January 25, 2011

Japan Wrap-Up

We concluded our unit on Japan today. I'm putting everything about Japan that I haven't blogged about yet in this post. Sorry if it is confusing, but I want to move on to San Francisco without feeling behind. (Without feeling behind in blogging. My "must do before baby is born" list is getting longer by the minute. Panic sets in several times a day. I really hate the "nesting" phase.)

One of our Japan days was dedicated to maps. My children had never labeled and colored a map before and Miriam was annoyed with me that I didn't have an example of what the end result should look like, so she wrote too big at the beginning. Oops. Poor teaching. Always, always model when possible.

Still isn't the pic below heartwarming? I love how intently Miriam is studying the atlas. I love mapping. Love, love, love mapping and maps in general. Miriam's friend, Rachel, is beside her. I didn't post a pic of Rachel because I haven't had a chance to ask her mother for permission. Still, I was impressed with Rachel's neatness. I think mapping really appeals to us type-A personalities. Everything so neat and orderly.

Miriam and her map.
Cowen's map. Like I said--this was my kids' first time mapping. Cowen was a little disappointed with his map when he saw mine and Miriam's. He's a pretty neat kid by nature, so he knew his map wasn't quite right. I convinced him that it was fine for a first attempt BUT his next map would be loads better. I was also able to help him understand that the colors on maps help a person easily see where things are, so the colors have to be chosen carefully and kept in the right location.
Emeline's map.
My map.

After we finished our maps and hung them up on the wall, we practiced finding Japan on the globe. Good times.

Here are a few more books that we used that I liked.

First, An Illustrated History of Japan by Shigeo Nishimura. My kids thought the book was really boring until we hit WWII. However, I found it very useful because it was such a condensed version of Japanese history. I don't know much about Japanese history before WWII, so this book was great. My kids sat through it, but don't expect riveting. Just expect helpful.
Boys are gruesome little devils. The following two books really played to the gruesome factor and my son (and husband) loved them both. We didn't do any samurai activities to go along with the books, but there are plenty of samurai helmet crafts available online.
Real Samurai: Over 20 True Stories About the Knights of Old Japan! by Stephen Turnbull.
Samurai by Caroline Leavitt.

The following is a list of all the websites I used for the Japan unit:

http://japanesetranslator.co.uk/your-name-in-japanese/ (translates English names into Japanese characters)

http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/flower_origami_for_kids.htm (I didn't do any origami with all the kids, but Miriam and her dad made a few flowers, a dog, and a Japanese girl in an kimono)

http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/sadako_sasaki.htm I didn't end up doing anything with this story, but I loved it, and if I was more on top of things--I would have planned something special to go along with this girl's story.

http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/japan_for_kids.htm If you scroll down the page far enough you find a youtube music video that helps you learn to count from 1-20 in Japanese. My kids and I stunk at it, but we watched it several times and had a lot of fun trying. I highly recommend.

This website has a ton of info about Japan in a child friendly format. It is a little tough to get all the kids situated so they can see the computer screen, but it was still fun and worth it. My kids especially liked listening to the Japanese words and taking the quiz.

http://homepages.sover.net/~johnd/schools.html This website has a bunch of pictures of kids at a school in Japan. I thought this was great because in Japan the kids help maintain their school buildings. Awesome. Also, we learned about a pianica--an instrument that is a mix of a harmonica and a piano. My children and I were fascinated by this new-to-us instrument so we spent 20 minutes watching youtube videos of people playing pianicas in bands and on street corners. My children also insisted we find out how much one would cost and if you can buy them in the States. You can. Amazon.com has several varieties.

http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/japan_for_kids.htm And here is the website where I got most of my coloring type activities. It has a ton of ideas--way more than I used.

Also at the library (currently unavailable at Netflix) is a movie called Big Bird in Japan. I can't remember if I mentioned it before. It was a good movie because it was shot in Japan so my kids could get a sense of the countryside. If you have access to the Davis County Library System--you should check this movie out.

There you go--the rest of the Japan stuff.


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