Tag: learning Mandarin characters

Greenfield Books – what’s after Sage books

Though I have plans to do a Sagebook-like thing after 500 characters, I’m currently researching Greenfield to see what books they have and put together a group order.  Unfortunately, their website is super hard to navigate.  So here I am writing a summary so it makes sense to me.

Greenfield has a “system” for learning Chinese for overseas students, based on the whole language system.  Makes sense since Chinese is all sight words.  They break it down into 5 steps; and I added 2 more after you learn how to read.

*K = Kindergarten (K1=3, K2=4, K3=5yr), P = Elementary, M = Middle School, H = High school

  1. 兒歌 Nursery Songs – 0-5 years old
  2. 全語文閱讀 Whole language reading – 3-7 years old / K1-P1
  3. 構字規律 Character composition rules – 6-8 years old
  4. 心裡詞彙 – Building vocabulary – 6-8 years old
  5. 分享研討 – Reading Comprehension – 6-14 years old / P1-M1
  6. Reading for Fun
  7. Writing Series

What helped me understand the system was also looking at their catalogue, which gives you the grade level.

The Quick Summary

After Sagebooks, look to the I Can Read Series for young kids.  Maybe the Reading Rainbow Series for older kids.  Other sets are available as more reading material.  But these two series are graded so probably a good series to use as a curriculum.  I’m also planning to get their writing books.

兒歌 Nursery Songs

I won’t go into it here because this is not the stage I’m in.  The basic premise is that you start learning a language through songs.  Makes sense.  Research has shown that.   Here is the link to their explanation and even if you don’t read Chinese, you can see the 2 links on the website which shows you images of the books.   But, there’s no pinyin with the books.  So not useful for non-Chinese speakers.

These are for your 0-5 year olds.  Or for heritage parents, maybe 0-3?



Diving into Chinese

Week 5 Day 1

Thumper: lang: Zhuyin, 住 , doubles addition, read set 2 book 1 sage books, read to, crochet

Astroboy: Addition strip board, drawing, reading, read to, cutting cheese (practical life), cooked lunch

Schedule: snack after 1 hour.  Astroboy not focusing

Week 5 already and I’m starting to get a bit anxious as I’m way behind in the Chinese making of materials.  I also havn’t presented the Great Lessons yet because I havn’t ordered those materials as well.  I do like having to list what happens daily as it always looks way more than how it feels while I’m doing it.

Today we did about 3.5 hours of work, counting the half hour snack time.

Last week, I showed Thumper the 4 areas she needs to work on daily.  They are,

  1. Being read to
  2. Read
  3. Math
  4. Zhuyin

She didn’t do them everyday so on Thursday she couldn’t do anything fun till she was done with them.

This week, I added one more to the list, Mandarin.  I also changed the way I did it.  Last week I let her check things off, but this week I’m going to start by having her check in with me with each work and then I will check it off.  Right now, the list is just something written on the whiteboard, but eventually I will probably make a checkoff sheet if we run out of room.

Let’s talk about Astroboy first before discussing the Chinese.  Astroboy has had the Addition Strip Board laid out since last week and he’s been methodically going through each number and adding them.  He won’t let me put them away.  But he also loses interest after 5-10 minutes.  In either case, he requires that I work with him.  He won’t complete it himself.  I know it’s partly because I’m his mom, and also there aren’t other kids in the classroom to distract him or for me to say, “Sorry I gotta go.”  It’s a dilemma because I need him to work by himself, otherwise he will not learn concentration.  That is one problem to think about.

Last week, we did just Zhuyin.  This week, we will be working on 3 Mandarin work: Zhuyin, writing characters, and reading through Sagebooks.

For Zhuyin, we’re working through all the basic zhuyin special combos, what I will call Level 2 of my iFlash cards, which I still have to make.  I’ve talked about How to Introduce Zhuyin in another post already.  I made the flashcards last week and it’s been a good reference as well for Thumper for when she forgets a symbol.  Thumper’s work daily is to just go through these basic combos with me for practice.  It’s not quite Montessori, but it’ll have to do for now.  It definitely shows me what sounds she’s having trouble with.

Today, I had Thumper start reading from Set 2, Book #1 of the Sagebooks Series, this series forms the foundation of how we’re going to learn to read in Mandarin.  She breezed through most of the pages as she already was introduced to many of these characters while in preschool.  I had her write down the words she doesn’t know on post its and put it on the white board.  She’s supposed to write down any words she doesn’t know on the post-it notes.  Her writing work for the week is to choose 3 words out of all the post-its and 1) put them in the dictionary, and 2) write it 6 times.

The dictionary and the writing booklet I spent hours making.  There is always a little sense of accomplishment each time I get a material made.  I love this idea of making a dictionary.  The dictionary has 3 sections: character + zhuyin, stroke order, words.  The finished page goes into a 1 inch binder ordered by zhuyin.

The character booklet you can buy easily in any Chinese bookstore.  BUT, i am super picky about what I want so just ended up making it.  I wanted a book that has bigger squares than normal, with no zhuyin in them.  I also wanted the squares to have 9 mini squares in them so she can learn how to write properly.  I read this post about how to introduce Chinese characters once, I’ll put that in another post later.

IMG_3850.JPGSo today, Thumper picked out a character, 住.  I drew a 9 square box on the whiteboard and showed her the stroke order.  She numbered the stroke order herself.  It was wrong and a perfect opportunity for a mini lesson on how strokes typically go.  We repeated this several times as I pointed out how the character needs to fill the whole large box and she kept trying it out.  Honestly I don’t think this is too Montessori.  I will have to design another work that makes her aware of the placement of her strokes.  As it is, talking about it made her only minimally aware.  She is still not writing it quite correctly.

I then told her for each character she’s learning she needs to write it 6 times.  This is of course very different from how people usually learn to write in Chinese.  I remember repeated writing in grade school.  But unless you’re writing characters as part of words or sentences, honestly children can learn how to write but don’t know how to use it.  So that is why I only ask for 6.  She will get more practice as she has other types of writing to do later.  The point here is more writing with the proper stroke order.


Did I already mention how happy I am I got to try out my new binding machine?   😀

Thumper probably spent just an hour max doing all her “work”.  She spent the rest busily crocheting her birthday present for her aunt.  As much as I don’t like her crocheting so much during school time, I am noticing that she is holding her pencils much better than before.  And I credit crocheting for this change.  So I’m not saying commenting at all.  SO HARD to hold my tongue.

Oh, lastly, Astroboy made gnocchi today.  He got the Trade Joe’s package out of the freezer, cut it open, dumped it all in, and cooked it.  All while dragging around a little step chair.  I only turned on the stove for him and his sister scooped it out.  All part of the 3-step work.  It makes me so happy because I find that it’s the prepping and cleaning up that’s hard for the kids.  They did also put their dishes away but I could not convince them to actually wash the dishes.  Maybe next week!