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“Mio the Beautiful”: An interview with author Kinota Braithwaite

2 Mar

Representation is a powerful thing. When I was a child growing up in the United States, I did not see many books or shows that had characters that looked like me. As a result, I often felt like an “other” and did everything I could to try and fit in with the majority. I did not like “looking different.”

Several years ago, when I watched the movie “Wonder Woman” in the theater, I literally gasped and felt like cheering in the opening scenes when women are shown as powerful warriors. I thought, “This is the power of feeling represented.” I again had a similar feeling when I watched “Crazy Rich Asians.” It felt freeing to see so many people who looked like me in a major movie. Recently I had the experience of reading the picture book “Eyes That Kiss In the Corners” and was overcome with emotion as I read it out loud to my daughter. No children’s book I had read had ever stated that Asian eyes were beautiful before.

I’m grateful that in recent years many wonderful children’s books have been published featuring a wider range of cultures, nationalities, experiences, and ideas. In the United States, we are seeing more diversity in books.

I do not think that children’s books in Japan have quite as much diversity or representation… yet. But one book is giving me hope: “Mio the Beautiful“, by Kinota Braithwaite. Kinota decided to write this book after his young biracial daughter was bullied at her school in Japan. Unlike some other parts of the world, classrooms in Japan are still mostly ethnically homogeneous, so it is easy to stand out if you look different. This book tackles the issue of racism in a gentle way and encourages teachers and children to be kind to one another.

I had the opportunity to have a conversation with Kinota and his daughter over Zoom. I am not comfortable or a natural in front of the camera, but I hope you will watch and enjoy. The best part of the video is Kinota and his daughter Mio reading their book out loud together in English and Japanese (starting at the 7:00 mark).

Thank you Kinota and Mio!

You can purchase their book here:

  1. Amazon (US)
  2. Amazon (Japan)

Online Japanese Classes for Kids

26 Feb

What a year it has been! When COVID-19 shut down our schools in March 2020, I thought for sure my kids would be attending school and other activities “like normal” by the fall. Instead, they have been going back-and-forth from remote-learning to in-person learning (with social-distancing and masks), and most after-school activities have been cancelled or on Zoom.

To be honest, I was very skeptical of online learning at first. And indeed, there was a big learning curve in the beginning for both students and teachers (many tears were shed). In-person learning is ideal for most situations BUT I’ve learned that online classes are not all bad. Creative and innovative teachers around the world have stepped up to the plate and made online learning WORK. Technology has allowed us access to amazing classes and teachers, and we have saved so much time and money by not having to travel to lessons.

The Japanese Language School that my children attend is now all on Zoom, and many other Japanese Schools around the world have also gone online. Some have open enrollment, meaning anyone can sign up. I have seen an increase in Japanese class offerings on popular educational sites like Outschool. So while travel to Japan may still not be possible at this time, we can use technology to our advantage and have Japan come to our homes.

Here are a few online resources I recommend:


  1. Cafetalk.com

I am a fan of Cafetalk! I have blogged about them before (read here). My children took private Japanese lessons and their teachers were excellent. I thought the pricing was reasonable and scheduling was easy. Not only can you take Japanese language lessons, but you can also learn other skills (in Japanese!) like music, dance, abacus, art, etc.


2) Outschool.com

I have personally not used Outschool before but have heard many great things about their classes. I have actually considered teaching for them, and can tell you that they have high standards for the teachers they hire. They have several beginner and intermediate Japanese classes currently available.


3) Classes by JASC (Japanese American Service Committee)

Donguri-Kai by JASC

Their Winter II classes have just begun but you might still be able to sign up.

“Donguri Kai continues to provide Japanese education through online classes for children from kindergarten to elementary school. Class meets in a live online classroom once a week to fortify reading, pronunciation, conversation, and communication in Japanese. Teachers interactively guide students to enhance their communication skills. Students interact on-screen to stimulate and encourage each other through various learning activities.”


Tampopo Kai

“Tampopo Kai is an online Japanese cultural program for preschoolers. Through various engaging activities such as singing, storytelling, and arts & crafts, children and their parents are exposed to the richness of the Japanese language and culture.

Topics that will be covered in Tampopo Kai classes are, but not limited to: Japanese holidays, customs, traditions; Japanese vocabulary words (e.g. colors, numbers, shapes, sizes, family members, greetings, seasons, weather, body parts); Japanese arts (songs, kamishibai-style Japanese story boards, origami).”

They currently meet twice a week on Zoom! Sign up here.


4) Free, self-paced lessons

I think the best way to learn Japanese, especially for a beginner, is to have a real-life teacher who interacts with you. But if you want to learn at your own pace, or want to learn for free, some of the following resources might be for you!

duolingo

My 12-year old uses this app to help maintain her Japanese. It is great for learning and reviewing vocabulary.

Easy Japanese Conversation Lessons by NHK

A wonderful series of 48 lessons that teaches basic conversational skills as well as teaching about the Japanese culture.

NHK for School

I’ve shared this resource before (here) but it’s worth repeated mentions. Hundreds of 10-minute videos covering a wide range of subjects such as Japanese grammar, math, history, science, and bullying. Videos are for preschool though high-school students. Often, there are accompanying printable worksheets and questions you can use along with the videos.

And then of course, there’s many YouTube channels and even Instagram pages that teach Japanese. Those are all awesome supplements and fun/entertaining but I find that it’s easy for kids to watch them mindlessly instead of putting in the work of learning Japanese.


Are you aware of any other online classes for learning Japanese? Please share in the comments section!

Be sure to follow Hiragana Mama on facebook for more frequent updates!

Disney+ Shows You Can Watch in Japanese

8 Apr

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Some Disney+ shows can be watched in Japanese! Just select “Japanese” in the languages options. Which ones have I missed? I really wish more of the full-length movies were available in Japanese.

  1. The Mandalorian
  2. Star Girl
  3. Lamp Life
  4. Forky Asks a Question
  5. Shop Class
  6. Disney Family Sundays
  7. Purl
  8. The Imagineering Story
  9. Diary of a Future President
  10. Be Our Chef
  11. The World According to Jeff Goldblum
  12. Pick of the Litter
  13. High School Musical the Musical Series
  14. Marvel Hero Project
  15. Pixar in Real Life
  16. Disney Nature series
  17. Timmy Failure
  18. TOGO the Untold True Story
  19. One Day at Disney
  20. Lady and the Tramp (Live-action)
  21. Short Circuit
  22. Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings

Note: I live in the United States. Shows may be different in other countries. 

 

 

Netflix Shows for Kids You Can Watch in Japanese

3 Apr

Here is a list of Netflix shows that you can watch in Japanese (in the United States). Just click on the language selection button on the bottom right corner and choose Japanese. Let me know if you know of any others in the comments!

(P.S. I’ve also been posting A LOT of Japanese learning resources on my facebook page recently, so hop on over! https://www.facebook.com/HiraganaMama.Blog)

(I’ve also received some feedback that the Japanese language option is not working for some of you for these shows! I am so sorry. I am not sure why it works for some and not others.)

  1. Teasing Master Takagi-san (my kids’ favorite! Best for tweens)
  2. PJ Masks (for preschoolers)
  3. Care Bears & Cousins (younger children)
  4. Robocar Poli (preschool? I haven’t watched it)
  5. Llama Llama (TV-Y)
  6. Pokemon: Mewtwo Strikes Back (Pretty sure all the Pokemon shows can be watched in Japanese! Just search “Pokemon” in the search bar.)
  7. Minecraft Story Mode (TV-PG)
  8. Brainchild (TV-G)
  9. Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures (TV-Y)
  10. Spirit- Riding Free (TV-Y7)
  11. Starbeam (TV-Y)
  12. Dragons Rescue Riders (TV-Y)
  13. Magic Schoolhouse Rides Again (TV-Y)
  14. True (TV-Y)
  15. Hello Ninja (TV-Y)
  16. Lu Over the Wall (PG)
  17. Stranger Things (PG-14… for teens!)
  18. Tidying Up with Marie Kondo (PG)
  19. Angela’s Christmas (TV-Y)
  20. The Princess Switch (TV-G)
  21. K-On the Movie (PG)
  22. Flavors of Youth: International Version (TV-PG)
  23. Julie’s Greenroom (TV-Y)
  24. Little Miss Sumo (TV-G)
  25. Treehouse Detectives (TV-Y)
  26. Archibald’s Next Big Thing (TV-Y)
  27. Ask the Storybots (TV-Y)
  28. The Investigators (TV-Y)
  29. Chip and Potato (TV-Y)
  30. Lalaloopsy (TV-Y)
  31. Carmen San Diego (PG)
  32. Who Was? Show (PG)
  33. Anne with an E (TV-PG)
  34. Case Closed (TV-14)
  35. Captain Underpants (TV Y7)
  36. Glitch Techs (TV-G)
  37. Fuller House (TV-PG)
  38. Nino-Kuni (TV-14)
  39. Rilakkuma and Kaoru (TV-PG)
  40. Samurai Gourmet (TV-PG)

I am sure there are so many more. I didn’t feel like checking ALL the shows!

I found it interesting that some of the shows I thought for SURE would have Japanese dubs, didn’t! For example Beyblade Burst, Glitter Force, Sonic the Hedgehog, Yo-Kai Watch, Mary and the Witch’s Flower, and Power Rangers.

Note: This worked for me from a PC. Some users are having trouble switching the languages from their Roku or other devices.

 

Play Smart by Gakken book review (and GIVEAWAY!)

24 Aug

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 :).

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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!

Cafetalk: Private Lessons Using Skype!

15 Oct

Have you heard of Cafetalk? You must check it out. It is one of my favorite Japanese-learning resources! (Special promotional link at the end of this post!)

Cafetalk is a website that connects you to tutors from all over the world. The tutors teach languages (TONS of Japanese teachers!), music (piano, voice, ukulele, etc), arts and crafts, hula, abacus/soroban, and a lot more. There are thousands of lessons offered.

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As you know, I am passionate about exposing my children to as much Japanese language and culture as possible, so I searched the Cafetalk website for tutors who teach Japanese to children. I was a little bit overwhelmed with all the choices, so I asked a Cafetalk representative to recommend teachers to me (you can chat, call, or email them and they are very helpful!).

I registered online (very easy), entered my Skype name (you must have Skype to use Cafe Talk), then signed up for some lessons! It was all very straight-forward, and I thought the lessons were priced very reasonably (cheaper than hiring a tutor to come to my house). Many tutors even offer free or discounted Trial Lessons.

The day of our first lesson came, and my kids sat anxiously in front of our computer, waiting for our Skype tutor to call us. The lesson was for my two older kids, but Baby Sister wanted to join in the fun.

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Our tutors were always right on time. I love that. And I love that we didn’t have to leave the house, and my kids could be in pajamas.

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I sent each tutor specific requests before each lesson. For example, “I want them to practice katakana”, or “Could you help them increase their vocabulary?”. The tutors went above and beyond my expectations, catering their lessons to my children and sending a follow-up message after the lesson was over, which included what was taught during the lesson, and what my kids could work on during the week. One of the tutors sent me a message ahead time asking me to print out a worksheet to use during the lesson.

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One tutor did such a great job keeping my kids engaged during their entire 20-minute lesson. She used a game of guesstures to teach action words. My kids loved it, as evidenced by this video! My kids are always sad when their lesson comes to a close.

 

Sometimes the lessons were face-to-face conversations,  and sometimes the tutor would use a feature on Skype where they can type on the screen during the lesson. I thought that was pretty neat. Here’s an example from when my kids were practicing katakana:

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Overall I was very pleased with our Cafetalk experience. I was impressed with the number and quality of tutors available on the website, the customer service, and price.

The only downside for us was that since we live in the New York Time Zone and most of the tutors live in Japan, many of the lessons I wanted to try were not available during my children’s after-school hours (because that would be the middle of the night in Japan). The tutors we found were Japanese teachers who had moved to Hawaii or the mainland.

Our family was given a few free lessons in exchange for a review. To be honest though, we enjoyed Cafetalk so much that I’ve already paid for a few lessons as well!

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I think this service is a great supplement to my children’s Japanese education. I know that in a few years, Japanese School may become too difficult or sports will get in the way of attending. So Cafetalk may become our alternative to Japanese School at that time.

I highly recommend Cafetalk if you want to learn Japanese (any level– beginner or advanced, and any age!). It is great for people who want to learn from home, or live in an area where getting a private tutor is difficult or expensive.

Cafetalk has generously offered Hiragana Mama readers 500 free points! You can use your points to purchase any lesson. Click HERE for your free points!

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The 500 points will be delivered to your account only if you sign up using this special link.  Also, the points will be usable only for 30 days after you sign up. 

Please let me know what lessons you tried and how you liked it!

Love, Hiragana Mama

Dino Books Review! Read Bilingual Stories Online

2 May

DinoLingoHome

You’ve probably heard of Dino Lingo, a company that has made a language-learning program for kids. If not, I have blogged about that program HERE.

Well, they have recently launched a brand-new site called DINO BOOKS (dinolingo.com/books). If you’re teaching your child a second language, you’ll want to learn more about this site!

Dino Books is a site where children can read hundreds of stories (they currently have 5000+ books) in 20 different languages. In addition to stories, there are some nursery rhymes, songs, tongue twisters, and games. There’s also “stories” where the kids can build their vocabulary too (colors, numbers, things in the house, etc.).

DinoLingoLibrary

So for example, we can pick a story, and then choose “Japanese” and “English” as our languages of choice. Then as we click through, we can have the story read to us in both languages. This was so nice because if my kids heard a word they didn’t understand in Japanese, they could simply listen or look at the English version right below to figure out the meaning of the unknown word.

DinoLingoBook

Ideally, I would be sitting right by my kids and reading books to them for hours every day, giving them my undivided attention. But in real life, that doesn’t happen. I’m often trying to multi-task, helping one kid with homework while helping the other fold laundry while keeping another child from climbing onto the countertop while trying to make dinner… LOL. Can you all relate? So sometimes, it is nice to just be able to say “Hey, read some books on Dino Books!”. My kids can easily navigate the site themselves and read several stories in one sitting while I finish making dinner. You can even use a tablet to read the stories.

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Does this sound like something you need in your life? A Dino Books membership is normally $99/year (less than $10 per month…less expensive than buying hundreds of bilingual books for sure). But you can visit the site and read the first few pages of most books for free first before you decide.

They also have a Mother’s Day special going on right now for 20% off with code MOM20 !

Here is a sample video:

 

 

Dino Lingo has generously offered to give away a FREE YEAR of Dino Books  to one lucky Hiragana Mama reader! To enter this giveaway, simply visit Dino Books, then leave a comment on this blog post with the following information:

  1. Why do you want to win this giveaway?
  2. What languages would you choose to read the stories in?
  3. Your email address (if you don’t want to leave your email address, just make sure you come back to see if you were the winner and then email me. Sometimes people win my giveaways and I have no way to contact them!)

Sometimes it takes me awhile to check and approve the comments so please don’t worry if your comment doesn’t show up right away.

A winner will be chosen at random on MONDAY, May 9th, 2016 and will be announced on this blog post. Be sure to check back to see if you were the winner!

The winner of this giveaway is JOANNA WISE! Please send me an email at hiraganamama@gmail.com and I will forward your name on to Dino Lingo so they can award you the prize. Thanks to all who commented. Best wishes to all of you in your language adventures!

P.S. Don’t forget, Children’s Day/ Kodomo no Hi is on May 5th!

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Thank you Dino Lingo for this giveaway. Dino Lingo did ask me to try out Dino Books in exchange for a review, but all my opinions expressed above are honest and my own.

“Friends” by Aiko Ikegami

15 Apr

 

It is no secret that our family is obsessed with books, both English and Japanese. We go to the local library every week and come home with piles of books. I often do my research online beforehand, looking up the most recent award-winners, reading Amazon reviews, etc so I know what I’m looking for.

A few weeks ago I walked by the “New Books” section at the library and this pretty book caught my eye:

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It is “Friends”, by Aiko Ikegami. I was lured in by the cover illustration, and when I saw that the author was Japanese, the book immediately went into my library bag.

We were pleased to find that not only were the illustrations beautiful, but the story was wonderful as well. Here is the synopsis:

A girl from a faraway place begins her first day at school. She doesn’t speak the language and she looks different. She just doesn’t fit in. But one day, she makes an unexpected friend–a squirrel! Then a rabbit joins them. Soon the girl’s fuzzy woodland friends are followed by human ones and school becomes more fun! When a surprising new student joins the class, the girl and her new friends know just how to make him feel at home.

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I don’t know about you, but I can relate all-too-well to being the new kid at school. I moved around several times as a child, and can tell you that it is nerve-wracking to begin life at a new school, and especially in a new language. My children have never moved, but they got a taste of this feeling when we visited Japan last summer and I enrolled them in school for a few weeks. My kids were shocked at how different everything was. The food–the routines–the discipline–the bathrooms–the language– ! But the wonderful thing about children is, they are great at making friends, even with a cultural or language barrier. This book shows how easy it is to reach out to someone new and help them feel welcome.

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I highly recommend this book for all children. It is simple and short but can help you begin a conversation with your children about what to do if a new kid joins their class- or might help ease their worries if THEY are the new kid. I was thinking it would be nice to have several copies on hand to give out to any new kids in my children’s classes. How thoughtful would it be to gift them a book like this with a hand-written note? Might be wise for teachers to have a copy as well.

One last idea– this would make a sweet farewell gift for a Japanese student returning to Japan, or an exchange student. You could include a message about how you’re glad to have become friends!

Anyway, I liked the book so much that I looked up the author/illustrator online. She has a website at: aikoikegami.com. I was thrilled to discover that she lives in the same city as my parents and immediately sent her a note telling her how much we enjoyed her book and if we could meet someday.

Aiko was kind enough to send me a signed hardcover copy of her book to give away to a blog reader! If you would like a chance at winning this book, simply leave a comment on this blog post saying who you’d give this book to and why. (Book giveaway only open to U.S. residents). I’ll announce the winner on Monday April 18! (Don’t worry if your comment doesn’t appear right away… sometimes it takes me awhile to check and approve the comments!)

Giveaway is now CLOSED! I used Random.org, and the winner is commenter #1!!

“G”, please email hiraganamama@gmail.com within a week to claim the book! Thank you everyone else for commenting!

Thank you, Ikegami-san! We look forward to reading your future books!

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“Friends” by Aiko Ikegami can be purchased at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Benesse Challenge Touch Review!

9 Sep

 

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Last year I introduced you to Benesse’s Challenge Touch/Kodomo Challenge program on this post. The program is for elementary aged children and offers a monthly downloadable curriculum. Many of you were just as interested in this program as I was.
This summer when I visited Tokyo, I happened upon their new Aoyama Area Benesse in the Shibuya/Omotesando neighborhood. The one in Aoyama is the flagship store, but there are locations all over Japan. These “Area Benesse” offices can help you answer questions about Benesse programs and products, sign up for services, try out materials, etc.

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When we entered the building, we were immediately greeted by very friendly staff. One staff member helped my 7 and 5-year olds get started on some activities while I asked another staff member questions.

The biggest question I had was, “Can we use the Challenge Touch program in the United States?“.

The answer was yes… and maybe. Yes, as long as you have reliable internet connection, you can use the Challenge Touch tablet and download the monthly curriculum anywhere. The only problems you then face are:

  • Benesse will only ship its products to a Japanese address (at least that’s how it is currently). So you will either need to go to Japan and buy it while you are there (we had them ship the tablet to our hotel) or have it sent to a friend or relative, then have them ship it to you.
  • If your tablet happens to break, you will need to pay the shipping back to Japan, as well as have your friend/relative ship you the new one, which can be costly and a hassle.

We decided to take the risks and sign up to do the Challenge Touch program for one year. I thought the pricing was very reasonable. With the exchange rate the way it is now, it came down to about $25 per month (and the tablet is free as long as you continue the program for at least 6 months!). I also signed up for the insurance program, which was only about $15 per year. If you sign up for insurance, if your tablet breaks, you can get a new one for around $30 (otherwise I think they said a new tablet costs about $300).

A few days after putting in our order, our package arrived. In it was our tablet computer and some paper educational materials like workbooks and a kanji dictionary. (They actually sent us materials for the wrong grade at first. I contacted them and they immediately sent me the correct grade level).

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We charged up the device, entered our login information, and then downloaded our first month’s program. It was pretty easy! (If you don’t know Japanese well, all of this might be difficult to navigate. The program is designed for children grades 1-6 who can speak Japanese already, not for adults learning Japanese for the first time).

The program was very easy for my second-grader to figure out on her own. She had a lot of fun playing with all the features. She completed her first two assignments in Kokugo (Japanese) and Sansu (math) and declared it was awesome. The program does a really great job at keeping kids motivated and having fun while learning. We are currently going on month 3 of using the program and she still loves using the Challenge Touch every day.

Other things we love about the Challenge Touch program:

  • There is an online library where you can borrow 5 electronic books at a time. There are hundreds of titles to choose from! This is included in the monthly fee.
  • You can practice writing kanji and play a game where you learn the multiplication tables, even when you are not connected to the internet.
  • My daughter enjoys sending me emails every day.
  • Just 3 months into the program, I can already tell my daughter is better at reading and writing kanji.

Some cons:

  • I didn’t realize Benesse sends out paper materials every few months, even if you just signed up for the electronic version. This is great, except I feel badly my aunt in Japan has to go through the hassle of forwarding all these materials over for us. I wish I could just pay a little extra to have everything sent to the U.S.
  • I am constantly worried my kids are going to break the tablet, haha. We have a rule in our house where they MUST be sitting at a desk if they are using it (no standing, walking around, laying on the couch, etc). We’ve also lectured them about not pressing too hard with the pen. So far so good.
  • The voltage is different here. Easy problem to fix though, we just use a transformer:

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My kids normally use headphones as well when doing benkyou (study) on the Touch. We highly recommend this one! It is sized perfectly for kids’ heads, had a durable cord, and I don’t have to worry about the volume being turned up too loud. Headphones are a must for us because with 3 kids running around our little house, it can get quite noisy and hard to concentrate.

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Bottom line is that we are so glad we took a chance and decided to try the Benesse Challenge Touch program. I can see us continuing for the next few years, and may even get a second device for our son when he begins first grade. I hope that someday soon they will make the program downloadable for iPads– wouldn’t that be nice?

Read more about the Kodomo Challenge program HERE and feel free to contact them if you have any questions. They are very nice!

 

I am NOT affiliated with Benesse and have NOT received any free products or compensation for writing this review. 

Japanese Math App for Kids: わかる!算数

30 Apr

IMG_1713 There are SO MANY apps for teaching Japanese these days! Our current favorite is called: ”わかる!算数 for iPad” by GAKUGEI Co., Ltd.  (“I See! Math”) I downloaded the app for 1st grade ($4.99) and 2nd grades ($5.99). Both of my kids (ages 5 and 7) love working on their math skills with this app. The children first learn a new concept (addition with carrying over, telling time, etc), practice, then take a quiz. The animations are cute and rewarding. My kids have been using this app daily for about two weeks and they don’t seem to be tired of it yet. IMG_1714 I am pretty fluent in Japanese, but sometimes struggle explaining new math concepts in Japanese, so this program has been a great help. My kids are learning how to tell time, identify shapes, solve story problems, measure in centimeters, etc., in Japanese!

Here are the links by grade:

First Grade Math

Second Grade Math

Third Grade Math Part One, Part Two

Fourth Grade Math Part One, Part Two, Part Three

You can try out I See! Math for FREE (trial version) before you decide if you want the full version or not. There is also an option to switch the entire app over to English if you’d like. You can view all the apps created by Gakugei HERE. IMG_1715   What are your favorite Japanese apps for kids these days?

NOTE: I was not asked by anyone to write this review, and I did not receive any free products or compensation. I bought this app after doing my own research and this is all my honest opinion 🙂

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