Montessori Papa's upper elementary class has been studying Japan! Their studies culminated in the Childrens Festival which the school celebrated yesterday (the actual calendar date is coming up on May 5th).
In preparation for the festival each elementary child made a carp wind sock, wishing tree wish~carps (which Middle Man shared with me, that he had written: PEACE), they they created props for a traditional Japanese folk tail play which they performed for the kindergarten class, prepared food for the feast (rolled sushi, tempura veggies & soba and udon noodles to name a few yummy items!) and when they return from April vacation they will have an opportunity to create their own Japanese Mon (similar to a family crest). Here are some pics of cardboard block prints I created to show examples of what they might create.
First I drew an image of a lotus flower on the cardboard, then using an artist's knife I removed the top layer, to create a stamp or relief painting image. Next I loaded up a rolling pin to apply the paint to the card board and when the surface was evenly cover with paint I put a blank sheet of paper on top of the image and again rolled over the paper with a roller (no paint). Then peeled it up and ta-da!
For the carp stamp I began by drawing the fish on the cardboard then I applied craft glue and yarn to fill the image in. I also cut around the image so that I could give it some height, hopefully preventing smudging. The yarn didn't look as cool as I had hoped but the kids liked it and that is what's important.
I can't wait to see their family mons! I have been invited in to read my book for them and I am going to ask if I can take some photos of their Japanese projects to post for you all. The masks they made are amazing!
A few MM notes about introducing Culture studies:
Start small and keep it simple.
Begin by admitting that you don't know everything about the culture you are studying, but just like your children, you are looking forward to learning more.
Convey curiosity and adventure. Pretend that you are going with your children on a trip.
Always speak with respect and care about the culture. Children are emotional sponges remember and they will pick up on your underlying tones.
Make sure that everything you share with your class/child about the culture is authentic and accurate.
Visit your local library! If your children's librarian is as helpful as mine, you will come away with a wealth of materials!(Many thanks Jane!)
Music sets a tone (your librarian may be able to recommend some CDs for you to share)
Ask your student's parents for help! You may be able to borrow artifacts, artwork, clothing, even prepackaged foods from families that may have traveled to the country you plan to study. It never hurts to ask. A relative might also enjoy visiting your class to share about their experiences.
Incorporate the country of study throughout your classroom. From food prep and practical life activities to art appreciation and sets baskets!
"As parents and teachers we can help our children learn to live in peace and harmony with all people. We can do this by introducing them to different places in the world, and filling their minds with wonder and fascination for all the different cultures at an age when they have yet to encounter the kind of attitudes that breed fear and prejudice. To learn of far away places, to dream, to imagine, to hope to go there some day has always allowed children and adults to embrace the whole world and to care about its well-being. There is no educational objective more important than to bring our children into full membership of the human family."~~Tim Seldin President of the Montessori Foundation
For more info and delightful movies you can order to share with you children visit
The Little Travelers Mama's blog! Last night we watched The Little Travelers Visit Japan movie while eating our dinner Japanese style; sitting on the floor with chop sticks!
My hat is off to those of you introducing culture studies as home! Homeschooling is a grand adventure in and of it's self! Pulling a culture study together takes allot of time and research; pace yourself and start small. Simple matching sets can be created using post cards and magazine photos. Perhaps these could be cut and pasted by your children to be laminated later for future uses? Please share links to YOUR cultural studies. Thank you!
A wish for PEACE for all the world's Children~