Chinese Characters for Children: Simple Mandarin Chinese Characters for Beginners


Teaching a child how to write Mandarin Chinese alphabets is a task many parents find difficult. The elementary symbols can help lay the groundwork for learning to write in Mandarin Chinese, whether the child already knows the language or is studying it as a second language. Written characters are graphic symbols that represent words, while the spoken language is tonal. You can find a native-speaking friend or teacher to help your younger children enhance their Mandarin Chinese speaking skills.

Best ways for children to begin learning Mandarin Chinese

hildren may learn Mandarin Chinese from anybody willing to teach them daily. Parents, caretakers and friends are all possible language teachers for youngsters. Natural conversation exposes toddlers to the rhythm and tones of the language even before they can speak. The teacher should speak in Mandarin Chinese while playing games so that a child may learn to count to ten even while playing hide-and-seek!

Choose a teacher who can engage the child in engaging activities appropriate to their interests (e.g. music, art, sports). Furthermore, Chinese music is an excellent approach to making children interested in singing and dancing to tunes in this lovely language.

In the beginning, children’s books can help to introduce Mandarin Chinese characters to children.

Point out the alphabets during story time to help youngsters correlate writing with spoken language. Moreover, the characters should be present throughout the residence – parents can label objects around the house with the characters so that the child may see the words regularly. One can also put books on display with the front cover visible to make the picture appealing and the title evident.

Methods to remember Mandarin Chinese characters

Mandarin Chinese alphabets are sight words learned by repetition. Because youngsters have a limited attention span, hands-on activities can help them retain new words even before they start to learn writing.

Children may immediately connect with the words through exciting sensory activities and are more likely to remember them. Some preferable sensory exercises are:

  • Painting or coloring simple characters.
  • Tracing the characters using beads, bricks, pebbles, Legos, buttons, and other materials.
  • Making characters using play dough, yarn or pipe cleaners as well as salt or sand.
  • Matching games featuring characters that are easy to understand.

It may take some trial and error to figure out how to teach Mandarin Chinese characters to children – practice observation and patience to identify the best teaching approach.

The six types of Mandarin Chinese characters

Mandarin Chinese characters are commonly referred to as “symbols.” One must memorize them, since most of them have changed appearances over time.

Let us take a quick look at six different types of characters before diving into the writing and learning part:

  1. Pictograms – for instance, 山 (shān) – “mountain”
  2. Ideograms – e.g.下 (xià) – “down”
  3. Phonetic compounds – 红 (hóng) – “red”
  4. Combined ideographs – 果 (guǒ) – “fruit”
  5. Loan characters – From 莱 (lái) – “wheat” to 来 (lái) – “to arrive”
  6. Transfer characters – 老 (lǎo) – “old” and 考 (kǎo) – “to test”

Knowing the fundamentals of each category is usually beneficial. However, there is no need to bother about terminology to learn them rapidly. Instead, go right to work on learning.

Simple Mandarin Chinese Characters to Get Started

一 (yī)

English: One

In Chinese, the character meaning “one” is merely one horizontal stroke.

The letters for two 二 (èr) and three 三 (sān) are, by the way, simply horizontal strokes. One, two and three are simple to remember since one equals one stroke, two equals two strokes, and so on.

A single individual (yī gè rén) is an example of how one is used in Mandarin Chinese to refer to the singular. Consider the following scenario:

人 (rén)

English: Man

Two simple strokes are the Mandarin Chinese characters for “man.”

The symbol 人人 (rén rén) denotes the meaning “everyone.” For example:

“Everyone loves drinking soda” is written as 人人都爱喝可乐。 (rén rén dōu ài hē kě lè).

日 (rì)

English: Sun

A box with a line in the center represents the letter “sun.” The symbol remotely resembles the sun. This character was more round in old bronze lettering, like the sun.

日 means “day” and refers to the earth’s light source, i.e. the sun. It is used to refer to dates. For example, 7日 refers to the seventh day of any given month. 日日 (rì rì) signifies “every day” when two sun characters are combined.

月 (yuè)

English: Moon

Not only does 月 refer to the moon’s crescent, but it also has the meaning of “month.” For example, “August 7” might be written as “8 7.” Simply place a digit (or a character—either work) in front of 月 to write all the months in that language. The following are the names of January through March:

  • 1月
  • 2月
  • 3月

山 (shān)

English: Mountain

It symbolizes even more things relating to nature and surroundings when coupled with other characters. People get 山水 (shān shǔi) when they combine with the character for “water,” 水 (shǔi), which means “landscape.”

Thus, 山水画 (shān shǔi huà) refers to a landscape painting. Examine how the character for “painting” or “drawing,” 画 (huà), resembles a little picture in a frame.

男 (nán)

English: Boy

The alphabet for “boy” is the combination of 田 (tián) farm and 力 (lì) work, referring to how traditionally men worked the land. Here are a few examples for using this character:

  • 男人 (nán rén) man
  • 男友 (nán yǒu) boyfriend

天 (tiān)

English: Sky

Take note of how this character’s outline is pointing towards the sky. The combination of two of these letters 天天 (tiān tiān) also signifies “every day.”

The four seasons are written as:

  • 春天 (chūn tiān) spring
  • 夏天 (xià tiān) summer
  • 秋天 (qīu tiān) fall
  • 冬天 (dōng tiān) winter


There is also:

  • 今天 (jīn tiān) today
  • 昨天 (zúo tiān) yesterday
  • 明天 (míng tiān) tomorrow


Since Mandarin Chinese alphabets are an inseparable language element, printing the worksheets and opening a parallel textbook are the first steps toward understanding them. To get started, one needs to devote time and effort to writing and understanding the characters.

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