While the amount of screen time kids get is a hotly debatable issue, with winter locking them in, it is inevitable that the telly will become part of their day. But they needn’t be just watching their usual shows. We get three educators to recommend Chinese cartoons that the kids can brush up on their Chinese and learn some life lessons while they’re glued to the screens.
Deputy Principal, House of Knowledge Shunyi
Snow Child 雪孩子的故事
The story follows the innocent Snow Child and how he saves a little white rabbit while its mother is out looking fo radish. It is a touching story of Snow Child, braving heavy smoke and big flames just to rescue the little rabbit.
Lessons to learn Children will learn empathy and how to put themselves in the other’s shoes. The show is about kindness and how it can affect everyone.
Shuke and Beta 舒克和贝塔卡
The cartoon, popular in the 1990s, is about two mice like no other. Shuke is an ace pilot while Beta drives tanks. Together with a boy Pipilu, they go on a series of adventures to help protect world peace.
Lessons to learn This film teaches children that diligence is a virtue, friendship is a precious thing, strength and bravery. The characters demonstrate teamwork amidst difficulties. My children benefit a lot from this.
Chinese teacher, 3e International School
The Legend of the Sealed Book 天书奇谭
Produced in 1983 by Shanghai Animation Film Studio, the story is about a deity Yuangong who copies the sealed book from heaven and brings it to the mortal world. However, it is stolen by three foxes who use it for their wicked ends. Eventually they are beaten by the Emperor God.
Lessons to learn This animation is voiced by the best Chinese dubbers in China. Its scripts are neat and clear and are great resources to listen to and learn Chinese as well as traditional Chinese culture.
Afanti is a 13-episode puppet series produced by The Shanghai Animation Film Studio. The animation follows Afanti, a wise Uighur guide for poor people who uses his intelligence to help commoners and those in need solve problems by thinking of unique solutions.
Lessons to learn: It shows children how to think and approach problems to find solutions. Kids can also know more about Uighur culture and marvel at their colourful costumes.
Primary Year 3 Chinese Teacher, YCIS Beijing
36 characters 三十六个字
For parents whose children find it challenging to learn Chinese characters, this show, although created in 1984, is still a favourite show to watch. It explores the story of how a father teaches his young son how to write 36 Chinese characters and learn about their formation and meanings in an imaginative way. The show continues to be a fan favourite amongst both parents and children because of its use of illustrations and incorporation of history and folklore into learning.
Lessons to learn 36 Characters uses stop motion animation, which children, especially those with art skills may find interesting. It allows parents to teach their children Chinese characters and is also an opportunity for parents to learn a few characters and the history behind them, themselves!
Kung food 美食大冒险
Food security might sound like a serious topic to introduce your fourth grader to, but Kung Food touches on the topic in a creative, entertaining and fun way, using famous Chinese food items. It is an animated show about an adventurous voyage across continents and oceans in pursuit of a book that will save the ‘food world’ with a recipe for keeping food fresh for longer.
Lessons to learn This show is a great way for children to learn about traditional food such as baozi, jiaozi and youtiao, that they consume every day. Many of the episodes also incorporate collaboration between the different characters and perseverance from individuals, innovation and problem-solving skills whenever the group faces a challenge.