Posts with Videos

Headbands for Second Language Learning

Headbands is probably my favorite game in our house. Everyone can play it and everyone enjoys it! The concept is simple. Someone picks a card for you that has an image on it (cat, spoon, rake, etc.) and you need to figure out using yes/no questions the object that is on your head.

How is this a language game?

You can play this game in any language! The object is simply to guess what the object is on the top of your head and just THINK about all of the vocabulary needed to figure it out! We play this game with our Chinese-speaking babysitter because she is able to provide the kids with a ton of vocabulary of objects (like hammer, fire hydrant, etc.) that the kids might not know.

Some Tips:

  • Make it more challenging by using  a timer with the game. The student needs to guess the answer in the set time (2 minutes or so). This way the guesser and the other players don’t get frustrated as it can take a long time to figure it out.
  • If your child gets stressed out with a timer (as one of my kids does) don’t use it! Just let the child guess the object in his/her own time. This version may work better if there is an adult giving the answers as children might lose patience if the guessing lasts too long.
  • Instruct your kids to ask big questions. I have to remind my little one, Hudson, of this idea every time because otherwise she will just start guessing random words and you can imagine how long that game might take (yikes!) Some questions that you can give them as starters are the following:
    • Does it fly?
    • Does it live in the ocean?
    • Would you see it in a farm?
    • Do we have one in our bathroom? Kitchen? Garage?
    • Is it a food?

Have fun! Let us know how it went in the comments section of this post!



This post contains affiliate links.

 

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

Basketball to make flashcards more fun

How can you use basketball to make learning flashcards more fun? Lucas, my 11-year-old son, came up with this idea to do with his Chinese tutoring students. He and I brainstormed tons of ideas to make learning Chinese characters more fun and this one is one of our favorites!

GETTING STARTED: 

  • Find flashcards that you want your children to use or make them yourself. Put one word on each card.
  • Decide on the number of cards that you want your student to learn
  • Review those cards with your student
  • Place the cards in a semicircle around the basketball hoop (farther for older kids, closer for younger ones)

HOW TO PLAY: 

  • The student needs to say the word on the flashcard before he/she can try to make a basket
  • If the student gets the basket, he/she gets to keep the card as a “point”
  • If the student does not make the basket, he/she needs to move to another card and read that one.
  • The student keeps on moving from card to card until all of the cards are “won”.

TIPS:

  • If playing with multiple students, make sure that they take turns. One child goes, and then the other. You don’t want the students so focused on making the basket that they forget to stay the word on the card.
  • Designate a spot for students to put the cards that they have “won” so that the cards don’t get messed up in a pocket or mixed up with another child’s cards.

VARIATIONS: 

  • If your children enjoy competition, set up a challenge to see who can get the most cards.
  • If your children do not enjoy competition with one another, set up the game so that the children see how well they can improve. How many cards can they get in a certain time period? Can the student get the points within two shots for each card? Set up the game so that your child finds it enjoyable.

Have fun! Please let us know how it went in the comments section of this post!

This post contains affiliate links.

Filed Under: Chinese, Classes, Flashcard Fun, Games to Learn a Second Language, Homeschooling, Posts with Videos

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



This post contains affililate links.

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

Chinese Calligraphy Made Fun!

kids learning chinese charactersThis year we play a lot with ithese fun Reusable Chinese Calligraphy Brush Water Writing Magic Cloths with the kids. It is an easy and inexpensive way to explore writing in Chinese characters. You simply dip the calligraphy pen into water and write on the cloth. A few Chinese characters are pre-written for your child to trace and the rest are blank squares for your child to explore writing any character he/she desires.

I also love how the words disappear quickly! For kids just learning how to write in Chinese (and adults too!), it can be frustrating to not have a character turn out the way that you expected. With this Reusable Chinese Calligraphy Brush Water Writing Magic Cloth, the words just disappear after a few minutes! If the character is not perfect — POOF — it disappears quickly so that you can start fresh again!

Check out this video of my older daughter (8) teaching my younger daughter (4) how to write simple Chinese characters.

Good luck and have fun!

This post contains affiliate links.

Filed Under: Chinese, Games to Learn a Second Language, Homeschooling, Posts with Videos, Uncategorized

Hiding Game for Flash Card Memorization

There is really no better way to learn something than to teach it to someone else. Studies have shown that active learning is the best way to learn. So you can see why we were thrilled when my son wanted to make use of his Chinese speaking and writing skills to teach other kids (and gain a little money to buy Pokeman cards!)

Lucas and I have had a lot of fun coming up with creative ways to make learning Chinese fun for the beginner. Flashcards are sort of a necessary evil with learning Chinese. A ton of characters need to be memorized before you can even begin to start reading. And as I am sure you remember — flash cards are super boring.

Lucas and I have taken this as a  fun challenge — how to make Chinese flashcards learning fun! He has been testing all of these games with his little sisters and have enjoyed every one!

Hiding Flashcard Game: 

Materials:

  • box large enough to be able to lay down 5 cards so that they don’t hide another card
  • blanket
  • flashcards/index cards

How to Play:

  • Show the student the 5 (or however many you are going to study at that time) cards
  • Put the cards in the box so that the student can see all of the cards
  • Cover the box with a blanket
  • Take out one of the cards while the student covers his/her eyes
  • Take off the blanket and see if the student can figure out which card is missing
  • Voila! Learning with flashcards becomes fun!

Check out some of our other ways that we make learning with flashcards fun!

Have fun!



This post contains affiliate links.

 

Filed Under: Chinese, Flashcard Fun, Games to Learn a Second Language, Homeschooling, Posts with Videos, 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:
This post contains affiliate links.


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

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

Video: Enroll Your Child in an Activity to Teach a Second Language

Will you enroll your child in activities like swimming lessons, kung fu or chess? Why not find that same class taught in your second language choice?

While it can be a bit more challenging to find that class, it is possible and then you kill two birds with one stone! Your child gets to partake in a fun activity while learning a second language at the same time! Kinesthetic learning (or tactile learning) is an educational style where children do a physical activity while learning, rather than simply listening to a teacher in a lecture-style format. Many children, especially wiggly ones, will learn much better with this active learning style than they would sitting at a desk learning a second language.

How can you go about finding classes offered in your second language choice?

Here are some ideas: 

Tip 1: Call around to different sports classes to see if a slot can be offered in your second language choice. Perhaps you can find a school that has just opened up and they are willing to offer you a class in French, Spanish, etc. if you agree to get two or three of your friends to join in!

Tip 2: Check out areas in your neighborhood that might offer classes in a particular language. Perhaps there is a town nearby that has a large Hispanic population — you will probably be able to find a great sports class offered in Spanish there!  

Tip 3: Post a free ad on www.craigslist.org to find someone who is willing to teach a sport/skill/activity to your child (and perhaps to a group of your friends’ children) in that second language.

Tip 4: If you are enrolled in a school or program for second language learning, ask one of the teachers if she would be interested in coming over on the weekend or after school to teach your child a sport or a hobby that she enjoys. For example, perhaps one of the teachers in your child’s school loves tennis. Ask that teacher to instruct your child in the sport while immersing him in the vocabulary for your second language. This teacher does not have to be a pro to teach your child tennis — the idea is that your child enjoys a new activity in an immersive language experience! 

Tip 5: If you have a friend who speaks a second language fluently, ask her if she might offer a mini “class” for your child and hers in that second language. Perhaps your friend loves to sew, play golf or do art projects — what a great way for your child to engage in a new activity and learn vocabulary at the same time. Perhaps you can offer to pay for the materials in exchange for the lesson? 


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Our Story: 

We have discovered lots of great classes offered in Mandarin — sometimes you just have to ask.  

Have fun with these classes! You don’t have to be enrolled in the class forever — especially if your child’s interest has declined in the activity. We typically do our classes for about 6 months to one year and then we move onto a new activity in Mandarin. This way my children learn the vocabulary for each hobby or sport in Mandarin well, and then they move on to something else. Many times, I throw them in an activity if I happen to meet someone who speaks the language who has a passion for a certain sport or other times, I drive by a class that has Chinese writing on the windows and then I “inquire within!”  

We found this art program by chance! I had made a wrong turn and all of the sudden found myself parked in front of this art studio called “Wang’s Art Class” but the rest of the writing in the windows and the signs were in Chinese! I popped in and found a whole class of Mandarin speaking students learning Chinese! I enrolled my son on the spot! My son had been asking for art lessons ever since the first day of kindergarten when he sat next to his best friend who took art after school. Perfect! Win win! 

However, it was actually tough for me to get the teacher to teach to him in Mandarin even though he spoke to the rest of the kids in Chinese. I kept on having to remind him to speak to my son in Chinese and he kept on saying that when he saw the blonde hair, he would automatically talk in English! I ended up staying for the first 10 minutes of every class just to make sure that the introductory lesson was in Mandarin and to gently remind the teacher to speak with him only in Chinese. By the end of our year, Lucas had learned lots of new art vocabulary in Mandarin and got confidence in drawing through the class! Now that my son is in 1st grade, we have since moved onto new activities, but it was a wonderful introduction to art for all of Kindergarten. 

The following shows a short video of my son at his Mandarin art class.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGjdFS750HQ&feature=g-upl

 

 

 

Filed Under: Classes, Posts with Videos