This post was sponsored by Lofty Sky Entertainment. I was provided with review copies of Miaomiao’s Chinese for Kids and the Shuyan and Shuyan Comic apps.
All opinions are mine and mine alone.
FYI: Miaomiao provided me 10 Free Access Codes to give away. Please comment on this post why you want the Miaomiao app by Sunday, February 17, 2019 at 11:59pm PST and I will randomly choose ten lucky folks to receive the access codes!
Alrighty, friends. It’s been about a year since my last 5 Minute Review.
To make up for it today, I will be providing a 3 for 1 deal. I’ll be reviewing:
- A FREE Amazon Prime show perfect for complete Chinese beginners
- An app (for which I have 10 access codes) that is good for both beginners and native speakers
- And a bonus app review that is geared towards older children with VERY high Chinese skill levels.
When it comes to teaching your kids Chinese, everyone’s advice (including mine) is always to have your children watch a Chinese show and POOF! Magically, they’ll become fluent.
Sorry, folks. That’s probably not going to happen.
The reason why I suggest watching Chinese media is to create a Chinese Language Ecosystem, wherein I try to replicate living in a Chinese dominant environment by providing as many things as possible in Chinese.
However, if your children don’t have much exposure to Chinese, watching Chinese shows is probably not going to do much. Studies show that your kids will filter out any language they don’t recognize as gibberish.
What’s a person to do if they want their kids to learn Chinese but either are not native speakers, or are not good enough at the language to provide a consistent Chinese Language Ecosystem?
I’m so pleased you asked! LET ME TELL YOU.
1) Miaomiao TV on Amazon Prime (FREE for Amazon Prime subscribers)
If your family has little to no Chinese fluency, a good way to ease your children into the Chinese language is to have shows that introduce Chinese terms but aren’t fully in Chinese.
The Miaomiao TV series follows little Miaomiao and her animal friends as the encounter obstacles, solve problems, and let the power of friendship win the day. As Miaomiao goes about her adventures, a simple word or phrase in Mandarin Chinese will be introduced and reinforced.
Who is this show for: Preschool-aged and young children (2-5) who have little to no prior knowledge of Chinese.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime (ALL episodes); YouTube (limited episodes)
Cost: FREE for Amazon Prime subscribers
5 Minute Review: This show is DEFINITELY for beginners and small children. The production values are very high and the animation is quality – as are the voices, stories, and content. All my children found the characters cute and funny (especially Dodo, the dog).
For myself, I loved how the main character is a bilingual girl of Chinese descent. Too often, Chinese kids are depicted as foreign or their Chineseness doesn’t come into play unless it’s Chinese New Year.
The normalizing of Miaomiao’s bilingual status makes my heart soar.
It helps me brainwash my children into accepting their natural bilingual state and for them to see kids that look like them in a show who also speak fluid English and Chinese? A rare and treasured thing.
Even though my older three are outside of the target demographic, they still watched and laughed and enjoyed the short cartoons. Glow Worm (5) and Gamera (7) both thought the show was funny and loved the dog. Cookie Monster (9) thought it was too babyish (because it’s for babies) but still willingly watched because it’s a screen and he’s well trained to watch all screens.
Incidentally, Cookie Monster also went into depth describing what happened in the episode as well as pointed out all the funny parts so despite him being 9, he still liked the antics (such as a monkey stealing Miaomiao’s camera and taking selfies, talking about his handsomeness and muscles, and showing off his tummy to giraffes).
2) Miaomiao’s Chinese for Kids App
This is one of Miaomiao’s newest apps (the have several more you can check out) and there are 50+ cartoons – each introducing a new word or phrase (either in English or Chinese). At the end of each episode, there’s a fun word tracing activity so kids can practice writing in Chinese.
Who is this app for: Children 2+ who are either native speakers or have either little to no prior knowledge of Chinese (or anyone in between).
Features: 50+ episodes (in either English or Chinese); includes an interactive portion at the end where child can trace the Chinese characters of the words they just learned; includes a parent console where you can view your child’s progress and see which words they’ve learned and episodes they’ve watched; COPPA compliant, ensuring privacy for your child. No ads or in-app purchases.
Where to buy: iOS App Store (currently only iOS)
I have 10 Free Access Codes to give away. Please comment on this post why you want the Miaomiao app by Sunday, February 17, 2019 at 11:59pm PST and I will randomly choose ten lucky folks to receive the access codes!
5 Minute Review: As with the show, the quality of the cartoons and app interface are excellent. It’s easy to understand – and if you choose “Learn English” instead of the “Learn Chinese” option, all episodes will be predominantly in Mandarin and introduce English words.
Needless to say, I prefer that option!
My older three children definitely found the episodes and activities too easy. However, that is because they are 9, 7, and 5. The 5 year old can read 800-1000 characters. My eldest two can read 1800-2000 characters.
OF COURSE IT IS TOO EASY.
Sasquatch (2), however, knows ZERO characters. If he was willing to watch anything that wasn’t Ryan’s Toy Review, I’m sure he would have adored the Chinese version of Daddy Finger. (He LOVES that song.)
If I hadn’t ruined Sasquatch so early on, I would have used this app instead of YouTube. As it is, I might have a shot at tricking him later.
3) Shuyan and Shuyan Graphic Novel/Comic Apps
While researching Miaomiao’s parent company, Lofty Sky, I came across their choose your own adventure graphic novel kungfu fighting game, Shuyan. Since I knew that my older kids had aged out of the Miaomiao categories, I was immediately intrigued. I was hoping against hope that it would also be available in Chinese.
Guess what? IT COMES IN CHINESE.
And not just any Chinese, INTERESTING Chinese.
Like, Chinese with terms for imperial palaces, conspiracies, kungfu, fighting, intrigue, princesses, and who knows what else because I can’t really understand it?
Who is this app for: Children 12+ who are either English or Chinese speakers/readers.
Features: 1400+ hand drawn panels; kungfu fight scenes; choices to change the story lines; original soundtrack and professional voice acting; comes in English, Traditional, and Simplified versions with subs.
Check out the trailer below.
Where to buy: Shuyan Website with links to iOS and Android stores
Cost: $3.99 (additional add-ons available)
5 Minute Review: OMG I LOVE IT.
The bane of my Chinese teaching existence is finding engaging materials that are complicated enough for my older children. This graphic novel requires my children to listen, understand, and read Chinese.
But it tricks them.
The panels are breathtaking; the scope, epic. The voice acting in either language is excellent and professional. And the fighting is fun enough that even our kungfu sifu was excited to play.
I have a high tolerance for violence and exposing my kids to it, but it’s really not that violent. It’s about the level of Street Fighter? Possibly less bloody.
My kids fought over whose turn it was to play.
They all swore they understood the plot and whatever, but I think they’re lying. BUT I DON’T CARE. Because when they play, they are forced to watch and listen and read and choose things IN CHINESE in between the parts they’re really there for (the fighting).
I cannot overemphasize how happy I am to have found this app. SO HAPPY.
Alright, thanks for sticking with me! I hope I was able to be helpful! Don’t forget to leave a comment in order to enter the drawing for one of ten FREE access codes!
My son is in dual immersion class and needs as much help as he can get since I do not speak any chinese that can help him. Thank you for offering this.
I would like to use the app for my twins who are 5. They have started going to chinese school every Saturday. I think the app would be a great idea, I could use it as a support tool to facilitate their learning in Mandarin. Many thanks.
I’m SO happy to have found this post. Thank you! I am first generation American born on my mother’s side and she thought it would confuse us to teach us her languages. My blond /blue eyed 8 y/o daughter (2nd generation born) is SUPER proud of her Asian ancestry and has been trying to learn everything Chinese for about a year now. Since I don’t speak Mandarin myself it’s hard for me to find materials to help her. She has been studying Mandarin (first at an international school, but then we moved) and have tried workbooks, classes and online tutoring. This app would be great! After reading this post, I turned on Miao Miao for my 2 year old son and he loved it! He has a severe communication delay and hasn’t shown much interest in TV shows so it’s cool to see him pay attention and respond. Finding something that both the 2 y/o and 8 y/o are interested in is rare for us so thanks again!
Congratulations, Anna! You were one of ten random draws. Could you let me know if you have iOS or Android? Once you let me know, I’ll email you the code to the email address you provided when you made this comment. If you prefer another email address, please let me know at virginia [at] mandarinmama.com.
Wow thanks Virginia! I’m trying to get my kids (big age difference age 8 in DI ve age 2) into really learning Chinese and it’s tough finding age appropriate material for both of them that doesn’t bore the oldest and keeps the youngest interested- this sounds really promising!!
Would love to try the app to get my daughter to be interested in chinese again and also for my son to review his chinese haha. Thanks!
Thanks for this opportunity to gain access to the Miao Miao app. My toddler is half Chinese (more like 75%) and as an ABC mother with a non-Chinese speaking husband, I do not want her to lose the ability to understand Chinese (she understands it with her interactions with my parents-who she doesn’t see often). She enjoys watching the entire Miao Miao shows on YouTube and I’ve never seen her sit through any other shows with such interest and she’s been able
to pick up a lot of words and phrases from it. I love how the shows aren’t too long, as I do not like putting my daughter in front of the screen for too long and she’s able to learn from it in the short amount of time.
I would like to expose my almost 3 year old son to as much Mandarin as possible since we speak predominantly English and Cantonese at home. I think the app will encourage him to see Mandarin as a fun language and sow the seeds of love for the language. Thanks for offering to share the free access codes.
Thanks for the reviews. Definitely need to spice up our Mandarin learning since mom and kids fell off the wagon. But looking for new tools to engage them again, ages 7 (beginner), 10 (bit above beg)? 13 (interm/adv). Qiao Hu doesn’t cut it anymore.
Congratulations, Teri! You were one of ten random draws. Could you let me know if you have iOS or Android? Once you let me know, I’ll email you the code to the email address you provided when you made this comment. If you prefer another email address, please let me know at virginia [at] mandarinmama.com.
The Miao Miao app would be great for my 4 year-old daughter to have more exposure to Chinese! She goes to Chinese school once a week and I try to speak mandarin at home.
Congratulations, Doris! You were one of ten random draws. Could you let me know if you have iOS or Android? Once you let me know, I’ll email you the code to the email address you provided when you made this comment. If you prefer another email address, please let me know at virginia [at] mandarinmama.com.
I would love this app to help reinforce mandarin language for my 3 girls in the home and on the road. This would help me in teaching them and gaining their interest in learning and practicing Chinese. Thanks in advance!
My boys are losing Chinese since they start daycare. I really want them to be bilingual but it’s hard to find the materials. This app will be helpful!! Thanks so much for the reviews!
I would love the Access codes for my girls we were Using lingo kids chinese but they stopped the Chinese app????????
I would love the miao miao app code for my daughter. It would really be a fun way to help reinforce the Chinese she is exposed to through her dual language immersion program. I try to help her, but after school she is usually tired and doesn’t want to practice as much but with a fun relevant app I know she would want to do it especially if there is a cartoon involved.
Great review. Thanks for sharing your experience. Would love the app for my student who is six years old and slowly growing in confidence in speaking Chinese. I think having something at home when she’s not with me to practice will really help her Chinese improve.
I stumbled on the Miaomiao episodes on Amazon and my kids (5 and 3) have been hooked ever since. I would love to supplement their learning with the app, as based on your review it sounds like a wonderful product! Personally it’s been a challenge to find interesting shows and apps and I’m excited to potentially try it out.
I would love to have access code for my two boys they stopped Chinese school for years. I tried to teach them Chinese at home 15-20 minuets everyday. The app will help a lot!
My daughter has been learning Mandarin afterschool for 2+ years, and will hopefully start dual immersion school next year (as a second grader so I’m worried will need to practice a lot to get up to speed!). Getting her to work on paper is impossible. She loves screen time, so I need to find apps she can play with and learn! (and then her 4 yo sister wants to play and learn too!)
We live really far to go to any Chinese Schools on a consistent basis. This will help my daughter immemsly.
Would love app code for Daughter, who’s languages are English, Spanish & Mandarin Chinese. ????????
Congratulations, Elba! You were one of ten random draws. Could you let me know if you have iOS or Android? Once you let me know, I’ll email you the code to the email address you provided when you made this comment. If you prefer another email address, please let me know at virginia [at] mandarinmama.com.
I’ve been slowly teaching my kiddo (whom I have nicknamed speck I love how you have nicknames for you kids too!!!) Chinese….it’s been a slow uphill battle as I desperately fight to cram as much I to her head as possible before she is lost to English!! She currently has a base of roughly 200 words (not counting any numbers of course) and this would be so helpful in keeping her engaged as we don’t have a firm enough base to read anything ….we just constantly do flash cards…..which she finds insanely boring which I dont blame her!
Congratulations, Wendy! You were one of ten random draws. Could you let me know if you have iOS or Android? Once you let me know, I’ll email you the code to the email address you provided when you made this comment. If you prefer another email address, please let me know at virginia [at] mandarinmama.com.
Hello Virginia. Thanks for the review. My 3 year old son started a trilingual Preschool and since I don’t speak Mandarin, this would be a really great resource to help him learn at home.
My two kids are starting chinese school and this would be a great resource to strengthen their skills.
Thanks for the review. I think this app will help get my 6 and 4 year olds interested in Chinese again and not be so resistant.
Congratulations, Leidy! You were one of ten random draws. Could you let me know if you have iOS or Android? Once you let me know, I’ll email you the code to the email address you provided when you made this comment. If you prefer another email address, please let me know at virginia [at] mandarinmama.com.
This is so awesome! My daughter (5) just started learning Mandarin! She is a beginner as am I and anyone else in our family! I now have the episodes ready to watch on amazon for her tomorrow! Plus this app would be so great for her too! Thank you for offering the giveaway! I’m excited. 🙂
Congratulations, Faith! You were one of ten random draws. Could you let me know if you have iOS or Android? Once you let me know, I’ll email you the code to the email address you provided when you made this comment. If you prefer another email address, please let me know at virginia [at] mandarinmama.com.
I would love to use this app for my daughter who just started learning Mandarin! At 6, she is learning two other languages in addition to English and I love finding ways to immerse her in languages! As a homeschooling mom, it is great to find valuable resources recommended by others to use!
This app would be perfect for my son who is beginning to learn Chinese! He would definitely use it as he is a hard worker and always wants to increase his knowledge.
This app & show sound amazing for my kiddos 4 & 7. They have doing Lingo Bus for about a year & the teachers want the language used for in everyday life.
Congratulations, Andrea! You were one of ten random draws. Could you let me know if you have iOS or Android? Once you let me know, I’ll email you the code to the email address you provided when you made this comment. If you prefer another email address, please let me know at virginia [at] mandarinmama.com.
I have four children. Two of them are actively learning Mandarin (since April 2018), and the other two will start soon. I think this app would be an excellent way to give my older two something entertaining to watch to keep them excited about their studies, and I think it would be a great way to get my younger children’s feet wet in the language. Unfortunately, I live in a small town and there aren’t many options for supplementing our studies belond technology, so I’m always excited to find something new! Thanks for the opportunity!
Thank you for the app reviews. My children are all older beginners. At 10, 12, 12 they don’t mind working with simple materials intended for younger children. They find it more useful than the adult conversation/business materials created for adult beginners. The app would be great to play with on our upcoming trip to China. We will definitely be looking at the television program.
I was just looking into using this app for my daughter! I would love the free access code so she has a better app to learn for for supplemental material!
So glad to find your blog! We have Amazon Prime and I didn’t know this show existed! My kids just started Mandarin lessons in the past few months, so this will be perfect for them! We would definitely use the app to reinforce what they are learning! Thanks fir this great information!
Mandarin Mama! You are so funny and I just love your happy and quirky news, reviews, and updates. 😀 Well we are visiting Hangzhou next month with a view to getting academic jobs there (it’s an officially invited visit). It’s all very exciting but the kids speak zero Chinese. Help! I’d love to stick them in front of MiaoMiao and let them learn their own way. They are well versed digitally so this should be a hit. Hm. In any case, many thanks for your lovely posts and email – always a delight!
My daughter, 5, is taking online lessons weekly. We are in love with the language and culture. I would love to use this program to supplement!
This would be great for my almost 5 and 2.5 yo’s.
I would love to try this for my 1yo, 3yo and 5yo. I have tried some other Chinese apps, but none of them have caught our attention. Would love to find an interesting Chinese app that my kids and I can learn from.
Congratulations, Jessica! You were one of ten random draws. Could you let me know if you have iOS or Android? Once you let me know, I’ll email you the code to the email address you provided when you made this comment. If you prefer another email address, please let me know at virginia [at] mandarinmama.com.
I would love to get this app to help my daughter to start learning a second language. I would love for her to one day be bi-lingual (and even possibly even more). All they teach at her school now is Spanish, so this would be excellent to study at home.
Congratulations, Kristi! You were one of ten random draws. Could you let me know if you have iOS or Android? Once you let me know, I’ll email you the code to the email address you provided when you made this comment. If you prefer another email address, please let me know at virginia [at] mandarinmama.com.
Because my daughter is 3 and her chinese name is 淼 (Miao) I think she’d get a kick out of seeing a character that looks like her with the same name