Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Chinese Language in All Its Forms - Ancient pictographs to present day characters

The written Chinese language is nearly 4000 years old. It began as images representing objects and eventually evolved to represent ideas as well. The first records of Chinese writing was found on oracle bones and bronze vessels. These were records of harvests, childbirths and wars . Chinese characters have continued to evolve over the years, from simple images to the abstract and complex characters we see now.


In order for the girls to see the difference, I created a memory game and "key". First, we looked over the above sheet, the key. There are nine different words, their ancient pictograph, their current character and the Chinese pronunciation of each word. I also made a small note of what to look for when comparing the ancient and present day characters. 

After looking at the characters, we cut out the memory game pieces and glued them to some joss paper (spirit money) for backing. Then Pea proceeded to win, twice in a row. 

If you'd like to see more, Chinese Hour has a great deal of pictographs, and a short explanation of their evolution as well as an image illustrating the meaning.

If you 'd like to make your own memory game, click on the links below the images for a free printable.

See if you can play without using the key!

You can find more cultural and historical activities at the following linkups:


  1. This is a wonderful way to learn a pictographic language especially! What a great idea!

  2. It's fun to see how language changes! The pronunciation hasn't changed? Thank you for sharing at Say It Two Ways Thursdays!

    1. Actually, Chinese characters are standardized and used everywhere in China, despite the fact that each region has its own language and many dialects

  3. I love language history, so this is really fascinating! Thanks for sharing at the Culture Swapper!

  4. The Chinese language is soo fascinating, and has so much history to it - Glad you enjoyed!

  5. Hi Marie! Thank you so much for linking at the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop #3.

  6. You have such incredible ideas! I love following your studies of Chinese characters. Thank you for linking up to the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop!

  7. This is really helpful to understand Chinese characters. I will surely share this with my students! Thx.


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