Spring holidays are upon us and boy, am I looking forward to a few sleep-ins and no hunting for that lost shitajiki (writing board), kyushoku (lunch) bag or textbook in the morning. As much of a fan as I am of pyjama days and leaving kids to their own devices, small apartments and no or limited backyards do not a happy holiday (or KA mummy!!) make. Spring vacation gives us the perfect chance to get out there, enjoy the beautiful weather and see what’s on offer. And here, on the KA blog, we have some ideas! This year, Easter falls right in the middle of the holidays providing a great opportunity to get creative with your kids. There is no better Easter craft than making your own baskets and the 100 yen shop is a great place to stock up on supplies to create your own masterpieces. Another great idea came courtesy of Jessievia the Disney website.
Easter Bunny Baskets
To create these baskets you will need a basket, cotton balls, glue, scissors, felt, googly eyes and pipe cleaners: 1. Glue cotton balls around the outside of the basket. 2. Cut ears out of white felt and small inner ears out of pink felt and attach. 3. Attach a small upside down pink felt triangle for a nose. 4. Finally glue on googly eyes and a pipe cleaner shaped like a mouth. Dying eggs is another great Easter tradition, simply hard boiling eggs, placing in dye and then drawing on the egg is great fun. Check out this webpage for some more intricate egg designs.
And in case you can’t get ahold of a pre-made dyeing kit, making your own dye at home is easy enough! You will need: — food coloring: Japanese food coloring usually comes in 3 basic colors, green, yellow, red, with blue being harder but not impossible to find. It can be found in the baking goods section and is in a powdered form — vinegar: we are most familiar with using apple cider vinegar, which can usually be found in the grocery store in the vinegars section. 1. Boil some water, divide it into your color batches, you want enough water in each container to submerge an egg into 2. Slowly add coloring until you get to a shade darker than you like 3. Add about 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the water
Getting family and friends together for an Easter event is also a nice opportunity to get together. Kathy held an Easter colouring party for her daughter’s friends and her co-workers; Erinn will have an Easter picnic in her area while we’re planning to get together with friends.
My monkey at Himeji Castle
Another idea is to combine a field trip with an English lesson opportunity. Although my family have been a bit slow with the at-home English classes (more concerned with mastering nihongo at the moment!) we have made a start on our Inquiry learning. Inquiry is great because it’s very child led and as a teacher/parent you really only need to be the learning facilitator; the children create the questions and discover the answers for themselves. Our topic is castles. The boys visited Himeji Castle a couple of months ago and created a list things they want to learn about. Over the holidays we will research them via books or the internet and make a visit to Osaka castle to discover the answers. Once we’ve done that, the boys will create a project based on their interests:
a factual piece of writing
a Lego castle building
Or whatever they come up with!
Topics could include Easter, hanami, an exhibition or show visiting your area or whatever interests your child. Introducing your child to something from your own culture is also a fun activity. Living in Japan means that kids can miss out on the things that people just “get” from their other culture. My boys and I are planning a Grease movie night, I think it’s vitally important that all children know how to do the Greased Lightening dance!
Of course the KA mums are full of ideas for spring holiday boredom busters! — Around the house, Erinn sent her son out on a treasure hunt, armed with a digital camera and a list of items of various colours and shapes to find. — Anna loves to go strawberry picking and eating them fresh off the plant. For a detailed list of Strawberry Picking Farms in the Kanto area please see our Strawberry Picking in Kantoarticle. See Japan Guidefor some locations near you.— Diane is planning to take her daughter to some of the various children’s play centres near her – Kidzania, Kids Plaza and the ever popular Spa World! I spoke to the every helpful Jo fromjojoebi designsand the creator of My Organised Chaosfor some tips to keep you sane over the holidays:
Over the next couple of weeks get a bag and keep any ‘good’ recycling, strange shaped plastic, cling film middles, boxes etc. We love makedo but you could just give them the bag and a load of tape -masking tape is the easiest for little ones to use because the can rip it. Tell them to go forth and invent a new machine or build a robot or time travelling car or princess carriage. Add coloured stickers and markers for more fun.
Muffin Tin Meals – serve up lunch in a muffin tin, for some reason kids love it, you can go overboard and make fancy ones or let older kids prepare their own. You could even take them into the yard and have a picnic or in the living room on a clean mat if the weather is lousy.
Treasure hunt – inside or out, a colour hunt is always fun and spring is a good time to do it.
And if you get really desperate, well you can always send the kids off to Baa-chan and Jii-chan’s! That’s we’re mine are heading off to next week. Good luck and don’t forget to take some time off for yourself and get a breather during the holidays.