Yummy! Say ‘Ice-Cream’ & flavors in Mandarin with audio pronunciation

My daughter displays ice-cream artwork with Chinese characters

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice-cream!!! Summer is here. Now is the time for lots and lots of ice-cream. As a mom who LOVES ice-cream, my kids are often indulged throughout the summer. Learn how to say ice-cream and some ice-cream flavors in Mandarin Chinese.

  • Ice-cream 冰淇淋 bīng qí lín (‘bing’ is high, sustained tone; ‘qi’ is ‘chee’ with a rising tone; ‘lin’ is with a rising tone)
  • Vanilla 香草 xīang cǎo (‘xiang’ is ‘sh’ +’awng’ with a high, sustained tone; ‘cao’ is ‘ts’ + ‘ow’ with a descending then rising tone)
  • Strawberry 草 莓 cǎo méi (‘cao’ is ‘ts’ + ‘ow’ with a descending then rising tone; ‘mei’ is ‘may’ with a rising tone)
  • Chocolate 巧克力 qǐao kè lì (‘qiao’ is ‘chee’+'ow’ with a descending then rising tone; ‘ke’ is ‘kuh’ with a sharp, descending tone; ‘li’ is ‘lee’ with a sharp, descending tone)

Click here for audio pronunciations of ice-cream and the flavors.

NOTE: Check out my previous post about Chinese tones for pronunciation tips.

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Tapping maple trees & learning ‘tree’ words in Mandarin (with kids’ character tracing sheet)

Spring finally arrived yesterday. Here in New Hampshire, we were welcomed with a bunch of wet snow and slick rain…typical New England weather.

Maple sugaring shack at my daughter's school

The good news is that it is maple sugaring time here. My daughter’s school taps maple trees and boils the sap down to make their own maple syrup. Parent volunteers man the schools own sugar shack where hours go into dumping sap and boiling it down.

Sugaring an annual tradition which culminates in a community pancake breakfast, usually in early April. In our area, you know spring is here once you taste the sweet New Hampshire maple syrup!

All this got me thinking about nature and how I can talk about what we see outside with my children in Mandarin. Here are some words related to trees in Mandarin:

Tapping maple trees in New Hampshire

  • Tree: 树 =shù (shù is ‘shoe’ with a sharp, descending tone)
  • Leaf: 叶=yè (yè is ‘y’+'eh’ with a sharp, descending tone)
  • Stick: 枝条 = zhī tíao (zhī is ‘j’+'er’ with a high, sustained tone; tíao is ‘tee’+'ow’ with a rising tone)
  • Branch: 树枝 =shù zhī (shù is ‘shoe’ with a sharp, descending tone;zhī is ‘j’+'er’ with a high, sustained tone)
  • Woods:树林 = shù lín (shù is ‘shoe’ with a sharp, descending tone; lín is ‘Lynn’ like the name with a rising tone)

If you look at the characters for these tree words, most have a symbol (or radical) 木 ‘mù’, meaning tree or wood, within the character.

Wood Radical and Tree Character Tracing Sheet

These are good words for noticing how Chinese characters incorporate radicals, something like a Latin root, into the word. Radicals are basically the building blocks for Chinese characters and hold hints to what a character means.

So, if you see a character you don’t recognize, but it contains a 木 ‘mù’ radical in it (for example), you can guess that the character means something about trees or wood. Also, radicals are often stand-alone characters.

Click here to download a tracing page with the wood radical characters 木 mù and other characters containing the wood radical.

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Chinese Themed Birthday Party for Lucky No. 8

My oldest daughter just turned eight years old. The number eight (八 “bā”, ‘ba’ is ‘bah’ with a sustained tone) is a lucky number in Chinese culture. To celebrate, we planned a Chinese-themed birthday party.

Getting ready for a Chinese-themed birthday party

We had Chinese inspired colors (red and gold), ate red velvet cupcakes with gold (fake) flecked sprinkles and mini parasoles, played fun games/ did crafts based upon the Chinese zodiac, and experienced the splendor of Chinese lanterns and paper dragons.

Party invitation for Chinese-themed birthday

First off, we created cute mini-Chinese scroll invitations. I had my daughter write “Happy Birthday” in Chinese characters (shēng rì kùai le= 生日快乐, click here for my link to a post on saying “happy birthday” in Chinese) using regular, kid’s gold paint on little black strips of paper. We glued the mini-Chinese scroll onto red card stock along with all the party details.

The party decorations included paper lanterns and a dragon from Oriental Trading company. We added to the decor by making Grace Lin’s firecrackers which was simple! Just save old toilet paper rolls, paint the rolls in red and write a Chinese character for luck/wealth  (fú = 福, fu is ‘foo’ with a rising tone) in gold. Affix bright yellow pipe cleaners inside to look like a fuse. Put bubble wrap inside the firecracker for kids to make a ‘pop’ sound. We had these placed at each child’s seat and the extras served as centerpieces. Here is a link to the web site with details on how to make these easy and fun firecrackers.

The goody bags were simply red lunch bags I bought at Walmart. We painted the Chinese character for luck/wealth  (fú = 福, fu is ‘foo’ with a rising tone) in gold on the bag and then I printed out each child’s name using a font called “Chow Fun” to give the name a bamboo like.

Example of a goody bag

We filled the bags with fortune cookies, mini dragon and cat statues from the Target $1 bins leftovers from Chinese New Year, note pads with Chinese fabric brocade (also from Target), and decorative chopsticks from a local Asian market.

We played a variation on charades. I had each child pick a card with one of the twelve Chinese zodiac animals. The children guest each other and were able to learn about the animals by playing the game.

Some of the other activities included making Grace Lin’s bunny lanterns out of tracing paper which were perfect considering we are in the year of the rabbit. Click here for the link to this craft.

Making a bunny lantern

The kids also made Chinese calligraphy pictures. I wrote out a few simple characters which the kids copied and embellished with illustrations.

Making Chinese calligraphy pictures

The easy characters included flower (hūa = 花, hua is ‘hwah’ with a sustained tone), moon (yùe = 月,yue is “you+eh” with a descending tone ), sun (rì= 日, ri is ‘ruh’ with descending tone ), and heart (xīn= 心, xin is “sheen” with sustained tone).

We ended the party by lighting the bunny lanterns (glow sticks) and doing a little parade around our house. It was a blast!

Bunny lantern parade

There were some other ideas that I did not end up using, but could be used for future Chinese-themed parties. For example, making a panda bear birthday cake and making little pom-pom panda bears as a craft.

I hope this gives you some ideas and inspiration to have your own Chinese-themed birthday party!

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Suggested Book – “Cat and Rat” by Ed Young

My kids love to hear about the twelve animals associated with the Chinese Zodiac. They will inquire about which animal they are, I am, and all their relatives and friends. By the way, I am a monkey.

"Cat and Rat" by Ed Young

Most recently, my daughter’s second grade teacher asked me to come into her class to teach her students a bit about China, Chinese New Year, and the Chinese zodiac. I selected a few books to read to the class. One book I read is a favorite and really got the kids involved in the story. This book is “Cat and Rat” by Ed Young.

The story takes you through a race among the animals during ancient, Chinese mythological times. The winners of the race made it onto the Chinese (zodiac) calendar. Only twelve spots were open. It’s a fun story to engage the kids.

Before reading the book, I went through the list of the twelve Chinese zodiac animals in order:

  • Rat
  • Ox / Cow
  • Tiger
  • Dragon
  • Rabbit
  • Snake
  • Horse
  • Goat
  • Monkey
  • Rooster
  • Dog
  • Pig

While I read the book, the children remembered the animals and had fun guessing which animal would cross the finish line next in the race to be on the Chinese calendar.

If you would like to learn more about the book or purchase it, please click on this Amazon link. As an Amazon Associate I will receive a small percentage of the book sale…Xìe xìe! 谢谢 Thanks!

Posted in Books, Chinese Learning Area, Culture, Suggested Resources | Comments Off

Say ‘Happy Birthday! (in Mandarin Chinese with audio clip)

Happy Birthday! Here’s how we say Happy Birthday in Mandarin Chinese:

Happy Birthday!

生日快乐!Shēng rì Kùai lè! (‘Sheng’ is ‘shung’ with a high, sustained tone; ‘ri’ is ‘ruh’ with a descending tone;’kuai’ is ‘k-why’ with a declining tone, le is ‘l+uh’ with a declining tone). Click here for audio pronunciation.

This month my oldest daughter turns 8 years old. She insists we have a Chinese-themed birthday party. I am excited that she is wanting to integrate her Mandarin learning into her birthday celebration.

I hope to blog about the party planning soon. I have some fun and educational ideas for the party. Stay tuned!

Posted in Greetings | 2 Comments