We are still celebrating the 100th Day of School over here :) My daughter dressed up like a 100-year old grandma at school yesterday… it was so cute!
I found it ironic and perfectly fitting that my daughter came home from Japanese School last Saturday with this book:
image from kaiseisha.co.jp
The book is titled “100かいだてのいえ(The 100-Story House)” by いわいとしお (Toshio Iwai). This is actually the 3rd time my daughter has borrowed this book from the library. My kids just love it. The illustrations are charming and the story is quite magical. Another book in this series is “ちか１００かいだてのいえ(Basement 100-Story House)”. Click the links to preview a few pages! I would recommend it for preschool through elementary school children.
image from kaikeisha.co.jp
Also at Japanese School last Saturday, there was a special meeting for parents where a Japanese expert on Read-Alouds came to demonstrate how to read children’s books out loud to children. This meeting was very inspirational for me, and I made it a goal to do a better job reading to my kids. I want to use a more animated voice, not be afraid to read more slowly and pause between sentences, and take the time to go back and forth between the pages and discuss the book with my children.
image from amazon.co.jp
Anyway, one of the books she read out loud to us was “１００万回生きたねこ(The Cat Who Lived a Million Times)”by佐野洋子. This book was a longer picture book but it was beautiful. The recommended age for this book is elementary-school through adults. I think the older you are, the better you’ll be able to appreciate the depth of this story. (I don’t think my kids could sit through this book. But I really enjoyed it!). It looks like this book is also being made into a documentary, due out the end of this year.
Here is a video of buffalo.voice reading this book out loud:
Want to work on counting to 100 with your kids? Here is a printable worksheet from Happy Lilac.
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.
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!
With my daughter starting first grade (一年生) at her Japanese Language School soon, I have been looking into how to best prepare her for the more challenging studies ahead. I will be sharing all the great resources I have found for first-graders with you on this blog!
In the meanwhile, I wanted to know if any of you have heard of or are planning to try the brand-new “Challenge Touch/チャレンジタッチ” program by Benesse? They are the company that does the Kodomo Challenge/Shimajiro programs. In the past, they have offered monthly subscriptions for their learning packets which have included books, DVDs, and educational toys. Beginning in April 2014, they are rolling out a new program for elementary aged children where all of those materials are being replaced by a tablet. Each month, new material will be downloaded onto the tablet. Children use the touch pen to learn and practice kokugo (hiragana, katakana, kanji, etc), math, English, etc. Here are some videos to show you what it’s like.
For lower elementary grades:
For upper elementary grades:
See more sample videos here.
I am SUPER interested and hope this will be available to those of us living overseas. I am getting to the point where I feel like I’ve taught my daughter almost all the Japanese words that I know and she is starting to fall behind her native-Japanese friends at school. We can use all the help that we can get. I plan to send Bennesse an email and will let you know what I find out.
When you were a child, did your parents ever ask you to run an errand (おつかい) for them on your own? I vividly remember going to the department store in Tokyo to buy some bread, all by myself… and I was only 4 years old! I felt like such a big girl! I even walked to my piano lessons by myself at that age. If you’ve ever visited Japan, you know that even today, young children take the train to school by themselves.
In this day in age in America, not only would this seem unimaginable, but downright dangerous to send a preschooler out by themselves. I don’t even let my kids play in our yard without me out there with them. (Oh how it would be nice to go back to the “good old days!”).
Anyway, “Hajimete no otsukai”, or “My first time running an errand by myself” is a pretty big milestone to some families in Japan. I recently found out that there is a TV show called “Hajimete No Otsukai/はじめてのおつかい“… the show has been around for over 20 years! TV Japan aired one of their specials recently and my kids were GLUED to the show! My kids must have been thinking, “What? A kid like me going shopping all by themselves? That is crazy!”. It was an adorable show! Here’s one of the older episodes found on YouTube:
You can watch an entire 3-hour long special HERE.
One of my favorite Japanese children’s books is also called “Hajimete No Otsukai“. I think the book might have inspired the TV show.
I’d love to know about your “first otsukai” experience, if the country you live in is safe enough for kids to run errands by themselves, or any other thoughts you may have! :)
Today I want to share with you an adorable Japanese music duo that creates music to get kids and parents moving! They are called Keropon’s (ケロポンズ), and here’s their group’s description from their website:
(My rough translation: “Creating music, play, dance, and everything else that children and parents can enjoy together– it’s so fun it’s out-of-this-world!”).
Here’s one of their music videos, called エブカニクス(Shrimp-Crab-Exercise):
Click HERE to browse more of their fun music videos.
See how a Japanese Preschool in Los Angeles (Suika Preschool) used this song in their classroom:
I’m going to try some of these songs with my kids today!
Here is a list of great printable kanji practice sheets! On all of these sites, the kanji are divided by grade level. Master the First Grade (一年生) kanji, then go to the next level. Please leave a comment if you know of any other great websites or resources for learning kanji.
1. Happy Lilac
Happy Lilac also has other great printables for elementary-aged children HERE.
2. 子育て、ことば育て (Kotoba.littlestar.jp)
(This website might be by the same people who made the Happy Lilac website… they look very similar)
This website doesn’t have printables, but has great interactive games for reviewing kanji
Hiragana Practice Sheets
Katakana Practice Sheets
It has been a few months since we signed up for TV Japan (cable TV channel). It has been worth the investment for us. I do wish there were more shows available for school-aged children (most of the kids’ shows are geared toward toddlers) but I feel that replacing most of our TV time with Japanese instead of English shows has helped my children speak more Japanese at home. My kids’ (ages 3 and 5) favorite shows are Pitagora Switch, Design Ah, and Kid’s Discovery.
image by NTV
Our newest obsession is a show called Shimura Zoo (天才！志村どうぶつ園）by Nippon Television Network. It is a great show for all ages! The show is about celebrities taking care of adorable baby animals. I like that there’s lots of subtitles so we can practice reading Japanese too :). A lot of the episodes are available on YouTube for those of you who are not subscribed to TV Japan.
The only downside of this show is that my children now beg me to buy a pet every day…
In just a year from now, my daughter will begin learning kanji at Japanese School. In the first grade (6 years old), students typically learn to read and write 80 kanji characters. I am going to begin working on creating a “Kanji Practice Sheets” page, similar to my “Hiragana Practice Sheets” and “Katana Resources” pages. Do you know any GREAT websites for learning kanji? If so, please let me know so I can include them on the list.
In the meanwhile, here are some YouTube videos about leaning kanji that are geared toward children:
“部首のうた” by Jun Egusa
漢字アニメ「森」by 吉野 登志也 (more videos here)
P.S. THANK YOU so much to everyone who has “liked” the Hiragana Mama facebook page! –>
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!
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.
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.
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!
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”.