Friday, January 18, 2013

Introducing handwriting of Chinese characters

I've been thinking about how to introduce the handwriting of Chinese characters to my younger students for a while and haven't come up with a good idea. It's hard for them to relate the handwriting to the real life, let along the handwriting of Chinese characters which are made of strokes. I have two 4-year-olds who are not yet developed the concept of print. 
Our family took a trip to the Sanibel Island during Christmas. We had a great time at the beach. Joey and dad found seashells of different colors and varieties. While they were on the shell hunt, I was relaxing at the beach watching people playing sports, walking dogs, surfing, and some kids writing and drawing with sticks in the sand. Yes, how about making Chinese words by drawing pictures in the sand! I think it's a brilliant idea! It's related and fun!
So here I am, with the finest sand I can find from the Senibel Isand and an innovative picture At The Beach from Huy Vun Lee.  

It's a beautiful day at the beach.
Xiao Ming is learning to write Chinese.
"Many Chinese characters are like pictures." Says his mother as she draws in the sand.
"I know that character." Says Xiao Ming. "It means person. See, it looks like someone is walking." 
 I put the sand in the paper plate and kids used their fingers to draw Chinese characters. We started from the very basic strokes, like the horizontal and vertical strokes, sweeping left and dot, etc. Then we tried some simple characters, those from the book, like person, big, small, etc. It was fun! They were doing great, even following the stroke order!

I love this introduction activity! Through their drawing in the sand, they can easily see the similarities between characters and real life objects. And the book is educational, fun and beautiflly illustrated. They are very proud of themselves writing Chinese characters! 

So what's the prize for their hard work today? Sea shells from the Sanibel Island!

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