Learn to count to ten in Chinese with a sensory writing tray.
We’re using all our senses to learn how to count to ten in Chinese, as part of our Chinese New Year activities; combining this free printable of Chinese numbers with a sensory writing tray for some hands-on learning.
Learning the numbers one to ten is a nice introduction to learning another language. It lets children see that they are a global kid, part of a big wide world of countries and cultures, where they will find many differences (such as different languages and letters) but also many similarities (such as how we all count, and celebrate festivals with our family).
At the end of this article you’ll find many more ideas for learning about China and Chinese New Year with your children.
How to make a sensory salt tray
To make the sensory writing tray we’re using dyed salt. You can see how to make the coloured salt here – it’s very easy, using either paint or food colouring. For our Chinese-inspired writing tray we’re using red salt with some added gold sparkles (you can use edible gold dust or gold glitter), and some Chinese spices mixed in for scent (star anise, cinnamon and ground cloves).
I made a set of number cards using this printable set of Chinese numbers.
We listened to the numbers spoken out loud in Mandarin on the BBC site and tried to say them ourselves. Then we matched up the cards with the correct number of gold coins, counting out loud.
How to use a sensory salt tray
We also wrote out the Chinese numbers in our sensory salt tray. We’re working on numbers, but you can also use the tray for letters, or simply to practise making marks, if your children are at the pre-writing stage.
Use a paint brush, pencil, chopstick or your finger to write out the number in the salt tray. This means every time your child writes a word they can:
see the number, on the card
feel the flow of the number as they write the it through the salt
smell the Chinese spices in the salt, giving an extra sensory boost to the activity
hear the number, as they say it out loud as they write
They’re combining four senses to help them learn the number.
By trying to write Chinese numbers they are practising how to look very carefully and copy a symbol – good skills that they can apply to English numbers and letters too.
More Chinese New Year activities
Raise a global child! Exploring festivals from different countries and cultures is a wonderful way to learn about the world. You can see our archive of Chinese New Year activities here.