French

Rush Hour Game to Learn Numbers and Colors

We just love this game Rush Hour. It is challenging! It is fun! It is portable! It is hard to lose too many pieces! 🙂

Seriously, though, we love it. My son, Lucas (11) recently decided to start a Chinese tutoring class fueled in part by a desire to buy Pokeman cards (which he has yet to purchase – thank goodness) and a new-found pride in his Mandarin-speaking skills. He has rush_hour_gameused this game often during his tutoring sessions because it is a great way to explore numbers, directions and simple vocabulary while still challenging his students. His students range from 5 to 11 and so he needs to find games that will appeal to all ages — and this one is it!

Here are some colors to get you started:

FRENCH:

black   noir/noire
white   blanc/blanche
gray     gris/grise
red       rouge
blue     bleu/bleue
yellow jaune
green  vert/verte
orange orange
purple violet
brown marron
pink     rose

SPANISH:

black      negro
blue        azul
brown    marrón, pardo
green      verde
grey        gris
orange  anaranjado
pink       rosado
red         rojo
white    blanco
yellow amarillo

MANDARIN: 

ColorPinyinSimplified
whitebái sè 白色
bluelán sè藍色
yellowhuáng sè 黃色
greenlǜ sè 綠色
redhóng sè 紅色
orangejú sè橘色
brownkāfēi sè咖啡色
blackhēi sè黑色
purplezǐ sè 紫色
greyhuī sè  灰色



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Filed Under: Chinese, English Literacy, French, Games to Learn a Second Language, Homeschooling, Playdates, Posts with Videos, Spanish, Uncategorized

Battleship to Learn Chinese Characters

battleshipThere is no better way to learn anything than by having fun! This is why I created these Battleship Games with simplified Chinese characters for my son to play.
My 9-year-old daughter loves writing and learning and writing Chinese characters. She is quite the little artist and so for her, they are more like small works of art. For Lucas, my 11-year-old, learning Chinese characters is more arduous. The repetition and the memorization that my daughter enjoys, it just plain old boring for him.
However, with this game — especially with this title 🙂 — he loves it!
The game is set up just like the Battleship that you remember from your childhood. You get 5 boats and you need “sink” your opponent’s boats. You have a grid as your playing area and you call out coordinates from the x-axis and y-axis to see if you have landed on your opponent’s ship. However, with the game I have made, the coordinates are marked with Chinese battleshipsimplified Mandarin characters instead. You and your child call out two Chinese characters (one from the x-asis and one from the y-axis) and see if you have a hit!
Exciting stuff!
The reason why this mom loves the game is that by the end of playing, my kids know all of the characters on this game board REALLY well since they have had to say them over and over again in their hunt for boats to sink.
Here is a link to free downloadable games for you to use with your family:
battleship-games
Here is a video of Lucas playing the game:

Filed Under: Chinese, Cultural Experiences, French, Homeschooling, Playdates, Posts with Videos, Spanish, Uncategorized

Have your child tutor in your target language

Lucas Chinese Lesson Plan I used to teach 10th and 12th grade English in New Jersey. When the students wrote about Jane Eyre, their writing was less than fabulous. However, when they wrote to actual companies about something that they wanted to change or to an author that they loved, their writing was amazing. There was a direct correlation of their level of interest in the topic and their writing ability!
I feel as if the same thing is happening with my son’s blossoming interest in studying Chinese. He now thinks that learning Chinese is useful and valuable. A skill.  Before this year, Chinese was just something that we did in the home, but did not have a translatable purpose.
 
Lucas Chinese tutoring with Rush HourLucas’ desire to build his Pokeman card collection has inspired his interest to tutor in Mandarin! He came up with the idea himself and wrote the website himself!
 
Perhaps your kiddos can use their second language skills to teach other kids! If your child is just starting out, perhaps have your child teach a younger sibling or a younger neighborhood kid for a few business-book-for-kidsdollars or a bump in his/her allowance — or just for fun! 
I know that for Lucas, it has been inspiring to realize that his Chinese is a skill that is valuable and fun! He loves his new tutoring business and I love his enthusiasm!
Lucas’ tutoring website: Adventures in Chinese
His first lesson:
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Filed Under: Chinese, Cultural Experiences, French, Homeschooling, Playdates, Posts with Videos, Spanish, Uncategorized

Advent House Number Game

Why not make use of your Advent House for something other than waiting for Santa to come? We use this magical little house to explore numbers in a second language in a fun and challenging way!

Not sure where to get an Advent House? Amazon has a ton of great ones!  Check them out here:

Four Game Variations: Print out these number PDF pages below (numbers from 1 – 25) and cut them out. Scatter them in front of your Advent house and set a timer on your Educational game with advent housephone.

  1. Solo Race-  How quickly can your child put the number in the correct door? Try this game several times to see if you can beat your previous score.
  2. Sibling Competition- If your children like to compete against each other, set a timer and race to see who can be the fastest to put the numbers in the correct doors.
  3. Work Together –  Your family can work as a team to put the numbers in the correct doors. How fast are you guys?
  4. Other ideas? Please comment below!

Print Outs of Numbers 1-25: 

Mandarin Numbers

Spanish Numbers

French Numbers

English Numbers

Print Out of Numbers 1-31 (if you are crazy like us and have a Halloween Countdown) 

Mandarin Numbers

Spanish Numbers

French Numbers

English Numbers

 


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Filed Under: Chinese, English Literacy, French, Games to Learn a Second Language, Homeschooling, Spanish, Uncategorized

Your Library’s Free Language Resources

Use Your Library for Free Language Resources

Right now, we use Rosetta Stone as our French curriculum (we once had Rosetta Stone for Greek, but that, along with my computer, got destroyed in a Rosetta Stone, both from a user’s perspective and as a parent. Its immersion-style of learning mimics the way we naturally learn languages, so you quickly gain a certain level of fluency. And for the kids, it’s nice to have a program that they can do entirely on their own. However, it is not cheap (although you can often find it up to 40% off, so make sure you price check before you rosetta-stonebuy), and if you want practice to grammar or writing, Rosetta Stone isn’t really structured to provide that kind of instruction.

For our other foreign languages (Spanish and Greek), we don’t have any “official” program. My intention was to wait and slowly add more languages to my Rosetta Stone collection, but I keep finding a lot of other uses for that money. I’m also just not convinced, given how many free resources are out there, that I have to pay for anything (at least not at this early level of instruction).

All you need is a library card and a dream!

I don’t go the the library as often as I should, given how much I love the library (and how often I am buying books that I should just go check out of the library). But I have a very bad habit of racking up late fees, and until recently, my 3 year old thought of the library as his own personal playground, with books instead of balls to throw. We didn’t make a lot of friends among the staff or other patrons.

We are, more or less, past all of that now, so I have begun to re-discover the library.  Although I knew you could get more than books at the library, I had never investigated all of the free e-resources available through most public libraries. At libraries across the country, with nothing more than the account number on your library card,  you can access, at home or anywhere else, a treasure trove of educational tools, from audiobooks, ebooks for kids and adults, test prep, magazines, (even Us Weekly, yay!), and online membership to language learning programs.


Muzzy and Mango

Through my library, there are two different language programs available: Mango Languages and Muzzy (both of which you would normally need to pay for.) By logging on to my library’s website using my library card and a pin # they gave me, I can use these two programs on my home computer (or any computer), as though I was a paying customer.

Mango is not designed specifically for kids, but as long as they can read at a mid-Elementary level (a strong first grade reader, or average 2nd grader), they will be fine. The program is offered in 63 languages, although some languages have a lot more lessons than others. Unlike many programs, Mango doesn’t focus on teaching you the foundations of the language, but rather getting you to a point where you could function if you were dropped off in the middle of the country on your own.

Each lesson starts with a list of conversation and grammar goals, which l like; there are also cultural notes interspersed throughout the lesson. As a starting point for language learning, I like Mango (especially if you get it for free). I could definitely see us using it as a replacement for Rosetta Stone, at least for the first level or so. On the negative side, it’s not very interactive, which could cause some kids to lose interest, but luckily the lessons are short and sweet.

Muzzy, produced by the BBC, is one of the oldest, and best-known language learning programs for children. I was very excited to find this program offered through my library, because I have wanted to try it out for years, but didn’t want to buy it. It offers 8 languages, including Spanish, French and Mandarin (but not Greek, sadly!). It uses cute animation, videos and games, implementing a “see and say, listen and learn” method which mimics native language learning. And they have recently redone their animation and music, so it doesn’t look as horribly dated anymore, although its still far from glamorous (you can see a clip of their updated look here). Given that we can access it for free, I am happy to have my kids use it to complement their work on Mango.

So that’s what I’ve found at my library. How about you? I’m curious if other libraries offer different, or more, selections. In a future post, I’ll share some other great, free, language learning resources from the interest and YouTube that we’ve enjoyed. Stay tuned!

Thank you for reading!



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Lisa Sarafidis – Guest Blogger

Independently Schooled

lisa

Filed Under: Chinese, Cool Websites, Cultural Experiences, French, Games to Learn a Second Language, Homeschooling, Lisa Sarafidis - Guest Blogger, Product Reviews, Spanish, Uncategorized

Let Me Talk To Strangers

Speak in MandarinI thought that title might get your attention!  

Yes! I let my kids talk to strangers… in Chinese. Of course, I am there watching from a safe distance,  but I want my children to feel comfortable talking to folks who speak Mandarin outside of the little cozy circle that I have created for them.

They currently speak to their tutor, babysitter and swim teacher in Mandarin but I want them to be able to understand different accents and faster/slower voices. I want to see how they would do “in the real world” with their Mandarin.  Granted, speaking in Mandarin to random strangers in IKEA does not exactly mimic the “real world”,  but it at least opens their ears to accents that they may not have heard before or a pace that they may never have encountered. 

What can you do?

So the next time you hear someone speaking in your target second language, nudge your little ones to “speak to strangers”! 

 

Filed Under: Chinese, Cultural Experiences, French, Homeschooling, Spanish, Uncategorized

Explore Cultural Events in Your Target Language

Explore Chinese Language Through ExperiencesOne of the best ways to explore the second language that you study with your children is by experiencing cultural events in your target language. It may take some time to hunt down those events, but once you do, they can become a part of your annual traditions that help boost your child’s interest and ability in your second language choice!

Enhance your child’s excitement about learning a second language by immersing him/her in fun cultural events! 

How do we find out about events in our target second language? 

I am a participant in many free yahoo groups, Facebook groups and mommy meetup groups that focus on Chinese learning with children. People in those groups are always posting wonderful events in Chinese for my family to check out! Often times, the events that get shared are for adventures that I would never have found otherwise. For example, one of my Mandarin-speaking mommy yahoo groups posts about Chinese book-fairs at local bilingual schools. The money helps out the school,  but I can also buy and check out new Mandarin products for my kids! Win win! 

10 Ways to Find Out About Cultural Events in Your Area: 

1. Join yahoo groups in your area focusing on your target second language (or start your own!) 

2. Join meetup groups in your area focusing on your target second language  (or start your own!) 

3. Join Facebook groups in your area focusing on your target second language (or start your own!) 

4. Sign up for a class in your target second language to make friends who speak that language. 

5. Call libraries in the area where there is a large population of folks who speak your target second language. See if they offer a reading hour in your target second language. See if they have a bulletin board where folks might post events that might focus on your target second language.

6. Check out book stores where they have a large collection of books in your target second language. Post up a sign or look for events posted on bulletin boards there.

7. Post an ad on craigslist looking for friends who speak that second language choice or search for events there.

8. Go to grocery stores that focus on foods culturally from your target second language and see if anyone has posted events up on the bulletin boards there. 

9. Check out your local newspaper that focuses on your target language choice and see if they list some fun events. 

10. Look online at local museums that have collections of art that focus on your target language to get on their lists to see when events might come up that might focus on the language of your choice. 

How can you get the most from your event? 

Learn Chinese by exploring another culture

Encourage your child to jump right into the event and start speaking your target second language!  If there is an activity – get your kid to join! If there are restaurants nearby with staff that can speak your target second language, have your kids order the meal! If there is a special activity, make sure that you get there on time to enjoy it!

For us, my children were delighted to find out that people actually speak Chinese outside of our house! When we first started exploring Chinese, my kids must have thought that it was this language that only existed in our home and with our babysitter!  Now they know that there is a large community right in our neighborhood that speaks Mandarin just like they do! 

Chinese Ribbon DanceHow often should I go to these kind of events?

It is really up to you and how much free time you have with your family. We try to attend something in Chinese once a month. We have explored all of Chinatown, purchased books at fairs, listened to library book readings in Mandarin, gone to museum gallery events that focus on Chinese culture or history and attended many playdates hosted in Mandarin. 

Where are we in these pictures? 

The pictures of my family in this post are of us enjoying Chinese New Year in San Francisco. My kids loved munching on Chinese snacks at the stands,  “dancing” in a Chinese Ribbon Dance, watching Chinese drummers perform and testing out their Mandarin with everyone they met! 

 Enjoy your adventures! 

Michelle

michellegannon

 

Filed Under: Chinese, Cultural Experiences, French, Spanish, Uncategorized

Best French Word Learning Material

First Thousand Words in FrenchIf you’re looking for a fun and easy way to teach your kid French, Usborne has some of the best books and products. All of their books are filled with colorful ways to teach your kid the French Language. The best part about their French language books for kids is that they are themed — instead of just showing you a word and its definition, these books associate the French words with interesting activities kids can relate to in everyday life. Many of the French books also include pronunciation links online spoken by a native speaker. What a wonderful French learning resource to make sure that you are saying all of the words correctly! 

 We have personally reviewed each of these books and DVDs so check out our reviews here: BEST FRENCH WORD LEARNING MATERIALS

Happy Learning! 

 

The Folks at The Language Playground 

 

Filed Under: French, Games to Learn a Second Language, Product Reviews

Making Flashcards More Fun with Games

making flashcards funHow can you make flashcards more fun? We use games in our house and add a “flashcard component”! Everyone is happy!

The whole family has recently fallen in love with this creative strategy game called Blokus. The goal of this game is for players to fit all of their pieces (each player gets 21) onto the board. When placing a piece it may not lie adjacent to the player’s other pieces, but must be placed touching at least one corner of the player’s pieces already on the board. The player who gets rid of all of his tiles first is the winner. You have to think ahead in order to find the best path for your pieces and to block your opponent.  It is an fantasticblokus-chinese game to build your child’s spatial thinking!

How do we use Blokus to make flashcards more fun?

Each player in Blokus is given 21 pieces and so for each piece a child puts down, he needs to answer one flashcard. Each person in the family needs to answer his flashcard before he can play so by the end we have gone through a ton of cards! There are 84 pieces in the game but not all of them will be used. Usually, there is a winner by the time 60 pieces have been put down — that’s a lot of flashcards!

What I love about Blokus:

  • Blokus is a challenging game, but a ton of fun! My daughter at 9 years old can play it, but my husband loves it too!
  • There are just enough pieces for us to get through a lot of flashcards without it feeling like the game gets interrupted too much.
  • The game also does not drag on forever as I have found with some other board games. Eventually, there are no more spaces left to put down your pieces and you need to figure out who has more area covering the board.
  • It is a great game for children to understand the concept of area.

Challenges:

If you play the game with only two people, you need to either make the board smaller by blocking off a few rows or you need to have both players play with two colors which can be confusing.

Buy it here on Amazon: 

 

What a wonderful game! We are just thrilled! I hope you are too!


 

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Happy playing!

Michelle

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michelle

Filed Under: Chinese, Flashcard Fun, French, Games to Learn a Second Language, Product Reviews, Spanish, Uncategorized

Product Review: Bear Hunt Game for Critical Thinking

Bear Hunt Game by Melissa and DougProduct Review: Bear Hunt Game by Melissa and Doug

Where can I get it: Bear Hunt by Melissa and Doug via Amazon

Playground Rating:

StarStarStarStarHalf Star

We just love this high-quality game by Melissa and Doug to build deductive reasoning skills in both English as well as in Mandarin. It is easy to turn games that are traditionally played in English into a fun activity in your target language. We use this Bear Hunt Game  with my 8 year old son and my 5 year old daughter to build their vocabulary and deduction skills in Chinese.

How to Play?

Each player gets a game board (there are two in a set) with a variety of bears under each flap. Some bears have hats, others have a mustache, some  have flowers in their hair, etc.  Players choose a bear on their wheel at the bottom of the board, and the other player asks yes/ no questions to try to guess which bear the other player has chosen. What a wonderful game for teaching process of elimination! It’s very durable, and its clever design has no pieces to lose! It is great for developing deduction skills.

How to play the game in your target language? 

We play the game exactly how one would in English, but in Mandarin. Children explore vocabulary such as color, hat shape, hair style, flowers, gender etc. while trying to figure out which bear you have hidden.

What I love about the game: 

  • Builds logical reasoning skills in an entertaining way
  • Highly entertaining — my children will play this game all day!
  • Children can win just as easily as an adult (parents don’t have to “try” to lose every once in awhile, you will probably lose a few times even when you try! )
  • Game pieces are all attached so you won’t lose any pieces
  • Very sturdy (we have had ours for years and it still looks brand-new)

What I am not so crazy about this game: 

  • As with many of the Melissa and Doug Games (see my review about the Memory Game) the game is a bit heavy for travel. However, if you are just traveling in your car, this game is perfect.
  • When a player turns down a window, it can be a bit loud (see the video below) which might wake up a sleeping baby if you are playing it in the car. However, the durability of the game makes it so that it won’t fall apart and so the pieces are on the board tightly, which makes for the loud sound when you close a window.

The following video demonstrates how we play this game as part of our morning routine with our Mandarin-speaking helper:

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments! I’d love to hear from you! Please post at the bottom of this blog entry or email me! Let’s stay in touch. If you liked the ideas in this post, please sign up for our newsletter so that you can hear from us!

michelle

 

Filed Under: Babysitter Help, Chinese, French, Games to Learn a Second Language, Posts with Videos, Product Reviews, Spanish