Setsubun with Kids!子供と節分!

31 Jan

Sunday February 3rd, 2019 is a Japanese holiday called Setsubun (せつぶん). It is a day when you chase evil out and invite good fortune in by calling out, “Oni wa~ soto! Fuku wa~ uchi!” If you are unfamiliar with this holiday, Chika of Japanagos does a great job explaining in this video:

Setsubun is easily one my my children’s favorite Japanese holidays. We keep it pretty simple– one parent puts on an oni (ogre) mask, and the kids throw dry soybeans a them. Sometimes we make ehoumaki (rolled sushi). Here are some fun and easy ways to celebrate setsubun even if you live outside of Japan!

1) Make an Oni Mask or Craft!

There are many free printable oni masks online. Here is one from glico:

box_complete02

Also check out ちびむすブログ and KF Studio for ready-to-print masks!

If you want to put forth more effort, there are A LOT of amazing setsubun/oni craft ideas at the website HoiClue. My favorites are these oni hats, oni bag, and oni ball-throwing game. Seriously, go check out HoiClue. So many great game ideas, too!

The Happy Birthday Project has instructions for how to make oni horns (つの) which I thought was really cute.

Instagrammer @hirommy_anniversary has great setsubun party decoration ideas, here.

2. Make Setsubun Food!

I fell in love with this Setsubun bento box. It doesn’t look too difficult so I might give it a try. I found this idea at トクバイニュース:

b9387f1d1583f1b0

They also offer suggestions for how to make Ehoumaki.

3. Learn the Oni no Pants (おにのパンツ) song!

I think every preschooler in Japan learns this song. My daughter learned it at her Japanese School last week and she loves to sing it with the hand motions. This video by ハピクラワールド is pretty similar to the version she learned:

There are many versions of this popular song. Check out videos by キッズボンボンTV and ピンキッズ.

4. Read/Watch stories and videos about Setsubun

There are many Japanese children’s books about Setsubun, but do not despair if you do not have access to Japanese books. Many are available on YouTube as read-alouds. Check out these setsubun videos by PopoKids and KidsTube.

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know I love Shimajiro/Benesse. I think this video is one of the best for teaching young children about Setsubun:

And click here for another Shimajiro video about Setsubun.

If you like Chibi Maruko-chan, here is a ちびまる子ちゃん video about Setsubun.

5. Use this opportunity to reinforce hiragana 😉

Your kids might groan, but you can find printable hiragana-practice worksheets at ちびむすドリル about Setsubun.

 

I hope I’ve provided enough ideas for you to get started!! You are also welcome to check out my Setsubun Pinterest Board for more ideas, or look back at my past posts about this holiday here(2013), here(also 2013), here(2012) and here(also 2012).

Japanese Halloween Videos!

29 Oct

cos_photo

Halloween is fast-approaching! In past years, our family has done Japan-inspired family costumes like Totoro and Pokemon, but this year we let each kid pick whatever they wanted– so they chose Elastigirl (from The Incredibles), a stormtrooper (from Star Wars), and Cinderella.

The weather in our part of the world has been just awful for Halloween festivities– cold and rainy every day. Perhaps it is the same for you. So I have compiled some of my favorite kid-friendly Japanese Halloween videos, so you and your kids can snuggle up under a blanket, maybe munch on some Pocky? and learn Japanese 🙂 Enjoy, and ハッピーハロウィン!

Shimajiro is always my favorite:

(Learn the lyrics to グーチョキパンプキン here)

 

A 30-minute compilation of Halloween songs by ピンキッツ:

 

Super Simple Japanese always publishes great songs:

 

Learn how to fold a cute origami ghost:

 

Halloween make-up how-to for tweens, by ちゃおチャンネル:

 

Or perhaps order or borrow Studio Ghibli movies to watch! I think Kiki’s Delivery Service is especially perfect for this time of year.

91HUSMhmeqL._SX522_

 

Play Smart by Gakken book review (and GIVEAWAY!)

24 Aug

IMG_2408

I have three children, ages 10, 8, and 3. I often find myself in situations that involve a lot of waiting, especially with my 3-year old. Waiting for her older siblings while they participate in piano lessons and other extracurricular activities. Waiting at the airport. Waiting at the dentist’s office. Waiting for dinner to be made.

And waiting is HARD for a preschooler! I don’t want her to have too much screen time, and I also want her to be mentally stimulated . One of the best solutions I have found for these WAITING situations are these workbooks by Gakken called Play Smart.

IMG_0650.jpg

Want to win all 6 of these books? Keep reading!

The workbooks are full-color on every page and the paper is very nice. They are age-appropriate, fun, and have STICKERS! My daughter honestly can and has worked on these books for hours. We use them when she needs to be sitting quietly in church. We used them on the airplane when we went to Japan this summer. And we work on them when her siblings are at school. We totally love them and I can see her skills improving with every book we complete.

IMG_2418

The following is from the Gakken website:

Gakken Play Smart Workbooks are bestsellers in Japan where 1 million Play Smart workbooks are sold each year, and the books have been enjoyed by tens of millions of children. The winning Play Smart formula:

• Puts the emphasis on fun – so much so, that children have no idea that they’re building important skills while they trace lines and shapes, cut and paste objects, solve mazes, create crafts, and tackle other simple, enjoyable activities.

• Includes parent involvement: Extensive research asserts that young children learn the most, have the highest rates of literacy, and the most developed math skills, and even social skills when there is parent involvement in the learning process. Every single page of the Play Smart workbooks includes “notes to parents” offering advice to help each child progress.

Has been proven to strengthen kids’ reasoning, decision-making, and concentration skills, which helps them prepare for the classroom – and for life.

• Includes age-appropriate trying, cutting, pasting, and drawing activities to build fine motor coordination and other important skills. 

• Uses  stickers within the context of certain activities and also as rewards for completed work.

We made a video of us working on the Play Smart Animal Picture Puzzlers for Ages 3+.

These books are in ENGLISH but I try to speak to my daughter in Japanese as we work on the pages together. I love seeing some Japan-inspired pictures on some of the pages.

IMG_2375

I can’t wait for you to check these books out. I have teamed up with Gakken to host a GIVEAWAY! One lucky winner will be sent the full set of Play Smart Picture Puzzler Books– 6 workbooks total!  To enter, simply visit this site: https://www.gakkenplusna.com/playsmart then tell me in the comments below which Play Smart book would be perfect for your child! Then, for a BONUS entry, follow @gakken_playsmart on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gakken_playsmart/ then leave another comment saying you’ve followed them. Don’t have a toddler or preschooler? Please share this giveaway with someone who does.

This Giveaway will begin on August 24th and conclude on Friday August 31st at 9pm EST. At that point, a winner will be announced and must contact me within a week to claim their prize. This giveaway is only open to residents of the United States. 

The winner is Lindsey!! I will be emailing you 🙂 おめでとう!

No worries if you don’t win… these books are affordably priced at $6.99 each. They are available on Amazon (free shipping for prime members). Gakken even has a few FREE pages you can print and try out if you just can’t wait! Free printables HERE! Stock up for all those times of WAITING :).

IMG_2416

Disclosure: I was sent some free Play Smart books by Gakken to try out and review. I have tried some of their other workbooks in the past, both from Japan and from the U.S. and LOVED them, so I was happy to write this blog post and host a giveaway. If you purchase these books through my Amazon links, I will receive a small percentage of the sale to help keep this website up and running. Arigato!

Kodomo No Hi Videos

5 May

May 5th is Kodomo no Hi (Children’s Day) in Japan. Here are some videos to help your children learn about this holiday.

A great interactive video by Benesse, 「しまじろうとこどもの日を楽しもう!」<こどもちゃれんじ>4月ライブ授業:

“What is Kodomo no Hi?” (こどもの日ってなあに?)by CHK名古屋:

The classic children’s song associated with Kodomo No Hi by キッズボンボン, 【♪うた】こいのぼり〈振り付き〉【手あそび・こどものうた】Japanese Children’s Song, Nursery Rhymes & Finger Plays:

Read-Alouds about Kodomo No Hi:

A Just-For-Fun Koinobori Stop-Motion animation:

Book Review: Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen

23 Feb

My sister recently asked me,

“Have you read the Jasmine Toguchi series– beginner chapter books about a Japanese-American girl?”

I had not heard of it, but I immediately got a copy to read. And I loved it!

Toguchi

The book I read was the first in the series, called “Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen“. It is written by Debbi Michiko Florence with illustrations by Elizabet Vukovic. I was immediately enamored by the main character– a spunky 8-year old girl who is a member of a warm and loving (and sometimes annoying) Japanese family, living in the United States. She reminded me of my own 9-year old daughter, sometimes so much so that I found myself laughing out loud and saying to my husband, “Listen to this! It’s just like our kids!”.

The book has won numerous awards including:

A Junior Library Guild Fall 2017 Selection
An Amazon’s Best Children’s Books of 2017
An Evanston Public Library’s 101 Great Books for Kids List 2017
A Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Books 2017
A 2017 Nerdy Book Club Award Winner

There are currently 2 books in this series with 2 more coming soon (Read about them HERE). They are recommended for grades 1-4 (or ages 6-9). My daughter who is in 4th grade (and is a higher-level reader) said she liked the book but “it’s better for 2nd graders”. It is a great way to learn a little bit about Japanese culture in a very relatable way.

I personally would have loved to have had this series when I was a child. There is such a lack of children’s books starring Japanese American families. Author Debbi Florence is a third generation Japanese American and native Californian. She currently resides in Connecticut. If you are interested in having her visit your schools to talk about Japanese culture and the writing process, you can find out how HERE!

edit6XX8T3624

Author of the “Jasmine Toguchi” series, Debbi Florence

You can purchase “Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen” HERE, via Amazon (affiliate link).

This post was not sponsored by Debbi Florence or Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers. All opinions are unbiased, honest, and completely my own. 

Japan-inspired Classroom Valentines

24 Jan

Eek! It has been a long time since I last blogged! So sorry. (I post more often on my –> Hiragana Mama facebook page if you’d like more updates!).

So the fall/winter holidays came and went in a whirlwind and now it’s almost Valentine’s Day! At my children’s school, they still exchange valentine cards so I’ve been trying to brainstorm ideas for cards. If you want to be unique, why not try a Japan-inspired Valentine’s card?

For example, use origami. Here are some ideas I found on Pinterest. There are hundreds of ideas on there! Here are my favorites.

First, a unicorn origami valentine bookmark, found at willowday.net.

Unicorn-Valentine_PINB1600

Next up, Origami Troll valentines, by PinkStripeySocks.com.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Aren’t they sooo cute??

Here is an origami Kissing Lips valentine by homemade-gifts-made-easy.com

origami-valentine-kissing-lips-card-inside-composite.jpg.pagespeed.ce.jmb4ZT5oO3

You can visit Origami Club to learn how to make basic hearts out of origami: Origami Club.

If you and your kids are not the crafty types, you can always purchase pre-made cards from places like Etsy.

Check out this cute Totoro valentine by Etsy seller playerNo2

il_570xN.1107014459_9bpl 2

 

You could also buy clip art from sellers like Cockatoo Design

il_570xN.1164639423_2xb0

Minted.com also has these adorably clever cards that you can order.

Udon Card

MIN-974-CVD-001_A_PD

Wasaaaabae (this one is my favorite)

MIN-ZM1-CVD-001AG_A_PD

Check out Minted for even more! (No, not sponsored. No part of this post is sponsored. I just like to find good stuff and share them with you.)

My children’s school doesn’t allow food to be passed out, but if your school allows it, I thought it would be fun to pass out candy like Hi-Chew, interesting-flavored Kit-Kats, or little packs of Konpeito (Amazon Associate links). I have seen some of these foods being sold at World Market, and of course at Asian grocery stores.

61tHVEyC1zL

Aren’t these little bags of konpeito so cute? $9.99 for 50 packs!

I am sure you all could come up with some Japan-inspired Valentine’s Box ideas as well. What have you done in the past, and what do you plan to do this year? I would love to hear.

 

 

Learning Kanji With Poop– yes, really

4 Jun

So guess what the #1 bestselling textbook in Japan is? It is:

unko

日本一楽しい漢字ドリル うんこかん字ドリル 小学1年生” (The Most Fun Kanji Drill Book in Japan: Poop Kanji for First Grade)

I saw this on Amazon Japan a few months ago and had a good chuckle. Someone is a genius! Do you know how much my kids love potty-humor? Hahaha.

IMG_4867

So I was totally on board when my son’s first-grade teacher at Japanese School wanted every student in her class to have a copy of this kanji workbook. And you know what? My son LOVES it. I hear him reading this book out loud to his sister in the mornings. I have to force him to stop working in the book sometimes. Would your kids be motivated to learn kanji if they had a workbook like this?

Here are some sample pages:

IMG_4869

IMG_4870

The translation for the first example sentence above is: “Today’s weather forecast is sunny, partly poopy.”

There are unko/poop kanji workbooks for grades 1-6. I’m not sure how many 6th graders would like this learning style, but my first grader sure likes it. They can be bought at Amazon Japan, here (I am not affiliated with Amazon Japan).

You can find out more at: https://unkokanji.com/

“Once Upon a World” : Fairy Tales Reimagined!

17 May

 

Have you happened upon the “Once Upon a World” series yet?? If not, you must! It is a refreshing, delightful new take on the classic fairy tales. The stories are the same, but the characters and illustrations reflect a different culture. So far in the series, there’s Snow White, Rapunzel, and Cinderella.

We are especially in love with “Snow White“, by Chloe Perkins. The illustrations inspired by Japan are just lovely to look at. I love that my little girl can see that someone who looks like her can be a princess too.

Here’s what the Simon & Schuster website has to say about Snow White:

The classic tale of Snow White gets a fresh twist in this debut title of a brand-new board book series, Once Upon a World. With Japan as the backdrop, and beautiful artwork from Japanese illustrator Misa Saburi, Snow White is still the same girl who meets seven dwarves and accepts a shiny red apple—but she’s totally reimagined. Once Upon a World offers a multicultural take on the fairy tales we all know and love. Because these tales are for everyone, everywhere.

You can purchase “Once Upon a World: Snow White” HERE. (Currently less than $5 on Amazon! I might stock up for baby shower gifts)

These are nice board books– perfect for little ones!

(This is not an endorsed post. We found this book at our local library and loved it so we wanted to share. If you use my amazon link to purchase a book however, we will earn a few pennies to help keep this blog running! Thanks!)

Kanji-Learning Videos!

3 May

There’s a lot of hiragana-learning videos for kids, but there’s still very few kanji-learning videos for kids (as of 2017). I hope someone will create some high-quality kanji videos in the near future. In the meantime, here are some kanji videos I’ve found. Mostly geared towards adults but I think kids could benefit as well.

This first video IS geared toward kids but is outdated. It is part of a series called 児童教育 右脳イメージトレーニング (Image Training for Children).

This next video is by Learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com, and is very well done.

Learn the Kanji Basics with Williams College:

Learning kanji with animation, by キッズボンボン:

By the Japan Channel:

By 英会話のEnglish Garden:

By Easy KANJI Lesson:

First Grade Kanji by LetsLearnJapanese:

 

If you come across any great kanji-learning resources, please leave a comment!

Super Simple 日本語 Japanese Children’s Videos

1 May

Super Simple has released some great Japanese videos recently. They produce videos in many different languages. I think the translation is done really well! I hope they keep adding more.

 

 

They also have a set of “Mommy-and-Me Japanese videos here.

%d bloggers like this: