Zhuyin Class Week 3

The zhuyin class is starting to flow by.

Week 3 seems to be a magical week, just like our summer zhuyin class, where the beginning sounds, the blending, are all starting to gel.  I think I was just slightly worried by the end of week 2, feeling like I’m not teaching well.  But seeing Astroboy is blending like mad reminds me I need to be patient when it comes to phonics.  It really doesn’t happen overnight.

For Astroboy, he’s reached a new stage where he’s compulsively spelling everything during the day.  “Mama, 請你給我 ㄉ ㄢ 蛋.” And he’s progressed to 3 zhuyin blends.   He’ll spend 30 minutes painstakingly reading through his favorite 小雞 books.  We finished Series 1 of Sagebooks two weeks ago and those extra characters are making it a bit easier for him to read through those books.  The same thing would not work on Thumper.  Or rather, she would get discouraged having to read that slowly and the general feeling of “not knowing”.   I’m not complaining about Thumper.  Just that it still manages to surprise me seeing how two kids could learn so different.

Anyways, this week we’re learning ㄌㄑㄗㄩㄜㄢㄤㄥ.

I’m changing our lesson focus a bit and teaching stroke order of the zhuyin characters, in addition to constantly popping up with “I know! 報紙 starts with ㄅ!”  Like the last zhuyin class, after a few times of this the kids really caught up to beginning sound idea and had a lot of fun randomly coming up with words.

 zhuyin week 3

Anyways, we folded up a paper into 16 squares, for each one, we drew a picture, wrote down how to spell it in the next 2 squares, and then finished by re-writing that zhuyin one more time.  By doing this, Astroboy works on his spelling.  On a side note, I’ve noticed because he’s spelling (and therefore hearing individual sounds), he’s picking up learning English phonics fairly quickly.

Because we’re progressing a bit faster, I really wanted to make sure that the zhuyin symbol itself is remembered.  So we played zhuyin bingo.

For the second class, for review I had Astroboy come up with a word and then try to spell it.  I was surprised that it adds a level of difficulty.  Sometimes I think Astroboy can spell something, but it turns out maybe he knows just how to spell one particular word, and not necessarily can hear the sound to spell every word.

 zhuyin week 3
Because he wanted to make the volcano in the classroom erupt this Friday, another exercise we did was to make a little recipe booklet.  We folded a piece of paper into 4.  For each square we drew the ingredient we needed to make a volcano erupt and then tried to spell it.  I worked on having him hear
the ending sound of the word instead of having them come up with just beginning sound and providing the ending sound.  It was heartingly to me that
he didn’t have too much trouble with it.

For the third class, we rewrote this recipe again and then Astroboy had a lot of fun pouring different colored vinegar volcano down the volcano and watching it erupt.

Eh?  Volcano?  In a Zhuyin class?

That was my response when I first saw this type of activity in summer zhuyin class.  After watching it a few times, I realized it works in a class format because

  • the kids need to learn vocabulary in Chinese.  They may know it in English, but not necessarily Chinese.
  • having concrete experience to tie with a zhuyin helps them remember it.  For sure the folding of airplanes a week ago was a hit and it is now something they tend to want to spell and do spell correctly.
  • a variety of experiences ala How We Learn makes learning more stimulating and fun.  I wish I’d known I could have done it other ways when I was teaching Thumper.

We’re now 1/3 way through the class.   Sometimes I get antsy and feel like we’re not progressing fast enough.  But looking back, we’ve only learned 1/3 of the 57 sounds in zhuyin, we’ve still got a ways to go…..


Random brain dump, or….can I fit it all in?

What a terrible subject line.  But one way to guarantee only people who want to read a brain dump will read it.  Because the post is super random and has no point.   However, so many things have been happening in the homeschool front that I want to share, yet they don’t really have a big point.  So a brain dump.

I’m coming up from under a mountain of craziness that is the last 3 weeks.  Mostly because I was running around to 4H and playdates and hikes and then yelling at the kids, especially Thumper, when we didn’t get enough done.  I haven’t had time to prep and I was feeling like we’re behind.

We’re in 3rd grade!  And we can’t read in English!  And we can’t write in Chinese!  What about science and history! or music and cooking and gardening!  or folding laundry and washing dishes and chores?  There’s no time to read or listen to cool audio or watch Magic School Bus!  Then the worry that I’m not following the child or letting the children really follow and explore their interest when there’s 10 other things on the list that they must do daily during school.

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Magazine: 康軒學習雜誌 top945

The other magazine my friend lent me is 康軒學習雜誌.  Kang Xuan 康軒 is one of the 3 major textbook publishing companies in Taiwan.  I recently found out they have a distributor in the U.S.  Since another friend asked me to find out about prices, I looked into them for her.

According to my Kang Xuan supplier, the top945 magazine has more subscribers than 巧虎 Qiao Hu in elementary.   I don’t love the top945 layout or their characters.  I can see it is a bit different from elementary Qiao Hu.  As other parents have noted, the focus is on more current events.  So I guess one would get different magazines for different types of needed vocabulary.

Info: bi-monthly, 24 issues per year.  Focus is more on current events and daily living 時事和日常生活.

Age:  Kang Xuan has 3 versions, 3-6, 1st-3rd, 4th-6th.  The info I have is for the 1st-3rd grade.

Versions:  You can also buy past issues for $205 (24 issues), including shipping.  There are also online versions.

Cost: The cost is on the last age.  The distributor here is willing to lower the price by doing a group order of 10 people and shipping it only 12 times a year instead of 24.  This way it’ll be $299 ($9300 NT) instead of the $337 ($10470 NT).

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Magazine: 小牛頓 NewtonKids

Earlier this week, my friend lent me samples of two magazines.  I’ve been looking at different magazine options.  Honestly, for no reason since I’m not sure if I need more reading material in my library.  We haven’t even gone through all of our Chiao Hu and 國語日報 (Children’s Newspaper) sets yet.   But like Mandarin Mama, I do like to look at different educational materials for fun.

I’ve heard from Newton Kids, but I’ve never really thought about getting them.  When I saw them it was at our preschool library.  I did not like them because I could not catalogue them.  When a teacher plans his/her curriculum, there are usually themes, for example, studying the moon or the sun one month.  Unless I wanted to pore over every magazine and catalogue them electronically, there was no way I was going to be able to use these non-fiction magazines as resources for children when we study a theme or when they want to learn more about a specific topic.

But, on looking at them again, I do really love this magazine.  It reminds me of elementary Chiao Hu 巧虎 with its large photos and small paragraphs of text, with zhuyin.

I took some pics of some pages.  There are two sections on animals and what’s neat is that there is a theme that kind of ties all of these together, which is caves or holes.  So at the end of the magazine, they talk about different holes we see in daily life, holes in bread, containers, our body, geographically.  I like how the magazine does that.

Info:12 issues per year.  Each books comes with a listening CD.  The focus is on science.

Age:  According to this website, the magazine is suitable for 1st to 4th grade.

Versions: The pics I took are the elementary version I think.   There are also electronic ones  online. I don’t know how you can get old versions.  But I imagine you can?

Cost:  The cost according to the magazine, which I also took a picture of, is $5220 NT for 1 year, 12 subscriptions or $10440 NT for 2 years, 24 magazines.   I’m quoting the final prices, including shipping, to US, Europe, Africa, Canada.

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Book: The Ink Drinker 吸墨鬼來了

Age: Almost 8
Grade Level: 3-4th grade
Pages: 180

Tonight, we went to the Oakland library and I happened upon what I thought was another book in the Ink Drinker series.  The Ink Drinkers is a translated book about a little boy who becomes a “vampire” and can only subsist by sucking up the ink in books.  About a year ago, I read the book to Thumper and she really loved it.

The series we bought has two books:  吸墨鬼來了 and 吸墨鬼來了2:錯字飲料店.  It’s published by 小天下 and has zhuyin.  The book we borrowed tonight was titled 小紅吸墨鬼 and it has no zhuyin, with the cover declaring it’s a medium-high grade (中高) level book.  A few pages in, we both realized that we’d already read it.  Apparently 遠流 Publishing had published a different version of these books 10+ years ago.  The newer version by 小天下 combined several of these books into one, whereas the old ones were standalone books.

Ink Drinker

I’ve been researching Greenfield books to buy the last two days.  With the thought that perhaps I need to buy books with no zhuyin to gauge where Thumper is and force her to learn new characters.  But my conflict is that I know that she’s learning new characters partly because she has zhuyin next to them.

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Zhuyin Week 2

Week 2  ㄈㄏㄓㄔㄨㄚㄜ is introduced.

When I was making my flashcards, I realized that 康軒 is introducing these zhuyin based on frequency.  For sure, ㄠ is actually one of the most occurring sounds.  I thought it would have been ㄚor ㄧ or ㄨ.  I guess because those are learned first in a way with family names like 爸爸 媽媽.

I would have thought reviewing 3 times each lesson is too much, but I’m finding that it’s actually a good number.  Because each time you can add something new to it, from remembering the symbols to beginning sounds to blending.  So, we’re actually progressing really fast with this class, with only 1.5-2.5 classes spent per 6 zhuyin. I may need to adjust the speed later on.   For Astroboy, it’s the ending sounds and tones I’m working on.

This week, we started by watching a tongue twister video.  We didn’t watch the whole thing, just the story part.  The second class, we watched this video again and reviewed it again.  The tongue twister was then assigned as homework, where Astroboy had to write down the tone himself.

媽媽騎馬, 馬慢, 媽媽罵馬。

Then we officially started the class with our zhuyin song, modified from the following video:

zhuyin blackboard

Zhuyin display to sing along to

Immediately after, I worked on tones, trying to add the tones to the tongue twisters video we watched. Sometimes Astroboy needed a reminder with the hand gestures.  The more we practice, the more he’s getting it.

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Our first Chinese poems

September is unofficially our month for studying the moon and all things 中秋節 Mid-Autum Festival related.

Thanks to Mandarin Mama, I was spurred to choose 2 poems I thought the kids might want to learn/memorize this month.  Unfortunately, after I prepped it weeks ago, I never got around to teaching it.  Somehow there never seems to be enough presentation time.

I finally gave up and just randomly recited the super classic poem by 李白 to Astroboy while Thumper was visiting grandma a few times.


This is often taught for Mid Autumn Festival because it’s about the moon, and looking at the moon, all something you’re doing during the festival.

Then I though to myself, “Why do we make kids memorize these poems?”  I ask because I’ve been meaning to introduce poems to the kids for awhile and have been to the library a few times looking at poems aimed for children.  And what you see is usually very simple poems, aimed for children, written more in spoken language.  There’s such a disconnect.  How do you get from those kind of poems to 李白’s poems?

I didn’t get it.

My brain farted and said that maybe what I ought to do is have the kids write their own poems.  We already do this all the time by writing our own words to songs like Frozen.  So the kids are familiar with the concept.

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