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

DIY Training Chopsticks (トレーニングはし)

10 Oct

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Recently, we took the kids to a Japanese restaurant, where they ordered a bowl of ramen. I was delighted when the waitress brought them some training chopsticks. As I studied the chopsticks, I realized it is super easy to make yourself! It took me a few tries to get the tension just right, but it WAS really easy. So the next time you go out to eat at an Asian restaurant, just take along a rubberband (or hair tie) and you are ready to make your own training chopsticks in just a few minutes!

I made you a short video so you can see exactly how it’s done:

After I published my video, I saw that a few others have made similar videos. You can watch them all to see which technique works best for you ;)

Please share with your friends who have children, or adults who have yet to master the art of using chopsticks!

*****

P.S. Eating Japanese food with a fork is silly. Learn to use chopsticks! (past post about training chopsticks here)

Click HERE and scroll down to see how to use real chopsticks.

Japanese Greetings/ あいさつ + An Update

4 Oct

Wow, I can’t believe I haven’t posted in a month! Blogging has been taking a back seat to other priorities for now. I know I have received a lot of emails that I haven’t replied to… I am so sorry :(. The older I get, the more I am learning  it’s ok to say “no” to some things in life so I can be a peaceful, happy mommy and be able to devote quality time to myself and my family. Some things our family has been up to: back-to-school (kindergarten and preschool!) for my kids, new after school activities, apple-picking, costume-making, jury duty, birthdays, Zumba, business trips, and of course, learning Japanese ;).

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I am planning to blog about Undoukai (Sports Day at Japanese School), how to make your own training chopsticks, reading-aloud to your kids, good Japanese books we’ve read recently, traditional Japanese games, etc, so keep checking back. In the meanwhile, check out my past posts about Japan-inspired Halloween costume ideas and How Halloween is celebrated in Japan. 

I’ll also leave you with these Shimajiro videos I watched with my son this morning. The theme of these videos is greetings/あいさつ… something my kids need to work on.  These videos are perfect for toddlers and preschoolers!

はじめてのおつかい: “My First Errand”

5 Sep

When you were a child, did your parents ever ask you to run an errand (おつかい) for them on your own?  I vividly remember going to the department store in Tokyo to buy some bread, all by myself… and I was only 4 years old! I felt like such a big girl! I even walked to my piano lessons by myself at that age. If you’ve ever visited Japan, you know that even today, young children take the train to school by themselves.

In this day in age in America, not only would this seem unimaginable, but downright dangerous to send a preschooler out by themselves. I don’t even let my kids play in our yard without me out there with them. (Oh how it would be nice to go back to the “good old days!”).

Anyway, “Hajimete no otsukai”, or “My first time running an errand by myself” is a pretty big milestone to some families in Japan. I recently found out that there is a TV show called “Hajimete No Otsukai/はじめてのおつかい“… the show has been around for over 20 years! TV Japan aired one of their specials recently and my kids were GLUED to the show! My kids must have been thinking, “What? A kid like me going shopping all by themselves? That is crazy!”. It was an adorable show! Here’s one of the older episodes found on YouTube:

Part 1

 

Part 2

 

You can watch an entire 3-hour long special HERE.

 

One of my favorite Japanese children’s books is also called “Hajimete No Otsukai“. I think the book might have inspired the TV show.

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I’d love to know about your “first otsukai” experience, if the country you live in is safe enough for kids to run errands by themselves, or any other thoughts you may have! :)

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

Japanese Children’s Clothes from Uniqlo

26 Jul

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When we visited Japan last year, I visited a Uniqlo store for the first time, and loved it! Their clothing is inexpensive without sacrificing quality. They have great basics as well as more fashionable items. Over the past year, several more stores have opened in the U.S. (mostly along the coasts) and they have opened their online store. The clothing for adults have been hit-or-miss for me (the sizing is hard for me to figure out) but I highly recommend the kid’s clothes from Uniqlo!

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Here are some children’s shirts I ordered most recently. They were all $5.90 on sale. I tried to get some gender-neutral ones so both my son and daughter can wear them.  They fit great and wash well– great for playing in! I love that Uniqlo collaborates with different companies and designers for their designs. Many Japanese characters (Rilakkuma, Sanrio) are featured on their clothing.

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My daughter is loving this Koala’s March (コアラのマーチ) T-shirt.

Just thought some of you readers might be interested! If you have a store near you, I am jealous!

We Love “Shimura Zoo”!

22 Jul

It has been a few months since we signed up for TV Japan (cable TV channel). It has been worth the investment for us. I do wish there were more shows available for school-aged children (most of the kids’ shows are geared toward toddlers) but I feel that replacing most of our TV time with Japanese instead of English shows has helped my children speak more Japanese at home. My kids’ (ages 3 and 5) favorite shows are Pitagora Switch, Design Ah, and Kid’s Discovery.

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image by NTV

Our newest obsession is a show called Shimura Zoo (天才!志村どうぶつ園)by Nippon Television Network.  It is a great show for all ages! The show is about celebrities taking care of adorable baby animals. I like that there’s lots of subtitles so we can practice reading Japanese too :). A lot of the episodes are available on YouTube for those of you who are not subscribed to TV Japan.

The only downside of this show is that my children now beg me to buy a pet every day…

Happy Tanabata! 2013

7 Jul

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I’ll be honest, Tanabata usually takes a back seat to the 4th of July at our house. By the time we celebrate Independence Day by going to the beach, BBQ’s, and late-night fireworks, I don’t even want to think about celebrating another holiday 3 days later. How about you? How do you celebrate Tanabata?

So I was very grateful when my daughter made some Tanabata decorations at Japanese School yesterday.

 

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My daughter’s Tanabata wish: “にじがみたい” (I want to see a rainbow).

 

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Take a moment today to make a tanabata wish!

Search my site for “Tanabata” for more on this Japanese summer holiday!

Kanji Learning Prep

1 Jul

In just a year from now, my daughter will begin learning kanji at Japanese School. In the first grade (6 years old), students typically learn to read and write 80 kanji characters. I am going to begin working on creating a “Kanji Practice Sheets” page, similar to my “Hiragana Practice Sheets”  and “Katana Resources” pages. Do you know any GREAT websites for learning kanji? If so, please let me know so I can include them on the list.

In the meanwhile, here are some YouTube videos about leaning kanji that are geared toward children:

“部首のうた” by Jun Egusa

漢字大好き 1

漢字アニメ「森」by 吉野 登志也 (more videos here)

 

P.S. THANK YOU so much to everyone who has “liked” the Hiragana Mama facebook page! –>

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