The Magic of Picture Books (VI) — Picture Books and Multisensory Learning

We all know that picture books play a significant role in every child’s language development. Our Chinese immersion and elementary program also consists of a lot of picture book read-alouds. Why are picture books so powerful? One reason for this is that the picture book is a multi-sensory tool which stimulates children’s auditory, visual and kinesthetic senses simultaneously.

Every child has his/her own learning style with one mode usually stronger than the other two. However, when all the three senses are combined together, the information is reinforced that it is easier for children to understand, remember and recall. Using three avenues of senses together is especially helpful for children to understand the new language.

The following is an example of multisensory learning with one of the most popular picture books at Chinese with Meggie: Go to Bed Soon(《快点睡觉吧》). The auditory sense is about hearing. In our classes, children hear the story in Chinese. However, if they do not see the illustrations, they cannot fully understand the Chinese. Therefore, at the same time, they set off their visual sense by reading illustrations. Easily, they get to understand the whole story. But where does the kinesthetic sense go? During read-alouds, the story is accompanied by the teacher’s different gestures. For instance, she covers her ears to indicate: “Too noisy! Too noisy!(太吵啦!太吵啦!)” She puts her finger on her lips when she says: “Be quiet.(嘘,小声。)” Some children love mimicking the teacher and they connect the gestures with the Chinese sounds at the same time. Through multisensory immersion with picture books, children get exposed to new and interesting Chinese words throughout the class.

Now Chinese with Meggie has also made picture books into videos. The new way of reading enables our children to read picture books in Chinese at home. They will love it. The following is a list of picture book videos we have already uploaded to Chinese with Meggie’s Youtube Channel. More videos are on their way!

Go To Bed Soon 《快点睡觉吧》

Little Snake Takes a Walk 《小蛇散步》

I am… 《我是……》

Rainbow Flower 《彩虹色的花》

The Magic of Picture Books (V) — A wonderful Experience with Interactive Books

One type of picture book used in Chinese with Meggie is an interactive book. Teachers at Chinese with Meggie use these types of books as great tools in facilitating the output of target language vocabulary.

Here is an example from Chinese with Meggie’s immersion class program.

After children’s snack time, the teacher planned to read a story about different animal’s meeting for lunch in a forest. We initially introduced many of the friendly and colorful animals featured in the book, such as “大象”(elephant), “老虎(tiger)”,“熊(bear)”,etc. Once we had captured the imagination of the children, the teacher started the interactive element of the class as she read the story. The interactive elements in the book attracted the children’s attention throughout the whole of the storytelling process, as it required students to discover the plot by themselves. On one page of the book, every animal is holding their own lunchbox. However, we could not see what was inside the box as the box was covered with a paper lid. With the natural characteristic of children’s curiosity, they were eager to discover what exactly those animals would have for lunch. The teacher asked each student to lift the small paper lid in the book one by one, and tell everyone the answers in Chinese. Therefore, we had our students produce the words instead of the teachers just telling them the words. Underneath the paper lid, there was an abundant variety of “foods” that helped the children to learn the target vocabulary such as “鸡蛋(egg)”,“肉(meat)”,“青菜(vegetable)”,“寿司(sushi)” etc.

Learning language involves both input and output. At Chinese with Meggie, we have multiple ways to facilitate children to achieve both sides. Using interactive books is an effective and motivational way for children to discover the language by themselves. They enjoy activities which require them to participate more. It’s a wonderful experience for both children and teachers to realize the power of language.

(Composed by Summer Liao, a graduate candidate in Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania)

– Chinese with Meggie Language School, Austin, Texas

The Magic of Picture Books (IV) – The Use of Picture Books in Elementary Program

In our previous picture book series, we introduced the use of picture books in our immersion program. As a matter of fact, picture books are also important learning materials in our Chinese classes for elementary students.

One of the major goals of Chinese with Meggie’s elementary program is to develop children’s Chinese reading skills. However, instead of following Chinese text books, we make use of picture books. We find that a picture book makes the learning fun and flexible. Here is how we combine picture books with Chinese reading teaching.
Usually, one 1-hour elementary session features one picture book. We choose the picture books with a repetitive structure. Every page features one or several descriptive sentences. A series of flashcards accompanies every book. For example, the famous picture book “The Old Woman Swallows a Fly” is used with our elementary students. One of its pages has the following descriptive sentences: “老婆婆吞了一只苍蝇。老婆婆的肚子里有一只苍蝇。怎么办?” (The old lady swallows a fly. There is a fly in the old lady’s stomach. What to do with it?) After finishing the whole books, the series of flashcards children get includes old lady, swallow, stomach, all the insects appeared in the book, and “What to do with it.”

After each class, students are able to use Chinese flashcards to make sentences accompanying each page. They are also able to tell the story orally.
Children are easily attracted to the picture books which makes learning fun. Also, since there are so many great picture books out there, the teaching becomes flexible. The most important of all, children are highly motivated after completing one book after another.

The Magic of Picture Books (III) – The Rainbow Flower

The picture book we will talk about in this blog is called The Rainbow Flower. (To view the book, please follow the following link:

The first thing we love about this book is its simple pictures with bright colors. Children are attracted to the pages once the teacher opens the book. Every two pages feature one color and one animal with no other distracting elements. When going through the book, there are chances to repeat the animal names and colors several times which makes it a perfect book for teaching colors and animal names.

The second significant merit of this book is its repetitive structure which can be adapted flexibly to the needs different levels of learners. For beginning learners, the whole book can be interpreted with the following conversational structure:

“‘小花小花, 你可以不可以给我一片花瓣?’‘可以,可以。’***拿着*色的花瓣走了。” (“Little flower, little flower, would you please give me a pedal of yours?” “Sure.” *** went away with the *** pedal.)

On the other hand, for more advanced learners, the book can be interpreted with a more complex descriptive structure such as:

“***想问小花要一片花瓣,小花给了***一片*色的花瓣。***拿着*色的花瓣开心得走了。”(*** wants to ask for a pedal from the little flower. The little flower gives a *** pedal to ***. And *** went away with it happily.)

Children are not bored when reading the book for the second, or even the third time. With older immersion children, usually beginning from the fourth time, it is the time for the teacher to let students guess which animal comes on the next page, and what the color of the pedal the animal takes is. Students get very excited with the guessing game and therefore it is very natural for them to produce the colors and animal names in Chinese.




-Chinese with Meggie Language School, Austin, Texas

The Magic of Picture Books in a Chinese Immersion Class (II) Why Revisit One Single Picture Book?

“Can we do it again?” As Miss Jialu turned the picture book 《小熊哭了》(Little Bear Cried) to the last page, Piya – a four-year-old girl who has been in our immersion class for 5 months asked. As a matter of fact, this is not the first time for this group of children being exposed to the story. Children usually do not get bored with repetitive read-alouds of the same book. That is because every time they approach it, their relationship with the book is one step forward.

Rebekah, a researcher in the field of children’s literacy development found that when children approached picture books in a new language, they first relied heavily on pantomime, excited vocalization and sound effects to get meanings (Rebekah, 2008). Step by step, they transited from merely trying to understand the book to interact with the book. They may interact with the book through physical movements (e.g. Children may mimic what is happening in the book.), or make comments on the book (e.g. Children may tell their peers about their thoughts during read aloud). Every revisit of the book constitutes such a development procedure. As teachers, we ensure that children get enough opportunities to approach the same book through different ways.

As for Piya, when she asked for repeating the book, Miss Meggie simply said: “Piya来讲好不好?(Piya, can you tell us the story?)” As a result, with the help from teachers, Piya got the book, and told the story to her peers in Chinese.

Rebekah, F (1998). Let’s Do It Again, Language Arts, Vol. 75, No. 3

-Chinese with Meggie Language School, Austin, Texas

The Magic of Picture Books in a Chinese Immersion Class (I)

The picture book has been widely adapted in the pre-school classroom or as a good resource for story time. However, as a form of visual literacy, it is also a great resource of language development and literature exposure in language classroom. Here is how picture books create a magic with our kids in Chinese immersion program.

We do not use a picture book just because it is in Chinese. Every time before buying a picture book, our teachers decide if it is suitable for language teaching. An ideal picture book is one with repetitions in sentence patterns, and with pictures illustrating the story clearly.

For example, one picture book we are using with our kids is called, “妈妈的帽子不见了。” (Mom’s Hat Is Missing.) The whole book follows the sentence pattern of, “XX的XX不见了。” (XX’s XX is missing.) When read in Chinese, this sentence has a lively rhythm. And the illustrations in the book explain the story in a straightforward way. English is not necessary in class. Finally, every kid in our classes can recite the whole book happily just as a nursery rhyme. When they also had some gestures to go with the book, it has been so much fun for them.

-Chinese with Meggie Language School, Austin, Texas