Most of the work and responsibility of teaching Chinese easily falls on the spouse who speaks Chinese or who usually stays with the kids most of the time. Am I right? But can you imagine if both spouses and all the kids thought about, planned and participated in activities while learning Chinese together? what amazing experiences and power will it come from doing it as a family.
In this post, I’m going to include 10 best activities that we all can do as a family to enhance and promote Chinese learning at home. And these activities are simple, super fun, and you can do them anytime, anywhere in the world.
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Table of Contents
It’s Crucial to Have Support from Your Spouse
Honestly, I can’t do everything alone without my husband’s support. There is so much more preparation, time, thinking, and teaching involved when it comes to raising my four bilingual/ multilingual kids.
Kids can sense that if they get support from both parents or just you. Their confidence will be increased if they know both parents are supporting their learning Chinese.
What a great life lesson you can teach your kids to overcome hardships and do difficult tasks by supporting and even participating in teaching Chinese at home, even if you are not fluent at all.
Besides, if I am the only one who is doing the talking and teaching all day long, my kids are sick of it anyway.
So having both parents in the game of teaching Chinese is crucial to speed up your process and results at home.
Tips to Make the Family Chinese Activities Seem Effortless
I understand how busy our life is with taking care of our family, ourselves, and others. However,
Let’s get ready to learn some tips
1. Set Goals: Setting goals is an important skill to gain a vision for any dreams your child has, so it’s good to start learning it early. You can simply hold a 15-minute family meeting to discuss and set 1-2 goals as a family. Or if you have young children, you can set those goals as long-term goals and guide your children to set 1-2 short-term and actionable goals from the long-term goals.
Click here to learn how I set long-term and short-term goals for my children
2. Preparation: I don’t think your children would enjoy any theme parks, nothing is ready for them to play when your children arrive. Out of the 10 activities that I’m going to show you, some of them need some extra planning and preparation, and some may only take you 5 minutes, so I know you can do it. On the other hand, preparing them for each new activity will be important so they are more likely to accept them and join in more willingly.
3. Involve the Children: The core of any family activity is to bond with all family members, so don’t exclude your little one, but figure out something to involve them. For example, they can help clean up after the activity, help carry the materials, set the table, distribute materials to each family member, etc.
4. Rewards: Rewards are the best motivators. They help us to remember our commitments and goals and help us to form habits and routines more successfully. You can simply create a very simple reward system, or print out any reward chart for motivation
5. Enjoy the Moments: Many times, after preparing everything, I was so tired that I didn’t even fully participate and enjoy that moment. It’s was like I checked off one thing. However, without me, their mother, it won’t be a family activity at all. Therefore, I’m trying my best to remind myself to play with my children and to enjoy those precious moments as a family. It’s even more encouraging for me to keep planning new family Chinese activities if I enjoyed and participated in the previous one. It is beneficial for now and for the future.
Ten Best Activities You Can Do as A Family to Enhance Chinese Learning
Play Games as a Family
Having regular family game night allows us to learn new things, work with others, overcome challenges, solve problems, and reduce stress.
It is also one of the best ways to enhance Chinese learning as a family. If you are playing board-games in Chinese, you and your family need to understand and do certain things in Chinese. Everyone will feel more comfortable to be themselves, try to speak or use Chinese, and even make mistakes together. Therefore, it’s great for families who are not fluent in Chinese to learn in a fun environment.
I have picked some of my favorites that you can get from Amazon.com.
I know it’s difficult to find board games board-games in Chinese, so if you can’t, it’s also ok.
For my family, if we only get a board game in English, I will try and speak Chinese first and encourage them to do it as well.
- I count each step in Chinese after I roll the dice.
「一,二,三,四…」One, two three, four…
- I teach them basic Chinese phrases to use during game time.
「我們一起輪流。」Let us take a turn.
「在起點開始吧。」Begin at the start.
「輪到你了。」It’s your turn.
「你先開始。」You go first.
「到我了。」It’s my turn.
- I express myself and emotion in Chinese.
「怎麼辦?」What do I do now?
- Praise each other in Chinese.
「你真棒!」You are awesome!
「你到做了!」You did it!
Bonding and building a closer relationship as a family is the main focus. If you don’t have any regular family nights, I hope you will consider forming one and sprinkling some Chinese elements.
I have picked some of my favorites that you can get from Amazon.com.
Playing Chinese Music Together
Music is a universal language. We can communicate across cultures and linguistics even though we can’t speak the native languages.
Through learning the melody and the lyrics, we are able to understand the cultural background and content as well. Through musical repetition, We can all learn new vocabulary and phrases as well
As I was brainstorming these activities with Cantonese Mommy, she mentioned that there is a bicultural non-Chinese speaking dad who plays Chinese nurseries on his guitar, while the mom and their children sing along. That’s an amazing idea!
Turning on a Chinese song from a YouTube channel isn’t as powerful as playing one-, even dressing up and acting out Chinese music/songs together as a family is far more beneficial
Here are some ideas for you:
- If you can’t play any instruments, you can substitute it by clapping hands, playing with shakers, or acting as a conductor.
- Dress up, act & sing Reflection from the Disney movie Mulan. It helps your child to visualize how she will look in Chinese dress, and how Chinese girls felt and acted historically,.
- Search YouTube for Chinese nursery rhymes and sing along as a family
- You can download some FREE Chinese sheet music here and learn traditional Chinese music as a family.
To sum it up, You don’t have to be a musician to play music with your family. Simply enjoying family time by listening to Chinese music will make for a great experience as well when you incorporate dance and song.
Look at Photos Together
Thanks to advanced technology, we can take unlimited photos now, but how many times have we gone back and looked at those photos again?
Photos are such a precious and valuable form of memory. Looking at photos together as a family is one of the best family activities to help us remember the good old days, to be grateful for our blessings, and remember the sweet moments we’ve shared.
Here are some ideas of photos that you can look at. You can even make an album to enhance the Chinese learning experience:
- Places and cities from China
- Chinese people and portraits
- Old Chinese buildings, gardens (e.g. Chinese temples, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China, Temple of Heaven, etc.)
- Chinese landscapes
- The map of China
- Animals from China
- Chinese cuisine
If you are of Chinese heritage, it is an excellent idea to make an album, so you and your children can look at photos of their great-great-great-grandparents and other ancestors.
Family Chinese Movie Night
You don’t have to be fluent in the language to understand most of the movies. That’s the best part of watching movies. It’s entertaining and makes things real by providing visuals to the story. Now, since Chinese movies are more accessible on the internet, having a family Chinese movie night once a month isn’t a problem.
Our favorite program is Netflix since it allows you to change the settings into Chinese(Mama Baby Mandarin taught us how to change it), so we can enjoy watching movies and tv shows with different Chinese Preferences such as Mandarin Chinese Cantonese with Traditional Chinese or Simplified Chinese subtitles.
Since some English movies that we enjoy don’t have any Chinese audio we can still have a chance to learn some Chinese when I change the subtitles into Traditional Chinese.
Of course, don’t miss involving your children in the planning and preparing of the monthly Chinese family movie night by letting them prepare popular Chinese movie snacks, and cleaning afterward.
Attending Chinese Cultural Shows
Attending Chinese cultural shows is one of the most exciting things you can do with your family.
Your family will be able to get a taste of how Chinese people live and what their society feels like through different arts such as ceramics, architecture, music, literature, martial arts, cuisine, visual arts, philosophy, and religion.
Watching cultural shows in ancient China was also very popular for people in royalty. Through dance, music, and drama, Performers conveyed their feelings about their culture and society through their performance. Therefore, they are a very valuable part of the culture
The Content of Chinese Cultural Shows
- 中國舞 Chinese Dance
- 中國音樂 Chinese Instrumental Music
- 雜技 Acrobatics (丟擲雜技 juggling,
操控雜技 manipulation: 頂缸 top cylinder, 蹬技kick, 頂技 balancing act on the forehead, 抖盤 shaking and balancing objects, 口籤子 bit on a small stick to pick up some huge objects, 飛叉, 踢碗, 拉硬弓
平衡雜技 Balance: 獨輪車, 晃板, 走索, 晃梯,
- 中國魔術/巫術 Chinese Magic走球
- 舞龍舞獅 Dragon & Lion Dance
- 粵劇/ 京劇 Canton/ Peking Opera
神韻藝術團Shen Yun Performing Arts is a New York-based performing-arts and entertainment company that tours the world. If you have the opportunity to attend their live performances as a family, it will be a highlight of the year.
If not, you can still enjoy some videos on their YouTube channel.
Of course, you can simply search “Chinese cultural show” to find some videos to enjoy on the internet.
Celebrate Cultural Festivals and Holidays
When I served an 18-month LDS mission in Washington D.C., in the United States. I saw the White House, the Capitol, and the Monument. They looked important, historical, and beautiful to me but they weren’t meaningful to me
However, since I had experienced American culture by celebrating events such as the Fourth of July in the National Mall, and an amazing Thanksgiving dinner with the locals, etc. I started to become curious about the history and culture of the US.
After my mission, I went back to the United States to finish my degree at Brigham Young University in Utah, and I took American Classes such as American Heritage, My heart and mind were opened to the history of American art and music. I instantly made connections with the experience I had living and serving in Washington DC.
Now, whenever we celebrate Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, etc. in the US, I gain more understanding and appreciation of Americans. It prepared and helped me to raise my children as Americans as well.
There is magic through celebrating cultural festivals as a family. It helps our family:
- Stay connected and build social relationships from the past to the future
- Share and experience something different and unique
- Promote harmony and happiness
How can You Celebrate Chinese Festivals with your Family?
- Decorate your house with festival decorations
- Get dressed up
- Make or eat festival food
- Try some new traditions
- Attend cultural events nearby
Even though these cultural festivals may be new and unfamiliar to you, you may not know where to start. Don’t be afraid to just pick one or two things to start with.
Here are some Ideas and Activities to do to Celebrate the Following Chinese Festivals
- 10 Best Ways to Celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival with Your Kids
- The Best Chinese New Year Traditions and Activities to Do with Kids
- 100+ Chinese New Year Activities for Kids to Gain Cultural Experiences
- Easy Chinese new year’s rounded lanterns to make with your kids
- Sweet Rice Dumplings for Chinese Lantern Festival
Gardening with children is a new educational trend. It engages all of our senses through fine-motor development, it promotes healthy eating, introduces scientific concepts and math skills, and teaches hard-work and responsibility.
Knowing all the benefits mentioned above, can you imagine how much fun gardening as a family would be?
Here are several ways to involve Chinese learning:
- Plant fruits and vegetables to cook in Chinese food. For example bitter melons, winter melons, Chinese pears, small cucumbers, small eggplants, etc.
- Read books about plants in Chinese gardens and then go searching for those plants in the Asian markets.
- Make a “Chinese garden” out of plants each member of the family loves.
- Make a reward chart in Chinese for each member of the family and their gardening responsibilities
- Label different name-tags or signs for each plant in Chinese.
Examine each type of plant from your garden by harvesting, preparing, washing, cooking, and And taking note of new vocabulary phrases in Chinese.
Cooking Cultural Food and Eat Together
I have asked some of my friends who are bilingual parents their favorite activities to do with their families and cooking and eating Chinese together is number one.
We can see that cultural food is very important to people because food is strongly tied to our identities and our cultural heritage. different cultures are even often identified by the food they represent too, like eating Chinese refers to eating Chinese take-out for dinner.
There are also a lot of amazing Chinese food bloggers who share their Chinese recipes with step-by-step instructions, high-quality photos, and even videos for you and your family to follow.
Here are different activities that you can as a family
- Pick some Chinese recipes that your family wants to try, and make a collection in a folder.
- Print out the recipe your family is going to make together. Write down all the ingredients on a shopping list and pick them up from the store
- Teach your child some basic food preparation and washing skills
- Introduce different popular Chinese condiments and seasonings by letting your child become familiar through smell and taste.
- Show different Chinese kitchenware (a wok? I don’t know how to say) to your child and learn about their function together
- Cook the dish with your children and show them how you follow the instructions through reading the recipe or watching a video
- set up all the Chinese tableware at home and learn how to use it properly
- Learn how to use chopsticks properly
- Watch and learn Chinese dining etiquette together and practice it at home or at a Chinese restaurant
- Plan to have a regular Chinese dinner every month and assign different responsibilities to each family member
- Host some Chinese dinner parties with your neighbors
These are some of our favorite Chinese dishes to make with our kids
- 湯圓 Sweet Rice Dumplings
- 巧克力冰皮月餅 Chocolate Snow-skin Mooncakes
- 煎餃Dumplings/ gyoza
- 春卷Spring Roll
- 生菜包Lettuce Wrap
- 滷水雞翼Oven-Baked Teriyaki Chicken Wings
Going to Zoos, Aquariums, Botanic Gardens, Museums
This is a pretty typical family activity, but what can we do to turn it into a Chinese learning experience too?
A happy, healthy family is also a family who loves to learn new things together. That’s why going to visit different places and even traveling to new countries are excellent family activities. We all can enjoy each other’s company within a relaxing setting, while we are exploring and doing something fun together.
Here are some suggestions for you to incorporate learning Chinese into your family field trip
- Prepare for each field trip by researching different Chinese animals, plants, etc, through reading books, watching documentaries, and searching
- Play a hunting game during your visit by crossing off different Chinese plants and animals that you come across after recognizing the Chinese words on flyers, labels or post-it notes. (Ideas from Cantonese Mommy)
- Plan a finding-Chinese-animals-party with friends, and go to places where you will find them
- Plan a trip to visit the Chinese American Museum in New York, the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles, the Chinese American Museum of Chicago in Chicago, the Chinese American Museum in Washington DC, the Chinese Historical Society of America Museum in San Francisco, and the Crow Museum of Asian Art at the University of Texas in Dallas.
Travel to Chinese speaking countries
Yes! That’s the ideal family activity we all dream of if we can afford it.
that’s the number one best way to immerse your family in the Chinese culture through seeing, touching, eating, and living.
There aren’t many other activities that can replace it.
So if you don’t have money to visit like my family, we moved our family to actually live in Hong Kong for five years. If that’s not an option for you, plan for a family vacation to any Chinese speaking countries (China, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong (part Mandarin & Part Cantonese), etc.
If that’s still not possible? There are a lot of bilingual families traveling to these places and even registering Their children for summer school
If you are interested, read the Taiwan recap 2019 blog post from Mandarin Mama.
Which Chinese Family Activities would you like to try in this coming year?
What outcomes would you like to see from preparing and participating in these family activities?
You Might be Interested
- How to Start Teaching Chinese at Home
- Free Challenge: Live the Chinese Language
- 100+ Chinese New Year Activities for Kids to Gain Chinese Cultural Experiences
- Chinese Nursery Rhymes and Songs for Kids [Lyrics in Pinyin & English] (Bilingual Kidspot)
- 25+ Netflix Chinese Shows for Kids (Spot of Sunshine)
- 17 Best Classic Movies for Learning Chinese (Fluent U)
- Chinese Movies Online – LTL’s Ultimate List of Chinese Streaming Sites (LTL Mandarin School)
- What Food Tells Us About Culture (Freely Magazine)
You are Not Doing it alone
Join my Facebook support group to meet and get connections with parents and educators with the same goals.
身为职业妈妈的我,常常牺牲睡眠来自作教材。版主全方位学习的新年教材真让我省下不少宝贵的时间找资料。四岁的女儿对中文学习有点抗拒。我们善用版主提供的迷你故事书和生字卡来增强她对语文的认识。版主的中文单词棋盘游戏更让女儿投入学习, 因为她想赢嘛！版主的教材可让小孩边玩边学, 太棒了。
This is the second 5-Day Challenge that we have done with Fortune Cookie Mom. Both have been very beneficial to our family. I am a homeschool mom of three little kids. We are not Chinese and do not speak any Chinese. With the help of Fortune Cookie Mom, we are slowly learning! The challenges have given me fun activities to do at home with the kids. Each one has reignited my kid's interest in learning. It has been a fun experience for everybody!