Japan Themed Activities for Kids

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Explore fun, engaging and exciting world themed activities to do with toddlers, preschoolers and kindergartners. Our activities are widely used by teachers, moms, dads, child care providers and more!

All our activities are available at no cost and are free to print and share. Today we will be covering the country Japan!

Japan Arts and Crafts

arts
Cherry Blossom Pictures
Materials:
Cherry blossoms (or a picture of cherry blossoms)
Light blue construction paper
Brown crayons
Pink facial tissue
White glue
Newspaper

Show the children some cherry blossoms (or a picture of cherry blossoms). Explain that in the spring, cherry trees in Japan are covered with pink blossoms. Draw a tree branch on light blue construction paper with a brown crayon. show the children how to tear pink facial tissue into little pieces, spread small dots of glue on the branch, and then press the tissue pieces on the glue to make fluffy “petals”. Cover a work table with newspaper and place materials within easy reach of the children. Invite the children to draw tree branches on sheets of light blue construction paper and then cover the branches with pink “blossoms”. Encourage the children to be creative.

Paper Carp
Materials:
Brown paper bags (one per child)
Scissors
Markers or crayons
String
Tempera paint
Newspaper
Paint smocks
Hole punch

Make a paper bag carp, (see directions provided below). Ask children to gather around a work table covered with newspaper. Show the children your paper-bag fish. Explain that in Japan, the carp represents strength, energy, and a long life. Carp can swim up fast-moving streams and waterfalls. It’s hard work swimming up streams and yet hard work makes the carp grow stronger. Because carp work so hard to swim up the streams, they are considered good examples in Japan. Paper carp are often hung during festivals to remind the people that facing hard times can make a person stronger.

Ask the children if they can remember ever doing something that was hard for them. Invite interested children to share their experiences. Give each child a paper bag. Help the children cut out a large fish mouth in the closed end of their bags. Next, show the children how to cut a large “V” shape from the open end of their bags to make fish tails. Then have the children draw large black circles for eyes on both side of the bags, near the mouth. finally, invite the children to decorate their fish with tempera pain, crayons, markers, and crepe paper streamers. Encourage the children to create their own style of paper fish. after the paint has dried, help each child punch a hole below and above the mouth of the fish so that a long string may be thread through the holes for hanging.

Japanese Fans
Materials:
Japanese folding fan
Construction paper
Markers
Crayons
Tape

Show the children a Japanese fan and point out the many folds. Explain that decorated fans are often used as part of costumes for special dances and festivals. Invite the children to make beautiful folding fans. give each child a sheet of construction paper. Explained that designs on the fans should be seen from both sides. Invite children to use markers or crayons to decorate their fans.

Encourage the children to be creative. Have several adult volunteers help the children fold their papers. Fold the short end of the paper in approximately one inch. Turn the paper over and fold the same end one inch in the opposite direction. Keep folding back and forth until the paper has been folded completely. Tape on end of each child’s paper. Spread out the folds to make a beautiful Japanese fan.

 

Japan Games and Activities

game
Sand Table
Add dry or cooked rice in the sand table.  Color it with food coloring for a fun twist.

Kites
Invite the children to sit together with you in a circle on the floor in a carpeted area of the classroom. Ask the children if the have ever flown kits. Encourage the children who have, to share their kite experiences with the group. Explain that kites are very popular in Japan. The kites are colorful and some are shaped like fish.

Ask the children to imagine what it might be like to be a kite soaring high in the sky. Teach the children the following song. Then invite half the group to stand. Tie crepe-paper streamers on the children’s wrists and encourage them to role-play a kite blowing in the breeze as the children in the circle sing the song.  Reverse the roles so that all the children may role-play being a kite.

Dramatic Play
Put Japanese clothes in the dramatic play area.

Science
Put a bonsai tree in the science area.

Language – Japanese
Hai (hi-ee) yes
Iie (i-ie)no
Ohayo (oh-hi-yo)Good morning
Sayonara (sigh-oh-nar-ah)Good bye
Arigato (ah-ree-gah-toe)thank you
Haha (Hah-hah)mother
Chichi (chiy-chiy)father

History 
Show the children a bowl of cooked and uncooked rice. Survey the class to see how many children enjoy eating rice. Ask the children what foods they eat that contain rice–rice pudding, rice cereal, broccoli and rice casserole, and so on. Explain that rice is Japan’s most important crop. Rice grows in flooded fields called paddies.

 

Japan Recipes and Snacks

snack
Tea Ceremony
Materials:
Teapot
Fruit juice
Cookies or crackers
Tablecloth
Napkins
Plate, cups and saucers (use plates a saucers with a design)
Spoons
Vase of flowers
Fan (see Japanese fan directions)
Recording of Japanese music
Record or tape player
Pictures of Japanese dancers with fans

Explain that the Japanese have formal tea ceremonies that often include dancing with beautiful fans. Explain that these tea ceremonies are very special in Japan. The Japanese feel that it is very important to relax and notice the beauty and simple things around them.  Invite the children to a tea ceremony. Place a pretty tablecloth and napkins, cups, saucers, plate, and spoons on the floor in a carpeted area of the classroom. Set a vase of flowers in the middle of the tablecloth.

Arrange cookies or crackers on a plate. Pour fruit juice in the teapot for tea. As the children arrive at your “tea house”, greet them and bow. Remind children to bow and then remover their shoes. In Japan, people remover their shoes and put on slippers before entering the house. Explain to the children that at a Japanese teahouse, the guests sit on mats on the floor around small tables as they have tea. Ask the children to sit around the tablecloth. Pour the “tea” into the cups and offer each child a cookie or cracker.

As the children enjoy their tea and cookies, encourage them to comment on the dishes, flowers, and other pretty items in the classroom. Show pictures of Japanese dancers performing in various ceremonies. Encourage the children to look closely at the dancers costumes–especially the beautiful fans. Invite the children to pretend they are dancing in a Japanese ceremony, while a recording of Japanese music is playing. When the children are finished, have them stand and bow to you and to one another.

Resource; connecting around the world/pre K, Sandra Siegel Plattner, (Simon and Schuster, 1992)

Fried Rice
1 cup water
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup uncooked instant rice
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
½ onion, finely chopped
½ cup green beans
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

In a saucepan, bring water, salt, and soy sauce to a boil.  Add rice and stir.  Remove from heat, cover, let stand 5 minutes.  Heat oil in a medium skillet or wok over medium heat.  Sauté onions and green beans for 2 to 3 minutes.  Pour in egg and fry for 2 minutes, scrambling egg while it cooks.  Stir in the cooked rice, mix well and sprinkle with pepper.

 

Japan Songs, Poems and Finger Plays

story
My Fish Kite
(Sung to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”)
My fish is flying high
My fish is flying high.
Oh, whee–it looks so free,
My fish is flying high.
The wind just caught my fish,
The wind just caught my fish,
What fun–I’m on the run,
The wind just caught my fish.
My fish is swirling ’round.
My fish is swirling ’round,
Oh, look–it just shook,
My fish is swirling ’round.
My fish is diving down
My fish is diving down.
Oh, dear–it’s down so near,
My fish is diving down.
The string just caught my foot
The string just caught my foot.
Oh, my–I’m in the sky,
The string just caught my foot.
My fish and I fly high,
My fish and I fly high.
Oh, whee–I feel so free,
My fish and I fly high!

 

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All of our theme ideas have come from our imagination and from reader submissions.  Please use this form to contact us if you have crafts, activities, games, recipes, songs or poems that you would like us to add to this theme.

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