Chinese geography words are something new in our homeschooling routine. We’ve read some geography books here and there, but I’ve never created any resources to teach my daughter systematically.
Well, here it is, which is what I’m going to share with you today – some entry-level geography activities inspired by the Montessori method that I created to teach geography words at home.
These DIY resources and activities are play-based including the world’s seven Continents, five Oceans, ten landmarks and 35 animals (five animals for each continent).
They are perfect for young kids because they are colourful, interactive and have lots of high definition pictures.
It’s especially useful if your child is in Year One like my daughter who is now just starting to learn the world map, continents and oceans etc. in her school. The Chinese geography words she learns at home will complement the English words she knows in school.
This post is the 2nd post I talk about geography in Chinese followed by my last week’s post how to make a DIY Montessori-inspired felt continent map.
We have a lot to go through today as I’ve jam-packed heaps of practical information and tips to show you:
- Seven sets of 5-part cards for continents.
- Five sets of 3-part labels for oceans.
- Ten sets of 5-part cards for the world’s landmark buildings.
- Seven sets of 5-part cards for 35 animals. Each continent has five animals.
- Fourteen animal continents activity sheets.
- A bilingual control map.
- Two continent maps – one in colour and one is black and white for colouring and cutting.
- Figurines to match the cards ( Optional).
- One felt map. The one I’m using is in size 1m x 60cm (39 x 24 inches), which we made ourselves.
Part 2. How I organise these resources to encourage playful learning of geography in Chinese?
To encourage my daughter to learn Chinese geography, I organised the resources in a way that she understands by placing the cards, activity sheets, figurines in different storage boxes.
I used a total of nine boxes and put labels on them too for our geography corner. That way, it’s quick and easy for us to access, play and learn. These boxes are:
- 7 x individual continent boxes – one for each continent.
- A continent and oceans box, and
- A box for landmark buildings.
I use shoeboxes because it only cost me $10 to buy a set of ten. I recommend that you use similar sizes because you will need some space to put the A4 size activity sheets and to collect other stuff as a part of ongoing learning in the future. I’ll explain this next.
1. For the seven individual continent boxes.
I put one set of 5-part animal cards, two animal activity sheets (level 1 and level 2), five animal figurines and the little souvenirs that belongs to that continent.
Here is what I put in the Asia (亚洲) continent box as an example:
As you can see, for the Asian continent box, I’ve put a little mirror, a Chinese Qipao dress, my daughter’s lucky bracelets and necklace that she received from our family in China, and an incense burner from Thailand. They are cute, aren’t they?
To incorporate geography into our daily lives, I encourage my daughter to collect little objects or pictures of animals, landmark buildings, souvenirs and crafts etc. from different continents and put them in these boxes.
By helping our children to identify the objects from what’s around them, we are reinforcing the ongoing learning of geography.
I love this idea just by thinking about the stuff my daughter will collect as she grows. Each object is a story and can be a little conversation starter with my child on where this object comes from, what it is about and much more.
I can picture that we sit on the floor and recall how we started collecting the stuff in the boxes many years later. For me, that’s priceless.
Use this idea to prepare your other six continent boxes.
Now, let’s take a look at what I put in the next storage box.
2. The continent and ocean box.
I use this box to put the seven felt map pieces, seven sets of continent cards, five sets of ocean labels, the bilingual control map and the two maps – one in colour and one is black and white.
The reason I kept these resources in a separate box is that we can learn Chinese geography words just by using resources in this box alone. I’ll talk about this in more detail later on in Part 3 of this post.
3. The box for the landmark buildings.
In this box, I only chose ten landmarks because I happened to have a set of World Landmark Toob that I bought a long time ago. I made the 5-part cards as per what we had because I wanted to utilise the miniature landmarks.
As we are only at the entry-level of geography at home, ten landmarks are good enough to get started.
There are so many different Landmarks Toob sets out there, and I wish I could buy them in one go. But I need to watch our budget too. As time goes by, I’ll add more for sure.
To start, I’ve created ten sets of 5-part cards with the matching Landmarks. By using these cards, children can learn to recognise the landmarks as shown in the picture, the Chinese with Pinyin and the English names of these landmarks.
Similar to each continent box, you can help your child to collect the pictures or postcards about the world’s landmarks. You can then explore or read the books with your child about the collections, or if possible, travel there.
Part 3. How to present the 5-part geography cards?
Before I share the actual activities, I like to show you how I present the 5-part cards.
I created these cards based on the Montessori 3-part cards, which include:
- A word card
- A picture card, and
- An English label
Now, we are talking about teaching our little ones Chinese here. So, I’ve added two more labels which are:
- A Chinese character label, and
- A Pinyin label.
Let’s take Asia, for example. By sounding out the Pinyin alphabets and the tones like so: y – a= yà亚 (4th tone) and zh-ou=zhōu 洲 (1st tone), I’m pronouncing the Chinese characters for Asia in Mandarin.
As for the Chinese characters, they are in Simplified Chinese, which is the reading and writing language format used in Mainland China, Singapore, and many overseas communities.
Traditional Chinese characters are used in Taiwan, Hong Kong ad also other overseas communities as well.
That’s why I added the two extra labels.
I kept the English label because we’re living in Australia, an English-speaking environment. Although I don’t teach my daughter English because she learns that from school, as a bilingual child, it’s crucial she can co-relate the Chinese words with English words.
In terms of presenting the 5-cards, I’d use these sequences for a beginner using the words “ this is这是…”
- Place the word cards with labels on the table or floor.
- Teach the Chinese names of the continent and ocean one at a time by saying “this is … 这是. For example, this is Asia这是亚洲 until you finish the seven continents.
- Have your child to match the figurines (either Safari or Schleigh) to the word card if you have them. If not, use the picture card to match the word card.
- Ask your child to match the Chinese label to the word card – Believe it or not, this is easier than you think. I find, in my daughter’s case, she could match the words by looking at the shape of the Chinese characters without knowing what they mean. Of course, offer to help if your child can’t do it. Don’t forget to read aloud the Chinese labels if you speak Mandarin.
- Ask your child to put Pinyin label on top of the Chinese characters – (optional) if your child has started to learn Pinyin, and this step is a great way to teach your child the blending of Pinyin alphabets. You can leave this step out if your child is not learning Pinyin.
- Ask your child if he/she knows the English name of the continent – if they do know, ask them to read out and match the English labels to the Chinese. If your child doesn’t know, help to read out the English at the same time.
As for the 3-part ocean labels, there are no picture cards. You can show and read out them in this sequence:
- Chinese label
- Pinyin label
- English label
At this stage, the focus should be on the recognition of the Chinese characters and the pronunciations of those Chinese words in Mandarin using Pinyin. English is not the primary objective.
However, your child would be most likely to know the continents or oceans in English anyway if they are in Year-1 English-speaking school like my daughter. That’s even better because this is when you can truly see how well your child’s language ability is in both Chinese and English.
You can also start to play the words matching games such as
- Chinese matches to English.
- English matches to Chinese.
- Chinese matches to Pinyin.
When you teach your child Chinese at home, if you are a Mandarin speaker, please speak Mandarin at all times.
Also, say it aloud the names of each continent and oceans while presenting the cards and labels. Ask your child to repeat after you.
If you don’t speak Mandarin, say the names of the continents in your first language.
Don’t forget I’m here to help.
If you want to learn how to pronounce the seven continents, five Oceans, ten landmark buildings and the 35 animals in Mandarin, please leave your comments below to go to Panda Mama Chinese Facebook page, and I’ll record a video to show you how.
Ok, let’s dive into these geography activities.
Part 4. Six activities to use these geography resources.
Activity 1 – Match the seven continents to the control map.
This activity is for toddlers and pre-schoolers between age 2 -4. You will need either a felt map to play on the floor or a laminated A4 size map that is included in the downloads.
If you use the A4 size map, you can print out two A4 maps, laminate them, and cut the continents out from one map as the matching pieces to the other map.
The focus of this activity is to recognise the shapes and the position of each continent on the 2D map.
Activity 2 – Teach the Chinese words for seven continents and five oceans.
This activity is suitable for kids from at least age five and above.
Here is how I present my teaching session:
- Have the Continents and Oceans storage box ready (refer to Part 2) and lay the cards on the table.
- Present the 5-part continent cards and oceans labels as per the steps detailed in Part 3.
To expand the learning, you can read some books relating to continents and oceans in Chinese.
The focus of this activity is the recognition of Chinese characters, the pronunciation of the continents and oceans in Mandarin using Pinyin.
Activity 3 – Place the continent and ocean labels on the felt map.
Once your child has learned the names of the continents and oceans in Chinese, it’s time to see if they can identify the continents and oceans by placing the correct labels against them on the felt map.
Let your child have a go first. Appraise your child even if he/she only gets one right.
Having a globe on the side would be beneficial for this activity because it helps your child to understand our planet is round, not flat. It also helps to converts your child’s understanding of the 2D map to 3D.
I don’t have a continent globe. The one I use is as shown below. It works too.
The focus of this activity: identify the position of continents and oceans on the 2D map and or 3D globe.
Activity 4 – Teach the Chinese words for the 35 animals and where they live on each continent.
Pick one continent box for each session. There are only five animals in each continent box as per what mentioned in Part 2.
Let’s use Antarctica, for example:
- Have the Antarctica continent box ready and lay the cards on the table.
- Present the 5-part animal cards (refer to Part 3) one at a time if your child is a beginner.
- If your child is quite familiar with this game, you can ask your child to read out the Chinese labels if they can. Help your child to read if needed.
- Match the English label, Pinyin label, picture card, word card and figurine to the Chinese or visa versa. It doesn’t matter in what order as long as your child can match to the right set of cards.
- Put the animal figurines or pictures on the felt continent map where they live. Some animals that live across more than one continent, of course. Depending on age, your child may know that, great! Talk about it. But if your child doesn’t know it, I’d keep it simple and mention one continent instead.
Again, read some books about these animals and their habitats in Chinese. The books below are what we have at the moment, but I’m planning to buy more books about the world’s geography in Chinese.
The focus of this activity is to learn the 35 animals in Chinese and the habitats of these animals.
Activity 5 – Teach how to write the seven continents in Chinese.
Reading and writing Chinese goes hand in hand.
The Chinese characters of the seven continents don’t involve too many strokes, so I decided to throw the following exercises for my daughter to learn Chinese writing. It also helps to reinforce what she’s learnt in the previous four activities.
If your child hasn’t started learning, then you can leave this activity out until later when ready.
You should have two sheets ( Level 1 and 2) in each continent box ( refer to Part 2).
Level 1 involves four steps. Each step has its purpose.
- Match the Pinyin label to the Chinese characters (Pinyin recognition)
- Match the English label to the Chinese characters (bilingual skill )
- Trace the Chinese characters by following the stroke orders and the arrow directions ( Chinese writing)
- Read the five animal names in Chinese (Mandarin speaking)
Level 2 also involves four steps. This level is more advanced compared to Level 1. I designed it to check if my daughter could independently
- write the Pinyin and the Chinese character of the continents, and
- read the animals in Chinese.
At the end of the day, that’s our goal, isn’t it? To help our little ones fluent in speaking, reading and writing Chinese.
So far, my daughter can pretty much write and read these words now as you can see in our video as she’s done it a few times.
The goal of this activity 5 is to speak, write and read the continents and animals independently.
Activity 6 – Teach how to read and say the ten landmark buildings and their locations on each continent in Chinese.
I present the 5-part landmark cards as per the steps in Part 3.
Once your child is familiar with the Chinese words, then place the figurines (or picture cards) and word labels onto the felt map where the landmarks are located.
- Place the Eiffle Tower ( 埃菲尔铁塔) on Europe
- Place the Statue of Liberty (自由女神像) on North America and so on.
Again, reading books about the landmarks in Chinese would be a great way to expand your child’s geography knowledge and Chinese vocabularies.
This comes to the end of this post. Wow, we’ve covered a lot today. But hopefully, I’ve given you enough to get your child started with learning Chinese geography words at home and build upon from there.
Apart from teaching my daughter Chinese geography words, another goal I have is to nurture her curiosity in geography, particularly at a young age. I believe interest is the strongest motivator for ongoing learning in many years to come.
We don’t need to be expert at it, but we can show our children that learning geography and Chinese language can be FUN!
How do you teach Chinese geography at home? If you have other activities that I haven’t covered here, please do share with us by leaving your comments below or go to the Panda Mama Chinese Facebook community to start the conversation.