This fruit learning activity was inspired by the "生津止渴" book in my toddler's Chinese for Kids: 10 First Reader Book Set. It is one of her favourite books from the collection, probably because of how relatable and enjoyable the juicing experience is for my toddler (we juice every other day). 生津止渴 is a Chinese idiom which means 'thirst-quenching'.
Juicing is a great practical life activity and my toddler enjoys calling the shots -- choosing fruits from the refrigerator, helping to slice, placing fruits into our juicer and pressing the start button.
Whenever we read this book, my toddler gets inspired to make a smoothie if we've not already made one for the day. I encourage that because it is not only a learning opportunity but an easy way to load up on vitamins and fiber.
As my toddler craves more autonomy and decision-making opportunities these days, I try to create activities that allow for 'personalisation'. A DIY fruit juicer for my toddler's little toy kitchen was perfect for her growing independence and creativity.
With this DIY juicer, she could put together unique smoothies on her own while 'playing house'. Since introducing this new gadget, my toddler has been whipping up multiple concoctions throughout the day (and overfeeding me and my WFH husband).
Over time, my toddler has learnt to take orders too! My husband and I name the fruits we want in our smoothies and my toddler can identify and add them into the juicer without help.
This activity has helped my toddler become familiar with Chinese print. I was really heartened when my toddler named the fruits outloud and started to recognise and commit a few of the Chinese characters to memory!
Steps to Creating this Activity
- Fruit Juicer: Cut a hole in the lid and bottom of an empty, recycled plastic beverage cup. Ensure the hole is big enough for the cup to fit through the kitchen towel stand. Rotate the cup to simulate the spinning action of the fruit blender and ensure the hole is big enough for the rotation movement to be smooth. Use painter's tape to smooth out the jagged plastic edges.
- Fruit Juicer Control Panel: Cut out the flaps of a shortened cardboard box and fit it through the kitchen towel stand, below the juicer. Illustrate start and stop buttons as well as speed settings.
My toddler loves it when I imitate the juicer's whirring sound and vary my speed/volume as well as heed her start and stop button pressing.
- Pretend Fruits: Illustrate fruits and label them. I used the same fruits used in the book referenced above so my toddler could toss the fruit in one by one as we read the story. I kept the fruit illustrations simple so my toddler could focus on the Chinese print.
CHALK Academy has free pretend food printables you could leverage!
- Pretend Water: I bunched up a blue playscarf to fit a toy beaker. Placing this playscarf as the first item in the DIY fruit blender creates a 'bottleneck' so pretend fruits placed subsequently won't fall out of the blender while spinning. In place of a playscarf, you could use blue crepe paper or scrunched up blue construction paper.
These are the Chinese labels I used for the activity along with their HYPY and meanings:
- Fruits: 梨 (Lí / Pear), 苹果 (Píngguǒ / Apple), 香蕉 (Xiāngjiāo / Banana), 葡萄 (Pútáo / Grapes), 橙 (Chéng / Orange), 柠檬 (Níngméng / Lemon) and 樱桃 (Yīngtáo / Cherry).
- Water: 水 (Shuǐ)
- Juicer: 打果汁机 (Dǎ guǒzhī jī)
- Speed settings: 慢 (Màn / Slow), 正常 (Zhèngcháng / Normal) and 快 (Kuài / Fast)
- On/off function: 启动 (Qǐdòng / Activate) and 停止 (Tíngzhǐ / Stop)
These are some prompts and descriptions I typically use during the play conversation:
- 你今天要榨哪种果汁? (Nǐ jīntiān yào zhà nǎ zhǒng guǒzhī? / What kind of fruit juice are you making today?)
- 你如何开始制作果汁？(Nǐ rúhé kāishǐ zhìzuò guǒzhī? / How do you get started on making the fruit juice?)
- 果汁是健康的饮料 (Guǒzhī shì jiànkāng de yǐnliào / Juice is a healthy beverage)
- 果汁富含维生素和纤维 (Guǒzhī fù hán wéishēngsù hé xiānwéi / Juice is full of vitamins and fiber)
- 看！水果在打果汁机中旋转 (Kàn! Shuǐguǒ zài jiǎobànjī zhōng xuánzhuǎn / Look! The fruits are spinning around in the blender)
- 可以再来一杯吗? (Wǒ kěyǐ zài Lái Yī bēi ma? / Can I have a second cup?)
- 这尝起来真新鲜又甜! (Zhè cháng qǐlái zhēn xīnxiān yòu tián! / This tastes so fresh and sweet!)
Play Extension Ideas
To prolong interest in this activity and create more learning opportunities, you could try these ideas:
- Creation of 'menu cards' for children to follow written instructions to create smoothies, further reinforcing print awareness and recognition
- Setup of a smoothie shop front
- Add vegetables to the mix for vegetable smoothies and soups
- Introduce flavorings like honey and maple syrup, and toppings like boba and jelly, to acquaint children with more vocabulary
I hope your little one enjoys this juicing pretend play activity!
For more child-led, open-ended play ideas, follow my Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook Group.
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Hi! I am Yunnie. I am the newly minted mama to a little baby girl and a mum friend to everyone on this special (and many times scary) journey of motherhood. Also a graduated bride with a penchant for weddings.