In Geography, we are parked on the continent of Asia as we continue to explore several of its countries. We spent the last two weeks learning about Japan. The kids responded well to our study of Japan, and they enjoyed all of the neat crafts, food and cultural practices we studied. There is no shortage of fun ideas out there to implement into a Japan study, so we took some extra time in this country and we had a lot of fun.
Some of our favorite activities in this unit were our Carp Kites.We made these as we learned about the Children’s Day Festival.
I found the Carp Pattern at Activity Village.com.
We painted them and then let them dry over night. The next day we tore up some tissue and glued it on top of the paint for decoration. After rolling it up and taping it, we glued long pieces of tissue to the tail. After punching a couple of holes that we laced yarn through, they were ready to be hung up!
We put them outside for a while (as is the Children’s Day custom) but they quickly began to get torn up in the Colorado wind. Now they have found a safe home in the school room, totem pole style!
We also had fun creating our very own TOKONAMA (because homes in Japan are often very small, one corner of the home is set aside for displaying art such as decorative scrolls, fans, dolls etc.)
We spent one day making decorative family fans. Everyone got three pieces of 12 x 12 card stock to paint. As soon as it was dry we logged on to Google Translate and found our Japanese names. We painted these on one of our pieces of f 12 x 12 card stock with a black paint pen.
After folding each piece into an accordion, we glued them together, end to end, making sure the piece with our Japanese name was in the middle. Next, I punched holes all around the outside of the fan and we laced through the holes with some decorative ribbon. Finally, we gathered the bottom and secured it with masking tape to create the fan shape. They actually turned out really well.
Our tokonama also showcased our Japanese Cherry Blossom Trees. This was probably our very favorite craft for this unit. The first day we made the vases. Using toilet paper rolls, we cut a piece of white paper to fit and glued it all around. Next we painted the vases (rolls). As soon as the pain was dry, we tore little pieces of tissue to glue on them for decoration. We also glued some “jewels” that I found in bulk at a craft store all around.
While the glue dried, we took a walk outside and found several small tree branches, one for each of us. We made sure to pick branches that had many smaller twigs growing off of them.
We then took tiny pieces of pink tissue paper and balled them up into little flowers and hot glued each flower onto the tree branches we had gathered. The end result was a very realistic Cherry Blossom Branch.
We quickly found that our branches were too heavy for our vases. So we measured and cut cardboard circles and hot glued them to the base of our vases. (I created a tight seal with the hot glue). We then filled the vases about 2/3 full with sand bought from a craft store. I coated the bottom of the Cherry Blossom Tree with hot glue before putting it into the vase and let the glue set into the sand. I then put a layer of hot glue all around the top layer of sand and packed all of the extra large pieces of tissue in the vase all the way to the top to seal off the sand. This worked surprisingly well.
The girls finished all of their work early one day and were each able to paint a paper Kokeshi doll that we added to our Tokonama as well.
To conclude our study of Japan, we took the kids to our local Hibachi restaurant for a fun family dinner.