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Japanese Cultural Activities

Instructor: Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 20 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

The Japanese culture is rich and strong. The activities offered in this asset will engage your mid- to upper elementary students in their exploration of many aspects of Japanese culture. Group and individual activities are provided.

Activities Focused on Japanese Culture

It is important for students to be introduced to a broad range of cultures. However, students often find it difficult to retain information about topics that are not directly related to themselves or their own lives. Allowing your students to participate in fun and engaging activities related to different cultures helps them retain the information they learn longer than if they were to simply study the culture academically.

The activities offered here will engage your mid-level to upper elementary students in activities related to Japanese culture. Your students will work together and individually to explore multiple salient topics within this culture.

Fan Fashion

Fans are a strong cultural item in Japan. These accordion-folded-paper cooling tools are seen in many areas and are well known for their beauty and cultural importance. Additionally, the cherry blossom tree is an iconic piece of Japanese fauna. This activity will have your students focus on both of these.

Materials

  • Craft paper
  • Markers (or other coloring tools)
  • Paper clips
  • Pictures of cherry blossoms and Japanese fans
  • Silk cherry blossom petals (optional)
  • Large roll paper, like butcher paper (optional)

Instructions

  • Conduct a brief class discussion on the importance of fans in the Japanese culture.
  • Include information about Japanese cherry blossom trees.
  • Show your students pictures of both of these items.
  • Give your students paper, markers and a paper clip.
  • Instruct your students to decorate the paper with cherry blossoms first, then use an accordion-style folding pattern to fold the paper in 1-inch-thick folds.
  • Finally, tell your students to use the paper clip to secure one end of their fans.
  • Now, students can gently spread the other end of the folded paper out to see their beautiful fans.

Alternatives

  • Allow students to decorate their fans with silk cherry blossom petals for a 3D look.
  • Create a class wall decoration. Steps:
    • Roll out a large piece of butcher paper and allow the whole class to decorate it together.
    • Fold the paper in an accordion style (about a hands width across on each fold).
    • Secure one end of the folded paper with staples or clips.
    • Spread the other end to show the decorations and display the class fan in the room.

Kimono Style

Traditional dress is an important part of a country's culture. This activity will allow your students to explore styles of kimonos.

Materials

  • Many small swatches of fabrics (ask parents to donate these)
  • Paper doll shapes
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Example pictures of traditional kimonos

Instructions

  • Pair your students (or allow them to work independently).
  • Show your students some examples of traditional kimonos for men and women.
  • Give your students access to the materials and instruct them to use the materials to design their own kimono for their paper doll.
  • Allow time for your students to share their creations with the class.

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