Fun for Children Learning Chinese: The Pictographs Behind 10 Chinese Characters

Ancient Chinese PictographsA simple way to make reading and writing Chinese characters easier for kids learning Chinese is to teach them about the pictures behind them. A fun game to play with children is to see if they can guess which Chinese character matches up with its English translation. Often kids can visualize the connection. Ask children to draw a stick figure person or three mountain peaks. Then they’ll see the evolution to the simplified characters and be more likely to memorize their meaning.

Here are 10 Chinese characters to start with:

Chinese Pictograph of "Person" Arrow Right 人 = Person

  • (pronunciation: rén [Click to listen]) As you can see, the original character for person had hands and feet. Now it’s simplified. The top is a head, and the person is standing with legs apart.

Chinese Pictograph of "Rock" Arrow Right 石 = Rock

  • (pronunciation: shí [Click to listen]) In an early form of this character, there were 3 small rocks falling off a cliff. Now they have been reduced to one large rock at the bottom of a cliff.

Chinese Pictograph for "Soil" Arrow Right 土 = Soil

  • (pronunciation: tǔ [Click to listen]) Can you see the plant growing out of the earth? It no longer has a bulb, but still looks like a plant.

Chinese Pictograph for "Tree" Arrow Right 木 = Tree

  • (pronunciation: mù [Click to listen]) Here a tree stands tall in the forest with branches on each side and a root in the ground. Incidentally, two of these characters side by side (林) means forest.

Chinese Pictograph of "Mountain" Arrow Right 山 = Mountain

Chinese Pictograph for "Rain" Arrow Right 雨 = Rain

  • (pronunciation: yǔ [Click to listen]) The top portion represents clouds, while in the middle raindrops fall from the clouds.

Chinese Pictograph for "Sun" Arrow Right 日 = Sun

  • (pronunciation: rì [Click to listen]) This character, originally a circle with a dot in the middle, later evolved into a rectangle.

Chinese Pictograph of "Moon" Arrow Right 月 = Moon

  • (pronunciation: yuè [Click to listen]) Notice how this character was originally tilted far to the right so that it looked like a crescent moon. It has since taken a straighter stance. Do you notice the resemblance?

Chinese Pictograph for "Water" Arrow Right 水 = Water

  • (pronunciation: shuǐ [Click to listen]) The middle line depicts water flowing downward. The lines on the sides represent eddies that branch off the main current.

Chinese Pictograph of "Fire" Arrow Right 火 = Fire

Hope you enjoyed these pictographs. What other ones would you like to see?  Let us know!

 

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One Response to Fun for Children Learning Chinese: The Pictographs Behind 10 Chinese Characters

  1. Pingback: 5 Fun China Facts for Kids | Learn Chinese – Chinese for Kids – Chinese Culture

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