Games to Learn a Second Language

Best Spanish Word Learning Materials for Kids

First Thousand Words in Spanish for KidsWe just love these books to explore vocabulary in Spanish! The clear illustrations and creative scenes of these books make learning Spanish vocabulary with your children fun and educational. Many parents may be familiar with the Usborne Book Company but perhaps you did not know that they offer a wonderful selection of Spanish learning material for kids! 

We have been using their First Thousand Word Series books for years and now they are available in multiple languages. 

Check out our list of our favorite Spanish books personally reviewed by the folks at the Language Playground. 

 

Have fun! 

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

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!


 

Stay in touch with us by signing up for our newsletter! We’d love to chat with you!

newsletter

 

Happy playing!

Michelle

This page contains affiliate links.

michelle

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

How can I make flashcards more fun?

Lucas stacking chairsAhhh… the perennial question! How do I make flashcards fun for my kids? Most people simply hold up a card and see if the child knows the answer and move onto the next one in the stack. From experience, this type of “game” does not last very long. The “fun factor” is pretty much non-existent. However, it does not take much planning on your part to make flashcards more exciting. Trust me. It is easy. 

Here is how to make flashcards more fun:

All you need is a toy/game/tool that has multiple pieces and have your child “earn” a piece by answering one correct flashcard. The more cards he/she answers the more pieces he/she gets! It actually makes the game more exciting because the child does not just immediately get all of the pieces to it! This earning method slows the game down and makes the child really focus on the goal of the game. 

What are we playing right now?

My kids’ favorite is this Family stacking Chairs Game. The children get one chair for each correct flashcard. The object of the Chairs Game is to stack all of the chairs without them falling. If the chairs fall down, the children have to start over again. My children find this game incredibly compelling and love answering the flashcards to get chairs. stackingchairs

Factors for Success: 

1. Don’t let your child play this game outside of the flashcard time. It should be played ONLY with flashcards and put away all other times. 

2. Make sure that the game is something fun. It does not have to be the most expensive toy out there — but it needs to be compelling. 

3. The toy needs to have enough pieces for your child to be able to build/create/finish it within 10-40 flashcards. Don’t pick a game or toy with hundreds of pieces because then your child will lose interest in having to answer so many flashcards to get the pieces. 

4. Have a few of these games ready to go so that in case your children show the slightest sign of being bored with it, you can tuck that one away and bring out a new one. You can then break out that old game at a later point and it will keep its “game life” a bit longer. Never let your kids get bored with a game because then it will always be labeled as “boring” in their heads. 

Check out these games: 

 

 

 Please like us on Facebook!

join us on Facebook!

 

 Happy playing! 

Michelle Gannon

Founder of The Language Playground

michelle

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

PRODUCT REVIEW- Bin Bin's Magical Bubble Adventures: Learning Mandarin Through Stories

binbindvdWhat delicious giggles I heard from my two little girls Hudson (2) and Lousha (6) while watching Bin Bin’s Magical Bubble Adventure! Perhaps it was because the show incorporates the two things my girls love best — flying and bubbles! Bin bin travels by bubble and flies to his magical adventures — you can’t get better than that! 

In Bin Bin’s Magical Bubble Adventures, Bin Bin and his friends teach children about colors, foods and sleepy time through fully animated stories, catchy songs and fun “lessons” at the end of each show.  The characters explore Mandarin vocabulary through three engaging stories, Where Did All the Colors Go?, Magical Land of Food, and Sleepy Time Adventure. 

STORY 1: Where Did All the Colors Go?

In the first story, Where Did All the Colors Go?, Bin Bin rides a magical bubble to Color Land!  A storm has washed away all of Color Land’s colors. At first, the characters only want to add their favorite color to the landscape, but then they realize that a world with all of the colors is more beautiful.

ASPECTS I LOVE ABOUT THIS STORY:

  • The main colors red, blue and yellow are clearly reinforced during the beginning of the story when each character only wants their color used. My two year old knew those three colors down pat by the midpoint of the story.
  • I love bigger message about difference and acceptance —  that the characters realize that a world with only one color is no fun at all.  
  • The creators of this DVD incorporated a bit of science into this story by showing how two colors can mix together to form another color. While this element would probably go over the head of a younger viewer, the older child would find this idea appealing. 

STORY 2: Magical Land of Food

In the second story, Magical Land of Food, the Bin Bin’s friends are unable to find any food to eat so they go on a journey to the Magical Land of Food where funny food items grow on trees (hamburgers) and on the tops of flowers. My children loved the magical component of this story — hot dogs that you could grab on a bush. 

binbinbubbleNOT CRAZY ABOUT: 

  • Many of the food items chosen were very “American” (hot dogs, pizza and hamburgers.) I am sure those food items appeal to children, but I want my kids to learn about food items that they would encounter if they went to China as well as foods that they see here. While I know that China has these food items, I would prefer it if my children learned the names for other foods that might appear in Chinese dishes. 

STORY 3: Sleepy Time Adventure

The little bunny Max can’t wait to say good-night to his favorite things: stars. But when he looks up in the sky, Max is unable to find any! 

ASPECTS I LOVED ABOUT THIS STORY: 

  • After bubbles and the concept of flying, stars are right up there with things my kids love. The notion of engaging with the stars in this story was enough to keep them enthralled even though it is the last story in the series. 

binbinBIN BIN’S MAGICAL BUBBLE ADVENTURE PARTING THOUGHTS:

 OVERALL PRO:

  • MAIN MENU SCREEN CHOICES: Parents have a variety of choices when they get to the opening screen — they can either pick to watch all of the stories, just the lessons, just the songs or the whole shebang. If the parent only has 10 minutes or so to kill and would love to pop in a video — this DVD enables parents to quickly and easily present just one small segment. Anyone who is a parent would know that you can’t pop in a full feature-lenght show for your kids and expect them to be totally OK with you shutting it off after just 10 minutes! Also, my children really love the songs and so often I will just choose the song options as that is what they want to hear and I don’t have to fast forward through the story to get to the song. 
  • ENGAGING TESTING COMPONENT: I love the “testing component” sections at the end of each story. The “lessons” offer an opportunity for viewers to engage with Bin bin and his friends and answer questions. My children (even the 2 year old) loved answering the questions. Perhaps they were also compelled to answer because after a short pause, the answers are given by a group of happy sounding kids. That audio choice made my children want to play along with “the other kids”. 
  • INVITING STORYLINE: Even though my children have watched this DVD many times, they are still riveted by the content. Hudson, the two year old, always says “ut oh” when the storm approaches in one of the stories. 
  • IMMERSION WITHOUT ENGLISH AUDIO: So many of the DVDs out there for Mandarin only incorporate a few words of Chinese and then the rest of the DVD is in English. If you want to get an immersive DVD experience, you typically need to buy a special region free DVD player to play the disks from China. This disk plays on US players. 
  • CLEAR WORDING: It was hard not to pick up some Chinese while listening to the story as the characters repeat vocabulary (but not in a boring way) and say them very clearly. I watch a lot of Mandarin Disney DVDs with my kids and often because the dialogue goes by so quickly, I can’t catch anything! The audio in Bin Bin’s Magical Bubble Adventures is clear and well-paced. 
  • MEMORABLE SONGS: My kids sang right along almost from the very start! 
  • A MOMPRENEUR CREATED IT: I love supporting the “little guy”and not let Disney have all of the fun. The visionary behind this series is a mom from the Bay Area in California. She had an idea and went for it. 

OVERALL CON:

  • No subtitles. For a newbie to Chinese, I would love to have some help in figuring out the storyline. 
  • I could not get it to play in my car, but perhaps it is an issue with the kind of DVD player I have in my very swanky red Toyota minivan. 

For more information about this DVD and the company check out their website at: http://www.kakekids.com

Have fun! 

Michelle

michelle

 

Filed Under: Chinese, Cultural Experiences, Games to Learn a Second Language, Music to Learn a Second Language, Product Reviews, TV as a Tool

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

Memory Game in a Second Language

Memory Game Melissa and DougTitle: Memory Game by Melissa and Doug

Where can I get it:

Memory Game by Melissa and Doug via Amazon

Playground Rating:

StarStarStarStarhalf star

 

It is easy to use games that you currently have in your house to teach your child your target second language. The games that you play do not have to be written in that second language in order for them to be effective as a teaching tool. Many games readily available in your local toy store are filled with great vocabulary opportunities. This Memory Game by Melissa and Doug is a wonderful tool to use both in English and your target language. 

Memory games are a wonderful way to increase the concentration power of your child’s brain. Memory games can be used not only to help your child to improve her memory by concentrating and focusing, but can also be great for second language learning. We have had this high quality memory game by Melissa and Doug for years and the other day I broke it out with my Mandarin-speaking babysitter as a great way to have fun and explore vocabulary for zoo animals, fruits, colors, farm animals, shapes, numbers and vehicles in Chinese. The wooden game has 25 windows that are coved by wooden shutters that you turn over to find the hidden pictures underneath. A player get to turn over two hidden squares to try to find the pairing. If the player does not make a match, it is the next person’s turn. If the player does make a match, she gets to go again. 

Children can easily play this Memory Game by Melissa and Doug by themselves or with a friend. I often find my daughter, Lousha, playing the game by herself. It is easier to use this pre-set, immoveable game by herself rather than use the traditional memory games of this type where the cards are more like a deck of playing cards and she needs to find a space on the floor and lay them out in rows herself. Often, when we play the games where the game is more like a deck of cards, the rows get messed up and then it defeats the point of the game as the placement of the card moves if you accidentally brush against them.  Also, in our family, we have a very curious and engaged toddler running around who likes to cause mayhem! Cards neatly placed in rows on the floor would not last long in our house! 

Check out this video of my daughter and our helper playing this memory game in Mandarin: 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9aL8KfB9fg

How do you play the game in a second language?

Simple! Just ask your second language speaking caregiver to play the game in that second language. The game does not get played unless it is done in your target language! Don’t have a babysitter who speaks your target language? Look up the words for the game yourself and create a little cheat-sheet! Then you can learn vocabulary for your second language at the same time as your child! 

What I Love about this Memory Game

  • No Loose Pieces – everything is attached to the game itself and so there is no way to lose any of the pieces. 
  • Easy to Manipulate – it is easy for my children (even my baby) to turn over the windows to reveal the picture below. 
  • Mentally Demanding – the cards are double-sided and so your child will be challenged to try to find the matches if you switch around the cards each time you play. 
  • High Quality –  we have had this game for years and it still looks brand-new! It is made out of wood and elastic and so the game is built to last. The cards are made out of a hard tough-to-rip paper. 
  • Easy to Play without Adult Help – unlike the playing card versions of memory that are so prevalent, this game is much easier for a child to just jump in and play by herself. 
  • Competitive Option: If your child likes to keep score, there is a little score board at the bottom of the game to keep track of how many pairs each person has found. 

What I Don’t Like about this Game: 

  • Travel game? I don’t think so. It is too heavy to carry along with you on flights (along with all of the other stuff you have to lug along with you on trips with kids) 
  • I wish that they had included more cards or had different categories on the other side of the card. I would have loved to have vegetables or professions or clothing items included as categories. 

How You Can Improve the Game for More Second Language Learning: 

  • Trace the board game on card stock paper and create your own game to add vocabulary. Get stickers with various themes for vocabulary enhancement and you can use the same game, but for literally thousands of different vocabulary words! Here are some ideas: 
  • If you want your child to start recognizing words, cover up one of the pairs with the written word on a little piece of paper that you tape over the picture. Then your child will look for the written word in your target second language and match it with the picture. 

 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, Uncategorized

Getting Started …

lisaLisa Sarafidis – Guest Blogger

I have a confession to make. My kids don’t speak French. Not that they should, since we don’t live in France (“Hello, Captain Obvious”, as my daughter would say). However, I had assumed that we would have made more progress in French by now, since it is a goal of mine to have multilingual children. And my kids really want to learn French. And I speak French myself. And, and, and…

Apparently, just wishing it were true does not a multilingual family make. And my efforts so far have not been very rigorous. We work hard on the Greek, since that is my husband’s native language, but the French lessons have been few and far between. So, I am issuing a challenge to myself, and to any of you out there that have been thinking, “Gee, I really want my kid to speak French” (or Chinese, or whatever language you choose): let just get started!  I’ll share what I am doing, and we’d love to hear what you are up to.

I’ll document for you (and myself) the steps I take with them, and share what works, and what doesn’t. The one overriding principal will be “Keep it fun!”.  This isn’t about lesson plans, but ways of introducing them to French and French culture (or which ever language you choose) so that they think it’s a game. I am going to try something new each week, whether it’s a theme, or a book, or a website.  So, without further ado, here we go! 

Snack Time!

Eat Like the French, curing picky eatersSince I love to eat, and my kids love to eat, I decided food would be a great place for us to begin. I recently read this wonderful book called “French Kids Eat Everything“, which documents how a Canadian mother, married to a Frenchman, was able to transform her picky, snack-obsessed children into fabuous eaters. Sign me up! In a nutshell, the book describes how French kids are trained from a young age to eat very well during their meals (lunch and dinner are usually 4 courses), and they are only allowed one snack a day, called the gouter (pronounced goo-TAY), which is generally served to them around 4:30. While they only get one snack a day (so as to not spoil their appetites), it is an awesome snack. Think pain au chocolate, croissants, or other yummy pastries. At all other times, they are served what the adults are eating, with the theory that if they are hungry, they will eat it. I’m going to write more about this book at a later date, because there are lots of other ideas in it I want to share, but for now, I’ll just say that so far, it really does seem to be working.

I explained to my kids that in the spirit of learning French, they were going to start eating like FrenchChocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes kids. We were going to be making the table fancy for every meal, including using a….wait for it…tablecloth (gasps from the kids…looks of puzzlement as they try to figure out the purpose of the strange blanket I am putting on the table). They would be having no snacks, except for the gouter, but I would let them pick the gouter, and they could help me make it every Sunday. For all other meals in the house, they would have to eat exactly what I made for myself and my husband.  I had expected a full-scale revolt, but much to my surprise, they are 100% on board. And I think it is due to the gouter. Above is a picture of the first gouter we have made, Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes, from one of my favorite food blogs, The Smitten Kitchen.

Shameless Self-Promotion

french for kids, french apps for kids, shopping appWhile we were sitting at the table on Monday evening, all civilized with our table cloth, glass cups and fancy plates, my son asked me how to say “Please pass the milk” in French.  And for the life of me, I couldn’t remember the French word for milk. I told him to wait a second, and I would look it up on google on my phone. To which he responded, “Why don’t you just look it up on Lingo’s Market?”.  Oh.  Right.  The grocery shopping app that has 100 food items in French, Spanish, English and Chinese that we spent 2 years of our lives making. 

My kids often play with the app- sometimes to mess around in one of the languages, but frequently just to watch him burp or fart (to those of you who have bought the app, you are welcome!) I hadn’t yet purposely used it for language-learning…and not to toot our own horn, but it totally works!  As we were sitting at the table, whenever there was a food item they wanted to know, they would use the app as a dictionary, and scroll through the store to find the word. Or to watch Lingo eat garbage bags, which is apparently hysterical. So this is now part of our evening routine, if only for a few minutes at the beginning of dinner.

Sight Words

The last thing I am adding this week is actually one of the first things we put up on this website a few years ago…sight words for french learning tools, sight words in french, teach kids frencharound the house. These are a series of images that describe things in different parts of the house, written in French, Spanish, English and Chinese. You print them out, and tape them to the item they describe, so kids can easily absorb the word. We have them for the kitchen, living room, bedroom and bathroom so far, and they are free! Just download here, print, and tape up! For this week, I am only putting up the kitchen words, but you could do all of them at one time if you want.

So that’s what we are doing this week. It was actually pretty easy and took minimal time to set up. We’d love to hear from you guys- any tips to share? Post it on our facebook page, leave it in a comment below, or drop us an email at learn@thelanguageplayground.com.

 


 

Let’s stay in touch! Please sign up for our newsletter! 

newsletter

Filed Under: App Reviews, Cultural Experiences, French, Games to Learn a Second Language

Inspirational Letters: Using Cookies for Language Development

Cookie LearningI don’t know about you,  but my kids just LOVE treats. My kids would probably jump through hoops of fire for an Oreo cookie. Why not use treats to inspire language acquisition and reading skills? If your children get a little treat after dinner, why not turn that ritual into an educational activity? Typically, my kids have to “earn” their treats by doing chores around the house, but this week we tried out something new. They “earned” their treat by coming up with words inspired by letter cookies.  They had such a good time and loved brainstorming words that started with the letter of the cookie that they picked out of the box!

If you are teaching your children a second language, have them earn their cookie by brainstorming words in that target language. If you are working on literacy skills with your children, have them come up with words in your native language to earn it. 

How do I do this activity? 

 1. Pick up some alphabet letter cookies. I was surprised to realize how difficult it was to get these at my regular shops. I ended up buying a bunch online and saving myself the hassle of searching each store for them.  I also bought alphabet cookie cutters so in case I run out of cookies in the box, I can just make my own! Here are some yummy options:  

2. Put the cookie letter on the top of a page and write out a numbered list of how many words you want your child to brainstorm. For my daughter who is 5, I only put down 5 words and we brainstormed the list together as she is an emergent reader. She ended up coming up with a lot more once she got the hang of it, but we started off small. For my son who is 7, I put down 5 words in Chinese for him to brainstorm and 10 words in English. 

Cookie Learning

3. You can do this activity either in your target second language (i.e. brainstorm 10 words in Spanish that start with this letter to earn the cookie) or in your native language (i.e. for our family, brainstorm 10 words in English that start with this letter)

4. Once your child comes up with the list, he/she gets to eat up that cookie! My son loved the activity so much he ended up at 10 cookies before mom put the kaibosh on it until the next day!

Happy Learning! 

IMG_2460


 

Let’s stay in touch! Please sign up for our newsletter! 

newsletter

 

Filed Under: English Literacy, Games to Learn a Second Language, Uncategorized

Love Tree for Literacy and Language!

Love Tree in MandarinFor children, Valentine’s Day can often just mean yet another holiday where they get tons of treats and the spirit of the holiday is lost. Why not make Valentine’s Day mean more than the heart-shaped lollipops and chocolate cupids? We started a tradition a few years ago where the children brainstorm with me who they love in their lives and we commemorate them on our little love tree. I bought this tree years ago for Easter and since it takes up a bit of room in the garage, I now use it for a lot of things — Valentine’s Day being one! 

What is a Love Tree? 

It is a little tree that sits on our dining room table where we hang hearts (love leaves) describing the people we love and why we love them.

When can you start this tradition with children?

We started the tradition when my son was just 2. Over dinner, we would talk about each person that we loved and make a little heart for him/her. I have saved the hearts from each year and it is great to look over last year’s love leaves and see how much his handwriting and written expression have improved over the year. 

How can I utilize my target second language with this activity? 

Depending on your child’s fluency and written level in your target language, you can incorporate as many elements as you want! 

For younger children, you may want him/her to just write one word in your target language or just one phrase, “I love you” each time on the leaf at the bottom or at the top and the rest in English. Or perhaps you have your child list off why he loves each person and then incorporate words from your second target language into that list. 

Love Tree in ChineseFor my family, since we are learning Chinese, my children write the love notes to the Chinese-speaking people we love in Chinese characters. For example, my son wrote  你是我的好朋友  (You are my good friend) for his Chinese tutor and 我愛你  (I love you)  for his Chinese babysitter who both play big roles in his life.

How can I make this activity educational ?

Easy! The activity itself enables children to put feelings and emotions to paper. The love tree gives children a sense of print motivation — they get great pride in realizing that their words are going to be celebrated and enjoyed by the whole family. Words matter! This activity checks off each of the Six Early Literacy Skills detailed in this article

Considerations: 

1. It is easy for younger children to want to put everyone down. At first my son wanted to put down “the kid with the brown hair in school who wears the green shirt” as one of his love leaves. This activity is a great opportunity to talk about the people who are important to them and why they deserve a leaf on our tree. 

2. If you have a tutor or babysitter who speaks your second language of choice, ask him/her to help you teach your child a few of these love phrases. Brainstorm with your child what kinds of thoughts he wants to say. Perhaps your child wants to say “I love you because you play soccer with me” and currently he does not know how to write that yet — what a great opportunity to learn! 

3. Save your hearts each year in an envelope with the year printed on it. It is fun to bring them out after you have finished this activity to see how much your child’s literacy has improved. A word of advice: DON’T bring out the hearts until AFTER you have done the activity. I find that my children just repeat the same love messages as last year because it is fresh in their minds. 

How To Do The Activity: 

1. Cut out hearts. For younger children, trace the heart for your child to cut out. 

Love Tree in Mandarin

2. Paste the hearts onto a different colored paper 

Love Tree in Mandarin

3. Cut around the hearts

 Love Tree in Mandarin

4. Brainstorm the people who are important in your child’s life and why you love them. Write love leaves for each person. 

5. Use a hole puncher at the top of the heart and tie a string around it. (This is Lucas’ note from last year to Daddy) 

IMG_2583

6. Hang up your hearts 

7. Take out hearts from previous years and enjoy discovering how much your child has improved in vocabulary, expression and handwriting. Your child will love making comparisons about his/her writing as well! 

IMG_2577


 


Please sign up for our newsletter to get up-to-date information about happenings at 
The Language Playground! 

newsletter

 

Filed Under: Games to Learn a Second Language, Uncategorized

Love Notes for Literacy and Language Development

IMG_2535Love, Literacy and Language Learning all go together this Valentine’s Day!

One of our family traditions is to write “love notes” to our family members and tuck them underneath the chocolate morsels found in the traditional heart-shaped boxes. This year, my son Lucas has started to learn Chinese characters so we jumped at the chance to incorporate his new words into our Valentine’s ritual this year! In addition to the love notes written in English to promote his literacy skills, we added one or two Chinese ones to the mix! You can do this activity in any language! 

Though this activity, my children realize that what they are learning at school (both in their Chinese class and in elementary school) have real-life implications. What they learn matters! 

What is this tradition? 

1. Pick up small heart-shaped boxes to distribute to family, friends, and/or teachers. Don’t get ones that have too many spots for chocolate as your child might get bored of the activity if there are too many spots to fill. I like to pick up the small ones that only have 5 spots for the chocolate – which means 5 love notes per person. One thing to be aware of, some of the cheaper boxes do not have actual slots for the chocolate and instead just have a jumble of candy inside. Beware of those as this activity does not work for those kind of boxes. 

2. Cut up paper into 1/2 inch strips — big enough for your child to write on them but small enough to be folded and hidden under each chocolate piece. 

3. Brainstorm with your child what you love about the person who will receive the Valentine’s box. My first grader tends to prefer a set statement to work with for this activity, “I love you because..” Whereas my 5 year old daughter prefers to have me write out the phrase that she wants to say on a separate piece of paper and copy it herself on the slivers of paper. 

IMG_2537

4. My son wanted to have a mixture of Chinese characters and English words for this year’s love notes. We gave each person one love note in Chinese and four notes in English. 

IMG_2547

5. Fold up the love notes and place them under each chocolate in the Valentine’s box. 

IMG_2538

6. Send your love notes off with a kiss! 

IMG_2545

Love Phrases in Chinese: 

I love you. ~ Wo ai ni ~ 我愛你 

I think of you everyday ~ Wo mei tian xiang nian ni ~ 我每天想念你 

You are my good friend. ~ Ni shi wo de hao peng you. ~ 你是我的好朋友 

Love Phrases in Spanish: 

I like you (very much / a lot) = Me gustas (mucho)

I love you = Te quiero or Te amo

I miss you = Te extraño

You’re sweet = Eres dulce

You’re cute = Eres lindo

Sweetheart = Mi amor

Love Phrases in French: 

I love you. ~  Je t’aime.

You are beautiful (male) ~ Tu es beau.

You are beautiful (female) ~ Tu es belle.

You are handsome (male) ~ Tu es élégant.

You are handsome (female)~ Tu es élégante.

You make me happy (male)~ Tu me rends heureux.

You make me happy (female) ~Te me rends heureuse.

I miss you ~ Tu me manques.

I like you ~ Je t’aime bien.


 

We’d love to stay in touch! 

newsletter

Please join our newsletter! 

 

 

Filed Under: Games to Learn a Second Language, Uncategorized