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Learning Chinese characters through drawings, pictogram, imagination & logic

Date: February 5, 2014 Author: Jing Wang Categories: Chinese characters, Students in Actions


I have found that children enjoy learning Chinese characters by grouping similar characters together. They use their imagination and logic to decipher their meaning. Yes, Chinese characters are quite logical.

This Monday, at The Montessori Place after school Mandarin club, I shared some ideas of how to read, write and remember 9 new words and phrases.

Below I have described the first 4 words.

Our basic word is Sun 日:

I asked my students to draw a sun. Then I showed them how the original drawing of sun changed to pictogram character and to modern Chinese character.

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Then I asked children to draw another sun. This time, we added a line underneath. I said this line represented the horizon, and also it is Chinese character for number one. The sun comes up from the horizon. “What do you think this could mean?” Children guessed “Sunrise.”  “Yes, it is sunrise.” I said.

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We drew another sun. I asked them to add a cross, which is a Chinese word for 10, underneath the sun, and said now the sun came up a bit higher in the sky and we could see the sun through the tree brunches. I asked “What sort of time could it be? “  “It’s early morning. Isn’t it? ” So we have a word for morning 早 zǎo.









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Oliver is happy with his morning character.












Milly’s drawings and Chinese characters.









For the last word we learnt in this group of characters, we had to use our imagination. I asked my students to imagine how their eyes would react if they looked at the shining sun when the sun was right at top of the sky at noon. It would be too bright to look at it. It would be so blurry it would look like the edge of a feather across the top of the sun.  The sun is so bright it looks like the colour white.  So we get 白 meaning white.

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We summarised our first group of words:

日  旦  早  白   rì dàn zǎo bái: Sun, Sunrise, Morning, White

We used less than 10 minutes and the children remembered the four words by heart.

Children had some fun learning.







This is the PDF file for the four words.











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If you have some other good ideas of teaching children Chinese, please share your thought. Xiexie