Nina, who turned four a month ago, is now really showing interest in understanding what she’s reading/been read at. She would point at the characters / letters and ask what they mean (in all three languages). She also points at the signs of the shops/restaurants and asks me to read and explain. This morning, when she picked up her socks she asked (in Mandarin) ‘Where did you buy the socks? What’s written on the shop?’
So I figured she’s ready to learn how to read.
This is validated when I went for an observation at her pre-school earlier this week – she was playing the number bingo and letter bingo games again and again with her classmates. They are the very basic version of bingo games created by her Montessori directress – number bingo is when one child calls the number from one to ten (Arabic numbers), and other children need to see if they have the same number on their 3×3 sheets (with just one random number missing). Whoever gets all 9 numbers will shout ‘bingo’. Amazingly kids seem to all enjoy that again.
So I created the Chinese Number bingo game at home. It’s really easy to make. In word, I created a 3×3 table on an A4 page, each cell with a random Chinese number between 一 (1) and 十 (10). I created 3 such tables (so up to three person can play at the same table, but i can easily do up more for mor players). Then I also type all 10 characters separately. I printed out all 4 pages, cut the 10 individual characters into smaller individual pieces. Voila, ready to go!
Nina had a blast playing. She particularly wanted to be the one calling the numbers out. Or when she plays, she gets herself two pieces of pages and look for the called number on both pages. She has recognized eight of the ten characters, but funnily was still trying to figure out six (六）and nine (九). She asked why the 6 & 9 ay school would look the same if one is turned upside down, while the ones in Chinese won’t!
This game can be easily adapted to introduce learning to read any characters in any languages really. I already started to think of other characters that will be easy and fun and useful enough to get onto that 3×3 magic table.