How we practice writing Chinese at home without using any worksheets

This is going to be a quick post to document what I’ve been doing with Kai and Kei to encourage writing Chinese. I am not particularly fond of worksheets, and try to come up with alternative ways to incorporate writing as part of our weekly Chinese homeschooling routines.

Kai- Almost 6 years old

1. Morning Routine- Chinese characters book

As part of Kai’s morning routines, he does a page of Chinese writing after breakfast. I leave a page on the table before I head to work, and Kai does a page of this quietly while waiting for Kei to finish his breakfast. These characters are chosen based on the frequency of use. They are characters that I feel would be most useful when writing sentences or stories. Although I have purchased the entire set of Odonata workbooks, in the end, I did not use them at all! I prefer having Kai repeat the same characters over and over again rather than being introduced to new characters on every page. This practice has worked wonders for us, and we are now onto our second book!

Some of you may be wondering how I am able to track Kai’s stroke order when I’m not beside him. I can’t! However, I’ve done enough work with him with stroke order through practice on sand, on the whiteboard on the iHuman 洪恩识字 app (here) that he is likely writing them somewhat accurately. I don’t really stress about it too much ! I need to pick my battle, and am just happy he is willing to write Chinese!

Here is a quick clip of the Stroke order mini practice on iHuman. This feature is for every single character in t洪恩识字!

2. Roll and Write

This is a new activity that I introduced last week, which is inspired by an English “Roll and Read” activity from Twinkl. I am a huge fan of activities in which a single template can be modified for practicing different languages. This one is a keeper and will be part of our routines.

This activity is straight-forward and you can check out the videos below. The first video shows Kai playing “Roll and Write” with me, and the second one shows him playing by himself.

Here are all the “Roll and Write” mats that I have created. There is a blank one for you to fill in!

As for Kei, who is now 4 years 8 months, here is how I modify this activity work for him. Please note these are for English sight words, but you could simply change the words to Chinese:

Downloads

Here is a Superhero board game version of ROLL and WRITE I recently created.

3. Back-and-forth writing

If you follow my Instagram account, you will have seen a lot of #backandforthwriting in my IG Stories. This is something that I really advocate in order to ease children into writing a full sentence or a full story on their own. As with Chinese, I support Kai’s writing by providing:

  • a picture drawing template for the pre-planning
  • reminders of transition words on the paper template
  • reminders of stroke order and radicals (for me when guiding Kai to write)
  • PLECO app (here) for Kai to follow the proper stroke order for new characters

Please visit this blog post if you find out more:

4. Chinese radicals

Recently, I discovered a section on the app 洪恩识字 that teaches radicals in a clear way using animations and games, so I decided to go back and reteach Kai Chinese radicals more symmetrically. I created a template to help both of us remember the names and forms of the radicals. I had Kai write the radicals on its own first, and then went back to incorporate examples of characters that have each radical.  Do check out my other blogpost on Maximizing 洪恩识字 to learn Chinese (7 tips and printables) here

Download

Here is a list of sample characters for each bushou that I came across on Twinkl which I find really helpful:

Kei- 4 years 5 months

1. Chinese Strokes

Although Kei is already writing simple stories in English, I am in no rush to get him to start writing in Chinese. I am starting with Chinese strokes, and have incorporated them in drawings. Below are a few strokes that I have introduced so far! Just like how I did pre-writing activities with him in English, I felt this is a fun, non-stressful way to learn Chinese strokes. I will update this post as I create more of these activities!

I started doing some of these #backandforthwriting with Kei to learn strokes as well. Here is what we did to learn 提 and 撇捺

Here is a summary of what we’ve done so far!

And since I am also learning the name of all the strokes with Kei, I decided to also create a template for this so we can do more #backandforthwriting. You can download it here:

Here is a more recent video of Kei writing more Chinese characters as he is learning the names of the strokes:

I have put together a list of all the Chinese strokes which I display in a clear A4 ad stand. I did not create these, and do not know where these come from! Would love to give credit if anyone knows.

Finally, one section of a blog post titled “5 Crucial Methods for Memorising Chinese Characters” (here) really resonates. I think the common thread to all my activities is that it gives “repeated, frequent exposure to targeted characters.” In other words, instead of having Kai memorize a bunch of different characters every week, my approach targets a small number of characters that are all helpful for his story writing. I also agree that “repetition doesn’t have to be repetitive.” Kai is learning the same characters in many different ways. After all, there really is no escape from writing down a Chinese character many times, but there are certainly different ways to do it that would be more engaging for a child and at the same time, require little prep from the parents.

Here are other posts related to Chinese learning and literacy that may interest you!

Published by Ms Claudia Lee Kimura

Apple Distinguished Educator, Class of 2015 Primary school teacher, technology coordinator Not just a regular mom, but a teacher-mom Mom of 2 boys, stepmom of 3 boys

7 thoughts on “How we practice writing Chinese at home without using any worksheets

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