Dr. Lingua Kana Games (Review)

dr-lingua

I’ve got someone I’d like introduce to parents, home educators, and teachers of children interested in learning Japanese. Say konnichiwa こんにちは to Dr. Lingua.

One of the challenges I’ve had when finding Japanese learning resources for my kids was finding interactive kana (hiragana and katakana) games that were well designed, in terms of both aesthetics and functionality. The resources at Dr.Lingua.com pass the test for both.

These games were created by a game designer and father from Australia for his two young children who study Japanese at school.   His children enjoyed the game so much they got their teachers to share the games with other students, and even others schools in Australia. And after playing the games myself and sharing them with my kids, I can see why they’re such a hit.

The first game we tried it out was Kana Grid.

kana grid

Kana grid works best on tablets and computers.

Here’s brief explanation of the game per the website:

 “The user is shown a screen listing games ‘focus’ in a familiar script – starting with a / あ / ア, and a grid of hiragana or katakana kanas, six matching the ‘focus’. Once the player has selected the six matching kana, the round ends, and the game moves onto the next kana. Each game has either 5 or 3 rounds consisting of kanas from a row of the hiragana/katakana chart.” (source Dr.Lingua.com)

The little puffer fish dudes on the right-hand side indicate the number of kana hidden in the grid so you know how many you’ll have to find. For each one you get, a puffer fish puffs up. Incorrect results in a slide whistle sound effect (much better than having to endure a horrible buzzer every time your child makes a mistake, amiright?) and a sad face on or plump little lucky cat friend.

In the above image, the game is Romaji mode (just a regular letter ‘a’), but you can also select hiragana and katakana modes — a super helpful feature to target specific learning areas.

 

The other game we tried was: Kana Bento.

Kana Bento can run on mobiles, tablets, and computers. It can played in a few different modes. Again, I seriously love being able to have both options from a single resource. I cannot stress what an awesome help it is for teaching and learning.

You can pick a romaji chart with hiragana or katakana.

 

You can also pick all hiragana, all katakana, or all romaji. Or just mix it however you’d like.


There is a timer at the bottom to track the completion time, but it’s also easy to ignore if you or your child just want to practice your kana recollection skills without it.

Final Thoughts

The Dr. Lingua resources are excellent tools to add to your Japanese learning toolbox. You can learn more about the Dr. Lingua by clicking HERE. You can also follow them on: Facebook and Twitter.

 

Happy Learning,

Shiga Shar

 

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*I was not paid for this post. All opinions are my own.*

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Wind Science Activity with Japanese Vocabulary

 

tractor wind
Photo from Thumbwind.com

風が強い。 (かぜがつよい。)(kaze ga tsuyoi)

The phrase above means, “It’s windy” in Japanese. However, it literally translates as, “The wind is strong.” Which is definitely the case where I live in Michigan.

Huron County, the county I live in in Michigan, is home to the largest wind energy operation in Michigan. In fact, the “Thumb” area of Michigan is home to over 2,800 wind turbines. That’s a lot of turbines!

Today’s activity, Wind Around the Home, is brought to you by the nice folks over at Education.com. I’ve used their site often throughout the years to assist with home educating my kiddos, so when I was contacted by them to share an activity on the blog, I was happy to do so.

I’ve also included some Japanese vocabulary words to accompany the lesson, something I do often to tie in Japanese language learning into our daily lives and homeschool activities. Alright, let’s move on to the lesson.


 

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Wind Around the Home

Grade Levels: 4-6

Questions: On which side of the house would you put a windmill? Is there more wind at higher altitudes?

Possible Hypotheses: There is more wind on the south/north/east/west side of the house. There is more wind at ground level/at roof level.

Materials: Pencils with erasers Thumbtack Thread – 25 cm Paper Protractor Compass

Procedure:

1. Draw a diagram of your home. Be sure to draw the things around your home such as trees, shrubs, and other things that might block the wind. Label the north, east, west, and south sides of your home with the help of a compass or parent. Mark sites that represent the areas you will be testing.

2. Make a device to measure wind strength. Push the thumbtack into the eraser of a pencil and tie the thread around the thumbtack.

3. Measure the power of the wind using your device. Hold the device in the air and observe the wind blowing the thread. Record the angle of the thread. The larger the angle, the higher the wind energy at the location. Repeat the experiment several times at different times of the day and in weather.

4. Make a chart to record the time of day, the weather conditions, and the angle of the thread at each site.

Analysis and Conclusion: At what height was the wind strongest? Was this true at different times during the day? Where would you put a windmill around your house to provide the most energy? Is there only one good location or are several locations equally good?

 


JAPANESE VOCABULARY WORD LIST

Wind:  かぜ (風)kaze

Windmill:  かぜぐるま (風車)kazeguruma

North: きた (北) kita

South: みなみ (南) minami

East: ひがし (東)  higashi

West:  にし (西)nishi

Home: いえ (家) ie

Blow/blowing (VERB):  ふく (吹く)fuku

-Example sentence: The wind blows. かぜがふく。(風が吹く。)kaze ga fuku

-To learn how to conjugate the verb, fuku, click HERE.

________________________________

 

I hope you enjoyed the activity and learning some new Japanese vocabulary words!

Happy Learning,

Shiga Shar

Novi Japan Festival (Michigan)

This year (2017) was our family’s first year going to the Novi Japan Festival. If you missed it this year, it’s usually held on the first Sunday in October from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Admission to the event is free, but some of the food and attractions are a small fee. You can tell a lot of work goes into making this event possible and enjoyable, and the folks who put forth the effort do a wonderful job!

Some of the events this year included wagashi making (Japanese sweets), origami, chopstick rubberband shooters, two types of tea ceremonies, Taiko drums and other traditional Japanese musical performances, a ball toss game (with candy for a prize) and my children’s favorite: wanage, which is a ring toss game where you get 3-4 rings for $1.00 and try to hit candy with your rings to win it. My kids scored a TON of great Japanese candy. Just be warned: the lines can be quite long at times for this one-but it’s well worth.

There were also a few beautiful kimono on display, which my daughter insisted having her picture next to. So cute! 🙂

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There was a large number of Japanese speaking people, so this event is also a great time to try some Japanese speaking practice. And most of the signs had both English and Japanese, so you can put your reading skills to the test as well.

Overall, our family had a great time. The event was just the right length to keep the family entertained, but not burnt out. I was even able to catch up with some of the new friends I made during my Michigan-Shiga Sister State Goodwill trip.

A side note for mamas with special needs or sensory sensitive little ones: The main area was crowded most of the time, which may difficult for some children. The cafeteria area was less quiet and noisy, and a good place for taking a short sensory break.

LOCATION: Novi High School -24062 Taft Road Novi, MI 48375. There was plenty of room for parking (which is free) when we went, and everything was handicap accessible as well. As I mentioned, the event is a bit crowded at times, but everyone was incredibly courteous in the lines and what-not, so I’m sure folks would be accommodating to individuals with wheelchairs, etc.

COST: Admission is free, some of the games and activities were around $1.00, food at food court was between $6 – $7 and the drinks were between $1-$2 (takoyaki, yakisoba, ramune, sushi, water, tea). If your kids don’t Japanese food, you might want to eat before or after the event to avoid meltdowns or food drama. (click HERE for restaurants near Novi High School)

 

Perhaps we’ll see you at the Novi Japan Festival next year! If so, stop by and say, “konnichiwa!”  😉

 

Shiga Shar

I’m in the Local Newspaper!

The jet lag from the return trip home reminded me of how that first week of life feels after you have a new baby. I just wanted to sleep, wear my fat pants, and have my husband bring me snacks when I was hungry. For that most part, that’s what happened. And yes, I took full advantage of it.

A few people reached out to hear about my trip, included a friend who works for the local paper. He asked if he could do a write-up about my time in Japan and what in the world made me interested in going in the first place. Once I’d recovered enough to meet, we did an interview, and here’s the final product:

A Japan Experience

I’m thankful for the opportunity to be in the local paper and help share about Shiga and the Michigan-Shiga Sister State relationship with the people in my community. I’ve already had a few great conversations with folks about my time in Shiga and the sister state relationship. I’m pleasantly surprised how excited people are to read and talk about my experiences. 🙂

It feels like a pipe dream at the moment, but I hope that one day all of this leads to local Japanese language classes and clubs, cultural events, or even a little Asian market, especially since many folks don’t have the means to get to the Saginaw area (or farther) even though it’s less than a few hours away.

I plan on starting some of this with my little building that’s coming with the business we’re purchasing next door. She isn’t much, but she’s mine. And the timely arrival of this building in my life feels like maybe my pipe dreams aren’t as fanciful as they seem. Time will tell, I suppose. Until then, a girl can dream….

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Channeling Chikubushima: The Power of Following Your Life Interests

Back in December of 2016, months before knowing the itinerary for this trip, I learned about the Japanese Buddhist goddess, Benzaiten. She is one of three female deities honored at the temple island of Chikubushima, and my personal favorite.

Benzaiten is the bestower of language and letters, a water goddess, a goddess of good wealth and fortune, and a patroness of music, poetry, learning, and art and everything that “flows.” How could I not love her?

So that day back in late December she become the background photo of my phone and personal “kami,” especially for the year 2017- The year I planned to learn Japanese, muster up the courage to take to go to Japan, and dedicate more time to writing, art, and music and finding my life’s “flow.”

The itinerary for the Goodwill Mission to Japan came sometime in June. Naturally, I sat at my desk and bawled like a baby as I read through the amazing things planned- a sake brewery tour and taste testing, temple and shrine visits, a ninja house, etc. So incredible!!!

By the time I got to the last day of the itinerary, tears blurred all the words into a puddle of letters. Afer gaining enough composure to read clearly again, my eyes were once again burning and buried in tears at what I saw:

Chiku-freaking-bushima.

I never thought incredible things like this could happen to me. And I believe they can happen to anyone if you learn to be a little less afraid and a little more curious.

“Pay attention to the things you are naturally drawn to. They are often connected to your path, passion, and purpose in life. Have the courage to follow them.” ~Ruben Chavez

Now What?

June 16 was the last time I posted. That means that a ton of things have happened since that post, including my trip to Japan, which is what I’m going to focus on since that is what this poorly neglected blog is all about. 🙂

The first thing I can tell you is this…..

happiness japan

 

Have you ever felt like something was missing from your life but you couldn’t quite put your finger on what?

It’s not like I wasn’t happy before my trip, but there was this elusive longing in my heart for something else.

What bothered me most about this feeling was the thought that I might never discover the reason or remedy for this mysterious feeling. I always wondered if I’d just go the rest of my life having this sort of strange lingering insatiable void.

You guys, this is going to sound super cheesy, but I’m just going to go ahead and say it (although, I’m sure you’ve already figured it out by now):

the mystery void was a Japan-shaped hole in my heart.

japan heart

 

 

Now What?

“You can’t be in two places at the same time.” Chuck Brooks

I know you can’t be in two places at once, but half my heart is in Shiga, Japan, and the other half is here in Bad Axe, Michigan. It’s a strange feeling to say the least.

If my husband wasn’t in the midst of purchasing the business next door to us, we’d be scheming up how to move our family to Shiga. That’s the honest to goodness truth right there, too. Maybe one day. 🙂

Shiga Shar

The next best thing to being able to live in Shiga is sharing my love for all things Shiga and Japan with my family, friends, and community.

In addition to trying to blog more regularly here, I’m going to be opening up a shop next door to my home, where along with selling secondhand books and vinyl records, I’ll be selling Japanese and Asian-inspired items, hosting hangouts to learn more about Japanese food, arts & crafts, culture, and language.

I plan on posting a few more pics and stories about my time in Japan in upcoming weeks. Until then,

またね!(See you later!)

Shiga Shar

 

 

79 Days Until My Japan Trip

79 days left until my Japan trip.

The realty of the trip sank in a bit deeper about 10 days when when I received the itinerary and flight information for the trip in my inbox. The itinerary is incredible. Temples, a ninja village, a sake brewery, shopping, museums, and more.

This is pretty much how I looked after I read through the info.

steve martin cry

No joke.

Next week I’m applying for my passport, which I’m sure will also make me cry.

Part of me is scared something is going to happen and I won’t be able to go. It’s been an insane few weeks personally, and it appears the insanity won’t be ending any time before my trip. I hope that things get a bit more sorted out before I have to leave so my husband and kids will be okay without me for 10 days.

For now, I’m going to do my best to be positive and take one day at a time.

 

Thanks for reading!

Shiga Shar

If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please share it on social media and consider donating a few bucks toward my 2017 Goodwill trip to Shiga through PayPal.

ありがとう // Arigatou // Thank you!

LET’S CONNECT AT THESE PLACES TOO  🙂

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I also write on this blog HERE.

 

 

Practice Using the De で Particle

Whenever I’m learning something new, I like to associate the new material with familiar things to better recall and retain the information.

Today, I thought I’d share how I practiced learning the basic uses of the de で particle using one of my all-time favorite movies, Beetlejuice. I’ve included five example sentences using movie scenes to demonstrate how the de で particle may be used.

First Off, What is the De で Particle?

The de で particle is used to indicate things such as:

  1. where an action takes place,
  2. the means by which an action takes place,
  3. a total, time, or cost,
  4. what something is made of, and
  5. cause.

 

 

  1. WHERE AN ACTIONS TAKES PLACE (location: in, at, on, etc.)

enddance

いえおどりましよう。       Let’s dance in the house.

We look in front of the で to learn the house [いえ] is where we’re being invited to dance. で is used here, rather than に because the focus of the sentence isn’t the house, it’s the action happening inside the house: dancing.

 

2. THE MEANS BY WHICH AN ACTION TAKES PLACE (by, with, in, etc.)

beetlejuice door

かれはチョークドアをつくった。He made the door with chalk.

We look in front of the で to learn that chalk [チョーク] is the means our subject (は) he [かれ] made [をつくった] the door [ドア].

 

3. COST, AMOUNT OF TIME, OR TOTAL AMOUNT OF SOMETHING

beetlejuice movie

あなたは1時間半えいがをみることができます。You can watch the movie in an hour and a half.

Notice that the amount of time it takes to watch the movie comes before the で particle.

 

4. WHAT SOMETHING IS MADE OF

shimp hand

この手はエビつくられています.    This hand is made of shrimp.

この=this, 手=hand, エビ=shrimp

 

5. CAUSE (Because of, due to, owing to, etc.)

accident

車が落ちたの、彼らは死んだ。 Because the car fell, they died.

The cause (falling) comes before the de で  particle.

 

Hopefully this helped give a bit more clarity on the basic uses of the de で  particle. If learning this way isn’t your cup of tea, you can also visit the following resources on the de で  particle:

Japanese Meow: http://japanesemeow.com/lessons/japanese-grammar-particle-de/

PuniPuni Japan: http://www.punipunijapan.com/japanese-particle-de/

Nihongo Ichiban: https://nihongoichiban.com/2011/03/27/particle-%E3%81%A7-de/

ChopsticksNY: http://www.chopsticksny.com/archives/contents/language/2010/02/3788

 

Thanks for reading!

Shiga Shar

If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please share it on social media and consider donating a few bucks toward my 2017 Goodwill trip to Shiga through PayPal.

ありがとう // Arigatou // Thank you!

LET’S CONNECT AT THESE PLACES TOO  🙂

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Memrise Japanese 1 Vocabulary Worksheet {Levels 1-7}

I’m a proud nerd.

steve urkel
I love you, Steve Urkel.

So making worksheets, flashcards, and other study materials most definitely puts me in my happy place.

These worksheets are specifically for the vocabulary words/phrases in the first 7 levels of Japanese 1 on Memrise. There is a total of 15 vocabulary words/phrases. For each word, you’ll need to write down the meaning of the word and write down the word in hiragana.

For example:

konnichiwa: ko / n / ni / chi / wa                   Meaning:

Write in hiragana

The answer:

konnichiwa: ko / n / ni / chi / wa                            Meaning: Hello, Good Afternoon

Write in hiragana: こんにちは

Writing practice* is easy to overlook when using apps, so hopefully this helps prevent that problem. These worksheets are inspired by the way I did my handwriting practice while learning Memrise Japanese 1. Hopefully someone else will find this practice as helpful as I did. 🙂

*You can also check out THIS free printable worksheet from Japanese-lesson.com for hiragana writing practice .

Just click on the link below for the downloadable .pdf file of the worksheets, print them out, and get studying. Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.

Japanese 1 Memrise Level 1 – 7 Practice Sheet

 

Thanks for reading!

Shiga Shar

If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please share it on social media and consider donating a few bucks toward my 2017 Goodwill trip to Shiga through PayPal.

ありがとう // Arigatou // Thank you!

LET’S CONNECT AT THESE PLACES TOO  🙂

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DuoLingo Japanese is Here!

pickachu dance

わーい!!!

Yay!!!

Duolingo Japanese is here! (iOS only for now)

If you’re not new to learning Japanese, there is an option to test your skills to determine your learning level. Every level has an option for testing out, actually.

I was able to test out of all of the hiragana levels and a few others, which made me feel pretty good about my learning progress so far. 🙂

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My Thoughts So Far

The Duolingo app is another free option for learning Japanese that’s worth giving a try. It has around 40 levels total, covering a wide variety of topics. So far, it’s okay. I’m a bit of a Memrise junkie, though, so that will most likely be my go-to learning application.

If you’ve never used Duolingo for learning, it does take a little getting used to. For example, sometimes words/phrases are introduced without an introduction. To figure out what they are, just tap the colored/underlined section and an explanation should pop up.

I’d never seen the phrase: といいます until I saw it today.  As you can see, it roughly means I am called/it is called/my name is/etc. So when introducing yourself you can say:

はじめまして,(your name)といいます。

hajimemashite,(your name), toiimasu.

Nice to meet you, my name is (your name).

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Have you tried it yet? What are your thoughts?

Thanks for reading!

Shiga Shar

If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please share it on social media and consider donating a few bucks toward my 2017 Goodwill trip to Shiga through PayPal.

ありがとう // Arigatou // Thank you!

LET’S CONNECT AT THESE PLACES TOO  🙂

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