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100th Day of School, Japanese-Style

18 Feb

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Many kindergarten classes in the United States celebrate the 100th Day of School. My daughter’s class was no exception. For homework, we were asked to make a project out of 100 things. We tossed around a few ideas and of course, my daughter wanted to try the most time-consuming idea, haha. We decided to fold 100 origami cranes!! It took a lot of patience over several days, but we are happy with the finished product. Needless to say, my daughter is now an expert at folding cranes.

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Did your children do anything for their 100th day of school? If you have to complete a similar project in the future, I encourage you to infuse some Japanese culture into your project! You could make 100 shuriken’s (ninja stars), write the numbers 1-100 in Japanese, etc. Stand out from the crowd and be unique!

A video about how to count to 100 in Japanese by JapanSocietyNYC!

2014 Year of the Horse Activities

6 Feb
final yearof the horse

illustration by Agata Plank

I realize it’s already February, but あけましておめでとうございます (Happy New Year)!Thank you so much for following my blog. 2014 is the year of the horse. (Read more about the Japanese zodiac animals on this post).

Many thanks to Polish illustrator Agata Plank for creating the beautiful illustration above for Hiragana Mama. See more of her work at: http://agataplank.blogspot.co.uk/

If you were born in the year of the horse, here are some of your character traits (according to Japanese.about.com):

Horse (uma)

Born 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966, 1954, 1942, 1930, 1918, 1906. People born in the year of the Horse are skillful in paying compliments and talk too much. They are skillful with money and handle finances well. They are quick thinkers, wise and talented. Horse people anger easily and are very impatient.

Here are some activities you can do with your children to celebrate the year of the horse.

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image from papermodel.jp

1) Horse Paper Crafts here, here, here, and here.

2) Horse coloring page here.

3) Lean how to draw a horse here.

4) Horse (and other animals) matching game here.

5) A hundred other horse-related crafts on Pinterest, here.

Did you do anything with your children to celebrate the new year?

Japanese Kids Websites: Kids Club and Online Books

19 Dec

image from 2kids-club.com

The makers of the popular website Origami-Club have a newish sister site called “Kids Club” that’s worth checking out. It has printable mazes, coloring pages, and instructions for kirigami, ayatori, etc. You can view the site in Japanese or English.

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They also have a wonderful site called E-Douwa (Douwa means “children’s stories”) where you can read many children’s books, in Japanese, online! This is a great resource if you are having a hard time finding Japanese books to read. There are Japanese folktales, Aesop’s Tales, stories from the brothers Grimm, etc.

image from e-douwa.com

image from e-douwa.com

 

PS I hope you and your loved ones have a very happy holidays!! Search my blog for  “Christmas“, “New Years“, etc for Japan-related activities ! :)

Japanese School Fun Fair

18 Dec

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Every year, the Japanese School we attend hosts a “Fun Fair” for its students and surrounding community. At this event, children travel around to different stations to play games, make crafts, wear kimonos, and participate in many other activities to help them better understand the Japanese culture.

Like all the other activities at Japanese School, this event is run by parent volunteers. Something I love about Japanese culture is how efficiently everyone works together. As I helped put up decorations for this event, I looked around and marveled at how hard and cooperatively everyone was working to pull this off for our kids. I didn’t see anyone sitting around or trying to get away with doing as little as possible.

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Some of the stations were:

1) Japanese calligraphy (しゅうじ)

2) Origami (おりがみ)

3) Paper-airplane making (かみひこうき)

4) Beanbag-toss

5) Yo-yo-scooping (ヨーヨーつり)

6) Super-ball scooping (スーパーボールすくい)

7) Tea Ceremony

8) Wear traditional kimonos/yukatas

9) Kendama (けんだま)

10) Hane-tsuki (はねつき)

11) Kendo (けんどう)

12) Karuta (カルタ)

13) Fukuwarai (ふくわらい)

14) Spinning tops (こままわし)

15) Used (Japanese) books sale

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Does the Japanese School near you host events like this?

DIY Training Chopsticks (トレーニングはし)

10 Oct

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Recently, we took the kids to a Japanese restaurant, where they ordered a bowl of ramen. I was delighted when the waitress brought them some training chopsticks. As I studied the chopsticks, I realized it is super easy to make yourself! It took me a few tries to get the tension just right, but it WAS really easy. So the next time you go out to eat at an Asian restaurant, just take along a rubberband (or hair tie) and you are ready to make your own training chopsticks in just a few minutes!

I made you a short video so you can see exactly how it’s done:

After I published my video, I saw that a few others have made similar videos. You can watch them all to see which technique works best for you ;)

Please share with your friends who have children, or adults who have yet to master the art of using chopsticks!

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P.S. Eating Japanese food with a fork is silly. Learn to use chopsticks! (past post about training chopsticks here)

Click HERE and scroll down to see how to use real chopsticks.

Happy Tanabata! 2013

7 Jul

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I’ll be honest, Tanabata usually takes a back seat to the 4th of July at our house. By the time we celebrate Independence Day by going to the beach, BBQ’s, and late-night fireworks, I don’t even want to think about celebrating another holiday 3 days later. How about you? How do you celebrate Tanabata?

So I was very grateful when my daughter made some Tanabata decorations at Japanese School yesterday.

 

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My daughter’s Tanabata wish: “にじがみたい” (I want to see a rainbow).

 

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Take a moment today to make a tanabata wish!

Search my site for “Tanabata” for more on this Japanese summer holiday!

Rainbow Origami Slinky!

13 May

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I’ve made a lot of things out of origami in my lifetime, but I have never made something as fun as this! I was inspired by Kozue (of Kozue’s Show and Tell) to make a slinky out of origami paper (折り紙スリンキー). You guys, it is seriously so cool!

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The instructions for this slinky are pretty simple (video at the end of this post). BUT you have to fold 50+ pieces of paper so it takes quite a bit of patience. It took me about 2 hours to complete my slinky (while watching a movie with the kids), and mine used 64 pieces of origami. My 5-year old daughter attempted to help me, but she did not have the patience to make more than one ;). This would be a great little project for a child in elementary school, or really, anyone for the matter. It would be the perfect activity for an airplane flight, or a great cure for summer boredom.

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One piece of advice I have is to tape all the pieces together as you go (using just a little bit of tape). If you’re going to put a lot of effort into something, you don’t want it to fall apart right away! My kids have been playing a little rough with this slinky so I am very glad I reinforced it with tape.

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Another thing: I actually didn’t use “real” origami paper. I used paper from a Memo Cube (mine is from Staples)! If you go this route, make sure the paper you get is not sticky on the backside. My daughter’s favorite color is “rainbow”, so she was thrilled with this slinky!

Sorry I went a bit overboard with the number of photos in this post… I had too much fun taking the pictures!

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Here is the how-to video by the creator of the origami slinky, Jo Nakashima!

What is the coolest thing you have ever made with origami?

P.S. “Slinky” in Japanese is “Slinky/スリンキー” or “Rainbow Spring/レインボースプリング”. 

Dandelion Crowns たんぽぽのかんむり

10 May

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Is anyone else’s neighborhood full of (pesky) dandelions (たんぽぽ)? Weeding is one of my least favorite things to do– so to be honest, I’m not very fond of dandelions. Many people in Japan, however, think dandelions are “cute”! My daughter loves them too, and always picks me a dandelion bouquet.

Last week, I decided to “make lemonade out of lemons” and turn these weeds into something pretty. My daughter and I collected the biggest dandelions in our yard and made flower crowns. It was a very fun bonding experience, and she LOVED her crown!

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I didn’t take step-by-step photos, but these are simple to make. First, make a small slit about an inch below a dandelion head using your fingernails. Then take a second dandelion and pull the stem through the first dandelion’s slit. Then make a slit in the second dandelion’s stem, and repeat until you have the desired length. We trimmed our dandelion stems so they were only about 2-3 inches long (if the stems are too long, the crown will look messy).

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Instead of crowns, you could create bracelets, necklaces, or garlands to decorate a tea party. There are so many possibilities!

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You can use other types of flowers to make these garlands too. If the stems are not very thick, you can follow the instructions on this Japanese website to tie them a different way. If you scroll down on the website, there are also instructions for making “twirlers” using dandelion stems. Simply take a dandelion stem and make several small slits around the top and bottom. Place the stem in water, and the slits will curl. You can then send it down a stream and watch it twirl away.

Have you been doing anything creative in nature with your children lately? Please share!

2013 Kodomo No Hi /こどもの日!

5 May

Happy Children’s Day! I know I am late getting this post up… sorry! I hope everyone had a wonderful day. I am so grateful for my own children who bring so much fun and love into my life, and for all the other children I know!

Today we invited some friends over for a special Okosama Lunch (lunch for children).

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This year’s Okosama lunch(お子様ランチ) featured shrimp fried rice, potato and beef croquettes/korokke, and purin for dessert.

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At Japanese School, they made kabuto hats out of newspaper:

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And lastly, I want to show off my awesome mom. She teaches at a Japanese preschool (wish she lived closer!) and always comes up with the best ideas for crafts. For Kodomo No Hi this year, she and the children made these paper bag koinobori. She said she just used brown paper bags from the grocery store. I want to try making these next year!

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For  more Japanese Children’s Day ideas, just search “Kodomo No Hi” in the search toolbar to the right! :) Lots more ideas on my Pinterest board as well. Thank you for reading!

2013 Koinobori Crafts

30 Apr

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This Sunday, May 5 is Boys Day/Childrens Day (Kodomo no Hi) in Japan.

Our family celebrates by:

- Displaying Koinobori (previous posts with more info HERE and HERE)

- Making a samurai hat out of newspaper (planning to post about that soon)

- Eating Okosama Lunch (previous lunch HERE. this year I plan on making fried rice, ebi-fry, korokke, and purin)

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Craft #1

Since we don’t have giant koinobori (こいのぼり) windsocks to display outdoors, I decided to make a small koinobori bunting (ガーランド) to display inside our house. I made one koi for each member of our family. This little banner reminds me how much I love my little family!

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To make your own, you will just need:

- felt

- googly eyes

- glue gun

- embroidery thread and needle

- glitter glue

- ribbon

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I don’t have a pattern… I just free-handed it. Cut out your koi shapes, glue on the eyes with a glue gun, add scales using glitter glue, and embroider if you desire and attach a ribbon for hanging. Easy! Took me less than 2 hours, not including drying time for the glue. I think mine would look better if I had rainbow colored string or ribbon to string my koinobori.

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There are so many cute koinobi garland ideas online! Here are a few that I thought were especially cute:

Origami Koi Garland from DekiruNavi (would work double-time for Cinco de Mayo too!)

- Another koinobori felt garland idea, found on Rakuten. I love the pom-poms!

- A super simple and colorful koinobori garland by maki maeda’s blog

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Craft #2

In my craft stash, I found pieces of chipboard I had purchased at a craft store (Michaels) for less than a dollar per pack awhile ago. They turned out to be the perfect shape for making koinobori! My daughter decorated hers using oil pastels.

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What crafts, food, or activities do you have up your sleeve for Kodomo No Hi (こどものひ)?  Please share (and send me photos)! Check back soon for more posts about Boys Day!

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