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Japan-Inspired Gift Ideas!

12 Dec

Recently, I frequently find myself gifting Japan-related things! For example, my daughter took a bag full of Japanese candy for a birthday party. For Christmas, my older kids are getting a Yokai Watch DVD set and my toddler is getting a Mel-chan doll. It is a good way to be unique! Here are some gift ideas for the Japan-lovers in your life:

Melissa and Doug Sushi Slicing Set (a fun alternative to “traditional” food!)

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Kendama Toy (great for all ages!)

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Vive Le Color! Japan Coloring Book for Adults

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Yakusen Bath Roman Bath Salts (Japanese bath salts are sooo relaxing)

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Making Tape Gift Box (the mt brand from Japan is simply the best. I use it for everything!)

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Mitsubishi 100 Colors Colored Pencil Box (my kids have this set and it is awesome. Every color you could ever want, durable, and the color glides onto paper so smoothly)

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Nintendo Hanafuda Card Game (great for older kids, teens and adults)

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Yokai Watch Karuta (for your Yokai Watch fanatic)

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Kracie Pop N Cookin Candies (oh so-unhealthy but so fun to make and eat)

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Pack of Japanese Snacks

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Uncle Goose Hiragana Wood Blocks

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Go to my online Amazon store to see more ideas!!

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Print Kids (printable Japanese educational worksheets for grades preK-3)

2 Mar

We have had a lot of school cancellations due to the weather lately (our city’s coldest February in 150 years!). On those no-school days, I’ve had to devise a plan to keep my kids busy and learning. We’ve been printing some worksheets from ぷりんと きっず (Japanese study free paper website). It has activities that are PERFECT for my preschooler and first-grader. I plan to use this site to keep my kids learning during their summer break as well!

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This is just a small sampling of what’s available on the website. There are learning activities for grades preK-3rd grade, with plans to add more. There’s practice worksheets for hiragana, katakana, kanji, telling time, reading a calendar,counting money, etc. You can see all the subjects covered here on their sitemap. Here are the top 10 worksheet from the site:

printkidsYou can “like” them on facebook to stay up to date: https://www.facebook.com/print.kids.net

I encourage you to visit Print Kids and browse around. You are sure to find something for your kids or yourself!

Japanese Party Games for Kids and Teens by Get-Club

5 Feb

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If your kids are anything like mine, they love to have FUN!! And what better way to learn a language than by having fun. I recently happened upon a website called “ゲットクラブ” (Get-Club). It is a site that sells party favors and games, but since we don’t live in Japan, the section that interests me the most are the pages containing party game ideas. Don’t let your kids navigate this website alone, as many of the party games are aimed at adults, but they do have two pages dedicated to party games for children and teens. Some of the games include videos of how to play the game, which is very helpful!

For example, here is the game “たたいて、かぶって、ジャンケンポン!” (Hit,Cover,Rock Paper Scissors):

Here is another Rock-Paper-Scissors game where you WANT to lose, in order to win “あとだしジャンケンゲーム“:

These game ideas would be great for birthday parties, play dates, or a rainy day at home.

Click HERE for a list of party game ideas for kids, and HERE for party game ideas for teens.

You may also be interested in this post, Japanese Children’s Games.

NHK for School!

27 Jan

Dear Hiragana Mama Readers, thank you so much for sticking around! We welcomed a new baby girl into our family a few months ago and have been savoring these fleeting newborn days. I have even less free time than before, but I really wanted to share this website with you today: NHK for School.

http://www.nhk.or.jp/school/

I visited this site a few years ago and back then, it was nothing to write home about. But now, it is a fabulous GOLDMINE of educational resources for the school-aged student. The site contains thousands of educational episodes and video clips, along with suggestions for how to use it at school/home. The content can be searched by grade level (first grade through high school) or by subject (Japanese, math, social studies, science, art, physical education, etc). It is pretty awesome.

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Now, I wouldn’t recommend this site for people who are just beginning to learn Japanese, or toddlers. If you don’t know a little bit of Japanese, it might be hard to navigate this site. The website was designed for students in Japan to supplement their learning at school. This site is perfect for those of us living overseas trying to teach our children about the Japanese language and culture. I feel like this is a great mid-week supplement to Japanese School (hoshuuko). If you can’t afford TV Japan, this is a great alternative. You can read more about the purpose of NHK for School in English, here.

Anyway, if you haven’t already checked it , click this link and enjoy!! http://www.nhk.or.jp/school/

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?

Japanese School Fun Fair

18 Dec

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Every year, the Japanese School we attend hosts a “Fun Fair” for its students and surrounding community. At this event, children travel around to different stations to play games, make crafts, wear kimonos, and participate in many other activities to help them better understand the Japanese culture.

Like all the other activities at Japanese School, this event is run by parent volunteers. Something I love about Japanese culture is how efficiently everyone works together. As I helped put up decorations for this event, I looked around and marveled at how hard and cooperatively everyone was working to pull this off for our kids. I didn’t see anyone sitting around or trying to get away with doing as little as possible.

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Some of the stations were:

1) Japanese calligraphy (しゅうじ)

2) Origami (おりがみ)

3) Paper-airplane making (かみひこうき)

4) Beanbag-toss

5) Yo-yo-scooping (ヨーヨーつり)

6) Super-ball scooping (スーパーボールすくい)

7) Tea Ceremony

8) Wear traditional kimonos/yukatas

9) Kendama (けんだま)

10) Hane-tsuki (はねつき)

11) Kendo (けんどう)

12) Karuta (カルタ)

13) Fukuwarai (ふくわらい)

14) Spinning tops (こままわし)

15) Used (Japanese) books sale

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Does the Japanese School near you host events like this?

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!

Kanji Practice Sheets

6 Aug

Here is a list of great printable kanji practice sheets! On all of these sites, the kanji are divided by grade level. Master the First Grade (一年生) kanji, then go to the next level. Please leave a comment if you know of any other great websites or resources for learning kanji.

1. Happy Lilac

Happy Lilac also has other great printables for elementary-aged children HERE.

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2.  子育て、ことば育て (Kotoba.littlestar.jp)

(This website might be by the same people who made the Happy Lilac website… they look very similar)

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3.  Jakka.jp

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4.  Nekopy.com

This website doesn’t have printables, but has great interactive games for reviewing kanji

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5. Kanji1006.com

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Related Posts:

Hiragana Practice Sheets

Katakana Practice Sheets

じゅうにし: Jyuunishi, the Japanese Zodiac Animals

15 Jan

あけましておめでとうございます!How did you spend your New Years? My children and I ate mochi, played karuta, and watched a little bit of 紅白歌合戦 (Kouhaku Uta Gassen).

One of my daughter’s first homework assignments from Japanese School this year is to complete a worksheet about the 十二支/じゅうにし(Jyuunishi). This is something that I’ve never thought to teach her and something I don’t know too  much about either. So of course I used the internet to look for the best resources to teach my daughter about the Jyuunishi.

I think I will begin by showing her a video of the story behind the jyuunishi animals. Here are a few of the best ones on YouTube (I love the 日本むかし話/Nihon Mukashi Banashi series!):

I also downloaded the story of the Jyuunishi on my iTouch for 99 cents via the “Koehon” app (for iPhone and iPad). If you don’t already have this app, I highly recommend it! The app itself is free. Once you download the app, you will have access to 250+ picture books, most of them Japanese!! This is a pretty huge deal, if you ask me, since paper copies of Japanese children’s books are not readily available in the U.S. Most of the stories are only 99 cents. You can either read the text yourself or listen to a pre-recording. Visit the official Japanese Koehon website HERE. (BTW, there are LOTS of NEW, great Japanese apps for kids now. I will do a separate post on those later.)

If you don’t have an iPod/iPad, you can visit Xuite’s website to listen to the story of the jyunishi (in Japanese) then print off the provided worksheet to complete.

Here’s another video to help you remember the order of the animals:

Then I will help my kids figure out what animal year they were born in, and read to them their “personality traits”. You can find those HERE and HERE (this website has a fun animal-matching flash game at the bottom).

Then, I will teach them that 2013 is the year of the SNAKE(へび). We might color one of the snake coloring pages by  happylilac.net. My daughter made paper plate snakes (instructions HERE at “Crafts and Art for Children) at Japanese School.

If you have any other ideas, please share!

 

(You can read more about Jyuunishi on Wikipedia, HERE. It is basically the same thing as the Chinese Zodiac Calendar).

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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