Traditional Chinese Musical Instruments – Chinese Culture for kids

Traditional Musical Instruments

Ancient Chinese believed music cleansed people’s minds.  There were around 70 types of traditional musical instruments.  The instruments were string, wind and percussion. These are ten of the most common traditional instruments.

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The xun is one of the oldest musical instruments.  It is older than 7,000 years.  People first used a type of oval stone or bone to hunt.  They would throw these stones at their prey.  The stone made a whistling sound as the air flowed through the natural holes on the stone.  Now the instrument is made from clay or ceramic to look like an oval stone and the holes are added so music can be made by blowing in the mouthpiece of this flute instrument.

Chinese Chimes

Chinese chimes are made from different metals.  The chimes are made flat like two tiles pieced together with sharp corners. This helps to make the sound flow faster, making it possible to play them as a rhythmic instrument of several bells together in a group. The bells make two high pitch notes depending where you strike the bell.  They also have decorated patterns on them of humans, dragons and beasts.

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The xiao is a vertically played bamboo flute with 6-8 finger holes.  The melody of this flute reminds the listener of a lonely moon in the autumn night sky.  This flute works on the same principle of blowing air over an empty bottle to make a noise.


The sheng is a wind instrument made out of bamboo.  It was used to accompany dancers in their performances and is now used for melody in orchestras.  There can be many pipes, but the first sheng had 17 pipes with a curved mouthpiece.


The pipa is a four-stringed lute with 12-26 frets on a pear-shaped body. The musician holds the instrument upright and plays with plectrums attached to each finger of the right hand. A smaller version is called a liuqin.

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The guzheng was first made with a bamboo frame and silk strings.  It is a Chinese zither of 18-23 strings and movable bridges.  This instrument is typically played by plucking the strings.



The guqin is also known as the seven-stringed qin. The body is a long and narrow wooden sound box with seven strings stretched along the top of the box. On the edges are 13 inlaid jade markers. Catalpa wood is used for the base and there are two holes to help make the sound.



The erhu is one of the most popular Chinese string instruments. It is a two-stringed vertical fiddle that plays both traditional and contemporary music in China today.



The drums have been used in Chinese culture for over 3500 years. One of their first uses was for sacrificial and worshiping ceremonies.  Drums were also used for farming and warfare.

Bamboo Flute

The bamboo flute or dizi has eight holes including one blow hole. It is widely used in folk music, opera and orchestras.  The flute is made from either white or purple bamboo.  The slender, lightweight instrument is a common one for many people in China.

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Traditional Chinese Music – Chinese Culture for kids

Chinese traditional music is played with instruments of the xun, chimes, xiao, sheng, pipa, guzheng, guqin, erhu, drums and the bamboo flute.  Often this music is played for ceremonies or to accompany dancers or other instruments in an orchestra.  This music is also played for the background of a play or opera.  It is enjoyed at concerts or by listening to recordings.  Many of the melodies are written about nature.  These songs often describe the different seasons and the weather, the mountains and waters, the sky and the moon, and various birds.

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These are some examples of traditional music titles.  Can you see that many of them are written about nature?

High Mountains and Flowing Water (高山流水)

Wild Geese Descending on the Sandbank (平沙落雁)

Plum Blossom Melodies (梅花三弄)

Ambush from All Sides (十面埋伏)

Flutes and Drums at Dusk (春江花月夜)

Dialogue between the Fisherman and the Woodcutter (渔樵问答)

Eighteen Beats of a Nomad Flute (胡笳十八拍)

Autumn Moon over Han Palace (汉宫秋月)

White Snow in Early Spring (阳春白雪)

Chinese Language and Alphabet – Chinese Culture for kids

About 1/5 of the world’s population speaks Chinese.  Mandarin is the official language of China, Taiwan and   Singapore.  Other Chinese languages include (in the order of which they are spoken):  Wu, Cantonese, and Min.  There are over 3,000 dialects of Chinese spoken in China, but only one way to write Chinese.

The Chinese language has had a great impact on the Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese languages.  Chinese symbols are used in both the Korean and Japanese written languages. The first Chinese symbols were based on hieroglyphic pictures.

Today, there are about 20,000 different characters in the Chinese language.  Half of these are used in everyday communication.  Each Chinese word uses 2-3 different characters.  There are over 100,000 Chinese words in the Chinese language.

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You can see the beauty of how the symbols are written with these examples.  Twenty-six letters are chosen below to look like the English alphabet.  The Chinese word for each symbol is also included.  Can you see each of the 26 English alphabet letters?

Chinese Characters

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Chinese Travel Destinations – Chinese Culture for kids

China is a large nation and has many interesting places to explore.  You will see much of the tradition, culture and the beauty of the land by traveling to these recommended places. 

The Great Wall

The star attraction of China is the Great Wall. This large structure was built to keep intruders from coming into China.  The wall stretches about 8850 kilometers all across north China.

The Forbidden City



The Forbidden City is located in Beijing. This city is also known as the Imperial Palace Museum.  It was built in 1400s A.D.  The Forbidden City is the largest group of wooden buildings that has been preserved in the world. Beijing is the capital of China today.  It is the center of government and culture.

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The Terracotta Warriors, Xian


The Terracotta Warriors were discovered in 1974.  They were buried underground for more than 2000 years in the city of Xian. This city served as the nation’s capital for 13 dynasties.  That was more than 1000 years!  It is the largest underground military museum to display all of the warriors and their horses made in the Qin Dynasty (221 B.C.-206 B.C.).  The warriors include chariot warriors, infantrymen, cavalrymen, and horses.

The Yangtze River

The Yangtze River is the largest and longest river in China with a length of over 6,300 kilometers.  It is the third longest river in the world. The Yangtze River flows through 9 provinces across south China.  You can take a popular river cruise and see the beautiful Three Gorges and the Three Gorges Dam from the river.

Li River, Guilin

The Li River is known for its natural beauty.  The clear waterway flows along scenery of rolling peaks, steep cliffs and green hills.

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Potala Palace, Lhasa

The Potala Palace was built by King Songtsen Gampo in the seventh century.  It is built above much of the city of Lhasa.  “Lhasa” means land of the gods.  The palace is a landmark for the city of Lhasa.  The palace looks like a castle.  Inside, there are artist and creative decorations, scriptures, murals, jewels and antiques.  The Potala Palace was the religious and political center for Tibet.

Yellow Mountain (Mount Huangshan), Anhui

Yellow Mountain features peaks, interesting shaped rocks, steep cliffs and caves.

The Bund, Shanghai


The Bund is the waterfront of Shanghai which stretches 1.5 kilometers along the west bank of the Huangpu River.  You can see modern skyscrapers and an interesting mix of building styles.  The buildings are decorated with floodlights at night for a beautiful display.

West Lake, Hangzhou

West Lake is a long, narrow river located in the west part of Hangzhou.  It is a quiet place of natural beauty.  There are green hills on the sides of the lake.  Historical sites, traditional Chinese culture and native products can be seen.

Legend tells the story of West Lake being a heavenly jewel fallen to earth.  This lake is often painted by Chinese artists.

Jiuzhaigou Valley, Sichuan

Located in the northern part of Sichuan Province, Jiuzhaigou Valley has snow-capped mountain peaks all year round.  The valley also has thick forests and stretches of quiet lakes.  It is home to many birds and animals.

The water is a clear bright green filled with waterfalls.

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Top Chinese Movies, Baby Names, Books, and the Chinese Zodiac for Kids!!!

Top Chinese Baby Names

  •             Ah-lam                  like an orchid
  •             An                           Peace
  •            Angua                     Peaceful Country
  •            Anmang                 Peaceful Clarity
  •           Mei- Lei                   Pretty, Beautiful
  •           Kai- Ying                 Exceptionally Bright
  •           Sarah                         Princess
  •           Ming                          Dynasty
  •           Ai- Shi                       lover of poetry
  •           Fabiana                    Bean recorder

Top Chinese Movies of All Time

  • ·        “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000).
  • ·        “The Forbidden Kingdom” (2008).
  • ·        “Fearless” (2006)
  •           “Kung Fu Hustle” (2004).
  • ·        “House of Flying Daggers” (2004).
  •          “Curse of the Golden Flower” (2006).
  • ·        “Farewell my Concubine” (1993).
  • ·        “Raise the Red Lantern” (1991).
  • ·        “To Live” (1994).
  • ·        “The Story of Qiu Ju” (1992).


Top Chinese Children’s Literature (ages 2-18)

  • The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Shang [chapter book, ages 9-12]
  • Historical Tales (A Story of Ancient China) series by Jessica Gunderson
  • Fa Mulan by Robert D. San Souci
  • Nim and the War Effort by Milly Lee
  • The Magic Horse of Han Gan by Chen Jiang Hong
  • Beautiful Warrior:  The Legend of the Nun’s Kung Fu by Emily Arnold McCully
  •  In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord
  • Coolies by Yin
  • The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin

Chinese Zodiac

  • Year of the Rat
  • Year of the Ox
  • Year of the Tiger
  • Year of the Rabbit
  • Year of the Dragon
  • Year of the Snake
  • Year of the Horse
  • Year of the Sheep
  • Year of the Monkey
  • Year of the Rooster
  • Year of the Dog
  • Year of the Pig

The Chinese Zodiac is a scheme that relates each year to an animal and its reputed attributes, according to a 12-year cycle. It is not dependent on months like the American astrology, but attributed to animals and personality traits.


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Chinese Ancient History: Dynasty’s for Kids


Early China & Xia Dynasty-10,000 BCE to 1500 BCE: Around 10,000 BCE the Chinese civilization began. There was a group called the Yangshao (yahng show) settled near the Huang He River. About 3,000 BCE, another farming group emerged, the Lungshan farming group. The Lungshan were very advanced for their time. They harvested silk, and used it to weave fine fabrics. They used the potter’s wheel. They baked strong bricks in ovens, and used them to build their homes, much sturdier than before. They worked together on flood control and irrigation projects. They had great engineering skills. Legend has it that their “Great Engineer”, Yu, founded the Xia (sometimes called the Hsia) Dynasty in about 2,000 BCE.

Shang & Chou Dynasties-The Bronze Age: These two rulers’ families were the rulers of China for about 1500 years. The daily life was nearly the same if not exactly the same as the previous Xia Dynasty. Farming/harvesting and innovative ways of living was still life during this dynasty.

Ancient China for Kids-Qin (pronounced Chin) Dynasty: Qin was the first man to control all of China by himself. He did not want to be called a king. Qin called himself First Emperor Qin. He died of natural causes. But in the short time that he ruled China, he readied China to be pulled together as one country. Qin ran his dynasty with absolute control and swift harsh punishment. It was illegal to whine about Qin’s government. If you simply suggested that things might be improved, you could be put to death without a trial.

Han Dynasty-200 BCE to 200 CE: Due to the demand for Chinese Silk, life was very good for civilians. The creation of the “silk road” – the trade routes across the fierce deserts – made a way for Chinese civilian’s trade to flourish more easily with the Roman Empire.  People came together into one civilization during Han times. They had a common culture. Even in remote sections, district officials copied the manner of the imperial court. Peasants built homes and plowed their fields in the same way all over China.

The Age of Division: The period between the Han Dynasty and the Tang Dynasty, emperors ran many different parts of China, and most did not play well with others. Wars were almost expected. Important inventions like the invention of gunpowder and of tea came about during this era. There was no middle class during the Age of Division. If you were a poor, you were extremely poor. If you were a rich, you were extremely rich.

Tang Dynasty-600 CE-900 CE: Under T’ang leadership, ancient China entered her Golden Age. It was a time of prosperity and gaiety and experimentation. People tried new things, like bananas and more. People of China came together as one, once again.

The Song Dynasty: The time of creative invention and art. Chinese opera began during this period, and so did the art of paper cutting.  So many things were invented during the Song Dynasty that this period in history is sometimes referred to as China’s Age of Invention. The Rainbow Bridge (in the shape of a rainbow) was created during this time.

The Ming Dynasty: This was a time of adventure and travel. The great Chinese mariners mapped the entire world. They brought back treasures from around the globe; some of them are on display today in the Forbidden Palace.  One the most popular items obtained was the folding fan, brought back to China from Japan and Korea.


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Chinese dishes – Peking/Beijing Duck – Chinese food for children

Chinese food is very popular all over the world. Most Chinese meals come with rice or noodles as well vegetables, meat, fish, pork or chicken.

Peking/Beijing Duck is probably China’s most famous food and is a tasty meal of crispy duck slices eaten on thin pancakes with a kind of dipping sauce called hoisinsauce. Sometimes thin slices of cucumber are also eaten in these pancakes.

Sweet and Sour is also famous and includes chunks of pork, shrimp or vegetable served with pineapple pieces is a sauce that is sweet and sour at the same time. China is also known for spicy and hot dishes.

Gongbao Chicken is made with chicken, peanuts and chili peppers while Hot Pot is a stew of meats and vegetables boiled right at the table!

Mapo Doufuis a meal made of tofu, chili peppers and beans in a spicy sauce. An area of China known especially for its spicy food is Sichuan, so keep a glass of water near you when eating Szechuan!

Dim sum, a meal made out of different snacks, is also popular in China. Normally dim sum is served in the early morning and afternoon, a lot like brunch is served in the West.

Dumplings, or steamed or fried buns filled with vegetables and meats, are very popular at dim sum and even as roadside snacks.

Tea is served at dim summeals and often comes in flavors like Green Tea and Chrysanthemum, just like the flower!

Chinese Names and Names in Chinese : The way Names are Written Read In China

According to Lauderdale and Kestenbaum (2000) Top 10 , top 20 and top 50 Chinese names are as follow
Top 10 Chinese names are
1. Wong
2. Chen
3. Chan
4. Wang
5. Chang
6. Lin
7. Wu
8. Liu
9. Huang
10. Li
Top 20 Chinese names are
11. Ng
12. Yu
13. Cheng
14. Yee
15. Yang
16. Chu
17. Chin
18. Ho
19. Lam
20. Hsu
Top 50 Chinese names are
21. Lau
22. Fong
23. Leung
24. Chow
25. Cheung
26. Tang
27. Lu
28. Sun
29. Ma
30. Zhang
31. Chiu
32. Lai
33. Tam
34. Lo
35. Tsai
36. Liang
37. Woo
38. Chou
39. Hu
40. Chiang
41. Yuen
42. Chao
43. Kwan
44. Tong
45. Shen
46. Kuo
47. Louie
48. Moy
49. Eng
50. Kwong
These names are compiled by 2 researchers in year 2000. Current name distribution might be a little different.
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Hoax that Circulates Once in 823 Years

Chinese people believe that only once in 823 years there can be 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. What is more, if you know about this rare occurrence and tell it to others both you and the others would be rich!!! Isn’t it amazing? And guess what, this year, 2011, has 5 Fridays, Satursdays and Sundays in the month of July. Yes, it’s this month!!!

We wish this wasn’t a hoax!!!  This is just another hoax about the Chinese Culture and Feng Shui. Many people claim receiving this email message from their networks. To begin with, any month that is 31 days long and starts with Friday naturally has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. This happened in 1983, 1988, 1994, 2005 , 2011 and will happen in 2016. Additionally Feng Shui masters did not believe in supersitions like this…

At Dino Lingo we will do our best to teach you the beauty of the Chinese culture and warn you against superstitions…

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