Character Writing, Reviews

Chinese Calligraphy for Kids

This calligraphy set is fun, educational, reusable, mess-free (just water), and so cheap! I told Little Man this is how emperors wrote their imperial scrolls in ancient China, which completely blew his mind. 😂

I’m pretty amazed at how it looks exactly like 墨水 (ink) but is not. It dries off in a few minutes without leaving a trace.  

Little Man is new to Chinese writing so we are using this for practicing a few 笔画 strokes and scribbling right now. I tried writing a few words and realized that my Chinese handwriting is seriously ugly. Guess I need some practice too. 😝

This magical product is aptly named “magic cloth”. The set that I bought comes with 5 cloths, a calligraphy brush and brush holder (pictured above). I like that it has some tracing cloths and some blank cloths. Obviously it’s a cheap brush but it serves its purpose for play! 

Where to buy:

I bought mine from World Taobao for $1.50 USD for the entire set. 

You can also get it from these English websites AliExpress for $3-10 or EBay for $1-15 but you have to be patient and wait 20+ days for it to arrive from China. Magic cloth and brushes sold separately. 

If you’re impatient, then order it from Amazon Prime for $10-20. Magic cloth and brushes sold separately. 

Search the above sites for “kids calligraphy”, “magic cloth”, “儿童 毛笔 水写布”. 

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Character Writing, DIY

Montessori-Inspired Salt Tray Writing {Free Printable}

Sand/salt tray writing is used in Montessori classrooms as the texture helps muscle memory. Here is my Chinese variation of it. 😉

What you need:

  1. Character stroke 笔画 cards (link below)
  2. Salt 
  3. A shallow dish

I’m using the tray from a Melissa & Doug toy we’ve had since he was a toddler. If you don’t happen to have that, you can use a pencil box, brownie pan etc. 

After you write each stroke, gently shake the tray to erase and start over. 

My goal for him is to remember these strokes and their names. If you can write these strokes then you can write any character, yes?

Don’t worry, the cards have the names printed on them in case you forgot what they’re called (like me). 

Disclaimer: I did not make these images but compiled them from 10 different webpages into one easy-to-print PDF. The original source is credited in the PDF. 

{Click Here to Download Chinese Character Stroke Cards}

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Character Writing

汉字笔画 Trace 16 Basic Chinese Strokes {Free Printable}

As Little Man recognizes more characters (currently about 120), he’s started to make some interesting observations such as:

“金 looks like 宝 but it has an upside down V at the top.”


Ok I see what he is saying… but as anyone who knows Chinese knows, what he is referring to as an “upside down V” is actually two strokes 撇 and 捺.

He has also attempted some (erroneous) writing. Like the word 口 as a square. And calling it a square. UGH.

I do not want him to go down this path of misconception and self-invented writing because I know from experience that bad habits once formed are very hard to correct. 

Also, there is research about the strong connection between reading and writing, that they are interdependent and go hand in hand. I hypothesize that knowing the different 笔画 (strokes) will help him recognize characters better.

So, here begins our journey for character writing!

Since I was not able to find a printable for tracing basic strokes, I made my own. It consists of 16 most common strokes that I want to focus on before attempting any characters. 

I made it into a reusable file folder game, but you can also put it in a sheet protector or use as a regular worksheet. 

Download it here!

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