This post includes a Simple Mandarin Activity for Kids. My two-year-old has mandarin once a week at a local language school.
I supplement that one hour lesson with a few educational videos, books, songs, and games. Kids at this age are sponges and watching their language development is simply breathtaking. The coolest part is that I am learning a ton too. So my son’s lessons are keeping my brain in check!
Mandarin Activity for Preschoolers
One game we like to play is a simple find and match game. We have these wonderful books by Michele Wong McSween about two characters named Gordon & Lili, cousins with one living in New York, and the other in China. Very cute.
The book we use for this lesson is 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!). I will say that I am usually not a fan of cutesy illustrations. I prefer the real image, especially for teaching kids. However in this case I adore Gordon & Lili. What can I say?
Simple Mandarin Activity for Kids
- The BOOK: For this exercise, purchase Gordon & Li Li Learn Animals in Mandarin (Mandarin for Kids). You can simply click through my affiliate product link to purchase the books on Amazon.
- The ANIMAL FIGURINES: Safari Ltd Wild TOOB should cover it. We love the Wild Republic brand but there are a few other great ones that exist in the market. Also, note that these figurines go a long way with simple play and sensory tubs.
- My son and I sit down in his reading corner and look at the book together once.
- I ask him to pull out his animal figurines, which is never a problem.
- We go back to page one, for example, the alligator, or e yu (uh yew) in mandarin. There is an illustration and we go over the name in mandarin first. He then seeks out the matching figurine. We do this exercise on each page (most of the figurines will be covered in the Wild Republic Sets but some may not. No big deal. Improvise.). I spend time with him on the animals he cannot recall in mandarin. It helps your child to hear you say the word in mandarin. Then ask him or her to repeat it back.
- We finish up by going through the pages/animal figurines again but this time only in mandarin
A very effective lesson in Mandarin but also fun and interactive for your child! You can do this exercise with the other Gordon & Lili books, or try another book below. Let me know if you’d like a list of resources, virtual and not! I have done a ton of research and am always looking for new tools from YouTube to the local library to mandarin play dates.