Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mandy & Pandy

After our first Language Stars class, I got E down for a nap and got on the computer searching for Mandarin learning resources for her. We now have 6 Little Pim DVDs that get played with some frequency.  I was hoping to find a book or two that would have English, Mandarin characters and Pinyin (so I could attempt pronunciation).  I was excited to find Mandy & Pandy-board books that come with a cd that has the story on it!

I was also pleased to find one of these books at our Language Stars center. I bought the only one they had: "Mandy and Pandy Say "Ni Hao Ma?"  I tried reading this to E the first night we had it. It did not go over well. She was asking for Dora by the 3rd page (oh no-should we have gone the Spanish route?!) We tried it the next day with the cd.  We listened to most of it-going along with the book. But I dont know if it took too long or what, but E was done before we got to the end.  I see on their website they have a counting one, too. Maybe she'll like this one since she is familiar with the numbers already.

These books are $12.95 on their website and $19.50 on Amazon right now.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Language Stars - Week 10

Hungry Caterpillar week!

Our teacher used the Hungry Caterpillar this week to review foods, colors, and counting. It seems our class is just two kids now-just E and a boy who is almost 3. His mom also brings his infant brother with-a nice thing about Language Stars, I think. I believe you have to start paying once a child is a year old.

E used to love the Hungry Caterpillar at home-but lately it has been out of our book rotation. She was familiar with the story and said the foods in English. She was able to pick out pin gua (apple) and yu mi (corn) from a bag of fruits and vegetables when asked.

Our project this week was coloring in a sandwich. This one one of our least successful "art" projects-it was straight forward coloring and a little hard to tell what some of the items were intended to be.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Coffee Shop Encounter

Before Mandarin class this week we had some shopping to do at the Gluten Free bakery nearby. So, we had lunch at Starbucks and watched the trains go by.  E was in a great mood after having had a 20 minute nap in the car. We shared a sandwich and talked about the trains going by. Wondered what they were hauling and where they were going.

I told her we'd have to clean up so we could head over to Mandarin class. She exclaimed, "Oh yes!"  Then she started in with "And we will say 'Ni Hao' and [our teacher] will say 'Ni Hao' and we will play with toys and see the boys and then say 'Zi Gen'!"  I was tickled at her excitement and summation of our weekly experience. And, so was the mom of the 18 month old behind us.  She was curious and asked us all about our class. She had experience working in Asia with her husband and was very keen on having her child learn and Eastern language, too.  I wish I had thought to write my name down in case she did decide to try Language Stars.. Have I mentioned their referral program? Each party receives $50 off the following semester's enrollment.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Language Stars - Week 9 - Private lesson!

We were the only ones in our class this week-so it was a nice private lesson!  The theme was grocery store, fruits and vegetables.  My dad came with to see what it was like.  E enjoyed having Grandpa, or Yee Yee, with her in class.

We started out reviewing sun, snow and rain with puppets.  I cannot seem to remember sun.  E wasn't very interested in it.  The puppets are nice-but a little scary to her, I think.  The teacher took out a parachute and we reviewed colors and counting while letting E ride on top and then play underneath it.  She hasn't said any of the color names in Mandarin yet but knows at least three of them when asked to point them out.

Then we moved on to the fruits and vegetables. This is obviously a large vocabulary category. First we used plush apples, tomatoes, corn and bananas to learn those items. Then we built sandwiches out of plastic bread, tomatoes, cheese and lunch meat.

Snack time came around and we built sandwiches out of animal crackers and raisins.  We also looked at a book about fruits and vegetables. E was very good this week at responding to the teacher and echoing the vocabulary. I'm sure it helped that the other kids weren't there.

We also did a coloring activity with a grocery store scene and used stickers to further decorate it. The teacher gave E an extra sheet of stickers to take home. E was thrilled!  Grandpa was impressed with the class and commented on how smiley and encouraging the teacher was.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Language Stars - Week 8

Things weren't clicking this week in class. The other kids were just getting over colds or up from a nap. E was extra bouncy.  The kids wanted to sit in chairs during our normal sit on the floor in a circle time.

Our teacher handled it all well, though and did her best to get them to participate.  The moms ended up pitching in a bit more than is normally needed.  We spent a lot of time on happy (kai xin!), sad and scared this week.  We used puppets with the different emotions expressed in their face. One activity included trying to knock over the correct puppet (standing upright with help from a mini-construction cone) with a ball.  I don't know if this works with other groups of kids or not-but ours saw this as an excuse to throw the ball around the room.

The kids did much better around the table with the small craft project-happy/sad face on a Popsicle stick. And of course the snacks are always a hit with this crew.  E learned how to ask for more and actually said it this week.

She has started to ask me how to say things in Mandarin now.  We'll be at home and she'll ask "How do we say 'pink' in Mandarin?" I loaded google translate onto my ipod so now I'm ready with an answer! It satisfies her initial question-but I haven't retained any of the words we've looked up yet.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Language Stars - 1/2 off on Groupon

Wanted to share that Language Stars is on Groupon today. 1/2 off for a 4 week session. It looks like it is good for all Chicagoland locations.

Maybe we'll see some of you there?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Library #2 Review - FAIL

I was so excited to find Mandarin learning resources at our library the other month. We visited the library in a neighboring town, and while they had rows of Spanish bilingual books, their Mandarin Chinese section was small enough for me to check completely out - 3 books. And while technically they do have both English and Mandarin Chinese characters, they don't include the pinyin-so for someone trying to learn Mandarin-they provide only a glimpse into cultural and historical aspects of China, but none of the sounds.

Mouse Match by Ed Young  

A traditional tale about parents of a young mouse who search for the best groom for their daughter. They seek the sun, clouds, mountains.... each object referring them to another, greater, more powerful being until they end up at a mouse. I don't get the draw of this story whatsoever. The artwork was dark and the book opens up accordion style to show the whole story at once (not really very practical). The Chinese characters are on the reverse side with no artwork. My daughter has a decent attention span and patience for books, but this one was not a hit. I quickly had to change from reading the words to talking with her about the pictures - which is fine for working on her love of reading.  I was just disappointed that this was not a tool to help us with Mandarin.

The Magic Brocade, A Tale of China Retold by Aaron Shepard and Illustrated by Xiaojun Li

My daughter liked the illustrations in this book. Overall, I liked them as well-they are high quality watercolors that give the book a dream like quality, fitting for the storyline. I tend to shy away from any books that mention "Magic" of any kind, but took this one so I could review it as part of this blog. The story itself is kind of sad and strange involving fairies-we quickly went to talking about the pictures instead.  At least the Chinese characters are on the same page as the English-but no pinyin, so not helpful.

Lady White Snake, A Tale from Chinese Opera Retold by Aaron Shepard and Illustrated by Song Nan Zhang
This is not a children's book. I think the target audience would be for someone high school age or older who was going to see the opera in person. It has a lot of helpful information in the back about the history of locations and items in the story.  The pictures have a lot going on with them-so E and I were able to look at those together. The Chinese characters are on the same page as the English in this book as well.