Hiking Mt. Fuji. Riding a rickshaw. Traveling via bullet train. These are just some of the highlights of dream vacations to Japan imagined by Barnesville second graders. Students shared their vacation stories and took parents on a tour of their classroom that was transformed to showcase work from their extended cross-curricular segment about Japan.
Second Grade Teacher Mrs. Blakely worked with other teachers to create interdisciplinary learning experiences centered on Japanese culture. Art, literature, science, math, geography, social studies, music, and even physical education and nutrition lessons introduced students to aspects of life in Japan.
Folding Origami reinforced basic geometry concepts. Painting watercolor cherry blossom trees inspired original inspired Haiku poems. Making sushi rolls out of rice cereal and candy was a fun way for children to learn to use chopsticks. It also sparked conversations about the nutritional value of real sushi. Learning about the prominence of fish in the Japanese diet was a natural connection to studying the life cycle of salmon in science.
Dressed in kimonos and shirts created in art class to represent traditional Samurai garments, second graders sang songs like, “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” in Japanese, using basic vocabulary and showing off their counting skills.
School Librarian Cindy Barr said, “Introducing students to Kamishibai Storytelling, also known as Japanese paper theater, has been one of my favorite things to teach. We begin with printed story cards and then move on to creating our own story cards to retell a well known Japanese folktale.”
After students presented Kamishibai stories, they served their parents tea with traditional bows as a sign of respect.
“Collaborating with library, art, and other teachers helped to make what are literally foreign concepts very relatable for the kids,” said Mrs. Blakley. “It was a thrill to see the children so excited to relay all that they’ve been learning.”Photos can be found on Facebook.