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Integrating Mandarin into Our Home


Both our boys take Mandarin class at a wonderful language school here in Seattle. Although the teachers and their program are quite effective, with only an hour class once a week, we felt strongly that we needed to find additional ways to integrate Mandarin into our daily life and to supplement the weekly language class.

Early Learning Chinese book for kids

We take Mandarin but the following list can be applied to other languages too. So here is how we do it:

Little Pim

We test drove these videos by loaning the DVDs from the library. We quickly fell in love and ended up purchasing the videos (streaming via Amazon). Little Pim is an adorable cartoon Panda Bear. At first, I wasn’t sure if I was too thrilled about this character but he is very likable and children adore him.

There are six videos in the series covering “I can count”, “eating and drinking”, “happy, sad and silly”, “in my home”, “playtime” and “wake up smiling”. Your child will learn hundreds of words for real-life situations.

One thing I love about Little Pim products are the companion guides and scripts for parents and teachers. So very, very helpful.

Also, Little Pim does have a few apps for the iphone and ipad. I have been less impressed with these products so far but I am sure they will improve with updated versions.

Journeys to the East: The River Dragon King

An easy win with my son! Tells of two siblings making a trip to ancient China. So the video introduces your child to Chinese culture and slips over 50 vocabulary words into the adventure. There are also very catchy tunes that make learning words fun and easy for you and your child. The songs are definitely a little cheesy but they do the trick.

Follow Jade

We love Jade. She is sweet and is wonderfully approachable. She has two videos – Let’s Go to the Market and Let’s Visit a Chinese Kindergarten – that cover many different topics relevant to everyday life.

Ni Hao Kai Lan

We love Kai Lan. She is the Chinese version of Dora the Explorer. Nick Jr. has hit it out of the ball park (how is that for a sports analogy?). She and her buddies are sweet and always send a great message in what each show teaches our children. Ni Hao Kai Lan is one way we integrate Mandarin during down time. There are lots of fun activities on the Ni Hao Kai Lan website too.

Children’s Books to Learn Mandarin

Our favorite books are Gordon & Li Li Learn Animals in Mandarin. There are three board books including numbers, everyday words, and animals. The books are simply illustrated with cartoon characters.

More importantly, the books include the pinyin, Chinese letters and phonetic pronunciation (which is hugely helpful for us non native speaking parents!). There are also books that go along with the Nursery Rhymes cd listed below and a Teach Me Chinese cd we recently borrowed from the library.

Chinese and English Nursery Rhymes: Share and Sing in Two Languages

Introduces Chinese and English nursery rhymes. We like to play this cd in the background while we play or eat a meal.

Mandarin Story Hour

We are so fortunate in Seattle to have Mandarin story hour at our public library and at Twirl Cafe, a play cafe. You could find a way to do story hour at home. There are Chinese childrens’ “books on tape”.


I stole this idea from Sponge, our language school. You can use store bought puppets or create your own. An easy and very fun way to integrate vocabulary and play!


We know that children love the computer so if you can’t beat them, join them. There are many lessons and songs for children on Youtube, a wonderfully resourceful and FREE way to integrate language into your daily routine!

IPhone and IPad Apps

We are not afraid to integrate technology into our daily learning and teaching routine. I work with him and guide him as he “plays” with these educational applications.

Thanks for reading!

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