The next country we learned as part of our Asia studies was Japan.
We began by finding Japan on our giant wall map. Georgie noticed the longitude/latitude lines on the map and wanted me to tell him how to find it using those lines. We did spend a very brief amount of time learning about longitude and latitude when we first began our Geography lesson but it looks like it may be a good idea to spend some more time on it soon. He was able to trace the longitude line at 150 degrees east down and look slightly to the west to find Japan.
We discussed how Japan was an archipelago, made up of a string of islands, some large, some very small. We looked at what bodies of water surrounded Japan – the Sea of Japan, the Pacific Ocean, the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea.
We went to National Geographic Kids and viewed a video about Mt. Fuji and a local celebration, looked at pictures of Tokyo, Mt. Fuji, rice paddies and Himeji Castle. We also read about the Geography, Nature, History, People and Culture, and Government of Japan.
We briefly discussed the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I did not want to go into a lot of detail since I felt it would scare Georgie to see too much of the devastation. We did view some age appropriate information on earthquakes here .
We have a simple reader and a set of flashcards on World Landmarks, both from Target’s Dollar Spot. Both included information on the Itsukushima Torii, the Floating Shinto Shrine Gate. After learning about the Gate, we learned more about the Shinto religion in our new Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World Religions. I think this book is going to be a great resource and I suspect that I am going to learn as much as the kids.
We read from Children Just Like Me, and learned about Hina Matsuri, or Doll’s Day, and Kodomono-hi, or Children’s Day, in Children Just Like Me: Celebrations. We read more about Children’s Day in the story A Carp for Kamiko and made our own carp kites.
We learned about the Japanese flag, a red “rising sun” on a white background, which stands for warmth, brightness and sincerity, while the white stands for purity and integrity.
We looked at samples of Japanese alphabet and then learned how to speak some Japanese at Time for Kids. We heard how to say hello (konnichi wa), good-bye (sayonara) and thank you (arigato) which I already knew how to say – thank you very much Mr. Roboto. Georgie really liked saying konnichi wa for some reason.
We listened to some traditional Japanese Shamisen music through a link in our Intellego unit. Georgie did not like it at all so we ended up not listening to the whole thing and instead looked up some information on the shamisen.
We learned about the Japanese Art of Paper Folding, origami, and looked at some very elaborate samples through Google Images. Using a design I remember from elementary school, we made some jumping frogs that the kids then had fun racing.
We finished up by learning about some of the animals of Japan. We watched an episode of Be the Creature about the Japanese Macaques, the only monkeys found that far north.
Georgie did his notebook quiz on Japan. His favorite thing to learn about Japan was making the fish kites and the folding paper frogs.
We added stickers to our passports. Our next country will be Saudi Arabia.