Saturday, September 12, 2015

Ipad app for Chinese numbers, shapes, colors -- 益智机器人 (robot puzzle)

App name: 益智机器人 (robot puzzle)
Developer: Xueli Shan
Cost: Free
Target Age range: 1-3 years old
Type of app: Chinese immersion
Language: Chinese
Our description: I spent a long time looking for a basic app that was simple but fun and would still teach our baby to count to 10 in Chinese. Surprisingly, it was harder than I thought, and this was the best thing I found. The app has 3 different sections, numbers, shapes, colors. You drag the numbers/shapes/colors into the robot and then the robot says it out loud. It's simple, but toddlers love this kind of thing. It's also very educational. This app taught our toddler his numbers 1-10 in Chinese. He doesn't even know them in English! Now that's great immersion!
Cons: Advertisements at the bottom, sometimes the audio could be more clear/crisp
The bottom line: This is a simple, free app that is good for toddlers learning numbers/shapes/colors. It has advertisements and isn't high tech or fancy, but worth a shot. We like it.
Our rating: 4/5

益智机器人 (robot puzzle)

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Chinese Puzzle Cards 1 (拼音乐1) iPad App

App name: Puzzle Cards 1 (拼音乐1)
Developer: Tinman Arts(Chengdu) Co.,Ltd
Cost: Free
Target Age range: 1-4 years old
Type of app: Chinese immersion
Language: Simplified Chinese
Our description: This is our 2 year old's favorite app. It's got cards of 20 different animals, and each card is a simple puzzle where you drag and drop some circles to finish the picture of the animal. As you do it, the narrator tells you encouraging things like "加油!" . When you finish there's a little animation, and you see the characters for the animal, and you hear what it is in Chinese and the sounds it makes. The drawings and narration are all cute.
Cons: There are some links to other Tinman apps on the opening page
The bottom line: Everybody needs an app to keep their 1-3 year old busy when you don't have the patience or time to deal with them... This one is sure to entertain, and it's cute and teaches them the animals in Chinese while doing it.
Our rating: 5/5

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Home Chinese Preschool - Day 3

Day 3 of home Chinese preschool.

I started to have a sore throat this week and this morning I woke up by my cough and couldn't sleep since 5. I was worried that I might wake up my husband with my cough but gladly he slept through. Then my oldest E missed his school bus because he was really slow, and so I had to huddle my three boys into our van to drive to school. I really cant complain, because most parents drive their kids to school every day any way, I lucked out that I don't have to do that every day. And then since we were out so we went and got groceries, by 9:30 I felt like I've been up forever. I'm sure you understand that ;) So since I felt really tired and kind of sick, I decided that today's preschool is going to be a game day. That's a nice thing about homeschooling I guess, you make your own schedule with no guilt.

Good thing we have a trampoline, so I made the boys go outside and jump on the tramp for a good 20 mins.

They were trying to compete who jumps higher

My two year old P brought me books to read. I cant say no. We have tons of Chinese books, every time we went to China, we brought back lots of books. Here is a list of Chinese children's books that we reviewd, we still have lots of them that we haven't gotten time to review, but stay tuned. We will get to it. If you have any good books that you wanted to share with us, please feel free to send us a message or comment. We are always open to new books!

There are a lot of games that you can play to practice Chinese, our favorite three games that we like to play with our kids are "spot it", "Uno", "Rock, paper, Scissors" (Click on the link to see the posts about games), because they are English games but you can also play them in Chinese.

M playing Spot it 

I printed out some coloring pages from our free coloring book, I am sure though you can easily find free Chinese coloring pages online to print out as well. My boys generally loves anything related to writing, coloring, cutting, tapping and painting... But it could be totally boring for your kids to sit down and color. If that's the case, I'd recommend playing with some Chinese games on ipad, or smart phones. We have a good list of apps and games, that you can find here.

There is another thing I like to do with kids when they are tired, grumpy, or if I am just plainly out of patience, I let them watch chinese videos or tv shows. You can always make a playlist on youtube for your favorite chinese nursery rhymes, videos, tv shows. I even like to cut my boys nails while they watch Chinese nursery rhymes/tv shows, it saves me from wrestling with them.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Home Chinese Preschool - Day 2

Today we had preschool Day 2.

For Chinese, we learned the characters for "Person, head, eye, mouth, ear, hand, foot, big, small, more, less". In chinese they are "人,头,眼,嘴,口,耳,手,足,大, 小,多,少”. Refer to the <ZhongWen> (Mandarin Chinese Language) course materials lesson 2.

Today we played a game called "follow the instructions", or "follow the leader" in English, but simply "听指挥" in Chinese. I gave out the order and M executes it. Orders like "stand up", "sit down", "turn around", "touch your nose", "cover your eyes","blow kisses", "touch your belly button"... They were all spoken in Chinese of course, “ 站起来”,“坐下”,“转圈”,“摸鼻子”,“盖住眼睛”,“飞吻”,“摸肚脐眼”, etc. If you do not speak Chinese yourself, here is a good video to show you different body parts:

M pointing to his nose

M wanted to be the leader and led me all the hard poses and movements. I felt like I just had my exercises for the day! 
M being the "Leader" and one of his poses

We also sang the "if you are happy and you know it" song, "幸福拍手歌", you will see the video on the collection of songs that we like to sing to our kids. 

M stumping his feet during the song

Those are the pre-activities before the lesson to get his wiggles out. The actual lesson is anywhere from 10-20 mins long. M is semi-easily bored from all the listening and learning, so I try to keep it short. When he shows signs of getting bored, I just call it a lesson and gave him homework to do. By "Homework", I mean just practicing writing characters. I know it's debatable if its worth it for kids to practise writing, but at our house, we make our kids practice. And don't worry, we are not tiger parents, we are something in between where we call it a "happy medium". We push our kids, but not to the extreme. We are not saying that you should do the same, I think everybody decides for themselves, what's a good fit.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Home Chinese Preschool- Day 1

Today I started home preschool my 4 year old and 2 year old. My 4 year old M was in a English preschool co-op last year where each mom took turns teaching once a month, he really misses his classes this year. My two year old P is too young to really learn to read or write but he had fun participating circle time. All in all, it was a success. 

Before I get into today's preschool, I wanted to talk about the curriculum I used for today's Chinese lesson. I used <ZhongWen> (Mandarin Chinese Language) course materials. 

For today's Chinese lesson, I started out with circle time and animals. We played a game where everyone closes their eyes and one person would run around the circle with an animal in their hands until the music stops. When the music stops they put the animal behind someone's back, and then everyone opens their eyes if they have an animal behind their back. If so, it's their turn. Every time we sing different Chinese songs. They both loved this game and played over and over again and even played again when my oldest got home from school. 

After the circle time, I taught the first lesson of writing from 1 to 10 in mandarin chinese, plus 100.
一  二  三 四 五 六 七 八 九 十  百 

Circle Time

This is what the lesson looks like

Practice sheets I bought in China 

M's practice sheet
My preschool will always be bilingual, meaning that I will also be teaching English lesson as well. For today, we learned the letter A and all kinds of shapes. 
M hard at work

Chinese nursery songs we sing to our kids

I like to sing these songs to my kids. They are all famous Chinese nursery songs that I heard growing up, and the kids like them! Enjoy!

Two Tigers 两只老虎

Here you will hear our kids sing two little tigers song. We will be adding the video very soon.

Find Friends 找朋友

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star 一闪亮晶晶

I'm a painter 我是一个粉刷匠

Where is spring 春天在哪里

Mom is the best in the whole world 世上只有妈妈好

"If you are happy and you know it" "幸福拍手歌”

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Little Mandarin giveaway winners!

Thank you everyone for entering our contest! It was very fun to read everyone's comments and see how motivated so many of you are to teach your kids Chinese. It's inspiring!

We have 2 winners! Instead of using a computer program, we decided to have a game with our kids. There were 12 entries, so we put 12 scraps of paper into a bucket with our kids and had them draw them. We recorded it, and it's mostly in Chinese, so give it a watch!

Here are the winners and their comments:


"My 4 year old recently announced out of nowhere that he wants to learn Mandarin! So he's been attending a Mandarin-immersion camp 6 hours a day for a week now and loves it! We could use all the wonderful Mandarin music we can get!"

Terri Ching

"I want my kids to learn Mandarin because it's part of who they are. When they grow up, I don't want them to regret not having tried."

Send us your address and we'll get a CD shipped to you! Contact us on our contact page, email, or you can message us on facebook or twitter.

We really hope you respond and get your prize, please respond to us by Monday night, 8/3/15, 11:59 PM! Or we will end up picking another winner.

Congrats to you both!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Last chance to win a free Chinese kids music CD!

Tomorrow is the last chance to enter our giveaway for a copy of "A Little Mandarin"! It's free and easy. We're giving away 2 copies, and so far have 10 entries. That's good odds!

Just go to this blog post and make a comment! Oh, and like us on Facebook :-)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Podcast 7 -- Chinese Folktale #2 -- Fox and Crane's Banquet

We are settling down into our new house, job, school, etc... and we've finally had time to do another podcast! This one is about Mr. Fox and Mr. Crane. Enjoy!

Please give us a 5 star review on iTunes if you enjoy the podcast! And don't forget to enter our contest to win a copy of A Little Mandarin by July 31st!

Subscribe and listen to us on iTunes here!

If you are new to podcasting and don't have an apple product, you can add our feed URL to any podcasting app on Android or any other platform:

Alternatively, listen here:

Or download the MP3 here

Enjoy! Don't be afraid to comment below!

 Fox and Crane's Banquet 狐狸和鹤的宴会


yāoqǐng kǎ
Invitation card
To eat
To prepare
Food (wine and vegetables)
bùyòng kèqì
Don’t be polite

One day, fox sent an invitation card to crane. 有一天,狐狸送了一张邀请卡给鹤. Yǒu yītiān, húlí sòngle yī zhāng yāoqǐng kǎ gěi hè.

It said: Come to my house tonight for dinner.
邀请卡上写着晚上请来我的家用餐。” Yāoqǐng kǎ shàng xiězhe “wǎnshàng qǐng lái wǒ de jiā yòngcān.”

Crane said: Whoa! How uncommon! I wonder what food Mr. Fox will treat me to?” 
鹤说,哇!真罕见!我好奇狐狸先生会准备什么食物给我呢?” Hè shuō,“wa! Zhēn hǎnjiàn! Wǒ hàoqí húlí xiānshēng huì zhǔnbèi shénme shíwù gěi wǒ ne?”

Crane excitedly went to Mr. Fox’s house.
鹤很高兴的前去狐狸的家。Hè hěn gāoxìng de qián qù húlí de jiā.

“Ah! Mr. Crane, welcome! Welcome. Make yourself comfortable!” “呀!鹤先生,欢迎! 欢迎。请不用客气! “Ya! Hè xiānshēng, huānyíng! Huānyíng. Qǐng bùyòng kèqì!”

The only food that Mr. Fox took out was a plate of soup.
狐狸取出的食物只有一大盘的汤而已。Húlí qǔchū de shíwù zhǐyǒu yī dàpán de tāng éryǐ.

Mr. Crane said: “I love to drink soup! Thank you!”
鹤先生说,我喜欢喝汤!谢谢你呀! Hè xiānshēng shuō,“wǒ xǐhuān hē tāng! Xièxiè nǐ ya!”

Mr. Crane really wanted to drink the soup, but because he had such a long mouth, even though he tried really hard, he could only smell the soup. He wasn’t able to drink even one drop of the soup in the dish. 
鹤先生真的很想喝汤,可是,因为自己长着这么长的一个嘴巴,所以尽管费了好大的劲,也只能闻到汤的味道而已。盘内的汤,一滴也喝不到。Hè xiānshēng zhēn de hěn xiǎng hē tāng, kěshì, yīnwèi zìjǐ zhǎngzhe zhème zhǎng de yīgè zuǐbā, suǒyǐ jǐnguǎn fèile hào dà de jìn, yě zhǐ néng wén dào tāng de wèidào éryǐ. Pán nèi de tāng, yīdī yě hē bù dào.

But, the fox slurped down the soup until it was all gone. 可是狐狸却叽哩咕噜地一下子就把汤喝完了。Kěshì húlí què jī lī gūlū dì yīxià zi jiù bǎ tāng hē wánliǎo.

He even smiled, thinking it was funny. 而且他笑了,觉得很有趣。Érqiě tā xiàole, juédé hěn yǒuqù.

“This is not fun, you’re making fun of me!” Crane angrily went home. “
真不够意思,你在捉弄我!鹤恨恨的回家去了。“Zhēn bùgòu yìsi, nǐ zài zhuōnòng wǒ!” Hè hèn hèn de huí jiā qùle.

Not long after, Crane also sent an invitation card to fox.
不久,鹤也送一张邀请卡给狐狸。Bùjiǔ, hè yě sòng yī zhāng yāoqǐng kǎ gěi húlí.

It said: “Tonight it’s my treat, please, you must come!”
邀请卡上说,晚上我请客,请你一定要来喔!” Yāoqǐng kǎ shàng shuō,“wǎnshàng wǒ qǐngkè, qǐng nǐ yīdìng yào lái ō!”

Fox loves to eat. 狐狸爱吃饭。Húlí ài chīfàn.

“What kind of food?” Fox secretly wondered. “
是什么样的食物呢?狐狸暗暗地想着。“Shì shénme yàng de shíwù ne?” Húlí àn'àn dì xiǎngzhe.

Fox had completely forgot what happened before, and he excitedly went to Crane’s house.
狐狸把之前的事情忘的一乾二净,就高高兴兴的去了鹤的家。Húlí bǎ zhīqián de shìqíng wàng de yīgān èr jìng, jiù gāo gāoxìng xìng de qùle hè de jiā.

“Mr. Fox, welcome! Welcome! Don’t be polite!” “
狐狸先生,欢迎!欢迎!别客气!” “Húlí xiānshēng, huānyíng! Huānyíng! Bié kèqì!”

What thing did Crane get out? It turns out it was soup inside of a thin-necked water bottle! 鹤拿出的食物都是什么呢?原来是装在细颈水瓶里的汤啊!Hè ná chū de shíwù dōu shì shénme ne? Yuánlái shì zhuāng zài xì jǐng shuǐpíng lǐ de tāng a!

“Thank you!” Fox put his mouth to the bottle, but he couldn’t even drink a mouth of soup. All he could do was smell the delicious aroma of the soup. “
谢谢!狐狸将嘴伸向水瓶,但是怎么也吃不到一口汤,只能闻到鲜美的味道. “Xièxiè!” Húlí jiāng zuǐ shēn xiàng shuǐpíng, dànshì zěnme yě chī bù dào yīkǒu tāng, zhǐ néng wén dào xiānměi de wèidào.

Crane then put his long mouth into the bottle and easily reached the bottom, and he drank the soup with pleasure.  鹤则将他的长嘴巴轻轻松松的伸进瓶底,津津有味地喝起了汤!Hè zé jiāng tā de cháng zuǐbā qīng qīngsōng sōng de shēn jìn píng dǐ, jīnjīnyǒuwèi de hē qǐle tāng!

Fox’s belly was so hungry, and he couldn’t eat any of the food right in front of him.
狐狸的肚子饿坏了,眼前的美食却一口也吃不到Húlí de dùzi è huàile, yǎnqián dì měishí què yīkǒu yě chī bù dào.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

8 Free Chinese picture books by Tinman arts

Don't forget to enter our contest by July 31st to win a copy of A Little Mandarin!

Tinman Arts has a lot of Chinese apps for kids. We've already reviewed 2 of them already, the little animal encyclopedia, and the book Who Got Eaten. It turns out they have lots and lots of apps. Around 100 of them. Click here to see the iTunes page of all the apps by Tinman Arts. You could spend days downloading them all and trying them all out, and I urge you to go ahead! Today I'm going to share picture story book app by Tinman Arts. It's part of a group of 8 story book apps that Tinman Arts advertises within the app. We have tried about half of them, and they all seem about the same in quality (i.e. worth trying!)

App name: 食物粉碎机 (Food crunching machine)
Developer: Tinman Arts(Chengdu) Co.,Ltd
Cost: Free
Target Age range: 3-8 years old
Type of app: Chinese immersion
Language: Simplified Chinese
Our description: Tinman Arts has lots of Chinese picture books to download for free. This is one about teeth. We think it's cute, talking about our teeth, how we lose them and then they grow back, how all different animals have different kids of teeth, and so on. The pictures are all cute and our kids think it's fun to view the world from inside someone's mouth. It's very educational and I would even like this app if it were only in English. It's entirely in Chinese and is good immersion, but it might be a bit advanced for your kids if they are total beginners. Even if this is the case, it's still worth trying!

There are buttons in the app that link to other picture books by Tinman Arts, but you have to be able to read Chinese Characters (it's a child safety feature, so only adults will press the right buttons to download more apps). For convenience, here are all the other story books that they link to:

All of these stories are very educational, and downloading them all would be a great, free way to fill your iPad with educational Chinese material for your kids.

Cons: The apps are only read in simplified Chinese, with no English.

The bottom line: It can get tiresome to find good Chinese apps, but here's a solid group of 8 picture stories that are worth your time. They are all entirely in Chinese, with no English, which might be a turnoff for some. Nonetheless, they are cute, educational, and free!

Our rating: 4/5

Pictures from the story 食物粉碎机 (Food crunching machine)

These are the other story books that you can download, linked to from within the app's parental control section (I linked to them above for your convenience)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A Little Mandarin giveaway!

We are very excited to team up with Toni Wang to give away 2 copies of her album "A Little Mandarin"! We previously reviewed this excellent CD of Chinese children's music here. You can sample the music on Amazon or through Soundcloud. It was and still is our favorite collection of Chinese children's music. It's easy to buy on Amazon, and the digital album is only $8.99!

If you're feeling lucky, however, enter our contest to win it for free! We are giving away 2 copies!

Here are the rules and how to enter:

  1. Like us on Facebook
  2. Leave a comment on this blog post about why you want your kids to learn Mandarin (or why you yourself want to learn Mandarin!).
  3. The contest ends 11:59 PM, July 31st, 2015, so like us on Facebook and leave a comment before then!
  4. Winners must respond to us within 24 hours or we will move on to the next lucky person.

We will have a computer program randomly pick two of the comments to be winners. We will announce the winners on our Facebook page, Twitter page, and here on our blog. If you're a winner, contact us on Facebook, Twitter, or the contact us page here on the blog with your email within 24 hours, and we'll arrange to get the CD send out to you. Alternatively, leave your email in the comment and you'll be sure not to miss out.

Good luck and we look forward to reading your comments!

UPDATE: Here are the winners!

Thank you everyone for entering our contest! It was very fun to read everyone's comments and see how motivated so many of you are to teach your kids Chinese. It's inspiring!

We have 2 winners! Instead of using a computer program, we decided to have a game with our kids. There were 12 entries, so we put 12 scraps of paper into a bucket with our kids and had them draw them. We recorded it, and it's mostly in Chinese, so give it a watch!

Here are the winners and their comments:


"My 4 year old recently announced out of nowhere that he wants to learn Mandarin! So he's been attending a Mandarin-immersion camp 6 hours a day for a week now and loves it! We could use all the wonderful Mandarin music we can get!"

Terri Ching

"I want my kids to learn Mandarin because it's part of who they are. When they grow up, I don't want them to regret not having tried."

Send us your address and we'll get a CD shipped to you! Contact us on our contact page, email, or you can message us on facebook or twitter.

We really hope you respond and get your prize, please respond to us by Monday night, 8/3/15, 11:59 PM! Or we will end up picking another winner.

Congrats to you both!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Little Pim Chinese for kids -- Free with Amazon Prime

We're back! Sorry for the relatively long absence... we moved across the country, bought a house, started a new job, got a dog, etc etc etc. Life is busy! But it's calmed down just a tad so maybe we'll start writing more again.

Thanks everyone for liking us on facebooks! Up to 49 likes, keep them coming! We're almost to 50, so we'll try to organize a giveaway of "A Little Mandarin!"

And now for today's subject: Little Pim's series of Chinese videos for kids

What is it: These are roughly 30 minute videos entirely in Chinese that go over basic vocabulary. They are clearly meant for kids learning Chinese as a second language. There's lots of footage of kids doing things like eating, sleeping, playing, and then the narrator will say the vocabulary word that is featured on the TV screen. They also display the pinyin that goes along with it.

Target Age Range: 1-5

Pros: It's free if you have amazon prime! There's lots of footage of other kids, and our three kids under age 5 are all somewhat entertained because of this. The mandarin is also clearly spoken, and it's helpful for those that can read pinyin. Kids that don't know much mandarin or don't have parents who speak Mandarin will probably learn a lot from this.

Cons: It's sort of boring... the pace is very slow and there's just not that much that's fun or interesting about it. It's sort of like glorified flash cards. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, just know what you're getting. By the end of one 33 minute episode, my 3 and 5 year old were wrestling on the floor and had completely lost interest. This is probably something you're going to have to watch with your kids if you want them to not get bored.

Our rating / The bottom line: We give these a B. If you have Amazon prime, you should definitely check them out (free is free!), and if money isn't that big of a deal then go ahead and buy them. If you're the type of parent who doesn't speak Mandarin and really wants your kids to learn Mandarin, this is probably a great thing to buy and let your kids watch while they are young and still entertained by it. If your kids are 5 or older these might not have a long shelf life and might be a bit pricey for what you get.

What do you think?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Play "Spot It" in Chinese to learn colors, shapes, & numbers

"Spot It" is one of our favorite children's games. There are several different versions of spot it, but we prefer the letters, shapes, and numbers version to play with our kids.

Spot it, numbers, shapes, colors

There are several ways to play, but no matter how you do it it's all about matching. We think it's fun because it's very fast paced. There are 31 cards, and every card has one number or shape that matches another number or shape on another card. They are also color specific. We put all the cards in the middle, and everyone gets one card. Then, if you find what matches on your card with the cards in the middle, you add that middle card to your own pile. You keep on playing until all the cards in the middle are gone, and whoever got the most wins.

This game is really easy to play in Chinese, and it's great for teaching colors, shapes, and numbers! Just make your kids say the match they found outloud in Chinese, and before you know it they will have mastered colors, numbers, and shapes.

Here is our kids playing it:

If you're new to Chinese, no problem! Here's the words you need to know to play this game:

Red 红色 Hóng sè
Yellow 黄色 huáng sè
Orange 橘色 (or 橙色) jú sè(chéng sè)
Green 绿色 lǜ sè
Blue 蓝色 lán sè
Purple 紫色 zǐ sè
Square 正方形 zhèngfāngxíng
Circle 圆形 yuán xíng
Triangle 三角形 sānjiǎoxíng
Rectangle 长方形 chángfāngxíng
One 一 yī
Two 二 Èr
Three 三 sān
Four 四 sì
Five 五 wǔ
Six 六 liù
Seven 七 qī
Eight 八 bā
Nine 九 jiǔ

What other games do you like to play in Chinese?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Having a garage sale

We're moving soon... trying to get rid of some of our Chinese stuff! It's kind of an eye opener realizing how much stuff we've accumulated. This is what we're willing to part with, but we have tons more we are keeping and taking with us.