There was no school today because of President's Day so we had some extra time to explore and have fun with Japan! Bug found Japan on the globe and recognized that it was about the same size as the state of California. I looked it up and she is correct. Japan is 143,619 square miles and California is 158,706 square miles. She also noted that Japan is almost three times as big as Illinois (Illinois is 57,918 square miles). Boo and I also discussed the Japanese creation mythology versus our Christian beliefs. She's been reading the Percy Jackson series and has been intrigued by the Greek god mythology so this wasn't a stretch for her at all.

During quiet time today, Boo & Bug spent some time writing Haiku poetry. A Haiku is a short, non-rhyming poem composed of three lines containing 5 syllables, 7 syllables, and 5 syllables.
Here's what they came up with:

Winter by Boo (age 8)
Falling to the ground
In silent little whispers
Snowflakes dance all day

Spring by Boo
Flowers start to sprout
The sun smiles down at me
The wind in my face.

Summer by Boo
I sit on the beach
The summer sun is quite warm
The waves cool my legs

Fall by Boo
The leaves all fall down
Flying in the breezy wind
Dancing to the ground

Pegasus by Bug (age 5)
Pegasus with magic horns
The little horse flies up high
Pretty as can be.

Princess by Bug
Cute little princess
Will dance at the royal ball
And will become queen.

Prince by Bug
All princes are strong
Dance with the princess at night
and are all handsome.

We also spent a bit of time today playing dress up. When I was in high school, I had a friend who was a Japanese exchange student who gifted me a kimono. I got it out today and, although I had to brush up on how to put it together, Boo got to try it out. Bug tried on a Mulan costume that we have (yes, I realize that Mulan is Chinese but it was the closest that I had to a kimono in Bug's size!). Boo was quite surprised at how comfortable it was but also how restricting. She had a fun time taking dainty little steps.

Following our dress up session, we used this template from Crayola to make Japanese kimono bookmarks.

Then we made mini counting books, practicing our Japanese number writing using this link from Scholastic.

Our final project of the day was making paper lanterns. We used scrapbook paper cut in various sizes (I think that 4.5x6 made the nicest ones) to create them. Fold your paper in half and cut from the fold straight up to about 1/2 inch from the opposite edge. Repeat the process leaving 1/4 to 1/2 an inch between each cut. When you have finished all your cuts, roll the paper edges together and staple on both ends.

We then punched holes in the tops and strung them to make a fun stairway decoration! (If you want a step by step tutorial, check out The Crafty Classroom's directions.

For dinner we used a recipe from Family Fun magazine for Chicken Yakitori.

To make it, you will need:
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 TBSP soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 TBSP mirin
  • 4 TBSP unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 12 bamboo skewers (I used 12 inch)
Mix 2 TBSP soy sauce, 2 TBSP mirin, and 2 TBSP rice vinegar in a 9x12 pan. Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces and add to the mixture, being sure to coat the chicken on all sides. Put in the fridge for an hour to marinate.

While the meat is marinating, soak your bamboo skewers in water and chop the scallions into 1 inch lengths, using both the white and pale green parts. (While doing this, I pondered the origin of the word Rapscallion, which, as it turns out has absolutely nothing to do with scallions!)

In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup of soy sauce, 1/4 cup of mirin, 2 TBSP sugar, and 2 TBSP rice vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer until the glaze is slightly thickened (this took about 20 minutes). You don't want it to cook too long as it will continue to thicken after you remove it from the stove.

Heat your grill to medium temperature. Alternate 4 pieces of chicken and 3 pieces of scallion onto each skewer. You can throw out the marinade at this point.

(note my dedication - grilling while it is snowing is never all that fun!)
Grill the skewers until seared on both sides and just cooked through, about 10 minutes, turning every 3 minutes or so. During the last few minutes of cooking, brush the skewers with the glaze on both sides, turning them often so the glaze doesn't burn. Just before you remove them, brush the skewers with the glaze a second time.

I served the chicken yakitori with udon noodles.

The verdict: The kids LOVED the meat! Bug asked if we could have it every night & Boo practically shouted that it was delicious after her first bite. I thought it was a great flavor as well.

If you want to read about what we did to study Japan in 2008, click here.
2 Responses
  1. Stacia Says:

    Kimonos, lanterns, haiku, chicken yakitori ... what a fabulous day!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Wonderful, honey! I'm so glad the girls are learning SO MUCH about life!!
    However, I cannot say I feel sorry for your having to grill in the snow, since I spent all last winter doing just that - and loving it! I DO love my new stove, though ...
    Well, I guess I'm Anonymous now, since my other IDs are not being recognized. 8>|

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