Sunday, March 8, 2015

Japanese Art and Culture Unit

I was fortunate enough to spend about a month touring Japanese public elementary and secondary schools as a Fulbright Memorial Fund Scholar a few years back. It was such a wonderful experience, that I always like to add Japanese art to my curriculum. What I do, is actually, teach a whole unit combining the culture and art of Japan. 

So here's my first post,  which show  the run down on the first half of this year's 4th grade Japan unit.

We start off  learning about the kimono. 

One student is chosen to wear it and  the pieces  are put on her in front of the class. I don't have all the pieces of a kimono, but I have enough. As the pieces are put on, I talk about the history of the kimono and what the purpose of the different parts of it are. For example, the skinny red tie on top of the obi is a symbol that the wearer is unmarried. Or the sandals above are worn informally in the summer months.

After the kimono is demonstrated, we move on to the use of chop sticks. The kids are shown an expensively carved set of chopsticks along with a variety of chopstick holders. The kids get to use the chopstick holders, but they use a more inexpensive bamboo chopstick when its time for them to eat. I chose about four or five students to try them out after I demo their proper use. The food I let them try to eat are mini marshmallows.

Next the kids learn about the Japanese Fish Market in Tokyo and the history of fish prints. We then make our own fish prints using the Gyotaku fish print sets and black ink.

Our fish prints are then cut out and glued onto a white paper  that had been colored in with multi-colored pastels. Then we cut out ocean themed silhouettes  in black paper for all the details, such as sand, rock and seaweed etc, to finish off the art work.

In an upcoming post I will write about the rest of the Japanese unit- the tea ceremony and calligraphy.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about this art unit. You can comment below.

Ps. Hey, do you want to see another Japanese inspired art lesson?  Japanese artist Hokusai's wood block print The Great Wave off Kanagawa is the inspiration for this post. Check it out here. Or here's more on my Japaneses unit here.

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