Reading stories in Chinese is one of the best ways to teach bilingual kids Chinese at home. The Sun and the Wind (Usborne First Reading) is the story I picked to translate and read in Chinese this week. It’s a simple but powerful story that’s originated in one of Aesop’s Fables dates back to Ancient Greece 4000 years ago!
Most of us have heard this story and understand the moral: gentleness or kindness win over harshness and force. Obviously, I want my child to appreciate the story as well, in English and Chinese.
So, with the Usborne English storybook we have, I decided to translate this book into Chinese and share it with you here.
If you’re new to my blog and love to help your child reading stories in Chinese, you may want to check out the books I’ve translated and the FREE resources I’ve created so far:
I’ve also written a bilingual book called The Legend of “Moon Festival.”
Here is how my daughter reads The Sun and the Wind in Chinese.
In this post, you’ll find out:
1. Help non-native kids reading The Sun and the Wind story in Chinese with a video.
This video is to help non-native kids learn to read The Sun and the Wind story in Chinese. Unlike my previous story read-aloud videos, I’ve added a new WRITING component at the end of the video.
Since I started homeschooling my daughter Chinese in May 2019, I’ve heavily focused on helping my daughter in building the crucial foundational skills such as Chinese Pinyin, speaking, listening in Mandarin, and reading simple characters.
I haven’t yet started teaching her Chinese writing although we do touch writing sometimes but not with a systematical approach.
My daughter is now nearly six and a half. I feel it’s time to start introducing writing in Simplified Chinese.
As a result, in my future posts, you will see that I’ll be talking A LOT about teaching young kids WRITING Chinese at home.
Reading and writing Chinese go hand-in-hand. If your child can write a Chinese character, she/he will be able to read it as well. On the contrary, if your child can READ Chinese, it doesn’t mean your child can WRITE that word.
Why? It’s because Chinese writing is all about knowing and putting together the stokes in sequence. Without physically practicing, LOTS of them, and memorising the stoke orders, your child cannot write the Chinese character correctly, or at least she/he won’t go too far.
Reading Chinese, however, is like looking at a picture as a whole. If a child looked at a picture long enough and has been taught the sound and meaning of that picture, he will be able to read that picture/Chinese word.
Now, if you’re a newbie to the Chinese language, it’s essential to be aware that reading and writing Chinese characters are SPERATE LEARNINGS to Mandarin, the speaking form.
In other words, just because someone can speak Mandarin, it doesn’t mean she can read and write Chinese characters.
If your goal is only to help your child to SPEAK Mandarin, then this post will get you started correctly without wasting your time: How to teach non-native kids Mandarin at home.
Since my goal has been, and always will be, to teach my daughter to be fluent in Mandarin (speaking form) and literate in Simplified Chinese (reading and writing form), I’ve created the writing / tracing sheets in addition to the flashcards from the story The Sun and the Wind.
That way, my daughter can also practice her writing in addition to reading the book.
2. FREE to download the resources I created based on The Sun and the Wind.
These resources are FREE to download for my subscribers.
Every month, I pledge to share at least one FREEBIE with the parents and educators in Panda Mama Chinese community who like to connect with me. So, if you haven’t done so already, consider subscribing to get my ongoing Tips + Resources to teach non-native kids Chinese at home.
So, the resources I created based on The Sun and the Wind are:
The Chinese translation of the story as shown in my video – please note the sizes of the speech bubbles I designed in this file are proportionate to the size 13 x 19.3cm (5.12 x 7.6 inches) storybook I have. If your book is bigger or smaller than this size, the Chinese texts might not fit into your copy. But you can try.
Eight double-sided flashcards – the words I picked are wind (风), listen (听), look (看), warm (暖), strong (强大), cold (冷), man (男人), coat (外衣). I have not picked the word” sun /太阳” for the flashcards because I’ve already done so in my book The Legend of Moon Festival. So there’s no need to repeat.
(Sorry, in my video, I showed the Chinese translation on the flashcards for “strong” as “强壮”. Then after recording the video, I discovered I used “强大” in my translation. While both “强壮” and “强大” mean “strong”, I thought it should be consistent so our little ones won’t be confused. I’ve since updated the Chinese word to “强大” throughout the recourses, which is what you’ll receive. )
Eleven Chinese writing/tracing sheets with Pinyin and stroke directions and orders – these words are the same characters as those on the flashcards: 风, 听, 看, 暖, 强, 大,冷, 男, 人, 外, 衣.
3. Three ideas to cultivate kids’ interest in writing Chinese characters when using the writing sheets.
I firmly believe cultivating an interest is imperative at the beginning of learning the Chinese language, or any other skills. If the teaching method is too dull at the introductory stage, kids will be bored and give up.
How many times have you heard children say “I don’t like it, or I’m not interested” only after starting a few lessons? I know it because I’ve been there.
A real example. My daughter used to learn piano when she was five. I don’t know anything about the piano, so we paid for the private lesson delivered by her school. It started beautifully, and I almost thought she’s going to be the next Lang Lang (just kidding)!
It went on for about six months at once a week. The daily practice required by the tutor was getting heavier and heavier. My daughter was losing interest, FAST, to where she didn’t want to get anywhere near the piano!
I couldn’t help her with the piano like the way I do with Chinese. I mean I didn’t know how to make playing piano FUN for her. As a result, she’s given up piano entirely and we ended up having a brand new piano sitting in the corner gathering dust.
The lesson I learned is that WE GOT TO MAKE LEARNING FUN for our kids because FUN is the biggest motivator for them to CONTINUE and WANTING to do it again and again.
That’s the reason I’ve applied the FUN-FIRST strategy to my daughter’s other activities such as her swimming and golfing.
For example, after her swimming lesson, we also jump into the pool playing and swimming with her. As a result, she loves swimming because she gets to play with mummy and daddy.
For golfing, my daughter plays better than me for sure as I’ve never played before. So, I’ve asked her to be my coach and have bought a set of golf clubs so I can practice and learn from her. She’s so proud of it.
You see. By being a part of your children’s learning and really enjoying it, your child will love the moments with you and associate the learning with FUN as well.
Let’s turn our head to the flashcards and the writing/tracing sheets I’ve created from The Sun and the Wind.
Flashcards help kids learn new Chinese words. I’ve shared a few FUN tips on how I use flashcards to maximise the benefits from reading stories in Chinese in my post I Broke My Trunk. So I’m not going to repeat here.
But for writing, this is the first post I’m talking about it as I’m just starting to introduce writing into our homeschooling routine, and I’m determined to make writing Chinese FUN for my daughter, and for you if you follow along.
The truth is that THERE IS NO SHORT CUT when it comes to writing a Chinese character except for practice, practice, and practice! The more our children write, the more words they will be able to remember. Our job is to make writing Chinese FUN.
As I explained in my video, following the correct stroke orders is a MUST when children are learning to write.
That’s why I created the writing sheets with arrows and numbers, which are essentially stroke orders. By following them, your child will learn the correct sequence of writing each Chinese character.
Every Chinese word has stroke orders, and yes, that’s how native Chinese kids learn to write as well. Same as kids learning to write English, they don’t do it overnight. They build the skills up over a long period of time.
As long as you remember that the key to writing Chinese is the stroke orders, then the rest is just practice.
Now, here are a few ways I use to make writing the eleven Chinese words FUN for my daughter:
- Use a Chinese calligraphy brush and dip the tip into the black ink to write Chinese style calligraphy by tracing the arrows marked on the writing sheets.
Alternatively, if you don’t have a traditional calligraphy brush, use a paintbrush, and the watercolour paint will do. Let your child choose the colours she likes. Write a rainbow word if she wishes. Just have fun.
2. Use playdough to form Chinese words. Better still, use different colours to represent each stroke. It helps your child to see the number of strokes required for that character.
3. Write the Chinese words in the sand. It is a Montessori concept, but you can easily set this up by getting some free sand from the beach, or buy the coloured sand with a few dollars online and put it in a baking tray or a shoebox lid.
After these FUN activities, don’t forget to ask your child to use a pencil, or her favorite coloured pen to write the Chinese words five times in the square boxes (田字格) I designed at the bottom of each sheet.
Repetition improves your child’s muscle memory. So repeat writing five times at a time is necessary without overdoing it. Your child will more likely to write this way while playing than simply writing on a piece of paper with no FUN involved.
Also, if your child has learned Chinese Pinyin, then ask your child to sound out the alphabets individually, then blend them to a complete syllable, which is the sound of that Chinese word. Hence, your child learns to read and speak Mandarin at the same time.
That’s all from me this week. Reading stories in Chinese is only one part of improving your child’s literacy skills. Writing is just as important. Read aloud the words in Chinese means your child is speaking Mandarin.
For early non-native readers, I highly recommend using Pinyin to aid your child’s pronunciation of the Chinese words in Mandarin so that your child can stay on the right “soundtrack”. When your child gets older and learned more Chinese words, then the Pinyin can phase out but still playing an important role in learning new Chinese words. Be patient with your child as learning Chinese is a marathon, not a sprint.
How you do get your child reading stories in Chinese? Any challenges? Please share with us by leaving your comment below or go to the Panda Mama Chinese Facebook community to start the conversation.