Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Around the World: Japan

We are going around the world with our Five in a Row studies this winter. Our next stop after Canada was Japan. We studied the book Grass Sandals:The Travels of Basho by Dawnine Spivak from Volume 4 of Five in a Row. This book tells the story of Basho, one of the first and greatest Haiku poets in Japan. We also used the book Kaleidoscope Kids Japan: 40 Activities to Learn about Japan.
The Volume 4 Manual of Five in a Row is geared toward older kids and is just jam-packed with activities. We spent two weeks with this book. We tried our hand at Japanese caligraphy and learned the meanings of the Kanji words on the back of the book.

We made hats like Basho's out of poster board and wrote on our hats just like he did. My five-year-old managed to fit every word from the book and more.
Videos have been a great supplement to these Around the World units because the kids get to see the country and people. We watched Little Travelers: Japan, which is about two little girls traveling in Japan with their parents. The kids liked this so much, that we also checked out Little Travelers: Iran, Germany, and Bali from the library.
Basho's name means Banana so we cut up some bananas and other fruit to make a fruit salad. We learned about how citrus juice can keep bananas from turning brown so quickly. Over tea time, we read haikus, as well as some of our other favorite Japanese books including A Pair of Red Clogs by Masako Matsuno, Tea with Milk by Allen Say, and Yoko and the Paper Cranes by Rosemary Wells.

Of course, we learned all about haikus, which happened to coincide with Ella's Write Shop lesson on haikus this week. We took a walk in nature to get inspired.
Ella wrote this poem:
Warm winter morning
Mud squelches under my feet
Quiet winds blow the trees 
and Mabel wrote:
In Spring, leaves are green
In cold winter, leaves are gone.
In Fall, leaves are red.

and I wrote this one:
Nature walks with kids
Muddy knees, armfuls of sticks
Poop, he stepped in it!

We made little origami pockets to keep the poems in, which was an idea from Write Shop Jr. Once the kids got started making origami, they couldn't stop. They decided to set up little shops and trade origami with each other.

We also collected a fallen branch and made a cherry blossom branch. We were out of pink tissue so we painted coffee filters pink, tore them up,  and glued them on. This is always a fun winter craft and helps brighten up the house.
 For science, we spent almost a week learning about volcanoes. We did two activities from Mystery Science: Can a volcano pop up in your backyard? and Why do volcanoes explode? The first had a volcano mapping activity and the second had an experiment with blowing bubbles into thick and thin lava. The kids loved the lava experiment so we also made our own volcano. We put modeling clay around an old relish jar. We even figured out how to make two types of lava. The thin lava made from baking soda and vinegar, bubbled up really fast and spread out over the pan just like a cone volcano.

The thick lava made from yeast and peroxide bubbled up more slowly, with bigger bubbles, and didn't spread out as much, like a shield volcano.
We capped off our studies with a Japanese feast. We took a field trip to a local Asian supermarket and picked up seaweed wrappers, rice, and vegetables. Then Daddy taught us how to make sushi.
 We pulled out our $2 thrift store kimonos from our last Japanese tea party two years ago, and realized just how much the kids had grown. So we added some extra material and made obi belts from old silk ties, and wore the hats we had made. Check out Gilead's ninja moves.
 Then we set up a low folding table and cushions for our meal. In addition to the sushi, we made miso soup and added ramen noodles. We also bought chocolate and green tea pocky and green tea mochi. We drank green tea in our Asian tea cups.
One thing I love about Five in a Row is how it has encouraged my kids to try new foods by learning about other cultures. Most of the kids didn't end up liking sushi that much, but they all tried it because they had helped make it. Several of them really loved the pickled ginger. And, it's always fun to use chopsticks!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Around the World: Ungava Bay, Canada

It's come to my attention that I need to update my blog. I got the hint from this dinner conversation the other night:
Ella: "Mom, you really need to update your blog."
Trixie: "We need to do more interesting things to put on the blog!" pauses and turns to me, "Mom, don't you dare put the whining part in!"

Yes, welcome back to school after the holidays, which is an awful lot like my honest retelling of the first week of school. But I am now bound to leave out the whining bits.

The kids requested that we go back to doing our Around the World Tea Parties for the New Year. It's become a bit of a winter tradition around here. You can see our other Around the World Tea Parties here.

In January, we started in Ungava Bay, Canada with the Five in a Row book, Very Last First Time by Jan Andrews. This book is the story of a young Inuit girl who goes to collect mussels under the sea ice. As go-along books, we also read Artic Son by Jean Craighead George, Kitaq Goes Ice Fishing by Margaret Nicolai, and Baseball Bats for Christmas by Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak.

For geography, we found Ungava Bay and the Artic Ocean on the map and read about the Artic region in our DK First Atlas and about an Inuit and an Alaskan Eskimo child from DK Children Just Like Me. Last year, I found a great deal on several Evan Moor History Pockets books and the Native American book had an entire section on the Inuits. We read about their culture and learned some interesting facts like they make mittens with two thumbs so you can turn them around when the thumb gets wet. We colored in the coloring sheets from the book and also made an Artic Ice Fishing Game.

Once the kids had tried ice fishing, they had to build an igloo (igluviak) out of all of the pillows in the house.

We discovered an awesome video from the Popular Mechanics for Kids series on Amazon Prime. In Season 2, Episode 2: North Pole, the host travels to the Artic and drives a dogsled team, builds an igloo, and makes and shares a traditional Inuit meal of raw seal meat.

Once we learned about their traditional diet, it did hamper our tea party a little as we could find no raw seal meat in our grocery store. So we settled on some cut-up dried sausage sticks, smoked salmon, and cheese and crackers.

We also had fun doing a storytelling activity using Rory Storycubes and making the setting in the Artic. The kids dictated to me and I wrote down their stories on the Igluviak storybooks from the History Pocket.

For science, we learned about animals that live in the Artic and Antartic habitats and colored a habitat diorama from Scholastic Animal Habitats book that I have.

Finally for art, we used this Northern Lights tutorial from That Artist Woman and made our own icy landscapes with northern lights. (I am leaving out a lot of whining bits here, but they finally did turn out nice.) The ice effect is created by putting plastic wrap over paint and the northern lights were made with chalk pastels.