Tuesday, December 3, 2013

せっけんさん Sekkensan (Mr Soap) Japanese Kids Song (with subtitles)

Sekkensan (Mr Soap) is a Japanese kids' song that my three-year-old daughter is learning in Japanese preschool. She and my older daughter are singing it on this video. I subtitled it three ways ... in hiragana, romaji, and in English. The song is about the wonderful smells of soap and the association with one's mom! Grammatically, it's more like phrases than sentences, so it's easy for even the youngest children or Japanese beginner student to learn.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fall Festival, or あきまつり for Kindergarteners

I love the Fall Festival, or あきまつり, my daughter's school puts on every year. She goes to a bilingual Japanese-English school here in Michigan now, which is connected to the Japanese immersion preschool she went to for two years. Anyway, at the fall festival, all of the kids get to wear kimono or happi coats and carry around an omikoshi outside, chanting 'wasshoi, wasshoi.' I think that means heave-ho or something like that. An omikoshi is the thing you see in the picture below. It's like a portable Shinto shrine, but the teachers don't exactly delve into the details of what it is. They say, 'Hey kids, let's decorate the omikoshi!! Ok, now let's carry it!' It's lots of fun.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Field Trip to the Post Office (郵便局の遠足)

Please have a look at the video below, which shows a journal entry for my three-year-old, who is learning Japanese. The purpose is for me to read it to her so she can remember the different things she did at her Japanese school and can express those things by herself eventually. Journals are a great way to learn a foreign language because they are personal to you and therefore are more accessible as a memory than just a dialog from a textbook. Thus, it helps your long-term retention of new vocabulary. Plus, it's fun.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Week 1 Japanese Kids' Songs

At 11 pm this evening, my three-year-old daughter started singing the "te o tatakimasho" song. In fact, there are four songs she's been singing constantly this week, and here they are.

Teku Teku (clip clop)

Hajimaru Yo (Here we go)

Gu Choki Pa (rock paper scissors)

Te o Takakimashoo (let's clap our hands)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

What ... these six-year-olds don't clean up their American classrooms? Why Japanese school children clean their schools.

When asked, my Japanese friend told me what surprised her about American elementary schools in America was that the children don't clean. And by clean she means washing desks and shelves with a rag, sweeping the classrooms and hallways with brooms, older kids doing periodic cleaning of bathrooms, etc. In Japan, students clean the school like this starting in elementary school and continuing through their high school years. For about 15 minutes a day, it's おそうじ (o-souji) time, or cleaning time. Students, teachers, even administrators drop everything, pull out the buckets and mops, and give everything a good scrub with soap and water.

The practice comes from Buddhist traditions that associate cleaning with morality. The Japanese school curriculum goes beyond the core subjects and also strives to teach cooperation, a sense of responsibility, and public morality. Doing daily cleaning is seen as contributing to this. If you've ever seen how clean Japan is - the graffiti-free subways, the litter-free streets, the tidy neighborhoods whether rich or poor, you will understand this a little bit more.

My daughter's Japanese school here in Michigan only does a one おおそうじ (oosouji), or big cleaning, before the end of the year.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Three おべんとう obento lunches

Obento 1 (for こどものひ Children's Day). Imitation crab, rice, carrots, rasberries, grapes, broccoli

Obento 2. Hotdog, onigiri with nori and furikake, carrots, rasberries

Obento 3. Family Obento: Coldcut sandwiches, apple slices, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, carrots

Monday, July 15, 2013

First day of Japanese Summer Camp

It's the first day of Japanese summer camp here in Michigan, and both my six-year-old daughter and three-year-old daughter are old enough to go this year. It's a full-immersion environment, so I am eager to see how my youngest one enjoys it and makes friends.

Of course, I wanted to make them a cute obento (お弁当) for their first day. This is plain rice (ごはん) with nori (のり) "waves," fish-shaped omelet (たまごやき), broccoli (ブロッコリ), clementines (みかん), and grapes (ぶどう). A typical kids' lunch in Japan with five colors. Healthy and easy to make ... IF you have a rice cooker. I used a food coloring marker for the fish eyes and smile, which I'm sure will bleed and look terrible by lunch time. It's better to use a hole punch and nori to make little details.

I buy the obento boxes (お弁当ばこ) from www.jlist.org. They have a great selection of boxes, much better than our local Japanese store, and good prices as well. The heart one is here, but I can't find the other one anymore. Since the items are shipped from Japan, you do have to pay international shipping, but it's not that bad.