Miao Mi Educational Programs Delight Both Preschoolers and Teens

My children have been learning Mandarin Chinese since they were each five years old. We do not live in an urban area like Portland or San Francisco – so access to bilingual schools or immersion programs have not been available to us. We have thereby relied on the materials we could find online.

I was compensated for this review; however, all opinions are my own.
Miao Mi Amazon Channel Review @EvaVarga.net
This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission.

When we first began our journey with Mandarin, we struggled to find resources and materials that were targeted at second language learners. Much of the curriculum I found was directed at parents who spoke Chinese themselves and desired to teach their children their mother tongue. As I don’t speak Mandarin myself, I was at a loss and unable to assist them with instructions.

Over the years, the availability of materials has increased and I am continually learning of online learning resources, bilingual materials, and curriculum designed specifically for families like ours. When I learned of Miao Mi, an educational channel on Amazon, I was delighted to try out the material with my kids.

Miao Mi offers an excellent way to support language learning, and provides a Mandarin language immersion approach to learning a new language.

Miao Mi is Educational

Miao Mi is a collection of animated programs in both English and Mandarin. Each series is designed to educate and entertain through captivating animation, adorable characters, and clever storylines.

The target age for the Miao Mi educational programs is preschool and early elementary. I was therefore a little apprehensive about sharing the programs with my teens – I feared they would balk at the content and find the animation babyish. Much to my surprise, they not only enjoyed the animated storyline but were engaged in the language.

By writing and dubbing each episode in Mandarin and again in English (without translations or subtitles, using appropriate character voices) Miao Mi provides high-quality, entertaining, immersive experiences in both languages.

Miao Mi is a safe, ad-free channel or subscription based service provided by Amazon Prime presenting high-quality animations from Asia’s leading producers of children’s programs.

Miao Mi Amazon Channel Review @EvaVarga.netMiao Mi is an Immersive Experience

Miao Mi is designed to provide immersive language exposure for children who are learning Chinese (Mandarin). Most of the programs do not provide language instruction, rather they immerse the child in the language.

My teens enjoyed the programs, “The stories are really cute and it was easy to follow along.” Though they were familiar with most of the vocabulary, the words that were unfamiliar could be easily understood based on audio and visual context clues.

While prior exposure to Mandarin will help a child learn the language more quickly, the immersive experience of Miao Mi will provide an entertaining supplemental resource that extends the language learning experience.

For Amazon Prime members, ongoing access to the Miao Mi channel is only $5.99 per month.

Miao Mi is Variety 

One of the greatest benefits of Miao Mi is the diverse content. There are several programs to choose from – each of which offer multiple seasons and subsequent episodes.

The Miao Mi language learning video-on-demand service offers over 500 videos specifically curated for kids around the world.

The Benefits of Service Learning from an Early Age

I have always loved learning and believe that education is a community effort.  As an elementary teacher, I continually sought out service learning projects that enabled my students to become involved in the community while simultaneously complementing our classroom lessons and skills.  As a parent, I want my children to grow up with volunteering as an integral part of their lives.

My children and I began volunteering together in the spring of 2006 when my daughter was 3 ½ years old and my son was 15 months.   We volunteered as Living History Interpreters.  We dressed as homesteaders near Prineville, Oregon in 1880 and interacted with the public as they visited our homestead.  In this role, we utilized our knowledge of the region’s history to educate the public about the past.  With the exception of the winter months, we typically volunteered one day a week for approximately 5 hours.

We also worked with the Adopt-An-Animal program, whereby donors provided financial support for the care of the animals at the museum.  In turn, we sent the donor a thank you letter and a packet of information specific to the animal they selected which included an animal fact sheet, a certificate with a color photograph of the animal, a decal, and an activity sheet.

The children helped me by finding the necessary photographs and thereby learned to identify the names of our native wildlife.  They also learned about why the animals are in our care — all were unable to survive in the wild, typically because they were injured or became dependent on humans for food. Specific needs of the animals such as diet, habitat, and medical care provided great learning opportunities as well.  We typically worked 1-3 hours a week throughout the year.

While we no longer volunteer at the museum, I continue to involve the children in a variety of activities around our community.  We collect trash and pull non-native, invasive weeds along the river when we go for walks.  We donate canned food for the local food banks.  During the holiday season, we donate gifts for children in need.  Last spring, we began a garden to grow a few organic vegetables for our table.

Each service learning endeavor helps the children to think about what it means to take care of our community, animals, and the environment.

Service-learning is a teaching method that enriches learning by engaging students in meaningful service to their communities. Young people apply academic skills to solving real-world issues, linking established learning objectives with genuine needs. They lead the process, with adults as partners, applying critical thinking and problem-solving skills to concerns such as hunger, pollution, and diversity.

In the beginning, I wasn’t sure what sort of volunteering made sense for young children. In selecting activities, I take into consideration the interests and concerns that each of my children have developed.

One of the least expected outcomes was recognizing how the children have discovered themselves.  When we started, my daughter was a little timid and slow to talk with adults. In a short time, she learned to interact with the staff and other volunteers as individuals, carrying on conversations and discussing her thoughts openly.  On the homestead, she was always eager to show visitors how to pump water for the garden and can easily identify the vegetables we grow.

It is already clear that their life experiences and these service learning opportunities have helped to ensure that they will be self-assured and outgoing.

Curriculum & Learning Goals for 2010-11 (3rd and 1st grade)

I am still very pleased with the resources and curriculum I have purchased in the past.  Therefore, my learning goals for the year and the tools I will use to achieve them are very similar to last year.  I was much more successful in regards to accountability this past year but I am not yet where I want to be in this regard.  I feel I’m on a roll, however, and will continue to build on the successes we’ve experienced recently.

  • Reading: We’ve been successful with 30 min of independent reading but haven’t been doing it daily.  We didn’t reach our goal of reading independently for 60 minutes so we’ll reach for that again this year.  MeiLi has come a long way this past year.  She is reading more complex chapter books and doesn’t struggle as often.  She now will stay up late to read independently on occasion as well.  Buddy has grown tired of the Now I’m Reading series of easy readers, which to be honest, so have I.  He is now taking an interest in easy chapter books like Frog & Toad Are Friends.
  • Grammar & Writing: Integrated through science and history … copywork, letters to family and friends, creative writing activities, etc. We’ve been much more consistent here – partially due to integrating a daily reflection journal as part of our geology study, Explore Our World :: Africa.
  •  Shakespeare:  We studied The Twelfth Night this past year.  My intention was to take the kiddos to a performance at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  As I was looking up ticket information, I discovered they give a family performance in September for discounted prices.  I figured this would be the best option for our first time.  I don’t yet know what we’ll study this coming year as it will depend on what performances will be selected at OSF.
  • Handwriting: I don’t think we practiced handwriting more than once or twice last year.  We have a long way to go as a result.  MeiLi needs work in cursive and Buddy has been getting sloppy so he needs some penmanship practice as well.
  • Spelling: This is another area that I rarely bothered with last year.  Both kiddos seem to pick up words as they use them so it hasn’t been of much concern.  Maybe 2010-11 will be different.
  • Math: MeiLi continues to excel in math. She has just begun Singapore 4A. Buddy is also doing well and recently begun Singapore 2A.  I don’t see a need to change this as we’ve been very consistent with our math studies.
  • Science: We were very successful this past year with science.  We covered Astronomy and Geology units rather throughly.  Our goals for science this year include Simple Machines, Electricity, Magnetism, Energy & Motion.
  • Nature Study: We’ve begun to undertake a weekly nature study with our Roots & Shoots club.  When possible I try to coordinate with Barb’s challenges at Handbook of Nature Study.  I am also looking into the possibilities of volunteering regularly at a local horse ranch as a part of Roots & Shoots.
  • History: As we haven’t yet finished volume 2, we are continuing with Story of the World: Medieval Times.  We very much enjoy the accompanying coloring pages and map work.  As we proceed, we will be transitioning MeiLi to written narrations rather than oral.
  • Physical Education: We’ll continue with our study of Taekwondo.  We’ve been talking of potentially joining swim team but it is an equally big commitment.  MeiLi will be testing for her black belt early next summer so that has been the focus right now.  We’ll also continue to incorporate other activities  throughout the year.
  • Mandarin Chinese: MeiLi will be continue meeting with a private tutor for 1 hour each week.  We’ve been a little more consistent in doing the homework assignments and accompanying workbook activities. Though I still feel we could do better.  I don’t hear her speak so I really have no concept of how much she really knows.  Tinsel says she is doing well, though.
  • Spanish:  Buddy has recently developed a strong desire to learn Spanish.  I think this is in part due to the fact that one of his friends in the neighborhood speaks Spanish.  I am delighted.  It provides us with some structure when MeiLi is working on her Mandarin lessons.
  • Art & Music History: We will continue to use Themes to Remember to aide in our quarterly composer studies.  We’ll also continue to study an artist each term as well.  This is another area that fell to the side in 2009-10.  I hope to improve here as well.  Artists I hope to cover this year are:  David Wiesner,  Georgia O’Keefe, and  . Composers I hope to study include: Edvard Grieg, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and ?
  • Music: Both kiddos will continue to take piano lessons with Janellybean.   Buddy has also begun to study guitar.  MeiLi wants to learn flute.  However, I honestly don’t know how we can manage to learn two instruments.  I’d rather they focus on just piano right now but I don’t want them to get discouraged either.  I need to give this area some more thought.