Have you every had a teacher that has blown your mind? One that had taken a subject that you weren’t too keen on and showed you how much fun it was to learn about that particular subject? For me, that would be my grade 6 geography teacher. I had come to believe that geography class was a repetitious class of colouring map after map. Sure there was some memorization, but the classes never inspired me to put on my hiking boots and get out there and explore. It wasn’t until my grade 6 teacher, Mrs. McCarthy, introduced me to Japan’s country and its culture that I began to love geography. She immersed us in the flavour of sushi, the art of origami and even took us to a Japanese festival to experience a real tea ceremony. It was a great learning experience that I will ever forget. It inspired me to travel, increase my cultural knowledge and gave me a new appreciation to the diversity of the world.
The boys could hardly wait for their 3rd monthly Little Passports kit arrive (I have sneak suspicion of I have gotten a taste of what I’m in for this holiday season)! They were curious to see where Sam and Sophia would take this month and what special treasure they would be sent. In case you have never heard of Little Passports, it is a monthly subscription program (starting at $10.95/month), that provides your child with a unique monthly adventure from the comfort of their own home! Through imaginary pen pals, named Sam and Sophia, your children get the chance travel the world and learn about the geography, history, culture and more of a different country each month. So far we have received an introduction kit and a Brazil kit.
This month our third penpal letter arrived. The boys were so excited to receive mail of their very own! When they opened up this letter, they found a letter from Sophia and Sam about their adventure in Japan, a photo of a traditional Japanese building, a sushi eraser, a package full of origami paper and instructions sheet, a worldwide adventure activity sheet and stickers to attach to their passport and map.
This was one of my favourite adventure tales. It opened a conversation with my children about my past experience with Japan from grade 6. I told them about the ritualistic tea ceremony and the unique Japanese fest we had. Since they were little I have always encouraged them to try to new foods, especially if it looks strange or different. Not too surprising, like their mother, they have fallen in love with Sushi. My DS7 actually requested it for his birthday dinner last year. He could relate to the adventurous tale in the letter about Sophi eating a huge scoop of wasabi by mistake, as it was a situation he experienced once as well. We loved the origami paper and easily bonded for hourss folding paper to create magical animals. I have always had a fondness for this art of paper folding and love showing the boys my favourite origami design- paper balloon (see instructions below!) The learning never ends with the letter, after completing the worldwide adventure activity sheet and the online games, my children are still inspired to learn more. We talk about the adventure for days and dreamt about one day visiting these places as well.
Here’s a few things we learned:
Tuskiji– is the largest fish market in the world. Located in Japan’s capital, Toyko, it literally means ‘reclaimed land’. This is an accurate description as it was once marsh land that was systematically filled in to create a new commercial and waterhousing district.
Sushi– refers to any dish made with vinegared rice. It is a traditional Japanese meal that prides itself on presentation and structure. The word sushi means sour tasting, referring to the vinegared rice. Vinegared rice was used as a way to prevent spoiling, thus giving the food a longer shelf life.
Wasabi – is a green paste made by crushing the root of the wasabi plant. Part of the cabbage, horseradish and mustard family, it is also known as Japanese horseradish. Once prepared it will lose its taste within 15 minutes if not covered. That is why you usually find it tucked between the rice and raw fish.
Mt Fuji – is Japan’s highest mountain and most famous volcano. It hasn’t erupted since 1707, when it covered Tokyo in ash.
Origami – is the art of folding paper that originated in the 17th century. The goal of origami is to take a flat sheet of paper and transform it into a beautiful crafted sculpture through different folding techniques. The use of scissors and glue are not allowed.