Travis’s envelope this month from Little Passports took him to… Japan! There was lots to learn and great hands-on activities in this particular kit. First up was the booklet, full of inventive activities like how to write a Haiku (spoiler: Travis’s was about eating a cookie), and a pictorial three-in-a-row search that was a fantastic alternative to a word search for non-readers.
Of course there was also a country coin for his coin chart, a stamp for his passport, and a push pin for his world map. Bonus features online included gorgeous photos of Japan, audio recordings of common Japanese words, and a Q&A with a Japanese “pen pal”.
The adorable sushi erasers that came with the package were a big hit, particularly the fact that they could be disassembled and reassembled. Travis became a mini sushi chef!
The most involved project with this kit was to make a koinobari, a kite in the shape of a carp fish traditionally hung on homes during Japan’s Children’s Day holiday (which falls in May).
Rather than use the suggested fabric pants, which I worried would be messy, I had Travis use fabric markers.
We first drew two fish outlines on an old pillow case and colored with the markers, after which I cut them out and hot-glued together on three sides, leaving the top open (alternatively, use fabric glue).
Cut a piece of cardboard from an old cereal box and glue into a loop; attach this at the mouth of the fish with more glue. Punch two holes through the pillow and cardboard, and loop a string through.
Finally, we glued on ribbons as tail streamers.
It looked beautiful on our front door.
Next up was to write in ema wishes on the provided template.
These wooden tablets, traditionally hung at a Japanese shrine, came just in time for our new era COVID-19. We strung them up along our kitchen window for good luck!
Of course we had to make origami, too. The package included fun instructions for penguins and jumping frogs.
The frog could really jump!
Travis wanted to make a whole army of penguins.
Finally, he did a cute food match-up game which highlighted all four islands of Japan, and he colored in the flag for the garland begun with his Brazil package.
The journey is never complete without a recipe, of course. Travis got to make dorayaki, a sweet Japanese pancake.
- 2 Ener-G eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar
- 1 cup sifted flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup water
- Canola oil
- Red bean paste
- To start, whisk together the Ener-G eggs, sugar, and agave in a bowl.
- Add the flour and baking powder to the bowl, stirring until smooth. Continue to stir while adding the water slowly.
- Heat a large skillet coated with a little canola oil over medium-high heat. Spoon 1/8 cup batter into the skillet per pancake and cook for about 2 minutes, until bubbles cover the tops. Flip and cook for an additional minute. Transfer cooked pancakes to a plate and repeat with the remaining batter.
- To serve, spread bean paste between two pancakes and eat sandwich-style! If the bean paste isn’t to your kids’ liking, try jam instead.
Travis loved eating the dorayaki with a ramen noodle bowl, for a full Japanese meal.