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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.

eto-horse

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.

d9

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 ! :)

Hinamatsuri Activities Roundup!

20 Feb
HinaPoster.jpg

Hinamatsuri poster. Hina dolls illustration from fumira.jp.

Hinamatsuri (ひなまつり), or Girls Day, is just around the corner (it is always on March 3rd!). We can’t afford a nice Hina Ningyou/Dolls set (nor do we have room for one), so I designed and printed up an 8×10″ poster to display in our living room to remind us of this Japanese holiday. I just googled “free Hinamatsuri image”, then added text to  my favorite image using Picmonkey.com to create my poster. You could also do the same thing using Photoshop.

I’ve blogged about Hinamatsuri activities to do with your children many times in the past. Click HERE for all my past posts about Hinamatsuri/Girls Day.

I’ve also been pinning cute Hinamatsuri ideas on Pinterest. Click HERE to view my Hinamatsuri Pinterest page!

hinapin

I hope those links will help get you prepared to celebrate this popular holiday. What will you be doing to celebrate?

じゅうにし: Jyuunishi, the Japanese Zodiac Animals

15 Jan

あけましておめでとうございます!How did you spend your New Years? My children and I ate mochi, played karuta, and watched a little bit of 紅白歌合戦 (Kouhaku Uta Gassen).

One of my daughter’s first homework assignments from Japanese School this year is to complete a worksheet about the 十二支/じゅうにし(Jyuunishi). This is something that I’ve never thought to teach her and something I don’t know too  much about either. So of course I used the internet to look for the best resources to teach my daughter about the Jyuunishi.

I think I will begin by showing her a video of the story behind the jyuunishi animals. Here are a few of the best ones on YouTube (I love the 日本むかし話/Nihon Mukashi Banashi series!):

I also downloaded the story of the Jyuunishi on my iTouch for 99 cents via the “Koehon” app (for iPhone and iPad). If you don’t already have this app, I highly recommend it! The app itself is free. Once you download the app, you will have access to 250+ picture books, most of them Japanese!! This is a pretty huge deal, if you ask me, since paper copies of Japanese children’s books are not readily available in the U.S. Most of the stories are only 99 cents. You can either read the text yourself or listen to a pre-recording. Visit the official Japanese Koehon website HERE. (BTW, there are LOTS of NEW, great Japanese apps for kids now. I will do a separate post on those later.)

If you don’t have an iPod/iPad, you can visit Xuite’s website to listen to the story of the jyunishi (in Japanese) then print off the provided worksheet to complete.

Here’s another video to help you remember the order of the animals:

Then I will help my kids figure out what animal year they were born in, and read to them their “personality traits”. You can find those HERE and HERE (this website has a fun animal-matching flash game at the bottom).

Then, I will teach them that 2013 is the year of the SNAKE(へび). We might color one of the snake coloring pages by  happylilac.net. My daughter made paper plate snakes (instructions HERE at “Crafts and Art for Children) at Japanese School.

If you have any other ideas, please share!

 

(You can read more about Jyuunishi on Wikipedia, HERE. It is basically the same thing as the Chinese Zodiac Calendar).

り:りゅう/ Dragon

19 Dec

2012 is going to be the year of the dragon/りゅう!

Click HERE for a coloring page and HERE for a “How to Draw Your Own Dragon” printable !

from bluetadpolestudio.com

ぬ:ぬりえ (Coloring)

14 Nov

ぬりえ translates to “coloring pictures”, or coloring books/pages. As a young girl, I LOVED to color. I especially loved coloring books from Japan (the paper quality was higher so the color went on more smoothly). I always requested coloring books and colored pencils from Japan. Here are my favorite Japanese websites for finding printable coloring pages. They are awesome! (If you want more options, click on “Coloring Pages” under the “Categories” button to the right). Enjoy!

1) ぬりえやさん

2) ぬりえ大好き!

3) ぬりえランド

4) アオイロチョウジン

に:にんじゃ

20 Oct

に is for にんじん (carrot)、にじ (rainbow)、and にんじゃ(ninja)!

onigiri ninja's by Jo of A Bit of This and a Bit of That

What do you know about ninja’s? Me? Not much. I think they wear black outfits that only show their eyes, throw shuriken’s, and sneak around at night. I read about ninja’s on Wikipedia, and it seems that the ninja’s that the world knows is mostly based on folklore.

Folklore or not, kids LOVE ninja’s! Okaasan to issho /おかあさんといっしょ (a popular children’s program) has some really fun songs about ninja’s. Unfortunately, NHK us super-strict about their copyright laws so I can’t show you the original on my blog. You can watch some super-adorable kids dancing to ”しゅりけんにんじゃ” though:

HERE are the lyrics. The other ninja song on おかあさんといっしょ is ”しのびあし”. If you search for it on YouTube, you might get lucky and see how fun it is! My daughter and I love to sneak around the house with “Shinobiashi (Quiet Ninja Feet)”.

This summer, a movie about little ninja’s called Nintama Rantaro came out. Did any of you watch it? It is based off of this cartoon. Here’s the trailer:


I would love to watch it! I wonder if it will become available for viewing in the U.S?

Here are some ninja activities you can do at home:

1. Make an origami ninja.

2. Make a shuriken (that’s the pointy stars that ninja’s throw) out of origami. Watch a how-to video HERE.

3. Play a ninja game online.

***

Is anyone’s kid going to be a ninja for Halloween?

Halloween in Japan

10 Oct

What are you/your kids going to be for Halloween/ハロウィン this year? My daughter is going to be a candy corn witch and my son is going to be a doggie. We are going to celebrate with some Halloween parties, a Trunk-or-Treat, a Chili Cook-Off, and of course, lots of candy!

How is Halloween celebrated in Japan? According to All About, the Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Halloween in Japan is:

1. Dress up in a costume

2. Host a party at home

3. Go get candy

4. Participate in a Halloween event

5. Decorate with Halloween goods

6. Eat foods made with pumpkin

7. Make a jack-o-lantern

8. Exchange gifts

9. Play at a park

10. Dress in Halloween-ish clothes

Check out my Halloween Post from last year for some other ways to celebrate Halloween Japanese-style (like Halloween origami).

Here are some new activities I found for 2011:

1. Learn all about ghosts and monsters in Japan at Bake Bake.

2. Halloween coloring pages at Nurieyasan.

3. Jack-o-Lantern maze at Nifty Kids.

***

How do you celebrate Halloween where you live? Have you ever celebrated this holiday in Japan?

Happy Tanabata!

7 Jul

from misaki.rdy.jpDid you make decorations for Tanabata? If not, make sure to check out my Tanabata Post for lots of crafts and activities.

Here are some new activities I found:

Tanabata coloring page from nurie.rdy.jp.

Printable Tanabata decor from Canon Creative Park.

More tanabata printables by KF Studio (scroll to the middle).

And if you want to see some gorgeous photos of Tanabata, visit the blogs Hello Sandwich and Omiyage Blogs. Both great blogs!

My daughter and I used origami to make tanabata decorations yesterday. Now I’m off to make some mochi to celebrate!

た:たこ Octopus and Kite

24 Jun

This is me about 7 years ago, in Aomori. My uncle caught and dried these octopuses (octopi?).

Did you know that “tako(たこ)” in Japanese means both “octopus” AND “kite”?

Octopus coloring pages HERE and HERE.

Japanese kite coloring page HERE.

HERE are instructions for a very simple kite you can make with your children.

If you are REALLY ambitious and crafty, you can try making a “real” kite by following the instructions HERE (by Windlove.net).

Here’s what a Kite Festival(たこあげたいかい) looks like in Japan:

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