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“Hiragana at Home”, a Home Education Resource

13 Apr

I am excited to share with you a new (as of April 2023) resource for families wanting to teach their young children the Japanese language and culture at home.

Hiragana at Home” is the creation of Hannah Haruna. Hannah is from the U.S., and has lived in Japan for 8 years. She first fell in love with Japan during a teaching internship at Osaka University of Economics and Law, and later returned to live in Japan permanently.

She is now married, and she and her native Japanese husband Masashi have one son, and another on the way soon.

After living in Tokyo and Yokohama city for some years, Hannah and her husband decided to move to rural Hyogo, where they recently purchased a Japanese “akiya” with 2 acres of land. They are now in the process of renovating their old, fixer-upper home while learning about sustainable living in their countryside community.

Hannah is a former school teacher and homeschool alumni, and has experience teaching preschoolers through adults in a variety of settings.

She loves speaking about home life as a bilingual, multicultural family, and what it is like as an immigrant living overseas in Japan, as well as sharing with others about homesteading and gardening, the slow life, language, and home education.

You can read more about her over at her blog,!

So what is “Hiragana at Home”? In Hannah’s own words:

“I did not originally intend to create a home education resource for bilingual families. Rather, Hiragana at Home is a program that I lovingly created for my own family, and decided to make available to the public in the hopes that it helps others who desire for their bilingual child to flourish at home.

Hiragana at Home is a one-year language-based program designed for the preschool level to expose children to Japanese language. It will be released in 3 parts throughout the year. Part 1 covers Term 1 out of 3 of the Japanese school year. Parts 2 and 3 will be released to those that purchase the program as are they are completed.

Hiragana at Home employs the use of lots of free resources, including free online print-outs that you can download from the internet, an extensive list of books that you can borrow from the library or purchase online, and much more.

Hiragana at Home is not focused on passing tests or “getting ahead”.

Instead, it embraces a philosophy that learning and play can be one and the same, and that children do not need to stay indoors “studying” for long hours, but also that young children can learn language from a young age (and have fun doing it!).

It is generally adults, not children, who view language as tiresome, boring, or academic!

Rather than just rote memorization, children can be familiarized with hiragana through motor skills, music, life skills, and creative pursuits.

If you purchase the program, you will be provided with a daily schedule of suggested activities, and weekly notes to help you plan and know exactly what you need to prepare for each set of lessons.

Hiragana at Home includes reference pages to address specific needs, help with troubleshooting, and provide tips for teaching. Parents without a background in the Japanese language will benefit from the “Tips for Non-Native Speakers” and those new to home educating will appreciate the more general “Tips for Teaching”.

There is also a supply list of suggested craft supplies and learning tools, and a booklist of suggested books to purchase or borrow from the library.”

Learn more about this program HERE!

Here is a sneak peek at one of the lesson plans:

My own children are now older so I did not get to try out this program for myself, but it seems like a wonderful resource for families of young children, especially those who desire a homeschool-type of program.

I applaud Hannah for putting together such a thoughtful program to share with others. I know from first-hand experience that projects of this magnitude require a lot of work… especially when you are also parenting young children! Thank you Hannah!

Hiragana at Home can be yours at this link:

I have also teamed up with Hannah to give away a FULL PROGRAM ($50 value) to one Hiragana Mama reader!! Simply leave a comment on this post (make sure you leave an email address so I can contact you) and you will be entered in the drawing. I will randomly select and announce a winner on April 30th, 2023. Your email address will not be collected or used for any other purpose other than for this giveaway.

The winner of the giveaway is Sarah Vinall! Please check your email for redemption instructions. Congrats!

Dino Books Review! Read Bilingual Stories Online

2 May


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 ( 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.).


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.


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.


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 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!


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.

Hiragana Learning Videos for Kids

2 Mar

I’ve found the best Japanese hiragana-learning videos for you! Use them to introduce, teach, and review hiragana with children. (Looking for FREE printable hiragana worksheets? Click HERE. )

I think YouTube Channel SweetDinos has some of the best videos. Here are two to get you started! Visit their channel for all the hiragana and katakana.

You Tube channel Nokkana Animation has many hiragana videos for the youngest leaners. Here’s just two of many:

Ikuman is another YouTube channel with great learning videos for children. Here’s an example:

Here’s even more, in no particular order.

Click HERE for a good video that I can’t embed on this site, but it’s good! It’s called ひらがな見つけちゃおう!/Let’s Look for Hiragana!

A Hiragana song by the Shimajiro Channel:

Learn Hiragana Song by ハグクモーション:

Myu Sings AIUEO by Myu Papa:

Japanese Alphabet Hiragana Song by Hiroto S:

あいうえお by jun egusa:

Japanese Alphabet Song by LetsLearnJapanese:

These are for kids or adults, from Learn Japanese with Japanese Pod 101:

Do you have a favorite video that I failed to mention? Comment below!

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!)











Kendama Toy (great for all ages!)













Vive Le Color! Japan Coloring Book for Adults












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












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












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)











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











Yokai Watch Karuta (for your Yokai Watch fanatic)












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












Pack of Japanese Snacks












Uncle Goose Hiragana Wood Blocks










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

Japanese Back to School Supplies!

6 Aug

Have you all  started your back-to-school shopping yet? We have enjoyed our summer but I can’t wait to get back to the school routine (and have some peace and quiet in my house– ha!).

Something that (I feel) is far superior in Japan are school and office supplies. The pencils and erasers my kids use at their American school are always breaking/doesn’t erase well. We went to an office supply store while we were in Japan and I was in heaven! So many high quality supplies, and designed well too.

I came back to the U.S. and was pleasantly surprised that many Japanese school supplies are available on Amazon! And you can’t beat the free shipping. I gathered some of my favorite items into my Amazon store for you here. I’ll keep adding as I find more:


My 7-year old daughter and I highly recommend these MONO erasers. She chooses these over her cute, character-shaped erasers every time because they WORK!


My son would go crazy over this Yokai Watch Bento Box. I would buy this for him if I hadn’t just recently purchased a Super Mario one for him in Japan! (My kids are currently obsessed with this show… maybe I’ll write a post about it later).


And it’s time to kick it into high gear with our Japanese studies. I find that my kids’ Japanese gets worse once the school year begins because they are immersed in English so much of the day. Thankfully, there are now a lot of Japanese-language materials available online now, like this Hiragana Practice Board.


What back to school supplies do you like the most? Are you excited for your kids to go back, or do you wish summer could last a little longer?

Using Labels to Learn Japanese

25 Mar

I recently came upon the realization that I really need to work on my children’s vocabulary. So one night while they were sleeping, I used masking tape+marker to label items around the house in Japanese! When they woke up in the morning, the kids had fun discovering what I had labeled in the kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedrooms. I think this will help us learn some new words and use them in context. The labels are an eyesore, but I plan to remove them once I’m confident we have mastered the use of that word.





If you would like to do the same, just walk around your house and write down the things that your kids would not be able to name in Japanese. There may be some words that you’ll have to look up in a dictionary! Use a permanent marker to write the word on masking tape, and stick it on the corresponding item. When everyone in the family has learned the word, you can remove the masking tape.

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!


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:

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

Simple Hiragana Chant

25 Oct

A simple & straightforward way to teach hiragana to toddlers! Repetition really is a great teaching tool!

video by babylionmovie on YouTube

“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!


Screenshot from

Hiragana YouTube Videos

24 May

Short, fun videos to help children learn hiragana 🙂 Search “hiragana videos” using the search tool to the right to see even more videos!

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