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Chibi Maruko-chan

26 Feb

Did anyone else grow up watching/reaching Chibi Maruko Chan(ちびまる子ちゃん)? Not only is this popular cartoon series fun to read, but great for learning Japanese words and learning about Japanese culture. (Click HERE to see the original cartoon series by Sakura Momoko on Amazon)

I  recently discovered a new series of educational cartoon books called “満点ゲットシリーズ (Get a Perfect Score Series) featuring Chibi Maruko-chan, and I am in love with them!!! They are meant for elementary-aged and older students, and PERFECT for an adult like me who wants a good review/brush up on their Japanese. If you happen upon these books, I highly recommend them! Click HERE to see all the books in this series.

There are books for learning kanji, keigo (polite Japanese), Japanese idioms, haiku, etc. There’s even books for learning math and social studies too. I want to read them all!

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There are several copies available on Amazon.com and Ebay, and one book in the series at JBox.com. Let me know if you find them anywhere else! My daughter’s Japanese School has most of these books so I’ve been borrowing one every few weeks to read.

Fun Kids Show: シャキーン!

29 Jan

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This morning we spent our TV time watching a Japanese show called “シャキーン!(Shakiin)” via YouTube. It is a 7am show designed for elementary-aged children to help wake their brains up in the morning. It has been entertaining and educational for me as well. Here’s the description of the show by NHK:

子どもたちを “シャキーン!”と目覚めさせて、楽しい一日のスタートを切ってもらう知的エンターテインメント番組。「いつもとは違うモノの見方」や「柔軟な発想力」が 楽しみながら身につきます。舞台は、雲の上まで突き出した木の上にある謎の秘密基地。愉快な仲間、ジュモクさん、あゆちゃん、ナオト、ネコッパチが、学校で友だちと話題にしたくなるようなトピックを次々と紹介します。クイズにアニメにエクササイズ、即興ゲームや思わず考えさせられてしまう歌など、子どもたちの五感や記憶力・観察力・表現力を育むコンテンツが盛りだくさん。朝から「ハッ!」としたり、「へえ」とうなるバラエティに富んだコーナーで、「体の目覚め」と「心の目覚め」を促します。

(Can’t read Japanese? Try using Google Translate)

You can watch a few Shakiin episodes below:

おとうさんといっしょ!(New Kids Program Coming to NHK)

24 Jan

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Have you heard? NHK just announced a new children’s show called おとうさんといっしょ/”Otousan to Issho”. It is scheduled to begin airing in April.

I am so excited to see what the show will be like!

Here’s what the NHK website says about it:

3~6歳の子どもとその家族向け「いっしょパワー全開!」の総合幼児番組。「一緒」と「遊び」を2つの柱に、おはなしや、親子あそび、うた等で構成する、愉快な音楽と笑いで彩られた30分間。一緒に遊んで、みんなで笑っちゃおう!

I sure wish we had cable+TV Japan so we can watch it right away. If I find any episodes on YouTube or elsewhere, I”ll be sure to share with you on this blog. If you are not familiar with the original children’s show, おかあさんといっしょ/Okaasan to issho, check out this post. 

Adorable Nontan Videos

22 Jan

Here are some more Nontan videos for your little ones!! We all love げんきげんきノンタン at our house 🙂



Momotaro on SuperWhy!

18 Jan

One  of my kids’ favorite non-Japanese TV shows is “SuperWhy!”. It is a show where cartoon characters solve problems using stories from fairytales and folktales while teaching children the ABC’s.

As I walked by my kids watching SuperWhy! this morning, I had to do a double-take when I saw the story of ももたろう/Momotaro on the show! I thought it was SuperCool! that they chose a Japanese folktale for an episode. They didn’t pronounce “Momotaro” correctly, but oh well. It is an older episode (season 1 episode 56). If you are interested, you can watch it via Hulu HERE.

If you want the REAL story of Momotaro, or “Peach Boy”, you can watch the video below:

 

This story is a great one to share with your children in preparation for the upcoming Setsubun holiday (February 3), because it will familiarize your children with “oni” (ogres). Other good Japanese children’s stories with ogres are “こぶとりじいさん/Kobu Toru Jiisan” and “いっすんぼうし/Issunboshi”.

Click HERE for a printable mask of Momotaro and other Japanese folklore characters, and HERE for a coloring page.

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!

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!

Buying Japanese Children’s Books, DVD’s, etc.

17 May

“Dog Loves Books”, by Louise Yates

Over a year ago, I wrote up a post about “How to Get Japanese Children’s Books.” It has been one of my most popular posts, so there must be many of you out there searching for books for your children! A year ago, it was very difficult to find Japanese books online. I am here to tell you that it is now easier!

I have been browsing eBay recently and have been pleasantly surprised to find that there are now many more people selling Japanese children’s books, DVDs, other educational materials, and toys… and at pretty decent prices.

To search on your own, just go to eBay.com and search for “Japanese Children’s Books”, “Japanese Children’s DVD’s”, “Kodomo Challenge”, “Anpanman”, “Hiragana Charts”, or whatever it is you are looking for, and you’ll probably find stuff. I should probably go through the stuff I don’t need anymore and sell them on eBay too!

Amazon.com (the American version) still lacks a great selection, but you can see the ones that I have found HERE. One of my readers, Louise, emailed me to let me know that a book she has written called “Dog Loves Books” is now available in Japanese. It looks adorable! Good job Louise!

Amazon.co.jp (Amazon Japan) is the best place to buy Japanese children’s books and DVDs. They will now ship to most countries outside the U.S., and shipping costs are more affordable than they used to be.

Joechip.net has written a good post about other online retailers that sell Japanese Children’s Books.

If you and your children enjoy Japanese children’s magazines like ベビーブック and たのしい幼稚園, you can order an issue or subscribe for 6months~year at shop.mitsuwa.com. They also have subscriptions to “Kodomo no Tomo“, a company that sends you children’s books each month. I have a local friend who does this for her daughter and they really enjoy receiving new books each month.

Don’t forget about Benesse’s Kodomo Challenge program too (with Shimajiro). Read my post about it HERE.

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Whew! Did that help anyone out there? Have you made any cool discoveries lately? Where do you buy your Japanese books?

P.S. I am not getting paid by anyone to advertise their stores or products!

“Smile Pretty Cure”… my thoughts

8 May

My sweet 4-year old has graduated from Japanese shows like Inai Inai Baa/いないいないば〜 and Okaasantoissho/おかあさんといっしょ (cry!). She’ll tolerate Anpanman/アンパンマン. Most recently (due to influences from friends at Japanese school), she is really into the Pretty Cure/プリキュア series. Have you heard of the show? If not, check out the info on Wikipedia. (Official websites here and here). It is all the rage among Japanese preschoolers!

My daughter, getting sucked into the Pretty Cure section at a toy store in Japan.

As her mother, I am not sure what to think of this show.  The problems I have with Pretty Cure are:

1) It’s not very educational. Sure, watching the show might help improve my daughter’s Japanese a little bit, but they also often use made-up words and spend a lot of time transforming.

2) The girls don’t dress very modestly (short short skirts, bare midriffs, etc). Plus, I don’t really want my daughter idolizing “14-year old” girls who don’t represent reality at all (huge sparkly eyes, super-skinny, colored hair, etc.). Why are the main characters of a show geared toward really young girls teenagers, anyway? **I noticed that in the most recent season, Smile Precure, all the girls are wearing shorts under their short skirts and there’s no bare midriffs. I wonder if a lot of parents complained about the outfits from the past few seasons (in the very beginning, they wore shorts as well)? It’s a good change!**

3) The show is a huge marketing tool (like the Disney Princesses). It is obvious they are using the show to sell their products.

4) I know people obsessed with anime/Japanese girls watch shows like these and the thought grosses me out.

Those things being said, I don’t think watching the show occasionally is going to ruin my daughter. I think it does teach things like the importance of being a good friend, and to not give up. I read a few manga series as a young girl myself (like Sailor Moon and RayEarth) and I turned out fine (haha). One of my motherhood/life mantras is “all things in moderation”, and I think that may apply in this situation as well. I’m fine with her watching Smile PreCure with friends but I’m not going to give in to her obsession and let her watch it every day.

her favorite preschool magazine features the PreCure characters

The show has actually given me opportunities to teach my young girl about reality vs fantasy. Just the other day, she looked at me with big eyes and said, “Mom, are my eyes sparkly, like the PreCure girls?” and “I wish my hair was a different color.” I told her that she is beautiful the way she is, and that the characters on PreCure are not real. It is impossible to look like them. I need to talk to her about the importance of dressing modestly too, soon.

We need to tell our daughters that they are beautiful, every day (same goes for sons). Even at this young age, the “world”‘s influence on them is so powerful. We need to tell them they are beautiful, powerful, intelligent, and can be happy and successful in this life without superpowers and sparkly eyes :).

Do you have any thoughts? Do you let your kids watch/read anime, like Pokemon or Pretty Cure?

Here’s the “Group Transformation Scene” from Smile PreCure. Can you see why little girls love it? 🙂 It is pretty entertaining.

P.S. One of my blog-friends is having a giveaway at her blog, Little Japan Mama! Hurry over and enter!

はじめまして!Nice to Meet You! Video

19 Apr

An Okaasan to Issho video about meeting a friend for the first time.

*In case you are new to my blog… our family is enjoying a vacation in Japan, and will be back to posting original content when we get back! In the meanwhile, enjoy these YouTube finds 🙂

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