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DIY Paper Yoyo’s for the Holidays!

12 Dec

I volunteered to be in charge of a Christmas craft for a playdate this week. I looked on Pinterest for craft ideas and didn’t see anything that I liked ( I needed something easy enough for 3~5 year olds, inexpensive, quick, and not messy). I looked at the materials I already have and thought and thought. Then I came up with this idea (inspired by something I saw on a Japanese children’s show… I think it was “Shimajiro’s Wow”?). Paper Yo-yo’s!

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I don’t know about you, but I have TONS of wrapping paper. I bought a roll at Costco last year, and I think there’s enough paper to last me my entire lifetime. This craft will make use of some of that paper. I hope you will try this craft with your kids– it is very easy, fun, and only takes 3 materials!

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Materials Needed:

1) Wrapping paper (or any other kind of long paper)

2) Tape (I think double-sided would work great)

3) Disposable chopsticks (or any other sturdy stick)

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Instructions:

1) First, cut your wrapping paper into a long, skinny strip. Mine was about 3 inches by 3 feet (but it does not have to be exact). In the photo, you can see that I cut many strips– one for each child.

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2) Break the disposable chopstick in two (where you’re supposed to break it). Place the chopstick on one edge of the wrapping paper with the top of the stick lining up with the top of the paper.

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3) Tape the chopstick down with tape.

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4) Carefully and tightly begin rolling the paper onto the stick, being sure to keep it lined up straight as you go.

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5) When you have wrapped the entire length of the paper onto the stick, unwrap and re-roll (to ensure that the yo-yo works well).

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6) When you let go, it will look like this:

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7) And you are done! To use, gently flick your wrist as you hold the bottom of the stick, or hang upside-down to “bounce” the yo-yo in the air. If you spin out the yo-yo too powerfully, the paper can unravel and you will need to roll it again. Isn’t it fun?

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Please let me know if you make these paper yoyo’s. I think they would make great birthday party favors and classmate gifts as well.

I also want to rave about the awesomeness of masking tape. It has come in so handy for the holidays! You can use masking tape to secure your yo-yo when not in use, keep your roll of wrapping paper from unraveling, wrapping gifts, taping holiday cards to the wall, etc. The great thing about masking tape is that it will not damage paper or the wall when you peel it off, and can be re-used. Omiyage.ca has the cutest masking tapes ever! (I am not sponsored by them, I am just in love with their store/blog– so pretty!)

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Thanks for reading, please share/pin this post if you enjoyed it!

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Summary in Japanese:

クリスマスの紙ヨーヨーです。子供たちも自分で作れる,簡単なクラフトです。家にある物で作れますので,ぜひちょうせんしてください。

Shimajiro Wow! Videos

3 Dec

I know I said I wouldn’t post anymore this year, but I wanted to share these videos real quick. My kids have been sick a lot this past month so we’ve been spending a lot of time at home and they’ve been driving me crazy! These videos are giving me  a little break to regain my sanity🙂 Maybe they will do the same for you.

しまじろうのわお” is a newer children’s program in Japan with an emphasis on science. Click here for more sample videos, activities, and information about the show. The Shimajiro YouTube Channel also has great previews and full-length song videos.

Here are some samples from the show:


Dino Lingo Japanese Review

29 Oct

Have you all heard of Dino Lingo (dinolingo.com)? I had seen it online and was curious about how effective the program is at teaching children Japanese, so I was thrilled when Dino Lingo contacted me and sent a free Japanese set to try out and review.

Here’s a brief description of the Dino Lingo program from their website:

  • Dino Lingo Japanese for Kids is an award-winning language teaching program pedagogically designed for small children.
  • This program consists of 5 DVDs, flash cards, posters, books and the parents guide.
  • After watching the DVDs several times and playing with the flash cards, most children can easily name everyday objects and understand basic phrases in Japanese.
  • Dino Lingo Japanese for Kids is suitable for all children between the ages of 2 to 7 years old.

My package arrived quickly and looked like this:

I received a set of 5 Japanese language learning DVD’s, plus some flashcards. Here’s what each DVD covers:

DVD 1 – Let’s Count: Numbers and colors / 35 min.
DVD 2 – Let’s Eat: Food, fruit and vegetables / 35 min.
DVD 3 – Let’s Play: Toys, house items, vehicles / 35 min.
DVD 4 – Let’s Jump: Verbs, actions and nature / 35 min.
DVD 5 – Let’s Learn: Family, body parts, and clothes / 35 min.
Daily conversations, greetings and animals are included in all five DVDs.

There are flashcards for numbers, colors, animals, body parts, etc. There are even more Japanese-learning products to choose from online such as workbooks and posters. My daughter, who knows most of her hiragana, got right to work reading all the words on the flashcards.

Of course, my children wanted to watch the DVD’s right away. My son was excited about all the dinosaurs and vehicles used in the show. They liked the first DVD enough to where we watched it twice in a row. I noticed my 2-year old son saying the Japanese words out loud the second time… so repetition works!

Here are some things I liked about the DVD’s:

– Lots of repetition which is great for younger learners

– I can tell a native Japanese speaker is saying the words

– Kept the kids’ attention

Some areas I thought could be improved upon were:

– The graphics/animations are not up to par with other children’s shows (don’t expect Disney quality)

– I thought there were some wasted minutes between segments with unrelated animations

Here’s a sample video of what the shows are like:

Overall, I am thankful to Dino Lingo for creating this program for teaching children basic Japanese. There really isn’t a lot of resources out there for teaching kids Japanese right now! This set is a great option for a family who wants to expose their children to other languages at a young age (Dino Lingo offers DVDs in MANY languages other than Japanese too). It might be wonderful for a family planning to host a student visiting from Japan, or a bilingual family who wants to expose their children to as much Japanese as possible. I think these DVD’s would also be great to show at a bilingual/immersion language school.

Simply watching these DVDs will not make your child fluent in Japanese (there’s not much conversation in the videos). It is more for building vocabulary. It may not be the  best option for families where the parents are native Japanese speakers (that would be like showing Dora the Explorer to a native Spanish-speaking family).

If you are interested in Dino Lingo, there is a Halloween special going on right now! Enter the code TREAT10 at checkout to receive 10% off your oder🙂 This deal expires on November 1st.

ありがとう、Dino Lingo!

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!

Japanese Children’s Stories Read-Alouds (Yomikikase)

14 Oct

Here are some wonderful read-alouds of Japanese children’s books (by YouTube user gemstonerecordsjp). These are great if you are not a native Japanese speaker and you want your children to listen to someone speaking Japanese!  Enjoy!

くれよんのくろくん A Cute Story About a Black Crayon

8 Oct

One of my favorite things about my daughter attending Japanese School is that we have access to their library! I’m actually a library volunteer so I get to see all the new books and DVD’s as they come in. This week, one of the books we borrowed was called “くろくんとふしぎなともだち” (The title translates to “The Black Crayon and the Mysterious Friend”). Both my 2-year old son and 4-year old daughter were completely attentive as I read this book to them.

I think it is so appropriate for the black crayon to be the star of these stories! With the amount of drawing we do around here, we go through the color black very quickly. I think crayon companies should include at least 2 blacks in every box (Crayola, are you listening?)!

doshinsha.co.jp

This book is actually just one of a few in the くろくん series by なかやみわ (Nakaya Miwa). We’ve read the original くれよんのくろくん and it was wonderful too. I highly recommend these books for toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary-aged children! Here is a YouTube video of gemstonerecordsjp reading it out loud :

What are you favorite children’s books lately? I would love some recommendations.

コんガらガっち Videos!

15 Aug

I love stumbling across awesome new (to me) Japanese videos!! This morning I came across the “コんガらガっち/kongaragacchi” series (from Pitagora Switch/ピタゴラスイッチ… I think… correct me if I’m wrong). The segment takes 12 different animals, and makes a variety of other combination-animals with them. Hard to explain, you’ll just have to watch! (Click HERE to see all the different animals).

Are your creative juices flowing? You could draw your own animals and make your own combinations with your kids. A great way to learn the names of animals in Japanese!

Printable Japanese Worksheets and Books from Brother.co.jp

12 Aug

There seems to be no lack of wonderful websites for learning Japanese geared toward children these days. I love it!! It was just a few years ago when I would scour the internet for resources and could never find anything good. We are blessed in this digital age to have all these resources at our fingertips.

image from brother.co.jp

The website I want to highlight today is brother.co.jp. Their “free downloads” section has wonderful printables, including hiragana and katana worksheets, papercrafts, BOOKS, etc. I want to print off their free books onto cardstock and have them bound for my kids. Their hiragana/katakana worksheets are beautifully done too.  Thank you, brother!

P.S. I have updated my “hiragana practice sheets” and “katakana resources” pages lately. Check them out and share with your friends!🙂.

Website: Okochama.jp

10 Aug

Today I have another website to share with you: okochama.jp. This website is made for preschoolers and up and has age-appropriate games for learning hiragana, katakana, numbers, etc. Check it out and see if you like it!

image from okochama.jp

image from okochama.jp

image from okochama.jp

Is anyone else totally sleep-deprived because of the Olympics? The athletes are so incredible and inspire me to be the best that I can be!

 

おべんきょう.com

23 Jul

Today I have another great website for you to check out: おべんきょう.com! It has great printable worksheets to practice writing hiragana and katakana, numbers, telling time, etc! It also has printable flashcards and hiragana/katakana charts. I thought it was really clever of them to use hiragana as their web address🙂

image from おべんきょう.com

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