Monday, April 26, 2010

Konichiwa from Japan!

We've been having a rather laid-back tour of Japan for the last week and a half or so. Basically, what this means is that we've been learning about Japan, hitting golf balls in the yard, learning about Japan, throwing the football in the yard, learning about Japan, jumping on the trampoline. It's been nice here.

But get this: today we read a FIAR book that we love, A Pair of Red Clogs.

In it, Mako and her friends in Japan play a weather forecasting game. They kick off their clogs, and the way they land tells what the weather is going to be the next day. Naturally, we had to play. MY (obviously superior) shoes predicted a fine day tomorrow. Both boys' shoes, however, predicted snow. Snow. So guess what? Here we are in Central New York, just days away from May Day and the REAL forecast for tomorrow is snow! Can you stand it? Cause I know I can't. I mean, I switched out our wardrobes this weekend. Fleeces and sweaters are put away and there are t-shirts and shorts in my kids' dressers. Sigh.

But let's talk about Japan. I'm sure it's warm there.

We started our time in Japan with a long drive in my husband's car. Since his is one of five cars in America with a cassette player, we had a chance to check out the Powerglide Japanese course that I found at a book sale for TWO DOLLARS! We learned about 16 phrases in one day - it really wasn't that difficult. I'm not saying that I want to write it or anything, but if you do, go to this site to see what your name looks like in Japanese:

We did a lovely crayon-resist, topographical map project that I found here.

It's a little hard to see in the picture, but it really turned out nicely. The whole crayon resist idea caught the boys' imagination and we did quite a few "secret messages" written in white crayon which they decoded by painting over them. Z-Man did one for me too. It said, "Mom, I love you. Can I have some M&Ms?" Hmmm.

We read Japan ABC's

The illustrations are done in a Japanese woodblock print style so we tried our hand at that too. We cut pieces from a clean styrofoam meat tray and "carved" our illustrations by pressing down hard with a pen. Then we painted them with a flat foam brush and pressed paper down on them to make our prints.

Here's a book that we just loved:

It's Make Way for Ducklings set in Tokyo. If you read this blog, you know I love children's books based on true stories. It is a teeny bit tense though, and one of the ducklings doesn't make it through a bad storm but the heroine does make it, floating on, of all things, a styrofoam meat tray. At this point, I'd like to extend a warm welcome to anyone who haplessly stumbled upon my blog after googling "styrofoam meat trays." You are welcome here.

One last book -

Z-Man and I are reading this together. If I ever learned any Japanese history in school, I have zero recollection of it. Now I find it fascinating.

Yet another great reason to homeschool.

P.S. - Konichiwa means hello.

P.P.S. - If you feel compelled to leave a comment using the words, styrofoam meat trays, be my guest. It has 5 syllables just in case you were considering a haiku.

1 comment:

  1. Domo Arigato Valerie for sharing your adventures in "Japan". I will be rowing this next year with my 5 year old and will definitely do the map and block prints. Very cool.
    Yuki in WA