A few months ago Honey, the amazing Mondorfment Mom, started a Montessori Continent Box Swap (click on a link for more information). While I am still waiting for all the items to arrive, some moms were very kind to share what they included in a swap. I’d like to post a summary of those items for those who are just starting their work on continent boxes and are searching for ideas.
First of all, this is what we had for Asia:
Famous Artworks Stickers: Japanese Prints: 16 Art Stickers (Pocket-Size Sticker Collections) by Hokusai Hiroshige and Others. I love these stickers: I mounted them on cardstock, cut it out, mixed with similar created cards from other sticker sets. We play simple memory games with them: spread out a few sets of stickers, e.g. Asian and Egyptian artworks, face down. Take turns turning two cards over. If you have two sets of stickers, you can try to find the same painting. I have only one copy of each painting-card, so we search for the same tradition: I collect Egyptian, my Sunshine collects Japanese. He needs to find two Japanese cards, I need two Egyptian. If we miss, we turn cards face down again and try on the next turn.
- Asia (Rookie Read-About Geography) by Allan Fowler
- Diwali (Rookie Read-About Holidays) by Trudi Strain Trueit
- Japan (Rookie Read-About Geography) – by David F. Marx and Linda Cornwell
- Mount Everest (Rookie Read-About Geography) – by Sarah De Capua
- Free Geography PowerPoint Presenations: in Encyclopedic Knowledge – Geography there are tons of presentations available to download that mention Asia – one of world’s greatest deserts, one of world’s greatest islands, and even countries are located in Asia. Some presentations have countries, flags, illustrations. Feel free to browse for hidden surprises.
- Free Art PowerPoint Presenation: Hokusai Katsushika, biography and artworks by one of the most influential and famous Japanese artist.
- Load the Ship to Asia: we do this homemade Montessori activity using chopsticks, traditional Asian food utensils. This Montessori transferring activity proved to be lots of fun! While my older one, Sunshine, wants to use his chopsticks to load/unload the ship again and again, my little Smiles loves just touching the beads, rearranging them, and trying to place them with his fingers.
- Musical Instruments:
- Chinese Monkey Drum: my husband picked it up at some local fare, but my kids love those simple little drums! I’ve seen it sold in many stores online that carry musical instruments for kids.
- Asian Wind Chimes, Bells: my kids could probably spend hours just jumping up, hitting the bells and listening to the distraught soft banging sound of the pipes. I just love the soft dingling in the wind… This is what I found about its origin at Asian Ideas: “The origin of wind chimes and wind bells has long been debated, as both Eastern and Western Asia have claimed its invention. However, regardless of its origin, the use of wind chimes and wind bells is widespread throughout Asia. In temples, the sound of bell tolls signifies a period of prayer and meditation. In the home, wind chimes and wind bells are believed to frighten away evil spirits, or used to cast or remove spells. In Feng Shui wind chimes are also instrumental in channeling positive energy to create a harmonious environment.” I liked this site for more details, history and illustrations: Music of the Wind.
- Dreidel: for some reason, when speaking about Asia, only China and Japan come to mind. How about Western Asia, Near East? My kids absolutely love lighting up menorah candles every year, playing dreidel, making traditional Hanukkah potato snacks. We love learning about different cultural traditions through play (besides, twisting a dreidel or even lighting a candle – are great practical activities for developing coordination, and even math!). I especially liked these sites for more information:
- Speaking of cultural traditions: Happy New Year! This little wooden Rooster was actually brought to us by a friend from Hong Kong, but we usually talk about animals associated in China with each year, its significance and celebration traditions. Some information sources:
- Melissa & Doug Wooden Sushi: This is rather untraditional food playset. All sticks and sushi have Velcro pieces, so they stick together, come apart with fingers or with a toy-knife. I like how kids are creating their own sushi, and this is just another way to introduce cultural activities into everyday fun and learning.
- Traditional Origami Crane, Tsuru: Forever Flying calls Origami Cranes, the “instruments of kindness”. Use these animated instructions from Origami.org to fold your own symbol of peace and kindness. Isn’t this fascinating? Look: “Origami is the art of paper folding, passed from China to Japan in ancient times. Paper cranes are traditional Japanese symbols of peace, good luck, and good health, along with symbols of fidelity and longevity in marriage. Paper cranes are becoming international symbols for all of these things, however.Red-crowned cranes, after which origami paper cranes are modeled, are also national symbols in Japan and China. These cranes mate for life and can live for over 70 years, hence the association with marriage. There are also only about 2,000 of these birds left in the wild, so like random acts of kindness, they are rare.A Japanese legend is that if you make a thousand paper cranes, you’ll get a wish.After the bombing of Hiroshima, a little girl named Sadako Sasaki developed leukemia and, while in the hospital, managed to finish the thousand paper cranes, and, after her passing, her classmates started a campaign to memorialize her and all the other children victims of the nuclear bombs. This created the Children’s Peace Monument in Japan, and started a worldwide movement of paper cranes for peace, a symbol of the need to end and disarm all nuclear weapons.”
- Buddha figurine
- Russia occupies all of Northern Asia. For the list of things that we we have for Russia, go to my European Continent Box
While we covered a variety of cultural aspects Asia, I have many ideas for things that I’d love to add to it:
- Camel figurines
- Przewalski’s horse figurines – last wild horse roaming in Mongolia
- An activity for Asian calligraphy or writing samples from various Asian countries
- Indian artifacts – I just love their multi armed dancing figurines! I wish I had that many arms!!!
- Uzbekistan hat
- Rice and a book/presentation about it’s growing, importance in Asian cultures.
- Something to represent southern parts and islands (Indonesia, Polynesia, Thailand, all those exotic and amazing places that I know so little about!).
We were very lucky to have Earth Friendly Mama (one of my favorite bloggers) undertake Asian continent and here are her fantastic ideas for things that could be included into a Asian Continent Box (you can find more details and excellent pictures in her blog right here: Continent Swap by Earth Friendly Mama):
- Chinese coins (ordered from ebay)
- Stamps (also ordered from ebay)
- 3-Part Cards that are on the CD about Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan (Earth Friendly Mama kindly offers to send those files by email to anyone who contacts her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Sky Lanterns: traditional Chinese paper lanterns
- Asia Pin Map with flags (see illustration above)
- Green Tea (for China)
- Chinese New Year Red Envelopes
- Honey’s (Mondorfment Mom, the amazing organizer of this swap) India Cards: 3part cards for your India Continent box & Bead Materials- diy