Author’s Note: Sagebooks HK is sponsoring The Sagebooks Challenge as we chronicle Glow Worm (4) and I going through their series for the first time. I am also guest posting on their Sagebooks HK Blog where I will be providing a time tested tip and a fun activity to help support you and your child as you go through the sets.

Welcome to our third week going through the Sagebooks HK Basic Chinese 500 series with Glow Worm (4).

This week, we perhaps learned 1-2 new characters and spent the rest of the time solidifying the characters in Book 1.1. Also, I realized that I really need to lower my expectations. I was hoping for three characters a day, but realistically, that is too much for him and then he feels ashamed instead of excited.

However, Glow Worm is now recognizing some of the characters he’s learned in our other Chinese picture books, so all things considered, that’s a huge win in my book!

What is Sagebooks?

Sagebooks HK Basic Chinese 500 is a series of 5 sets of 5 books that teach your children how to read the top 500 high frequency characters in children’s books. You can find out more here.

Quick Background

I am an ABC/T and speak Mandarin 85% of the time to my four children (8, 6, 4, 1). My husband, Hapa Papa, only speaks English. We homeschool bilingually in Chinese and English and my older two children have already gone through the Sagebooks HK Basic Chinese 500.

Glow Worm, (4) currently knows about 50 characters and this is the first time we are going through Sagebooks. He currently splits time between two Chinese preschools for 3 hours a day, 4 days a week.

[clickToTweet tweet=”I highly recommend you also break down characters into components as you go through the @sagebookshk. #sagebooks #sagebookshk #teachkidschinese” quote=”I highly recommend you also break down characters into components as you go through the Sagebooks.” theme=”style2″]

Goal for Week 3: Book 1.2:8- 1.3.15*

Since last week was a total bust, I had hoped we could at least move forward a little more this week. NOPE!

In addition, since I had to create the videos for the first Sagebooks HK Blog activity, I wanted to review some of the characters he was still having trouble by playing some memory and match games.

How Did We Do?

We learned a few new characters, but definitely did not finish even the second book! However, when we played the memory and match games, he actually knew several of them this week, so that at least encouraged me.

Truthfully, I am still not concerned because I know that it is only the third week and we’re still figuring it out. As long as Glow Worm is excited to read these books with me, I consider that a win. Every day, he happily reminds me that it’s time to read his 小書/xiao3 shu/little book/ with me. It’s super cute.

How Did We Do It?

I learned from last week and tried to make sure we were going over the books during less hectic times, but in general, it’s always going to be a zoo at my house. However, we seem to have gotten into a good rhythm so at least the flow of how we read is consistent (if not the actual location and time).

Glow Worm will bring out books 1.1 and 1.2. He will choose which book he wants to review first and then flip to the bookmark in that book and read until he wants to stop. Then he will switch to the other book and read until he wants to stop. I encourage him as much as possible and tolerate all funny voices and silliness and only occasionally make corrections.

He’s more sensitive than I expected so when he encounters too many characters he doesn’t remember, he starts to look sad or insecure and I have to praise him and we’ll usually stop. I try to honor his desire to stop as quickly as possible. Any time I have pushed past his objections has resulted in a less than stellar outcome.

Sample Pics and Videos

As you can see, sometimes, we go through Sagebook in less than ideal circumstances.

Sagebooks HK Basic Chinese 500

Sagebooks HK Basic Chinese 500

Here’s a video of Glow Worm reading Set 1 Book 2 Lesson 8:

This is a video of Glow Worm reading Set 1 Book 2 Lesson 10 as a review:


Although Glow Worm did better at recognizing the more abstract characters, he is having trouble remembering 朋友 as separate characters. However, when he figures out one, he always knows the other. In his mind, they’re connected characters and he doesn’t seem to recognize them separately.

Some Observations

I’m pretty amazed at the connections Glow Worm’s brain is forming. Like I mentioned earlier, he’s starting to recognize the characters he’s already learned in the Chinese picture books we read. He’s finally recalling the characters 有/you3/have/, 在/zai4/be at/, 很/hen3/very/, and 也/ye3/also/.

Furthermore, he recognized that the character 媽/ma/mother/ was made up of 女/nü3/female/ and 馬/ma3/horse/. I explained to him that the radical is 女 because mother is a woman and the sound component is from 馬. I would take credit for this brilliance except that I think Sagebooks purposefully taught these characters in this sequence, as well as his Chinese tutor is amazing and explains Chinese character components in great detail.

As an aside, I highly recommend you also break down characters into components as you go through the Sagebooks. It will aid your child in character recognition as well as prepare them for future sets since the later books introduce characters with similar sound components and radicals. If you have set the basis for your children observing how characters are constructed, the later books will be much easier – particularly since the characters become more abstract and your children will have to rely on visual cues more than the actual definition to remember.

Sagebooks Challenge Application

How did you do this week? Did you try the activity I posted at Sagebooks HK Blog? Did you join us at the Sagebooks HK Parent Support Facebook Group? Let me know in the group (or the comments).

See you next week!

* I refer to the Sagebooks in this formula: Set#.Book#:Chapter#. So, if I am referring to the first set, book 3, and characters 14-16, it looks like: Book 1.3:14-16.