A simple & straightforward way to teach hiragana to toddlers! Repetition really is a great teaching tool!
video by babylionmovie on YouTube
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!
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.
Wow, I can’t believe I haven’t posted in a month! Blogging has been taking a back seat to other priorities for now. I know I have received a lot of emails that I haven’t replied to… I am so sorry :(. The older I get, the more I am learning it’s ok to say “no” to some things in life so I can be a peaceful, happy mommy and be able to devote quality time to myself and my family. Some things our family has been up to: back-to-school (kindergarten and preschool!) for my kids, new after school activities, apple-picking, costume-making, jury duty, birthdays, Zumba, business trips, and of course, learning Japanese ;).
I am planning to blog about Undoukai (Sports Day at Japanese School), how to make your own training chopsticks, reading-aloud to your kids, good Japanese books we’ve read recently, traditional Japanese games, etc, so keep checking back. In the meanwhile, check out my past posts about Japan-inspired Halloween costume ideas and How Halloween is celebrated in Japan.
I’ll also leave you with these Shimajiro videos I watched with my son this morning. The theme of these videos is greetings/あいさつ… something my kids need to work on. These videos are perfect for toddlers and preschoolers!
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!
Oh how I love the internet! I am always discovering wonderful new resources for teaching my children Japanese.
The website I want to share with you today is called “キッズステップ” (Kids Step). This website is full of free printable worksheets for ages 2-6. The activities are grouped by age or skill level and include things such as mazes, dot-to-dots, numbers, hiragana, katakana, and simple arithmetic to prepare your kids for school. The illustrations are simple and beautiful. The website is very well-designed. I encourage you to visit, print, and start one of these worksheets with your children today!
Screenshot from kids-step.com
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!
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).
Instead of crowns, you could create bracelets, necklaces, or garlands to decorate a tea party. There are so many possibilities!
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!
This giveaway is now closed. Winners were announced in THIS POST.
I have a wonderful Japanese-learning app to share with you today. We recently downloaded the “LinguPinguin English/Japanese” app by Elevision Film on our iTouch and my kids have been loving it! It is easy enough for my 2-year old and interesting enough for my almost 5-year old to play with too. It is like an interactive English-Japanese dictionary for children. You choose a topic, such as “Animals”, then when you click on a picture of an elephant, it will say “Elephant” if you are in English mode, or “ぞう” if you are in Japanese mode. The animations are really cute! After children have learned the words, there is a quiz they can take. Here are some screenshots:
Click HERE to watch a video of the app in action. There are many different versions of the app available (Japanese, French, Chinese, etc) : Click HERE to visit the Lingu Pinguin website and see all the different languages available and read more about this app.
At just $1.99, I think it is a GREAT deal for a quality app. You will definitely get your money’s worth.
We all love FREE though, right? So Lingu Pinguin has generously offered to give away two promo codes for the Lingu Pinguin app! Yay! To enter the giveaway, simply comment on this blog post sharing why you or your children want to learn Japanese. Then come back Wednesday morning, February 27, to see if you won! Promo codes will be emailed to the winners. (App is for iPhones, iPads, and iTouch).
Have a great week, everyone! またね！
Our current favorite Japanese YouTube Channel is “動く絵本・童話童謡のゆめあるチャンネル“. (Translation: Animated Picture Books/Children’s Songs Full of Dreams Channel). There are dozens of wonderful and classic Japanese songs and stories made into quality animated videos. Check it out! Those of you with young toddlers or preschool-age children will especially love it! You may also want to check out their website, and free iPad/iPhone app.
Here are some videos by Yumegaarunara (some videos are in English):
PS Valentine’s Day is in 2 days! You can read my past posts about Japan-inspired Valentine’s Day activities HERE.