Sunday, January 29, 2017

Using Minecraft to bribe our kids into learning Chinese

Yes, we bribe our kids, and we're not ashamed of it. Although this isn't really a parenting blog, I guess a lot of teaching your kids Chinese comes down to how you parent. There are lots of resources on this site to help you teach your kids Chinese, but what good are resources if you don't implement them? We have found a lot of success recently, and we just wanted to share. If you parent in a different way, I hope that sharing our experience will be helpful in one way or another to you.

We tried many times in the past to have a rewards system to help our kids make good choices. We tried sticker charts and point systems, but they always seemed to fizzle out. One day, I realized it was because there wasn't an adequate reward that the kids could work for. Our oldest is 6 years old, and all of his friends are starting to talk about Minecraft. That was a light bulb moment!

Here is how we implemented it.

We downloaded a simple star reward system for our phone:
(White stars are 1 point, gold stars 2 points, red stars -1 point, black stars -2 points)

We established a few basic rules to establish law and order in our house:
  • Hitting = black star
  • Using bad language = red star
  • Getting up on time for breakfast in the morning = white star
  • Miss the bus = black star
  • Do homework as soon as get home = White star
  • Practice piano = White star
  • Don't practice piano = Black star
  • Pick up dog poop = Gold star
  • etc etc etc

What are the consequences of points?
  • Have negative points by dinner time = Go straight to bed
  • Have 10 points = 1 hour of Minecraft

It sounds simple and cheesy, but this has really helped our 3, 5, and 6 year old boys. It has been very effective. They love earning white and gold stars, and getting red and black stars allows us to keep our calm and let the stars be the enemies. We are not the bad guys and we don't have to yell, they simply broke the rules and suffer the consequences. And, of course, they love love love minecraft and will often do anything it takes to earn more points.

Which leads us to.... getting white stars for practicing Chinese!

One way that we do this is offering a white star for writing a page of Chinese characters in the little workbooks that we have. Our kids have happily written page after page of Chines characters, all in the quest to play Minecraft:

These little books are great for learning Chinese characters. They have the pinyin to help you pronounce and look up the word if you don't know it, pictures, tracing, stoke order, and then empty boxes to write it on your own. Books are way more convenient than printing out pages from the internet. Kids love having their own little workbook.

Where to get them?

We carry them at my store, Sharon's Dynasty!

The books we sell are slightly different than the ones pictured above, with all the same features:

As far as we know, our store has the best prices on the internet! Each book is only $3.99. Check it out if you're interested!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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