We have subscribed to Qiaohu for the last three years and used a total of 4 levels of Qiaohu, so I’d like to look back at what our experience has been with the levels 幼幼版 (youyouban), 快樂版 (kuaileban)，成長版 (chengzhangban) and 學習版 (xuexiban).
We were given a full subscription’s worth of DVDs from a friend with a few of the toys, around the time my twins were born. But we officially started the subscription in the summer of 2016 when we purchased the last three months of 幼幼版 and then advanced to 快樂版. You can start anytime but I strongly recommend starting your subscription in September if possible to get the full year’s worth of scheduled content for the complete experience.
Of all three levels, my favorite is 成長版 and 學習版. Let’s go through each one.
Last school year we subscribed to the latter 6 months of Qiaohu yoyo ban (2018-19) for my 3 year old twins, then special ordered the previous six months so we could have the full year’s worth of content (It’s more expensive to order each month separately). Before this, I had ordered 3 months of 幼幼版 youyou ban for my oldest before advancing to kuaile ban, because that is simply when we started ordering.
As usual, I recommend starting your subscription in September (you will want to contact the Southern California office in the summer to make sure the subscription starts and there isn’t a delay in shipment.)
Yoyo ban feels like a luxury for 2-3 year olds simply because there is a flood of toddler educational materials Because we used this subscription for the twins and they are at home with me, I felt it was totally worth the money. I love their music and stories at this level. They are very well done and the DVDs feel very wholesome and positive, without being overtly obnoxious (I can see how some adults might think this is obnoxious but just compare it to the other content on YouTube, and I think you can agree with me that it is not as offensive or dumbed down as other kids’ programs.)
My kids sing the music from yoyo ban for years, so it’s definitely catchy.
I have noticed a decrease in the quality of materials: there is a lot more cardstock and punch board toys and games than there used to be, so be aware of that if you are looking at a friend’s older materials from previous years.
This year we are going big by doing two subscriptions (Obsessed a bit?). I subscribed my twins this year to kuaile ban. We have this level from 3 years ago, however, I have played the audio tracks over and over for the last three years and we “read” the books that come with a reading pen over and over. I wanted new content and hopefully will get it in this year’s lineup.
We plan to do preschool at home and part of our “curriculum” is Qiaohu.
This level has some safety topics which feel really unnecessary and overcautious, like “Don’t push the shopping cart. You may run into people.” “Don’t run indoors. You might slip.” “Don’t take in large bites of food. You might choke.” In America, we have kid sized carts at Trader Joe’s and most kids are allowed to run inside within certain limits. And shouldn’t kids know by experience they will choke on large amounts of food without us telling them? We allow them to run and push carts, but just teach them the proper way to do these activities first. Safety is emphasized, sometimes over-emphasized. But I understand why it’s emphasized in Taiwanese big-city culture with more dangers.
I feel like 巧虎 really shines in 成長版 and becomes significantly more academic than previous levels.
There is still some EQ topics (“emotional IQ” is what they term it) teaching social skills but they are not as childish about it as lower levels; they use short stories that teach a lesson.
I love that the 2019-20 subscription still covers natural science topics, as well as a separate smaller workbook that has math sense and reasoning skills presented in engaging ways (topics such as counting on, dividing, symmetry, 3D shapes, telling time) are briefly introduced for all 12 months.
I believe their math topics to be more advanced than most K programs in the US and really helped my son to be above grade level in math, not to mention the added bonus of learning math terms in Mandarin Chinese.
They also break down zhuyin into groupings and teach them as a set of 3 or 4.
This level uses a “Little Prince” reading pen that reads sections of the workbook on natural science. September 2019 talked about dinosaurs. It also uses small posters on laminated paper to teach zhuyin and also teach a series of Tang dynasty poems using song. The songs for zhuyin and the Tang poems are actually very catchy. At this level, kids receive are fun and entertaining but educational materials and less toys.
For 2018-19 I saw a lot of games put into this level of Qiaohu, and it looks like for this coming year, there is lots of new content and manipulatives meant to teach puzzles or symmetry. There are reasoning skills building on what they learned in chengzhangban; graphs and reading graphs are introduced. This was a fantastic supplemental tool to use during my oldest’s kindergarten year of homeschool. This approach to math is fun and engaging yet completely effective. Math is definitely my son’s strong point and being able to teach him math concepts in his dominant language (Mandarin Chinese) was a great help to him achieving academic success.
My oldest is moving on to 小一生, the first level without Qiaohu and company characters but they did transition my son to the new program starting in xuexiban. At this level they start to use comic book format in some of the workbooks. They introduce new characters. There are also a lot of story books, but my son cannot read them on his own yet. I will post a review when we have used this level more.
A little background on how we use it:
Our kids’ dominant language (at age 6, 3, 3) is Mandarin, so Qiaohu materials are well-loved because they like the characters and understand the 80-90% of the content. The content is meant for native speakers, not for kids just starting to learn Chinese as a second language. Kids will already need a working knowledge of Chinese to use Qiaohu.
It is really difficult to find quality Chinese academic materials in the US, but the Qiaohu subscription makes it really easy to have a continual flow of reading and viewing materials in Chinese. Having researched books and learning materials for Chinese for years for my homeschool, I know there are a lot of poorly illustrated or silly/immature content out of publishers in Taiwan; however, Qiaohu is the exception. Yes, compared to American TV, it feels more “childish” and I have had a few moms tell me their kids are bored with the YouTube videos of Qiaohu. I think this is a commentary on the fact that our kids here in America are overstimulated so they get bored easily. I believe many are losing their childhood innocence too quickly and have lost a true love of learning and play.
Qiaohu is one of the few shows on TV my kids are allowed to watch; we do not regularly give them screen time and we use it as a homeschool supplement, to strengthen their listening and reading comprehension in Chinese as well as learn about fun subjects in math and science. Whenever they get some Qiaohu time, they are really happy because they regard it as a treat.
Remember each year is slightly different but the lower levels mostly stay the same in content; topics are generally the same, the toys and presentation of those topics changes slightly. The above schedules are for 2019-2020.
The yearly subscription rate is $345. The six month rate is $188.
If the information has been helpful, please consider adding me as a referral when you order. Here is the website. The order form is here. If you have additional questions, please contact their office phone number 714-888-5190. Both Nicole and Joyce are extremely helpful.
My referral ID is 2600018310 and my name is on the account (Kyleen Gene). Referrers get a small Qiaohu toy; my kids would love it so much. Thank you!