Around the World with FIAR: Grandfather’s Journey {Japan and its Tsunamis}

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Grandfather’s Journey is a tale about a young man who leaves Japan, sailing across the Pacific Ocean on a steamship.  He is a man who wishes to explore, and he does so, wandering across deserts, farmlands and the cities of North America.  He finds that he misses Japan whilst in America and yet misses America whilst in Japan.

Goals for this study:

  • To complete the FIAR study of Grandfather’s Journey, including using the Fold and Learn
  • To learn about Japan as a country in the continent of Asia
  • To put together a Japan Lapbook
  • To learn about Tsunamis and why Japan gets a lot of them

Asia (Japan): In my Book Box

For this study of Japan, we will be reading the following books:

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FIAR Study

  • Our Fold and Learn with our Japan lapbook:

  • The girls’ copy-work from Grandfather’s Journey:

  • Origami:

Origami (折り紙?, from ori meaning “folding”, and kami meaning “paper” (kami changes to gami due to rendaku) is the art of paper folding, which is often associated with Japanese culture. (Wikipedia)

We made lots of origami hearts, as well as Japanese fish:

  • Blue Birds 

The Grandfather in Grandfather’s Journey kept song birds to help him to feel close to Japan when he was in America.  The girls created a beautiful soft pastel picture of a blue song bird from a curriculum I am reviewing at the moment, Creating a Masterpiece:

 Fish as a Symbol of Japan

In Japanese culture, the koi carp is a highly respected and very symbolic fish that is closely tied to the country’s national identity. The koi carp is thought to be a symbol of luck, prosperity, and good fortune within Japan. The name “koi” itself is Japanese and simply means “carp” in the Japanese language. (Quora)

You can see from the origami picture above the folded paper fish that we made (origami is so much harder than I first thought!).  The girls also drew their own Japanese Goldfish using a lesson from ArtAchieve, a product we are currently reviewing:

Creating Japanese Dress Up

Grandfather’s Journey talks about grand father wearing European clothes as apposed to his traditional Japanese kimono.  We thought we would try to make some kimonos.  I had plans of buying plain t-shirts for the girls to decorate and making them into kimonos by cutting up the front and adding a sash.  In the end I used what we had lying about the house, which was a couple of plain pillow cases and some pink dye:

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The girls used some hair bands to tie the pillow cases at various points and we cold water dyed them with some bright pink dye.  I then cut a hole for the head, and used some ripped up old dresses, which I quickly hemmed, to make the sash:

Not bad considering I paid zero pence for them!

Where on Earth is Japan?

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The first book is a simple and very clear introduction to the continents.  By the end of this year I want the two younger ones to know inside out the name and place of each continent, so in this quest, I chose to read the first book out daily.  The second book is a fun (albeit in depth) look into the stats of Asia.  I pick and choose the information I read depending on the country we are studying.  In this case I picked out all the details I could find pertaining to Japan.

The girls looked for and found Japan on our large paper mache map of the world:

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Next, I had already halved a used paper table cloth and drawn the outline of Japan on it with a sharpie.  During our study with Grass Sandals we had added all the places Basho had visited and I had photocopied lots of Japanese pictures to go along with the haikus shared in the book which Basho had written.  We had also added some of the main volcanoes across the Islands of Japan.

Whilst reading Grandfather’s Journey we labelled the Pacific Ocean, Philippine Sea, East China Sea and Sea of Japan:

Native Animals of Japan

We used the National Geographic page all about Japan extensively throughout the week.  A8 was particularly interested in the Japanese macaque monkey so we watched this YouTube video all about them.  A does love her animals!

Tsunamis of Japan

We read through the following book:

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After reading this we hopped over to YouTube and watched some short videos of tsunamis which have been captured on film over the past few years.

Over the week I read the girls a Magic Tree House book about a Tsunami in Hawaii.  Although it wasn’t set in Japan, it was still a nice addition to our Tsunami learning:

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We also carried out an activity called ‘Track a Tsunami’ from Crayola:

Next week we will be covering China with The Story About Ping, another FIAR classic 🙂

For our other geography posts using Five in a Row, click on any of the following:

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