Jan 21, 2014

Montessori Inspired Activities for Pre-Schoolers


 Welcome to the Japan stop on the Montessori Inspired world book tour!

Montessori Inspired Activities for Pre-Schoolers

Written by: Jo Ebisujima

Published by: jojoebi designs

Published on: January 8, 2014

As a fellow blogging mom in Japan, I have been following Jo Ebisujima for years. Her book is the best of her great ideas kid activities.

The title of her book makes it sound like the activities are only for young kids, but my 6-year old enjoys them as much as my 4-year old! These activities are Montessori inspired and Jo gives a bit of background on the method and how she got involved with it in the introduction, but I think one of the best things about this book is how adaptable they are. You don't have to be a hardcore Montessori mom, you don't have to have lots of time on your hands, and you don't have to live next to a well-stocked craft store to use these activities with your kids. I am a full-time working mom living in the sticks of southern Japan and there wasn't a single activity in this book we weren't able to prepare for, and I can't say that about any other activity book or magazine I've bought for my kids, so this gets a two thumbs up from mama!

From a bilingual parenting point of view, there are two activities covered in the book that are really great for practicing the minority language, whatever that language is (see- totally adaptable to any situation!)

One is the Mystery Bag activity. We used a drawtring bag from the hundred yen store and place a couple of objects in the bag without the target kid seeing. That kid has to reach her hand in and describe it (we make sure that there is a minority language only rule, and boo if the majority language is used!) until the other kid(s) can figure out what is in the bag.

The other activity that really worked well for us was the Mini Cafe! We have used this many times and you can read about our experience here, as my son calls this his Tea Shop activity. There are so many variations on the Mini Cafe, but kids love it no matter what they are serving. It is a sneaky way to get your kids to try out new skills like serving and food prep, while using their written and oral language skills!

There are so many other activities to try out in this book as well. Check out what the other Book Tour participants love about this book by visiting their pages.

Jan 12, 2014

Time and Time Again

Time and Time Again (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by: John Settle

Published by: iUniverse

Published on: February 6, 2012

Ages: 10+

Provided by the author for review. All thoughts are my own.

Adam's dad has what must be one of the coolest jobs ever in fiction - he's a taxi driver for Chronos Travel, and ferries people between time periods in this futuristic middle grade novel.

Adam is visiting his dad at work when another driver's daughter comes to him for help. When Adam gives it, he is drawn into a sinister plot with far-reaching ramifications. Luckily, he has two good friends, outgoing Roslyn and wise Don, to help get him out of the fix.

The post-fossil fuel world has some major differences from ours- there are no airplanes, for instance, but people have the same worries and there are fringe causes just like in ours. The nature of teens doesn't seem to have been affected at all though!

Adam and his friends have a tight bond and this is one of the most interesting parts of the book. I definitely feel like Chronos Taxi could lead to some very interesting plots in the future and past, and it would be great if these three had another shot at time travel in a future book.

Jan 1, 2014

The Year of the Horse

17654208The Year of the Horse (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by: Oliver Chin

Illustrated by: Jennifer Wood

Published by: Immedium

Published on: December 31, 2013

Ages: 4+

Provided by the published for review. All opinions are my own.

Happy New Year! Welcome to the year of the horse. This is my year (by the Japanese calendar). Please don't figure out how old I am. ;)

The Japanese zodiac is mostly the same as the Chinese one, but the new year in Japan starts on January 1 rather than following the old calendar. Which means those of us born in January/February are often a different zodiac animal depending on whether we are using the Chinese or Japanese zodiac. I'm a horse in Japan but a snake according to the Chinese zodiac.

This is the first book in the Tales from the Chinese Zodiac series that I have seen, but there are other including the Year of the Dragon, Rabbit, Tiger, Ox, and Rat. These stories aren't specifically about new year celebrations, but about the animals from the year.

The Year of the Horse stars Hannah the horse and Tom, the artist's student, who are both finding their way in the world. They end up going on a big journey, and along the way they meet up with the various other zodiac animals while learning the value of teamwork.

My kids both really liked the cartoon-like illustrations and it really helps that the plotting is quick and Wood's illustrations are great at conveying movement.

It's so fantastic to find books related to the New Year as we celebrate it here in Japan, so I definitely recommend this to English speakers in Japan as well as other people with kids!