Today I have another great website for you to check out: おべんきょう.com! It has great printable worksheets to practice writing hiragana and katakana, numbers, telling time, etc! It also has printable flashcards and hiragana/katakana charts. I thought it was really clever of them to use hiragana as their web address :)
Oh.My.Goodness! This is one of the BEST hiragana-learning websites for children I have ever seen!!!
This hiragana-learning website, Aiuebu/あいうえぶ (by S5-Style) has been designed for children ages 3 and up. The purpose of the site is to provide children with a fun and cute way to practice reading and writing their hiragana. I have to say… it sure is cute! I think it would only be better if it would pronounce each kana and word for you when you click on it. It looks like they are adding more words daily.
“あそびうた”, Asobi Uta, means songs that you can “play” with, meaning there are actions that go along with the words. Many Japanese children learn these songs at their preschools. My two kids really enjoy these songs and it is a great time-filler activity when they’re waiting for dinner, standing in line, etc.
A company called HiHiRecords has made some wonderful Asobi-uta videos. If you don’t already know these songs, I encourage you to learn them with your children!
I just discovered two fun YouTube channels (users takanonGB and takanonDC) full of Japanese children’s songs (どうよう)… perfect for karaoke! Each song has the lyrics in hiragana/katakana. These videos are perfect for my preschooler who is just starting to be able to read words in hiragana. My children and I have been singing along all morning. Here are some of our favorites:
Jungle Pocket ジャングルポッケット:
Bun Bun Bun Hachi Ga Tobu ブンブンブンはちがとぶ:
Do Re Mi no Uta ドレミのうた:
Lots more Japanese videos scheduled to be posted soon, so check back every day this week for something fun and educational to watch with your kids. I also have a lot of other fun things to post about… answering questions from readers, more from our trip to Japan, summer holidays, etc! I just hope I will have time to write about it all :)
Here’s another great Kodomo Challenge video starring Shimajiro :) This episode has Japanese greetings, food, colors, vehicles, songs, and more. Enjoy!
Click on the “YouTube Videos” category under “Topics” to see more Japanese children’s videos.
While we were in the Yokohama area, we spent a morning at the Anpanman Children’s Museum. To say that my kids enjoyed this place would be an understatement. They could have spent days here! It is the perfect place to go if you have a toddler/preschooler.
Admission was 1000 yen per person (about $11?), including kids. The admission gets you into the museum. If you just want to shop/eat there, it is free. (Warning: The food and products there are expensive. 5000 yen for a child’s T-shirt? No thanks!)
There were a lot of cute photo-ops everywhere! I’m not including my cutest pictures on this blog though, because I’m not comfortable sharing too many photos of my kids with the world :).
Unlike Disneyland, we didn’t have to wait in line forever to get a picture with a character. We got to give high-5′s to Melon Panna-chan, Anpanman, and Baikinman! I would give yourself at least 2 hours to explore the Anpanman Children’s Museum. It would be a great place to go on a rainy day (but it’s about a 15 minute walk from the train station).
Have you been to the Anpanman Museum? Do your kids love Anpanman as much as my kids do? My son loves it so much I am throwing him an Anpanman-themed birthday party in a few weeks.
My sweet 4-year old has graduated from Japanese shows like Inai Inai Baa/いないいないば〜 and Okaasantoissho/おかあさんといっしょ (cry!). She’ll tolerate Anpanman/アンパンマン. Most recently (due to influences from friends at Japanese school), she is really into the Pretty Cure/プリキュア series. Have you heard of the show? If not, check out the info on Wikipedia. (Official websites here and here). It is all the rage among Japanese preschoolers!
As her mother, I am not sure what to think of this show. The problems I have with Pretty Cure are:
1) It’s not very educational. Sure, watching the show might help improve my daughter’s Japanese a little bit, but they also often use made-up words and spend a lot of time transforming.
2) The girls don’t dress very modestly (short short skirts, bare midriffs, etc). Plus, I don’t really want my daughter idolizing “14-year old” girls who don’t represent reality at all (huge sparkly eyes, super-skinny, colored hair, etc.). Why are the main characters of a show geared toward really young girls teenagers, anyway? **I noticed that in the most recent season, Smile Precure, all the girls are wearing shorts under their short skirts and there’s no bare midriffs. I wonder if a lot of parents complained about the outfits from the past few seasons (in the very beginning, they wore shorts as well)? It’s a good change!**
3) The show is a huge marketing tool (like the Disney Princesses). It is obvious they are using the show to sell their products.
4) I know people obsessed with anime/Japanese girls watch shows like these and the thought grosses me out.
Those things being said, I don’t think watching the show occasionally is going to ruin my daughter. I think it does teach things like the importance of being a good friend, and to not give up. I read a few manga series as a young girl myself (like Sailor Moon and RayEarth) and I turned out fine (haha). One of my motherhood/life mantras is “all things in moderation”, and I think that may apply in this situation as well. I’m fine with her watching Smile PreCure with friends but I’m not going to give in to her obsession and let her watch it every day.
The show has actually given me opportunities to teach my young girl about reality vs fantasy. Just the other day, she looked at me with big eyes and said, “Mom, are my eyes sparkly, like the PreCure girls?” and “I wish my hair was a different color.” I told her that she is beautiful the way she is, and that the characters on PreCure are not real. It is impossible to look like them. I need to talk to her about the importance of dressing modestly too, soon.
We need to tell our daughters that they are beautiful, every day (same goes for sons). Even at this young age, the “world”‘s influence on them is so powerful. We need to tell them they are beautiful, powerful, intelligent, and can be happy and successful in this life without superpowers and sparkly eyes :).
Do you have any thoughts? Do you let your kids watch/read anime, like Pokemon or Pretty Cure?
Here’s the “Group Transformation Scene” from Smile PreCure. Can you see why little girls love it? :) It is pretty entertaining.
P.S. One of my blog-friends is having a giveaway at her blog, Little Japan Mama! Hurry over and enter!
This Saturday, my daughter finishes her first year of Japanese School. She has two more years of preschool, then will be in the first grade. When I look back at what my daughter was like one year ago, I can’t believe how much she has grown! Sending her to Japanese School has been one of the best decisions we have made.
This video is for those of you sending your child to Japanese School for the first time. It is bittersweet to see them grow up!
Are you going to be flying with your preschooler in the near future? So am I, and I’m actually excited for it! My 4-year old has been looking forward to this trip to Japan for weeks. She’s big enough to sit in her own seat and not squirm out of her seat belt, old enough to be entertained with books and in-flight entertainment, doesn’t need help eating her food, and knows not to kick the seat in front of her. Awesome. BUT a 17-hour flight will still feel like an eternity, even for an eager 4-year old. Here are my ideas for busting boredom on the plane:
ACTIVITIES THAT DON’T REQUIRE YOU TO PACK ANYTHING EXTRA:
1. Fingerplays and hand-games, like “Paper-Rock-Scissors”, Niramekko (にらめっこ), Patty-cake, etc.
2. Let her use your digital camera to take silly pictures of herself (then pass it to their sibling for entertainment).
3. Do some stretching exercises together every hour.
4. Play “I Spy” with the in-flight magazine, or items in the plane.
5. Download educational apps/movies on your iPod/phone for her to watch.
6. Watch in-flight entertainment.
1. Bring a piece of yarn and teach her how to play cat’s cradle, learn how to braid, or make a bracelet/necklace.
2. Fold origami (print some instructions at origami-club).
4. Sticker books (I love the Sticker Dolly series).
5. Preschool workbooks. On a 2-hour long flight we had recently, one workbook occupied her for the entire flight! If you search for “printable worksheets” on this website, you will find lots of links to sites that have free Japanese worksheets for kids.
6. Doodle with crayons on plain paper (endless possibilities: self-portrait, tic-tac-toe, make a maze for her to complete, etc)
7. Bring a roll of masking tape to make body art, artwork on paper, make a paper chain, etc.
8. Read a new children’s book or magazine together. Make sure to read it several times to get the most use out of it.
9. Make paper bag puppets (I love these). You could even use the barf bag.
10. Scratch pads are fun (Target has them in their party section for a dollar).
11. Bring a paint-with-water book and some q-tips to use as brushes. (I found some in the dollar section at Michaels)
12. Coloring books.
13. Make her a photo book with pictures of the people you will see on your trip, and help her learn their names.
14. Be creative with pipe cleaners: make animals, eye glasses, letters, etc.
15. Bring a deck of cards and play “Memory”.
1. Lollipops, starbursts, juice, or fruit snacks for the take-off and landing to help with ouchy ears. (I DO NOT recommend lollipops for kids younger than 3! Big sticky mess!)
2. Granola bars (I like the Cliff bars for kids)
3. Dried fruit
5. Animal crackers
OTHER THINGS TO BRING ON BOARD FOR A PRESCHOOLER:
1. A comfort item (stuffed animal or blanket), especially on a long flight
2. Spill-proof cup for drinks
3. Waterproof bib
4. Neck pillow (I have a tutorial here)
5. A change of clothes (and make sure to dress in layers)
6. Kid-size headphones (if they are not provided by the airline)
7. Wet wipes
Do you have any other tips for preschoolers? What have your experiences been like? If you have a toddler, be sure to check out my International Flights with Toddlers post for more ideas!