5 Ways to Use Poppers in the Mandarin Classroom

September 29, 2021 No Comments

Popper fidgets are all the rage these days. Poppers can be used in the Mandarin classroom too and not just for fidgeting! As much as I wish I could afford to a class set of poppers I can’t. So instead, I use poppers as an “early finishing” activity or in class stations. Here are three ways to use poppers in the Mandarin Classroom:

#1 Word Search POP

Creating a reusable word search is a great activity that can be used again and again. Students love word searches and this Mandarin word search helps students practice character recognition.

I used a Word document to lay out my word search ahead of time. This made it easy when it came to writing the characters on the popper. I tried to use basic words that most of my students would recognize but this could be used with a theme or specific units.

I recommend using a square popper like the one in the picture for this kind of popper activity.

#2 Pictograph POP

This works great with a whiteboard or Character Practice Grids.

Create a popper with simple pictographs (characters that look like pictures) or strokes. Students practice writing the character or stroke until they can do it without looking and then pop it to show it is completed.

#3 Sentence POP

This is a great option for more intermediate learners. This popper has enough characters to create many different sentences and sentence structures.

In my example, I write the sentences in characters but could also write them in pinyin (or English) and let students find characters depending on students proficiency level.

Students can also use the popper to create their own sentences and either say them out-loud or write them down.

#4 Character POP Cards

This activity is recommended for younger learners 3+. This basic activity helps students “read” the character and make its shape in the popper. This activity is limited to basic characters with a blockier shape. Check out my Bubble Pop Character Card set on TPT. It comes with 30 print-and-go cards. If you need a hands-on practice activity for younger learners – this is the one!

#5 POP and Count

Another activity great for little learners, this activity is as simple as it sounds. Students roll a dice or pick a number and pop the number they roll counting out-loud in Mandarin as they pop. You can write the characters on the popper or just have students count out loud as they pop.

General Tips

  • I’ve been using permanent marker. Use several layers of ink and let it dry overnight. Another option is a paint pen like this one. The paint pen definitely shows up better but doesn’t seem to stick as well. If you find anything that works better I’d love to hear about it.
  • I recommend only using simple characters. The higher the stroke count the harder it is to create a clear character on the popper.
  • If you have a printed word list or directions, punch a hole in the side of the popper and attach the list using a ring.

Rachel Avrick

Originally from Washington D.C., I moved to Hong Kong when I was 19 to work for a charity in the Philippines. After one year in Asia I had fallen in love with the Chinese language and culture. I lived in Greater China for another 6 years in places like Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. While in Asia, I worked in education, non-profit, and finance. I double majored in Economics and Chinese with a minor in Asia Studies at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Most recently I received my masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University. I love creating fun and engaging Mandarin lessons for students especially in elementary.

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Hi everyone, my name is Rachel (aka 卫老师). I have a passion for creating engaging lessons for young Mandarin learners. Lessons with Laoshi provides resources and insight for both parents and teachers looking for unique Mandarin lessons. While Lessons with Laoshi is focused on Mandarin education, I hope it can be a place for both parents and teachers of many different languages to gain insight. Read More