If children are too young for a trip to the ocean, why not bring the action of the ocean life to where they are then? Join me, take a deep breath as we dive into the deep blue!
Most of us are familiar with the names of the ocean animals in English. How about learning their names in Mandarin? But why Mandarin?
A few years ago, I was having a casual conversation with my firstborn in mandarin when her response caught me by surprise. She requested for me to speak to her in the English language; as she considered herself as an ‘English speaking’ person! She was just two years old going to three years old then. Surprised as I was, it made me realise that it is crucial to introduce mandarin and training them to be proficient in their mother tongue; especially from a young age.
Since then, I have been making conscious effort speaking to her and my younger daughter in mandarin. As they continue to grow up, I am also introducing Chinese characters to them as well. By preparing learning materials and activities in mandarin, my desire is for my children to know that learning Mandarin can be just as fun!
1) In any of my preparation for thematic activity, I will usually try to include a storybook as this provides a more comprehensive representation of the planned activity. For this particular activity, I referenced the Chinese storybook entitled ‘大白鲨’. Through the reading of this storybook to my daughters, I was able to not just introduce the different ocean animals in mandarin to my younger girl, I was also able to highlight the ‘preys’ and ‘predators’ of the wide variety of ocean animals to my older daughter.
2) One of my favourite tools and favourite activity of my younger daughter; flashcards! Pictures with Chinese characters to reiterate the different ocean animals, as well as exposure to Chinese characters.
3) It is now time to bring the ocean to where we are. As a start, an image of ‘Under the Ocean’ that serves as the Ocean background was printed in the size of A3 and affixed to a magnetic whiteboard. This was along with cut-out images of several ocean animals also affixed with magnetic strips. The use of a magnetic whiteboard and strips facilitates easier access for my girls to freely place the various ocean animals anywhere on the Ocean background. The names of the ocean animals in Chinese characters coupled with han yu pin yin (HYPY) were prepared as well. This activity was planned out for the benefit of my two daughters.
a. For my younger daughter, picking the ocean animals and placing them on the ocean background was done by her. She was also involved in placing the corresponding Chinese name close to or on each ocean animal, with guidance.
b. For my older daughter, she picked the ocean animals and placed them on the ocean background too. She also took the HYPY cut-outs matching them herself, and with the limited Chinese characters that she knows, was also able to match the Chinese characters.
4) I also decided to prepare a travel friendly version activity called ‘Say and Spin’. This is a fairly simple game. Pick any card from the deck of Chinese characters or HYPY cards from the previous activity, allow the child to spin the wheel to find the correct ocean animal. This activity can also be done in the reverse order. As such, naming the game ‘Say and Spin’ or ‘Spin and Say’ is entirely up to you.
Content Source: Mummy Jocelyn
Edited By: Preschool Resources
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Preschool Resources.