Tag Archives: し

Fun Kids Show: シャキーン!

29 Jan


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:

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).

しまうまグルグル Song

12 Jul

One of our favorite Japanese children’s songs is “Shimauma Guruguru/しまうまグルグル”, which is about taking the stripes off a zebra. It has a very catchy tune and is easy for little kids to learn. It’s also fun to make up your own verses to the song… if you were to take the stripes off a zebra, what would YOU put it on? You can even take it a step further and illustrate the song. Here are two videos you can sing along to:

1) From Okaasan to Issho

2)Sing it Karaoke-style (by takanonGB)

し:しりとり Shiritori Game

27 Jun

We are having an awesome summer! Swimming, picking strawberries, playing with friends, soccer, trying new veggies from the CSA… each day seems to FLY by. I am sorry I have not been posting as frequently this month. I also apologize for being slow in replying to comments and emails. Our life is busy, busy, busy!

A game that my daughter and I enjoy playing is Shiritori. It is a very popular Japanese word game. What I love about this game is that almost anyone of any age and skill level can play this game, and it doesn’t require anything but your brain! It is a great way to learn/review vocabulary. We like to play this game while driving in the car.

This is the simple way to play the game:

1) One person begins by saying a Japanese word (usually a noun).

2) The next person has to say a word that begins with the last kana of the previous word.

3) Next person does the same as #2. You keep taking turns thinking of a word that begins with the last kana of the previus word.

4) Words cannot be used more than once.

5) If you say a word that ends with “ん”, you lose!

Here is an example:

たいや–>  やま–>  まくら–>  らいおん(oops, you lose!)

There are other variations to the game to make it harder. You can read more about Shiritori Rules HERE (wikipedia).

And HERE are some printable shiritori games (happylilac.net).

You can watch a video of us playing Shiritori at the top of this post. My 4-year old is better at this game than I am! I challenge you to play this game with someone today :).

し:しょうがつ/ New Year’s in Japan

26 Dec

Here are some ways you can celebrate the new year (おしょうがつ) Japanese-style with your children:

from fumira.jp

1) Eat Osechi-ryori (お節料理), ozoni (お雑煮), mochi, soba, and sushi.

2) Ring bells at midnight to get rid of worldly desires.

3) Send New Year’s Postcards(ねんがじょう).

4) Give otoshidama (money) to children :).

5) Write a haiku about the new year.

6) Play games such as hanetsuki, spin tops, fly kites, karuta, and fukuwarai.

7) On January 1st, wake up early to watch the first sunrise of the year. Also, try to remember your first dream of the year.

8) Sing the New Year’s Song (lyrics HERE):

How do you ring in the new year?


10 May


Japan has the coolest, fastest, most efficient trains in the world- no wonder little Japanese boys LOVE trains! The Shinkansen is the name for the bullet train, which can run as fast as 200 miles per hour! I hope my kids can experience the excitement of the train stations and trains in Japan someday.


1) Sanrio.com has a special website for their Shinkansen character, as well as shinkansen coloring pages.

2) Click here for another しんかんせんcoloring page. Oh, and this page has cool coloring pages of all kinds of trains (from the West Japan Railway Company)!

3) Shinkansen Kids website, here.

4) Japanese website for Thomas & Friends, here. This show is very popular in Japan.

… and this has nothing to do with Japan, but, have you heard about Miniatur Wunderland. the world’s largest miniature railway in the world, in Germany? It is pretty awesome. Watch a preview below:

し:しまじろう/Shimajiro’s Kodomo Challenge

2 May

I just wanted to share some sites for those of you interested in Bennesse’s Kodomo Challenge Program (こどもちゃれんじ). Bennesse has a mail-order educational packet available for all age groups, from newborn~college. I am only familiar with the programs for babies/toddlers. My kids LOVE learning with Shimajiro. My daughter has learned a lot of Japanese vocabulary and songs from watching the DVD’s and reading the accompanying books. She’s also learning about science and Japanese culture. We think it is awesome!

We don’t have an actual subscription- we have just received some from friends as their children have grown too old for the program. But if you actually sign up for the subscription, each month you will get a DVD, books, educational toys, etc. The DVD’s for kids are about 15 minutes long, which is perfect.  I think they will even mail you something special for your child’s birthday. In Japan the package is about 2000 yen/month.

You can subscribe even if you live overseas. Here is the website for overseas subscribers (warning: you will need to be able to read Japanese). Click here to see pricing. I think it is about $50/month for those in the United States. You could also have a relative subscribe in Japan and have them mail the packets to you… but I’m not sure if that would save you any money.

If you live outside of Japan, don’t have a lot of Japanese community resources, and are serious about your children learning Japanese (and having fun while they do so), I highly recommend Kodomo Challenge!

(More Shimajiro websites to check out here and here).

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