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Benesse Challenge Touch (チャレンジタッチ)

9 Feb

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.

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.

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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?

Mr. Men & Little Miss Japanese Videos by Sanrio

5 Feb

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image from mrmen.com

I remember reading Mr. Men & Little Miss books when I was a child. Something about their bright colors, simple shapes, and distinct personalities was appealing to me! It seems they are making a come back these days. Check out their adorable website here.

The reason I share this on my blog is because I stumbled upon Mr. Men & Little Miss videos, that are in JAPANESE! They are made by Sanrio Japan. The videos are about 3 minutes long and perfect for little (and big) kids. These videos would be a great opportunity to teach children Japanese “feelings words(きもちの言葉).” For example, before or after showing the following video (Mr. Happy), you can teach children the following vocabulary:

しあわせ(shiawase) = happy

ふしあわせ(fushiawase) = unhappy

かなしい(kanashii) = sad

えがお(egao) = a happy face

わらう(warau) = to laugh

Here the formula I would use for getting the most out of these videos!

1) Watch the video by yourself and write down any words that you think your children don’t know.

2) Teach the children those words.

3) Watch the video together and discuss.

4) Review and practice using the new words throughout the week.

Here are a few more videos. You can find all of Sanrio’s videos here and here, and all the Mr. Men & Little Miss videos here.


Want to watch these videos in English? Click HERE.

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.

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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 ! :)

NIHONGO eな, a Portal for Learning Japanese

27 Jun

June always flies by in a blur for me! This June we visited family out-of-state, went camping, and had a big dance recital. It has been hard to keep up the Japanese since we haven’t been at home very much. I need to buckle down and がんばる(try really hard) to help my children hear and speak as much Japanese as possible the rest of our summer! Are you doing a good job speaking Japanese this summer?

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Today I want to share with you the website “NIHONGO eな“. According to their site,

“Here on the website NIHONGO eな Portal for Learning Japanese our goal is to introduce – in a plain, straightforward way – various websites and online tools useful for studying Japanese. Also, by presenting ideas on how to make good use of the internet, we aim to provide support for learners from all over the world who are looking for fun ways to study.”

You can search for websites by category, such as “Reading”, “Speaking”, “Kana”, “Culture”, etc.

It is definitely worth a look!

 

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P.S. The Japanese summer holiday, Tanabata/たなばた, is just right around the corner (July 7th)! Tanabata always sneaks up on me. I have blogged about ways to celebrate Tanabata with your children HERE and HERE! You can also see more ideas on my Tanabata Pinterest Board.

“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!

kids-step

Screenshot from kids-step.com

Japanese Hand Washing Videos てあらい

7 May

Those of you with kids… you know that hand-washing (てあらい) is a huge part of daily life! Not only are you needing to wash your hands after helping a child use the bathroom, making food multiple times a day, every time you wipe a snotty nose… but constantly reminding your children to wash. We don’t want germs and sickness ruining our fun! I probably wash my hands a few dozen times a day! After all this washing, I know we sometimes get lazy about it and not spend enough time scrubbing. These fun Japanese videos about handwashing will surely inspire us to spend a little more time washing our hands! :)

Video by ACUVUE(R):

Video by UNICEF Japan:

Video by Biore:

Video by LION:

Click on the links to learn more about handwashing (in Japanese).

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.

PuniPuniJapan Website

8 Feb

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I just happened upon this website, Puni Puni Japan, awhile ago. It is not super-useful to me (because I’m pretty fluent) but I thought some of you beginners might enjoy it! There are short videos that teach Japanese phrases, vocabulary, and grammar. There is also a free printable kana workbook you can download.  Here is an example video:

Happy Holidays! Plus Favorite Posts and Sites.

19 Nov

image from fumira.jp

Can you believe the holiday season is upon us? I just put up a homemade wreath on our front door and am looking forward to turkey dinner with close family and friends this week. I love this time of the year, and I especially love that my husband gets some time off from work and we get to spend a lot of time together as a family! Because of that, I will probably not post anything new for the rest of 2012 (um, just kidding). I am going to leave you with some holiday links, my favorite posts, and my current favorite websites. Click on the “***” to go to the sites. See you in 2013!

CHRISTMAS

1. Decorate for the holidays using origami! ***

NEW YEARS

1. Send a New Year’s card, Japanese-style: ***

2. A past blog post about ways to celebrate the new year like the Japanese: ***

3. Printable, Japanese-themed calendars for 2013 (they are adorable!): ***

SETSUBUN

1. Setsubun isn’t until the first week of February, but for those who like to plan ahead, here is a past blog post about it: ***

FAVORITE POSTS 

1. How to survive a long plane ride with a toddler! *** (reader favorite!)

2. Ideas for souvenirs to take to Japan: ***

3. The yummiest homemade purin recipe! ***

4. Is the cold weather making you think of sunnier days? Or maybe you live somewhere that’s currently summer? Check out my How to Have a Natsu Matsuri post: ***

5. Since Obama just got re-elected, this video is worth watching again: ***

6. How to Begin Teaching Your Child Japanese: ***

FAVORITE JAPANESE LEARNING WEBSITES

1. Brother.co.jp ***

2. Honda Kids ***

3. Links to LOTS of great printable hiragana practice sheets ***

4. Ready Steady NihonGo! ***

5. Erin’s Challenge: ***

KEEP YOUR KIDS BUSY AND LEARNING DURING THE HOLIDAYS:

1. Blog post with a lot of great links to websites that teach you  how to play traditional Japanese children’s games: ***

2. Ekaki-uta’s (Drawing Songs) are fun for all ages! ***

3. Japanese Fingerplays… a great way to pass the time on the drive to grandma and grandpa’s house! ***

4. Play karuta! ***

5. DOZENS for Japanese videos for kids via YouTube: ***

How will you spend the rest of 2012? I’d love to hear from you. Readers comments give me the motivation to keep up this blog! 

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