Some time back, when we were trying to find ways to get N interested in Chinese, C did some research online and came across Chineasy. He thought it was an interesting way to learn Chinese, as he himself cannot really recognise many Chinese characters. Since N is a rather visual learner, we figured he might find the Chineasy cards more appealing, and be better able to remember the words, based on the pictures.
What exactly is Chineasy?
Chineasy is created by mumpreneur ShaoLan, by breaking down Chinese characters into their most basic and recurring forms into fewer and simpler radicals termed ‘building blocks’. One building block, or a specific compound form of the building block can be combined with one or more other characters to make a compound character. Two or more independent characters can be placed next to one another to make phrases. In compounds, a whole new character is created; in phrases, the placement of characters next to one another gives a new meaning to the collection of characters. This principle of building blocks is what makes learning Chinese so easy! Working with renowned illustrator Noma Bar, ShaoLan has “unpicked” Chinese characters, turning them into pictograms that are engaging, delightful, and easy to remember.
We got a set of the Chineasy Flashcards from Once Upon a Bookstore and N was immediately intrigued by the flashcards. He zoomed in on the pictures that he could easily recognise, and asked me what the Chinese characters were.
With the Chineasy flashcards that he picked out
I have two wall pocket charts from Daiso, so I got N to slot the cards in randomly, before asking him to point to the cards that I called out. We made a game out of it, with him running to the chart from his desk, identifying the right card, then sprinting back to his desk. N loves any reason to run around, so this was perfect for him.
With the pocket wall charts
One issue that I have with the Chineasy flashcards is that there are some words written in the traditional form*, rather than the simplified form, which is what we are used to. I didn’t really want N to get confused, so I picked those out initially, and only let him look at the simplified form ones. I plan to introduce these traditional forms to him later, when he is more familiar with the simplified forms.
Some of the traditional forms
Having said that, I do like how the pictograms illustrate the meanings of the words and radicals simply. The radicals show how they originated from the root word, and I think it will help children to be able to remember the meaning of the compound word.
There is a tutorial card that explains how to use the flashcards, but I think you should be able to figure it out easily, as it’s pretty self-explanatory.
Root word and radicals
These Chineasy cards are definitely a fun way to introduce some simple Chinese words to your children, especially if they aren’t usually exposed to the Chinese language. The pictograms will help them to understand and remember the meanings of the words, making learning more effective and interesting.
*There are a few flashcards which present traditional Chinese characters because those are best suited to the illustration and help to convey the origin of the character.
Once Upon a Bookstore also stocks some Chinese activity and sticker books, and although I struggled a little with reading the instructions, I think it’s a good way to subtly introduce more Chinese words to kids like N, who don’t get much exposure to Chinese at home. We tried out 主题游戏书－农场游戏, which has 60 pages worth of farm-themed activities, including puzzles, drawing, colouring, and stickers. N had fun drawing faces on the sheep!
Busy drawing faces
You can check out the other activity books and sticker books HERE. I think they’re good value for money, with so many different activities that will keep kids occupied for quite some time. It’s also a very good way for us to learn the Chinese names of various animals or vehicles, depending on which activity/sticker book you get.
Check out the previous Friday Flips posts HERE. I’ve also created a photo album on Facebook with some other good reads, and will be updating it whenever I come across more books that we enjoy. Do pop by for a look HERE.
*Disclaimer: We received a set of the Chineasy flashcards and a copy of the activity book shown for the purpose of this review. All photos and opinions are, as always, our own.
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