kio. Their website is currently under maintenance, but some basic details can be found (here). Kai and I really enjoyed our morning at the fish farm as it was shaded, not crowded, and the facility was clean and well-equipped with what Kai needed to catch the long kang fish. He was provided with a net, tagged with a wristband and we took it easy, spending around one hour catching 8 fish (We paid $12 for one hour). In the end, the staff helped us bag the fish, gave us some fish food, and we brought the plastic fish tank (bought for $3) home with us.
Of course, we brought our Goldfish along too, and after catching many fish, we took a break and completed the journal entry:
Kai wrote: I saw fish and prawns. I heard the train. I touched the water. I ate biscuits!
The same evening, I encouraged Kai to write about his experience in English as well. Noticed he actually incorporated the detail about the noisy train!
Kai wrote: Today I went fishing. I caught 12 fish with a net. The choo-choo train was so loud. The uncle put the fish in a box. I want to go again.
4. Butterfly Park & Insect Kingdom, Sentosa (here)
Our forth outing was taking our Goldfish with us to see butterflies! We have been learning about the butterfly lifecycle (here) so when I saw mystorytreasure posting about this, I knew I had to visit with Kai and Kei Being at the butterfly park, and surrounded by the fluttery-buttery butterflies, smelling the flowers and listening to the squawking of the macaws engage both children and adults in our 5 senses. Kai was easily able to recall his experience after!
For some of the difficult characters like 蝴蝶 and 饼, I used the PLECO app (here) for support so Kai can copy while looking at the correct stroke-order.
Kai wrote: This afternoon we went to butterfly park with Meina. I saw so many butterflies, chrysalis and birds. Mommy released a butterfly.
Kai’s English journal also shows he included some details on what he saw!
I just want to mention that this writing task was done first by me scribing for Kai on the computer. He also contributed by typing a few words here and there.
Guiding Kai to describe his outings using his senses is a concrete way to help him add descriptions and details to his writing. Using the 5 senses is an easy way to bring a journal or a story to life even for a 5-year old. Do give this a try and see whether it makes a difference!
Lingobuddies is a subscription-based company from San Francisco that creates learning resources in traditional and simplified Chinese. The premium subscription plan is $14.50US a month and gives you unlimited access to the resource library, which was where I found the Goldfish Journal. An annual subscription comes to US$9.50 a month. The contents are ideal for children between 3-8 years old, and all the activities are straight forward and parent-friendly.
FREE MEMBERSHIP is also available by simply signing up on their website. Below are my top picks from their FREE resource library that would be helpful for any parent wants to incorporate Chinese as part of their routines. Not to mention you will be receiving FREEBIES every month.
I took a screenshot of all the topics that Lingobuddies currently offer to PREMIUM MEMBERS. You can also search according to age and category. Lingobuddies offers new materials every month, and is suitable for Chinese-speaking parents as the activities do not have word-for-word English translation.
As a final thought, all of these resources are time consuming to create even for a teacher like me. It was just wonderful to have come across Lingobuddies and it has saved me a lot of time creating Chinese materials on the computer. They also have a few things that I have never thought about doing with my children, such as learning about APPLES!
You can hashtag #lingobuddies, #mygoldfishjournal and tag me if you have a chance to try this activity!
If you are interested to read more about my other Spring literacy-related activities, click here:
Mommy’s game plan for Spring: literacy-centered activities (Part 1)
Mommy’s game plan for Spring: literacy-centered activities (Part 2)
Using 5-senses to encourage your child to write descriptively
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