After finishing up our study of India, we were ready to take our learning adventures to Japan!
We had such a fun time with all of our Japan kids activities. In the words of my 3-year-old, “Japan has cool stuff!” How can you argue with that?
This unit includes fun activities and crafts that are perfect for introducing a child to the culture of Japan!
Introduction to Japan
Find it on the map
To introduce our Japan preschool unit, we pulled out our trusty world map. We located Japan on the map and talked about its geography as an island and identified some of the countries around it. And we traced the route we would have taken if we had really flown from India to Japan.
And then of course we had to get our suitcase and pretend to fly to Japan. We made it there in two minutes with no melt-downs or activities needed. Easiest flight ever.
Japan Crafts and Activities
Up first we have some fun activities that are included in our Japan Activity Bundle. In this set you will get the Japan Matching game, the Japan Flag Craft, and the Japan I spy game.
Up first was our Japan matching game to introduce some of the significant cultural and national symbols of the country.
My son loves matching games and was excited to learn about all of the different pictures on the cards.
Right now you can get the Japan matching game as a freebie, so be sure to check it out!
Making the flag of Japan
We introduced the flag of Japan by making it! For this activity, all you need to do is download the Japanese flag printable and then have your child color it and glue it to a popsicle stick or bamboo skewer.
And you’re left with a cute little flag for your child to enjoy!
The Japanese flag is known as the Nisshōki or Hinomaru. The red circle represents the sun, making the flag a symbol of Japan and the “Land of the Rising Sun.”
Japan I Spy Game
Our next activity is the Japan I Spy Game. This is a really fun activity that allows kids to get familiar with some of the commons symbols of Japan while they try to identify how many of each object they can find on the printable.
Include in this set is an easy version (numbers one to five) and a harder version (numbers up to ten), so you can adjust depending on the level of your child.
We couldn’t have a cultural unit on Japan and not include origami.
This is such a fun activity and one that kids especially tend to really love. My son loves folding paper designs, so I knew this was an activity that he would really enjoy.
The great thing about origami is that you don’t need a lot of supplies. Get a nice stash of origami paper and you’re good to go!
If your child is new to origami, it helps to make the design at the same time and showed them each fold as you go. Help them especially focus on getting their folds sharp and their corners precise.
This is a great activity for developing patience, focus, and fine motor skills. Plus it’s just fun and satisfying to do! My son absolutely loves doing origami and seeing all of his cool paper creations.
Japan Kids Crafts
Japanese Kokeshi Doll Craft
With this craft, you can make your own Japanese Kokeshi doll out of salt dough!
Japanese Kokeshi dolls are traditional wooden figurines known for their simple, cylindrical design, and hand-painted, artistic motifs, reflecting the charm and craftsmanship of Japanese folk art.
This salt dough version really isn’t too hard to make and the dolls look so adorable when they are finished!
My kids thought this activity was so fun and they were so proud of their completed Kokeshi dolls.
Cherry Blossom Tree
As part of this preschool unit, I knew I had to include something with cherry blossoms. My boys looove when the blossoms start popping up on trees in the spring.
And cherry blossoms in particular carry a lot of significance in Japan.
They are featured prominently in Japanese art and culture and every year the arrival of the cherry blossoms is eagerly anticipated in Japan.
Because the flowers bloom so beautifully and fade so quickly, they are a symbol of the fleeting and exquisite nature of life.
And with this craft, your child can make their very own free-standing tree full of beautiful blossoms! You can find the instructions here.
This craft involves lots of cutting and gluing, which is great for focus and fine motor skills.
My son loved helping cut out all of the tissue and attaching it to the tree. And he was so excited about the finished product!
Paper Plate Hand Fan
Next, we made paper plate hand fans. This is another easy activity with basic supplies. We were inspired by this post by Pinterested Parent.
We looked at pictures of real Japanese fans to get inspiration for what we wanted them to look like. My son decided he wanted to make waves on his.
After they dried, I used a hot glue gun to glue the popsicle sticks onto the plate for the base of our fan.
The end result was colorful and fun. And it actually worked well as a fan too! I know because my son ran around fanning everyone for the rest of the day…
Suki’s Kimono– This is the sweet story of a young girl who chooses to be true to herself and her culture despite what her peers may think. Suki loves her kimono and wears it to school amid the criticism of her classmates. She brushes off their insensitive remarks with confidence and kindness, making friends along the way. The story has a nice message and many references to Japanese culture.
I Live in Tokyo– takes young readers on a delightful journey through the bustling streets and vibrant culture of Tokyo. Told from the perspective of a young Japanese girl, this book helps children learn about customs, traditions, and everyday life in Japan.
We couldn’t do a preschool unit on Japan and not make sushi. Actually, we love to make sushi at our house usually make it at least a couple of times a year. But this was the first time my three-year-old had participated in making his own sushi!
This is my go-to recipe for making sushi rice and it has nice instructions on how to make a simple roll.
We usually include some other ingredients besides just those for a basic California roll. Some of our favorites: Tempura shrimp (I just buy the pre-made kind from the store and cook it in the oven), cream cheese, spicy crab meat, spicy mayo. Then we all just mix and match the rolls any way that sounds good!
He loved the whole process, especially squishing the rice onto the nori and picking which ingredients to include. Oh and rolling it up of course!
The chopsticks were a bit of a struggle, but he was determined to eat it the authentic way. And he finished his entire roll with gusto!
Mochi Ice Cream
And of course, we had to include one of our other Japanese favorites, mochi ice cream! It’s one of my kids’ all-time favorite treats.
Although I have made it from scratch before, this time I went the easy route and just got it from Costco.
Well Japan, it was fun. We ended our unit of Japan preschool activities by putting a stamp in my son’s passport (using these sticker flags). He liked the Japanese flag because of how simple it was and had fun finding the right sticker flag to put in his passport.
Next, we’re off to Uganda!
Be sure to check out our other cultural preschool units: