Is anyone else’s neighborhood full of (pesky) dandelions (たんぽぽ)? Weeding is one of my least favorite things to do– so to be honest, I’m not very fond of dandelions. Many people in Japan, however, think dandelions are “cute”! My daughter loves them too, and always picks me a dandelion bouquet.
Last week, I decided to “make lemonade out of lemons” and turn these weeds into something pretty. My daughter and I collected the biggest dandelions in our yard and made flower crowns. It was a very fun bonding experience, and she LOVED her crown!
I didn’t take step-by-step photos, but these are simple to make. First, make a small slit about an inch below a dandelion head using your fingernails. Then take a second dandelion and pull the stem through the first dandelion’s slit. Then make a slit in the second dandelion’s stem, and repeat until you have the desired length. We trimmed our dandelion stems so they were only about 2-3 inches long (if the stems are too long, the crown will look messy).
Instead of crowns, you could create bracelets, necklaces, or garlands to decorate a tea party. There are so many possibilities!
You can use other types of flowers to make these garlands too. If the stems are not very thick, you can follow the instructions on this Japanese website to tie them a different way. If you scroll down on the website, there are also instructions for making “twirlers” using dandelion stems. Simply take a dandelion stem and make several small slits around the top and bottom. Place the stem in water, and the slits will curl. You can then send it down a stream and watch it twirl away.
Have you been doing anything creative in nature with your children lately? Please share!
In America, dandelions are considered pesky weeds, but in Japan, they are seen as cute flowers. Here are some short Shimajiro videos about たんぽぽ。
Ekakiuta／えかきうた (Drawing Song) is just that… a song that teaches you how to draw something! These are so fun for kids.
Here is a YouTube Ekakiuta that teaches how to draw a Tako-san／たこさん:
Here’s what my 3-year old drew after watching it:
This website, geocities.jp/ekakisong, has a lot more ekaki songs if you are interested in doing more!
I think the original (or at least, most recognized) Ekakiuta is Henohenomoheji／へのへのもへじ:
It’s so popular, you can even buy a T-shirt or make an onigiri with henohenomoheji!
Wouldn’t it be fun (and great review game) to make up your own illustrations using hiragana? Maybe you could even make your own unique picture using the kana in your name! Let me know if you tried it!
This is me about 7 years ago, in Aomori. My uncle caught and dried these octopuses (octopi?).
Did you know that “tako（たこ）” in Japanese means both “octopus” AND “kite”?
Octopus coloring pages HERE and HERE.
Japanese kite coloring page HERE.
HERE are instructions for a very simple kite you can make with your children.
If you are REALLY ambitious and crafty, you can try making a “real” kite by following the instructions HERE (by Windlove.net).
Here’s what a Kite Festival（たこあげたいかい） looks like in Japan:
I have an easy, fast, and fun craft for you today! たこ (octopus) is an animal that’s very popular in Japan (but not so much in the USA). Today we will make a Dancing Tako (おどるたこ).
by Hiragana Mama
by Hiragana Mama
by Hiragana Mama
You could make several and have them all dance to music at the same time!
HERE is a version using a paper cup, from みらい子育てネット山形.
This illustrator has created another unique version HERE (from gen graphics– scroll to the middle of the page).
Have fun! More tako-san activities coming soon!
Did you see the giveaway in the previous post? Deadline is Tuesday June 21.
July 7th of every year is a Japanese holiday called Tanabata（七夕）. It is a fun and pretty holiday to celebrate with your children!
The gist of the story behind the festival is this: There is a couple who lives in the sky… Orihime (the Weaving Princess) and Hikoboshi (the Sky King). They are permitted to cross the Milky Way and see each other just once per year… the 7th day of the 7th month.
You can read a more detailed version of the story on Wikipedia, the From Japan with Love blog, About.com, and Kids Web Japan.
Here is how you can celebrate Tanabata!
1) Decorate a bamboo branch with wishes and origami decorations.
- You can purchase an artificial bamboo branch from saveoncrafts or Afloral.com. You could also use a different kind of tree branch.
- Cut long rectangular strips of paper from origami or construction paper (called tanzaku papers), and write a wish on it. For example, “Please help me to be a straight-A student” or “I hope my mom buys me a dog.” Then hang your wish on one of the branches and pray it comes true. (You could also print one of these special papers to write your wish on from printout.jp).
- Make other fancy decorations for your bamboo tree. Origami-club.com has A LOT of great instructions for beautiful origami. This is the amikazari that I made:
- You could also just print out and color some decorations. Here are some from nurieyasan and here are some from kids.nifty.com.
2. Instead of hanging your wishes on a bamboo tree, you can make tiny stars out of paper and hide your wishes inside them.
3. Learn the Tanabata Song.
4. Enjoy food like dango, manjyu, mochi, udon, somen, and red rice.
5. Read about other traditions here (you must be able to read Japanese).
6. Watch a Sazae-san episode about Tanabata HERE.
I’ve never been, but have read that Sendai has the biggest and best Tanabata Festival every year. Check out these AMAZING images from the festival! I read on the website that despite the devastation that happened in March, the festival will still be held in 2011.
Instrumental Tanabata Song：