Today I’m taking my Summer On Purpose series to Japan!
Quick reminder: this series is replacing my usual Mila Mondays for the next several weeks. Instead, I’m sharing some things we are doing to keep busy, maybe learn something new, and have fun this summer.
Each week we’ll choose a new country to explore through art projects, STEM activities, a reading list, a recipe to try, and a related movie or outing. We will probably look at maps & photos, learn a little about the culture & maybe a few words in the language spoken there, and read lots & lots.
I hope you’ll join us!
Oh, this one was so much fun! We made koinobori—carp kites or windsocks—out of tissue + paper. I thought Mila was going to lose her mind, she was so into cutting out little scales.
Given the number of volcanoes in + around Japan, I felt this was the perfect week to make a classic baking soda + vinegar volcano.
First we talked a little about what volcanoes are and how they work. I pulled out my globe and explained that the islands of Japan are right on the Ring of Fire in the Pacific Ocean, so the islands experience lots of earthquakes, volcanic activity, and tsunamis. After watching a handful of YouTube videos, we made a little volcano of our own.
Rather than going all out with paper mâché, I grabbed a cheap funnel from the grocery store for our volcano. Since I had some really old red wine vinegar, we used that to make it look more like lava. The whole thing was really easy…and kind of underwhelming. Anyone know how to make a more exciting eruption?
I was so happy to find about a billion options for our Japan reading list. Even though our library didn’t have all the books I’d hoped to find, there were so many others that I didn’t feel the lack at all. I mean, with the adorable (and capable) Red Knit Cap Girl around, how could you be sad?
Some others we enjoyed:
Let’s get this out of the way first: I’m not big on sushi. That said, it’s some of the prettiest food out there, and I knew my kids would have fun making it.
First we went to our local Asian grocery market to pick up some nori + sushi rice, plus some “training” chopsticks, all for less than $10 total. Since we all love avocado and cucumber, I stuck to a modified California roll. No seafood. Not that they won’t eat it; they love fish! I’ve just found it’s good to start very simple when introducing new foods to a certain 4-year-old.
Turns out making sushi is harder than I expected…and our version was not very tasty. Mila told me, “The seaweed smells like lobster. It tastes like lobster too.” Which, no it did not, but our rolls did taste bland and vaguely of stale ocean. We’ll have to try some actual recipes next time instead of winging it.
And since I was nervous about making sushi, I also picked up some Pocky. Which turned out to be a good idea.
Movie or Outing
There’s a Japanese Friendship Garden in Phoenix that we’ve never visited. If it weren’t so dang hot, I’d be all over that. Instead, though, we’re sticking to our post-water-park matinee and watching…well, pretty much anything by Studio Ghibli. My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, and Howl’s Moving Castle are some of our favorites and are all great options for little ones.
I’ve got plans for next week’s country, but I’m always open to suggestions. Where would you like to go? What activities or books do you recommend? Let’s see where else this series can take us!
All posts in this series: