Archive | February, 2014

Japanese Children’s Books About the Number 100

25 Feb

We are still celebrating the 100th Day of School over here 🙂 My daughter dressed up like a 100-year old grandma at school yesterday… it was so cute!

I found it ironic and perfectly fitting that my daughter came home from Japanese School last Saturday with this book:

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image from kaiseisha.co.jp

The book is titled “100かいだてのいえ(The 100-Story House)” by いわいとしお (Toshio Iwai). This is actually the 3rd time my daughter has borrowed this book from the library. My kids just love it. The illustrations are charming and the story is quite magical. Another book in this series is “ちか100かいだてのいえ(Basement 100-Story House)”. Click the links to preview a few pages! I would recommend it for preschool through elementary school children.

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image from kaikeisha.co.jp

Also at Japanese School last Saturday, there was a special meeting for parents where a Japanese expert on Read-Alouds came to demonstrate how to read children’s books out loud to children. This meeting was very inspirational for me, and I made it a goal to do a better job reading to my kids. I want to use a more animated voice, not be afraid to read more slowly and pause between sentences, and take the time to go back and forth between the pages and discuss the book with my children.

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image from amazon.co.jp

Anyway, one of the books she read out loud to us was “100万回生きたねこ(The Cat Who Lived a Million Times)”by佐野洋子. This book was a longer picture book but it was beautiful. The recommended age for this book is elementary-school through adults. I think the older you are, the better you’ll be able to appreciate the depth of this story. (I don’t think my kids could sit through this book. But I really enjoyed it!). It looks like this book is also being made into a documentary, due out the end of this year.

Here is a video of buffalo.voice reading this book out loud:

Want to work on counting to 100 with your kids? Here is a printable worksheet from Happy Lilac.

100th Day of School, Japanese-Style

18 Feb

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Many kindergarten classes in the United States celebrate the 100th Day of School. My daughter’s class was no exception. For homework, we were asked to make a project out of 100 things. We tossed around a few ideas and of course, my daughter wanted to try the most time-consuming idea, haha. We decided to fold 100 origami cranes!! It took a lot of patience over several days, but we are happy with the finished product. Needless to say, my daughter is now an expert at folding cranes.

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Did your children do anything for their 100th day of school? If you have to complete a similar project in the future, I encourage you to infuse some Japanese culture into your project! You could make 100 shuriken’s (ninja stars), write the numbers 1-100 in Japanese, etc. Stand out from the crowd and be unique!

A video about how to count to 100 in Japanese by JapanSocietyNYC!

Olympics ♥

16 Feb

I love love love love love the Olympics. I am not much of a TV-watcher, but for two weeks during the Olympics, I lose a lot of sleep due to staying up late trying to watch as much as I can! When I was a college student back in the day, I had the opportunity to volunteer as an assistant to the Japanese Team during the Salt Lake Olympics. My job included driving members of the team to various events and other places, translation, and general assistance. I often worked inside the Olympic Village and had to try hard to control the urge to not take pictures or ask for autographs when I saw Michelle Kwan, Apolo Anton Ohno, etc. If the Olympics ever come to you, I highly recommend volunteering!

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One of my blog readers requested that I post some links about the Olympics and here’s what I’ve gathered so far :).

1) Official Website for the Japanese Olympic Committee: http://www.joc.or.jp/english/

Go here to see the names of all the different events in Japanese: http://www.joc.or.jp/games/olympic/sochi/sports/

2) A great summary of the Sochi Olympics for children (in Japanese), by Yahoo Kids: http://topic.kids.yahoo.co.jp/article/sochi_olympic/

3) “What is the Olympics?” for children, in Japanese (with furigana): http://www.lib.adachi.tokyo.jp/kids/toshokann/siraberu/siraberu_back/sirabveru0807.html

4) Q&A with future Japanese Olympians, also by Yahoo Kids: http://topic.kids.yahoo.co.jp/mag/olympic2020/

Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu, the Japanese athlete that has probably received the most screen time (I think he is amazing!):

As most of you already know, Japan is hosting the 2020 Olympics. If you are able, GO! Japan always does an incredible job hosting big events, public transportation is awesome, and uh… what’s not to love about visiting Japan? If you can’t get tickets to the regular games, I recommend the Paralympic Games too. I’ve been to a Paralympics Ice Hockey game, and it was incredible.

Look at this adorable bento box that Shirley of Little Miss Bento made! My kids would love it if I made them bento that looked this cute (and yummy).

Tokyo Olympic 2020 Bento

What events and athletes have you been following?

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.

UPDATE: Challenge Touch will work outside of Japan if you have a wifi connection. However, it must be ordered by someone who lives in Japan (so if you have a relative that is willing to have this program sent to their home, then forward it on to you, this may work for you).

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.

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