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SFUSD Mandarin Vocab Study Aid

May 11, 2010

Jose Ortega parents have created laminated place mats of the San Francisco Unified School District Mandarin vocabulary. The placemats are 11″x17″ and come by grade level in sets of two — one mat has the Chinese characters only (for quizzing) and the second mat has the characters plus pinyin and English meanings (for study).
The mats have the current vocabulary, but we don’t know whether the district will change the vocabulary again in the future, so you may not want to buy placemats that are more than one grade ahead. If the vocabulary does change, we will revise the placemats before we offer them for sale the next year.


You can help making learning the characters fun by playing games with your placemats such as…

Stump Me

Stump Me

  • Choose a row or column of characters to play with and review it out loud.
  • Gather enough quarters or cut enough squares from construction paper to cover that row or column.
  • Cover up each square on the meanings mat.
  • Find the matching row on the characters-only mat and take turns pointing at a character for the next player to guess. You can designate Chinese and/or English meaning as valid answers.
  • If the guessing player gets it right, they keep the coin/paper square as one point marker. If they’re stumped, the asking player gets the point.
  • After all the characters have been uncovered, the player with the most point markers wins.

Ring Toss

Ring Toss

  • Choose a placemat where your child should know most of the characters since the ring may land anywhere.
  • Find a ring (the plastic ones from the neck of a milk jug work well), 10 pennies (as point markers) and a characters-only placemat.  If you can’t find a plastic ring, you can cut one out of construction paper.
  • Take turns tossing the ring onto the mat.  If  the ring lands between characters, toss again.
  • The first player who correctly calls out the character in the ring wins a point.
  • If one of the players does not know the characters, place the meanings mat next to the characters mat as an aid. Players who have the characters memorized will still be faster than players who are looking them up.
  • The player with the most points at the end of 10 tosses wins.
2 Comments leave one →
  1. Marie Foster permalink
    February 9, 2014 2:53 pm

    Are these placemats for sale? If so how can we buy them from the UK?
    Many Thanks

  2. racerdogs permalink*
    February 13, 2014 11:34 am

    Thank you for your interest – we currently only sell them locally at school events. If you would like to make some for your own vocabulary list, it was done with tables in MS Word and a laminating machine. Here is a link for how to add the pinyin on top of the characters.

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