Chinese character for wood

Learning a Chinese Character in 3D

How many projects can you think of that involves learning a Chinese character in 3D?

I love this activity because it helped my daughter distinguish the character 木 (wood) while giving her a tactile sense of what wood feels like.

And, when the project was done, she could trace along the wood blocks and literally touch the strokes in her hands!

Learning a Chinese character in 3D was almost a project by accident. I was looking for wood blocks because I wanted to make one set of Chinese zhuyin (bo po mo fo) for my daughter. I chanced upon these tiny wood blocks in the Dollar Tree and thought I would test my idea out on cheaper blocks first.

By the time I got home, I had another project in mind for these blocks.

I have been thinking of ways on how to help raise my daughter’s awareness of Chinese characters and using the blocks to learn a Chinese character in 3D seemed like a good opportunity to work on that.

My daughter was fairly new to the concept of glue at this time so I thought this activity would give her more opportunity to experience having sticky fingers, develop her fine motor skills, and introduce her to the Chinese character for wood, which is 木.

The activity is fairly simple and straightforward – I wrote the character 木 on a piece of cardboard, set out some paintbrushes, glue, and the wood blocks, and voila! A gluing activity is ready.

I started out by explaining to my daughter what the character was and what it meant. I showed her some examples of wood and we went around the house, knocking on furniture and checking out different objects to see if it was made of wood.

I did not give her specific instructions on what to do except that we were going to glue the wood blocks onto the written character. She decided where to start and how she was going to glue the blocks together.

Even though my initial goal was for her to work on her fine motor skills and introduce a Chinese character, she learned about placement and how spacing of the blocks affected the outcome.

Because she placed three individual blocks first at the ends of the strokes, we ran into spacing problems as we glued blocks from the bottom up. I did not realize how firmly Elmer’s glue sticks. I could not move the blocks at all! I guess this was as much a teachable moment for me as it was for her. Haha!

It still worked out in the end and my daughter was going around the house knocking on furniture for the next 3 days after this activity.

She still remembers 木 to this day and would point it out whenever she sees it in other characters.

Learning a Chinese character in 3D was a fun and special experience for my daughter. Would you try this activity or something similar?

If you do, we would love to know about your experience and see how your activity turned out!

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