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}

[Like and Follow me on Facebook for more fun learning ideas]

DIY, File Folder Games

How to Make File Folder Games

File folder games are very popular among teachers and here’s why!

  • Reusable
  • Hands on 
  • Cheap ($1-2 each)
  • Takes up very little space 
  • Can be used for different age groups from toddlers to elementary

I’ve ruined some of them in the past (glue too drippy, laminating fell apart, etc…) so I thought I would share my tips & tricks.

Step 1: Find printables on Google/Pinterest/TPT.

Any worksheet or flash cards can be made into file folder games! Since there are about a bajillion cute and free English printables out there, I just add my own Chinese labels (using Google Translate 😂).

Step 2: Trim off a little of the left and right borders so that it fits nicely in the folder. 


Step 3: Glue your worksheet onto the folder using a glue stick.

Do NOT use white glue or other liquid glue. Put a few gentle swipes of your glue stick down the borders and middle. Putting too much glue will result in crinkly paper and not a flat finish.

My office happily gave me bunches of used folders for free. ♻️

Step 4: If your game has pieces, laminate them with a home laminator. 

This is the easiest way to do it because it can be tricky to put small pieces in a large laminator.

I got this A4 laminator five years ago for around $25. It’s a seriously good investment and I use it all the time.

Step 5: Laminate the entire folder with a large commercial laminator.


I recommend Lakeshore Learning which has an excellent laminator and decent prices. Each folder costs $0.75 with teacher’s discount ($0.90 without discount) to laminate. If you don’t have a Lakeshore in your area, look for your local teacher supply store as it will be much cheaper than an office store. 

Step 6: Cut and velcro your pieces.

When cutting, leave a little border of about 2mm around the item. This will ensure that the lamination does not unseal over time.

Velcro is optional but I really like it. It prevents pieces from moving around when playing the game. I recommend velcro dots instead of a roll because cutting velcro is unbelievably frustrating and will ruin your best scissors.

Alternatively you could use magnet dots which are available at Lakeshore for $7.19. They are more expensive than Velcro but you can play with your magnets on other surfaces.

Step 7: Finally, label your folder and have fun playing!

I label my folders with my handy labeler because I get annoyed with my handwriting not being perfect. (Am I OCD? Sometimes.)

The possibilities for file folder games are really quite endless and they can be easily modified to the child’s interests and level.

My creations so far:


Suggestions:

  1. If you are not sure where to start, be sure to check out KIZCLUB and Totschooling that have thousands of free PDF printables for all subjects.
  2. If you want ready-made Chinese printables (pictured above), check out Fortune Cookie Mom.
  3. My new favorite is Twinkl because they have a lot of high quality Chinese printables. It is $70+ for an annual subscription but so worth it. Scroll all the way to the bottom and click on “China 中国”. They also have many other languages available!

Some Twinkl printables:


Are you inspired to make one yet? Tag me on Facebook or Instagram if you do!