I’ve been really inspired by learning shelves like the ones from Happy Tot Shelf and Montessori inspired play spaces like CHALK Academy’s. But honestly they intimidate me 😱. Anyone else in the same camp as me?
So this month, I decided to take the plunge and see how it works out.
Learning Shelf Activities
I put together seven activities for this Valentine themed learning shelf. Descriptions of each are below:
Chinese Family Titles Matching Game
What better way to start a Valentines’ themed learning shelf than to learn names of family members in Chinese?
This low prep activity was inspired by CHALK Academy’s family members Valentine’s heart matching game. Since I already had heart doilies at home, I simply wrote the names of family members in Chinese for the matching game instead of using her printables (free on her site).
Although there are many titles for family members in Chinese, the ones I chose to use were ones that were the same two character to facilitate easier matching.
My daughter had a great time playing this game and so did my student. It got my daughter interested in writing these characters as well.
I used to struggle with feeling like I needed to make sure she really knew the characters before moving onto new ones. But I’ve come to realize through trial and error, and discussions with other parents like Betty, that learning through various types of natural exposure (books, having them up around the house etc) and spaced repetition is a much better way to increase her knowledge of characters.
Learn Numbers in Chinese & Counting Hearts Game
I created these Chinese number counting cards inspired by Teach Me Mommy this past summer and we’ve used them periodically to do math. I would say these counting cards are totally worth the time I put into them. If you’re looking for something to make to help your kids learn math, these are one of our favorite materials.
This was a great month to pull these out and include in our February learning shelf.
I bought two bags of plastic hearts from the dollar store for my daughter to count and place on the foam hearts. She is currently obsessed with these plastic hearts so I’m trying to come up with more activities to take advantage of her interest in them ❤️.
Montessori Bead Stairs
I created this Montessori bead printable to help my daughter make associations between the number and the amount for our Valentine learning shelf. Montessori beads are wonderful for helping kids make that connection. It’s been really fun for me to observe her counting the beads. Of course, she gets distracted and we haven’t worked through them all in one sitting, but we’re getting there.
I printed these out and laminated them. I would recommend putting double sided tape on the beads on the print out to help the beads stay in place. Or else they end up rolling all over the place.
Heart 心 Radical Chinese Activity
I loved CHALK Academy’s heart radical felt activity. So I created one with heart doilies (Dollar Tree) and leftover foam heart stickers (Walmart) for our learning shelf.
My daughter loved placing the stickers onto the doilies to match the other doily with the full character. At first I wasn’t planning on having her use the foam stickers so we can continually use this activity the next few weeks, but she had other plans.
I used to get frustrated when things like this happen, but I’ve learned to take a step back and appreciate how she is engaging in the activity and what she brings to the activity.
I have to remind myself that it’s not about having perfect activities but rather engaging my daughter’s mind and giving her opportunities to learn through play.
Valentine’s Day Books
Since I wanted to focus on loving others and the love of God for this month, (also due to the fact that I could only find one traditional Chinese children’s book on Valentine’s day), these are the books I chose for this learning shelf:
- 愛你本來的樣子 Children of the King, by Max Lucado (has zhuyin): Beautiful story on how we are children of the King and how God desires relationship with us. He doesn’t love us because of what we offer Him or do for Him but because of who we are to Him. This is a longer book with more words so it was a bit challenging for my daughter (3YO) to sit through the entire thing.
- traditional Chinese ISBN: 4711158862773
- simplified Chinese ISBN: 9787506097147 (for a wonderful review of simplified Chinese versions of Lucado’s books, and information on how to purchase them be sure to check out CHALK Academy’s post)
- 你是我的孩子 You Are Mine by Max Lucado (has zhuyin): This book talks about the temptation to compare and compete for importance and worth through our material wealth. In the book, a puppet tries to get more boxes and balls because that’s what everyone else in his village is buying. I love Lucado’s books that do such a good job talking to kids about issues we all struggle with as human beings. He always directs us back to who God is and what God is like. I’m often ministered to when reading them to my daughter.
- traditional Chinese ISBN: 9570368535
- simplified Chinese ISBN: 9787506097130
- 你很特別 You Are Special, by Max Lucado (has zhuyin): I love this board book that talks about how to let go of people’s definitions of success and worth and how to hold onto the one opinion that matters. For His opinions of us sets us free from man’s labels on us.
- traditional Chinese ISBN: 9789864001767
- 禮貌 Manners by Aliki Brandenberg: This is a fun book that is a great took in teaching kids proper manners. I included this because having good manners is a great way to love others.
- traditional Chinese ISBN: 9789577624628
- 有禮貌的亮亮 (from Little Vicki 亮亮的成長 book set): This book teaches common useful phrases used in daily life to express politeness.
- traditional Chinese ISBN: 4719229006460
- 上帝好愛我 God Loves Me. I like how simple yet full of truth it is concerning the love of God. A wonderful book to help kids understand the love of God.
- traditional Chinese ISBN: 9789866205330
- 愛 Love by: 張蓬潔. This book is printed in black and white and can seem to be monotonous. But my daughter does like it (maybe because it’s pink and has a heart on the cover haha). It does go into what love is eventually but only after asking many many many….questions. I do think it is useful for giving language for talking about love.
- traditional Chinese ISBN: 9789570368574
Chinese Character Review Activity
We just recently started Sagebooks and so I created a simple printable to review the characters we’ve been learning. I simply ask my student and daughter to read aloud the character they recognize. Then have them place a heart on it. They both enjoyed this game.
I also created a template for you to write in the characters you want to review with your kids.
Guavarama also has a wonderful free printable with all the characters taught in each Sagebook along with other helpful supplemental materials.
Love Letters Activity
As a parent, I feel like the words I speak over my child really has an impact on her precious heart. Therefore I want to intentional to speak words that build her up and help her believe in who she is in her Heavenly Father’s eyes. So, I came up with this fun Valentine’s Day reading activity for our learning shelf.
I found these felt envelopes from Walmart for a dollar each. Then wrote: 愛心信封 (Àixīn xìnfēng/love envelope) on them with gold puffy paint. Nearly everyday, I write a short encouraging message on heart doilies for them to discover and read.
Since kids love opening envelopes and getting mail, I thought this would be a fun way to get them doing some reading practice and to affirm them. They both have been loving these, the six year old a bit more than my daughter.
How To Access Free Printables
To access the free printables used in the learning shelf, register below if you haven’t yet. You should get a confirmation email within a day or two. After confirming your email, you’ll receive a password to access the printables.
If you’ve already registered, simply sign into my printables page.
I hope this helps shorten your Valentine themed learning prep. If you give any of these activities a try or have questions or other ideas, please share with me below in the comments. I would love to hear from you. Please tag me if you do share these activities on social media. We would love to see how you and your kiddos are learning with these games!
More Valentines Themed Activities:
- Free Printable Chinese Valentines for Kids 情人節卡片
- Valentine Theme Activities from Trillium Montessori
- Chinese Valentine’s Day Cards and Coloring Sheets – Free Printables! from CHALK Academy
- How do Chinese Parents Show Their Love & Chinese Valentines Printable from Fortune Cookie Mom
- Chinese Play and Make Valentine’s Day Printables from Miss Panda Chinese
More Resources to Help You Have Fun Teaching Your Kids Chinese!
- Plan Your Best Year of Teaching Your Kids Chinese 計畫成功的一年
- Chinese Character Game for Kids with Snow!
- How Chinese Became Our Daughter’s Dominate Language at Age 2
- The Secret to Learning Chinese: How My Husband Did it in 2.5 Years
- TOP 6 RESOURCES FOR DOING FAMILY DEVOTIONS IN CHINESE 家庭靈修資源
Don’t Do It Alone!
For more support and to commiserate with likeminded parents, please join us at Christian Parents Raising Bilingual Children in English & Chinese.
Other great FaceBook groups for parents raising bilingual kids:
Follow me on my FaceBook Page & my Instagram accounts where I share fun Chinese activities (@spotofsunshineChinese) we’re doing and encouragement for your heart rooted in Christ (@spotofsunshine).