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Simple Hiragana Chant

25 Oct

A simple & straightforward way to teach hiragana to toddlers! Repetition really is a great teaching tool!

video by babylionmovie on YouTube

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.

Japanese Greetings/ あいさつ + An Update

4 Oct

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 ;).

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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!

Keropon’s! ケロポンズ/エビカニクス

14 Aug

keropons-pToday 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:

親子で楽しめる、笑いあり、歌あり、遊びあり、体操あり、ミュージックパネルあり、なんでもあり~のステージを全国各地でくりひろげ、その面白さは宇宙的!と評判。

(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!

“Kids Step” Website (キッズステップ)

7 Jun

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!

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Screenshot from kids-step.com

App GIVEAWAY: LinguPinguin Japanese!

25 Feb

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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:

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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!

ゆめがあるなら: Animated Picture Books and Songs

12 Feb

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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.

Adorable Nontan Videos

22 Jan

Here are some more Nontan videos for your little ones!! We all love げんきげんきノンタン at our house :)



Dino Lingo Japanese Review

29 Oct

Have you all heard of Dino Lingo (dinolingo.com)? I had seen it online and was curious about how effective the program is at teaching children Japanese, so I was thrilled when Dino Lingo contacted me and sent a free Japanese set to try out and review.

Here’s a brief description of the Dino Lingo program from their website:

  • Dino Lingo Japanese for Kids is an award-winning language teaching program pedagogically designed for small children.
  • This program consists of 5 DVDs, flash cards, posters, books and the parents guide.
  • After watching the DVDs several times and playing with the flash cards, most children can easily name everyday objects and understand basic phrases in Japanese.
  • Dino Lingo Japanese for Kids is suitable for all children between the ages of 2 to 7 years old.

My package arrived quickly and looked like this:

I received a set of 5 Japanese language learning DVD’s, plus some flashcards. Here’s what each DVD covers:

DVD 1 – Let’s Count: Numbers and colors / 35 min.
DVD 2 – Let’s Eat: Food, fruit and vegetables / 35 min.
DVD 3 – Let’s Play: Toys, house items, vehicles / 35 min.
DVD 4 – Let’s Jump: Verbs, actions and nature / 35 min.
DVD 5 – Let’s Learn: Family, body parts, and clothes / 35 min.
Daily conversations, greetings and animals are included in all five DVDs.

There are flashcards for numbers, colors, animals, body parts, etc. There are even more Japanese-learning products to choose from online such as workbooks and posters. My daughter, who knows most of her hiragana, got right to work reading all the words on the flashcards.

Of course, my children wanted to watch the DVD’s right away. My son was excited about all the dinosaurs and vehicles used in the show. They liked the first DVD enough to where we watched it twice in a row. I noticed my 2-year old son saying the Japanese words out loud the second time… so repetition works!

Here are some things I liked about the DVD’s:

- Lots of repetition which is great for younger learners

- I can tell a native Japanese speaker is saying the words

- Kept the kids’ attention

Some areas I thought could be improved upon were:

- The graphics/animations are not up to par with other children’s shows (don’t expect Disney quality)

- I thought there were some wasted minutes between segments with unrelated animations

Here’s a sample video of what the shows are like:

Overall, I am thankful to Dino Lingo for creating this program for teaching children basic Japanese. There really isn’t a lot of resources out there for teaching kids Japanese right now! This set is a great option for a family who wants to expose their children to other languages at a young age (Dino Lingo offers DVDs in MANY languages other than Japanese too). It might be wonderful for a family planning to host a student visiting from Japan, or a bilingual family who wants to expose their children to as much Japanese as possible. I think these DVD’s would also be great to show at a bilingual/immersion language school.

Simply watching these DVDs will not make your child fluent in Japanese (there’s not much conversation in the videos). It is more for building vocabulary. It may not be the  best option for families where the parents are native Japanese speakers (that would be like showing Dora the Explorer to a native Spanish-speaking family).

If you are interested in Dino Lingo, there is a Halloween special going on right now! Enter the code TREAT10 at checkout to receive 10% off your oder :) This deal expires on November 1st.

ありがとう、Dino Lingo!

Animal ABC Karuta for iPad (FREE for 2 days!)

17 Oct

Karuta is one of the most popular games in Japan. The game helps children learn their kana in a fun way.

A San Francisco-based illustrator from Tokyo, Yuki Yamagata, contacted me to let me know that she is releasing an Animal ABC Karuta game for the iPad. Since it is brand-new, the app is going to be free for download today and tomorrow (October 17-18, 2012)!! What a deal!

Here is a description of Animal ABC Karuta:

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ABC Karuta introduces a Japanese traditional card game to English learners!

~ABC Karuta arrives as an amazing animal alphabet app~

 

ABC Karuta is a fun way to learn English for kids and adults. Yuki Yamagata, a San Francisco based illustrator, created a series of beautiful “kawaii” animal illustrations for cards A to Z. The rules are simple; players listen to an alliterative phrase, and then pick the matching card. This app beautifully combines traditional Japanese games, Karuta, with whimsical English speaking animals, resulting in an imaginative and exciting new way to learn the English language. Try it now!

 

ABC Karuta start out by tapping Karuta dog to hear fun alliteration phrase: for example, Calico Cat Carries Chocolate Cookies, Mother Monkey Makes Millions of marshmallows and so on. Then a player finds the illustration cards matches the phrase they hear. Once you get the right cards, it’s going to be shown in their collection page! 

- ABC Karuta is available on iPad in the app store for $1.99, starting October 17, 2012. 

 http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/abckaruta/id554914746?ls=1&mt=8

- A Cute Collection of Cuddly Creature Cards Campaign!

Download ABC Karuta app for FREE! Two days only, Oct 17th and 18th, 2012.

- Best for ages 4-up.

 

Published by: Project KYUN at SmashBooth, Inc

Contact: abckarutainfo@gmail.com

Website: http://www.facebook.com/AbcKaruta

Yuki Yamagata (illustrator): http://www.yamagatayuki.com/

Karuta (Japanese card game): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karuta

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If you have an iPad, be sure to snatch up this cool game asap! I don’t own an iPad, but I plan to download it anyway just in case I get an iPad in the future (Santa, are you listening?). If you enjoy this game, please leave her some positive feedback.

Also, be sure to check out Yumi Yamagata’s personal website. Her illustrations are just beautiful.

Thanks Yuki! I hope you will come out with some Japanese-learning games in the future too :)

Be sure to visit Hiragana Mama often, or sign up for the email list (bottom of the page), so you don’t miss great deals like this in the future!

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