We have been studying Asia for the last couple of months, starting with two weeks on South-East Asia. We mainly focused on Singapore and Vietnam the first week and Malaysia and Thailand the second week.
We started on by learning about Sir Stamford Raffles and his legacy in Singapore (though we also touched on how this has been questioned, like most British Imperial figures, in recent times) and then how Lee Kuan Yew rapidly turned Singapore from a developing country to developed and the richest in the region. We also started learning about Vietnam and Button did additional worksheets about Vietnam through the week.
It's not really possible to touch on Vietnam without covering the "American war" as the Vietnamese sometimes refer to it. So for English, we studied "shooting the moon" which is about a young, pro-war, American girl called Jamie. Her brother goes to war in Vietnam, but rather than letters he sends her photo film to develop. It was a very well written book showing some different perspectives on a war which, like most wars, had a high human cost that really can't be justified.The book and then some YouTube research also further built of Button's understanding of developing photos and tied into some experiments she has done previously with sun paper.
We also covered punctuation during this period. This included punctuation bingo from @propellereducation. Whenever either of us marked off a punctuation mark on our board, Button had to write a sentence using that particular piece of punctuation. This meant some explanation of the couple she didn't know which was great. We further built on this the following week with the socks or fox game all about indirect and direct speech. Finally, we also looked at adjectives. Button produced a fantastic and emotive poem about the people left behind during war as part of this.
We also learnt about the Khmer Empire. The Angkor civilisation began about about 1000BC culminating in an Empire that lasted about 600 years from 802AD til 1431AD. Button worked really hard, listening and taking in the information and then doing some brilliant work on her worksheets. In fact the hardest bit which took the most time was writing a poem to spell out ANGKOR. She is really starting to work well with these worksheets from kids Konnect to produce some great work to reinforce what she is learning. It has been a pleasure to teach her these couple of months and I think she enjoyed it too.
Wau bulan are one of the national symbols of Malaysia. Translating in English to "moon kite," these gorgeous kites are 2.5 metres wide but 3.5 metres high and have hummers on the top with tassels. I would love to see one in action after learning about them. All three children learnt about these. They designed their own after looking at images online. I loved their designs.
This week's art craft was based around the Buddha. For the Twins I kept it very simple and printed a template of the Buddha's face. I then gave them @scarletts.senses playdough, a rolling pin and a small circle cutter. This was great to develop rolling and cutting skills, their hand eye co-ordination and their creativity. For Button I showed her pictures of the Buddha on her tablet to copy. While they created their Buddhas, I sat and talked to them about who he was and a little about Buddhism.
We also had a go at creating our own mandala pictures. Button really enjoyed this, she found it relaxing. We also did a bit of research and found out that.....
According to Buddhist scripture, mandalas constructed from sand transmit positive energies to the environment and to the people who view them. They are believed to effect purification and healing. Mandala sand painting were introduced by the Buddha himself and there are many different designs of mandala, each with different lessons to teach. (Taken from the BBC site)
Buttercup started to create her own thing and then wanted it to look like Button's so I helped her create a little one. I explained that each side needs to look the same.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej
We learnt a little about King Bhumibol Adulyadej for our famous person study. He was the King for 65 years, that's currently 3 years less than our Queen, and so is now the second longest ruling monarch ever. He was rich and gave his own money to keep developing areas of his Country. He became King when his brother was murdered. No-one really knows what happened there and we didn't go into it this time but definitely one for when she's older.
We also touched on some facts about Thailand, finding out the Capital, currency, region, area, prime minister etc. These questions opened a lot of conversation and interest. We then looked at the national symbols. She had a few sheets to do alone as well, such as looking at Thai food and some of the gods and folklores they believe in.
We had some brillant printouts that gave Button a lot of information about Asian tigers and some worksheets to fill out. Some got her really thinking and some got her researching. She had to find out about the different sub-species of Asian tigers including three that are now extinct. We then had to come up with a slogan to stop killing tigers. The fact sheets were really good because they showed me how much she remembered from all the information we read.
Far East Asia
We complemented our studies on China with some Chinese tea that Daddy bought years ago. We tried 'Tit koon yum tea', 'jasmine tea' and 'green tea' today. We both liked the first one but weren't as keen on the jasmine and green. Daddy was really impressed with Button trying them though.
Button then did some great tea-fuelled work learning about Confucius and Communism. She learnt a bit about philosophy, words of wisdom, Chinese characters and some quotes from Confucius. We then looked at forms of government and Communism in particular including Karl Marx's manifesto and the Communist response to different situations.
I found this Chinese brush painting set in the Works, reduced. The children loved learning about China's artwork. We discovered that Chinese art generally falls into the categories of figures, landscapes, animals or birds and flowers. We also learnt about the "four gentlemen" or "four noble ones" which are actually plants. The plum blossom (winter) with symbolises modesty and longevity, the orchid (spring) symbolises humility and nobility, the bamboo (summer) cultivation and integrity and the chrysanthemum (autumn) is longevity and duration. We then learnt about different brushes and how to hold them and paint with them. We touched on the difference between Chinese calligraphy and Chinese brush painting. This book had a lot of interesting facts.
The children then painted a plum blossom and Button even painted a landscape scene. It was a lovely morning, learning new techniques and skills.
All four of us watched an @gojettersofficial episode about the Chinese Terracotta army. After which we played a variation of 'what's the time Mr wolf?' that we based on the Terracotta army. The 'wolf' in our game was an opposition army. The rest of us were terracotta soldiers and one real soldier. We would creep up on the opposition until they occasionally say "I am going to attack" and we would freeze. If anyone moved they were out. When close enough to the opposition the real soldier would tap them to attack and then run back and hide in strength amongst the rest of us terracotta soldiers to win. It was a bit contrived but hopefully showed them that having the Terracotta army brought numbers and intimidation to oppose their enemies.
This was similar to the Asian tigers we did previously and had information printouts which we sat and read together. She then had to pick four facts she liked the most. I love seeing how her mind works and what she picks. She loved that they become adults at 18 like humans and she found it interesting that they cover their dead with leaves and sand and grieve over them, again a lot like us. We then did the true or false sheet and compared Asian elephants to African elephants. We also learnt about their declining numbers and Button had to think of solutions to help protect them.
As part of our Asia topic we are learning about Pandas. This seems to be Bear's favourite animal at the moment, ever since we watched an @disneyplusuk documentary on them. So over two days we made some pop up pandas. I love how they turned out. There was a lot to this craft, using cardboard to make the bamboo, sticking and painting. It took us two days as we needed to wait for the paint to dry. It was worth it as I love how they turned out.
We also did some fun facts about Pandas. The children could tell me what colour they were and what they eat before I even started reading the facts. We found out they like to live alone and baby pandas are born pink and don't open their eyes until 6/8 weeks old. We also found it interesting how they sleep so we tried out some of the positions. Button was really getting into it while Bear was just rolling around the floor.
We watched the @gojettersofficial episode about the Great wall of china, before using our @makedo tools to make our own Great wall. The children loved building this and playing on it after. We found some fun facts about the wall as well. It took over 1000 years to build and over a million people to build it, most of the builders were slaves or criminals, it has over 7000 look out towers and if it was unraveled and stretched out, it would cover half the world. It was a lot of fun to do and hopefully the children learnt something along the way.
We had a brilliant afternoon exploring a little of Japan. We made pretend sushi from cotton wool and felt and then tried our hand at chop sticks. We also used Japanese calligraphy brushes to draw and wrote Japanese numbers in the rice. The rice then was used as rice for play meals and we had sushi and rice for "dinner".
As part of Asia week we asked the amazing @scarletts.senses to put together a sushi set....... WOW!!!!! She out did herself again, it was so much more than I could of ever imagined. The children were super excited about receiving this kit, Button is a huge sushi fan so couldn't wait to start playing. They cheered the postman as they spotted the sticker and hovered over me as I unpacked it. They were just as amazed as myself and @teaching_mum_and_dad at the level of detail she has put into it. The children loved making sushi rolls, pancakes, dumplings and soups. This will be left out all week in the learning room for them to explore and create with. It was also really freeing for me to just let them go for it and mix stuff, I normally panic and keep everything very separate but not this time, the rice and playdough are truly mixed and do you know what? That's ok, because they had fun and expressed themselves.
One morning Daddy read to Button about the Japanese Islands and life for a boy in Tokyo from the Japanese edition of @aquila.magazine. It also had some activities in it and she did sushi sudoku and wrote a karaoke rap.
Today we learnt about Osamu Tezuka and his amazing contributions to Manga and Animé. He is known as the "father of Animé" and it was so interesting as I knew nothing about Manga or Aminé. June's @aquila.magazine was all about Japan and it featured how to draw Manga. Button really enjoyed her first attempts. I'm so proud of her, she even tried drawing Osamu Tezuka with Manga features.
We touched on Buddha before when Button used playdough to create her own Buddha statue as part of learning about Thailand. Now we actually spent some time learning about the religion and history. We studied the life of Buddha and the Eightfold paths. Button found this religion rather interesting. I think she believed it to be a very peaceful calm religion. We then compared it to Christianity and in the next few weeks will compare it against Islam and Hinduism.
Pakistan and Bangladesh
We printed off some information sheets on Bangladesh and some work sheets. It was great to read about these Countries and their history. Button learnt about some basic facts as well as their national symbols. We played a few games with the facts she had learnt which was a great way for her to remember the important information.
We had a rather busy day today. Button started with learning about @malalayousafz as part of our Asia journey. She was amazed about much this lady had gone through and so young. I think it inspired her to believe in standing up for what she thinks is right. She asked a lot of questions and gave me such grown up views about what we were reading. She was shocked when I told her Malala was shot for what she believed in and for voicing the truth. I used @twinklresources for the information and questions which was pretty good but they glossed over the shooting and I wanted Button to fully understand what this young girl had gone through. Button was shocked to discover she is the same age as her uncle (my youngest brother) and had already achieved so much and fought so hard for the education of girls in Pakistan. Buttons view on this was "gender doesn't matter, boys and girls are equal and should have the same chance to go to school!" I'm proud of my little head strong girly, I didn't prompt this opinion, she freely and rather angrily gave it to me and I was impressed. This is something we are handed on a plate, be it in a school or home, all our children have the right to an education and I'm glad she understands why Malala is so passionate about what shes fighting for.
The Silk road
I knew nothing about the silk road at the start of this project. I love history so was rather excited to learn about it. It was so interesting to learn how we traded with other countries, what was traded and the dangers that came with it. This was how the bubonic plague spread to Europe, how we acquired gunpowder but also how new religions and cultures were discovered. Button learnt all this and more, she learnt that China invented printing, paper making the compass and gun powder as well as the effect these had on our history and the world. She learnt the devastating loss from the bubonic plague and compared it to covid 19 which gave her more of an insight to what we are facing at the moment. It was a brilliant subject to add to her project.
We decided for this project to build a Taj Mahal. The Twins did a great job on their own one made from blocks and Button worked really hard on her shop bought one. She then built one from the blocks as well. Loved all their creativity with this.
What an interesting morning we had studying India, from foods, to animals, child labour and famous places to visit. Button did amazingly well for such a heavy morning. I was so proud of her. She loved learning about the food in India and is intrigued to try chicken tikka. She loved some of the places we found to learn about, the beautiful gardens and forts, especially the staircase. It was great to hear her views on child labour, she understood that some families are so poor they send anyone old enough to work to get money for food but she didn't like the fact that they were having to do this and could get hurt.
Hinduism and Diwali
Button loves this religion, she's always asking to learn more. She loves their celebrations and beliefs. We bought a lovely book from a secondhand on line book shop that teaches all about the religion through the eyes of a little girl. I wrote out a set of questions to link with the book and she didn't struggle. Every since she was old enough to ask questions about Halloween we have explained that we don't agree with Halloween and used this time to learn about other cultures or religions. One of the first was Diwali, another year we learnt about the Day of the Dead but she started asking when we were going to celebrate Diwali, then the next year she wanted to again and then again. Even this year she's mentioned it again. We don't celebrate like real Hindus (althought I think Button would love to) but we do some rangoli art and eat curry and rice. So this year we studied Diwali again. This time we integrated our English lesson into it and got a lovely story from Twinkl of two children getting ready to celebrate and a question sheet. She loved it and I think it just lit the flame brighter for her. I love how much passion she has for religion. How her eyes are open to all types and how she loves bits from all of them, yet remains strong in her Christian beliefs. I want her to grow up open minded, respectful and supportive of all religions and cultures. It's important to us that she accepts everyone and we will continue to encourage her in any path she chooses to go down.
I actually didn't know much about this amazing man. I knew his name but in all honesty that was all. I learnt alongside Button with this one and I'm so glad we picked him for this week. After using Twinkl to learn about his life, Button had a set of questions to answer. Basic questions like where did he study, what religion did his mum believe in. Then the last question was, what sort of person she felt Matatma Gandhi was. She said he was kind, brave and good because he stood up for what he believed was right without using violence. She was also really sad that someone killed him for what he believed in.
What an interesting country full of history. She marked out which countries were around Iraq, she looked at the history of the empires and as she's into wordsearchs at the moment we got one with all the empires. She also studied a folklore piece of music and dance. She loved the dancing, it was similar to belly dancing but the dancer had to have long hair as they used it in the dance. We touched on Saddam Hussein and the war but only a little as in England we already have so many negative images and preconceptions that we wanted Button to learn about Iraq's beauty.
So we moved onto our third major religion of this Continent and Islam. I began by briefly telling Button about some of the modern world's misguided opinion on this religion caused by the awful actions of a minority of Muslims who wrongfully claim to be acting in the name of Allah. We then proceeded to learn about this peaceful religion and even looked at the many similarities with Christianity. Button was fascinated with their dedication to prayer. How they sing to call to prayer, how they pray five times a day and how they face Mecca. She asked lots of questions about when Mummy and Daddy visited Istanbul. We learnt the meaning of various important Islamic words and Button was especially impressed with anyone who is a Hafiz and has memorised the whole of the Quran.
This activity was one for all three kids. Button learnt about Islam with Daddy so today we designed prayer mats. Button could tell the Twins which way to face and showed them how Muslims pray. Using our @scarletts.senses playdough they created these gorgeous prayer mats. Bear didn't fully grasp the activity but did some great stamping and mark making. Button designed two, one very colourful the second just black with a lot of patterns. Buttercup loved this activity. She started by doing her own, then she wanted to copy her sister's and then mine. She made them so colourful and used different stamps to make pretty patterns. I think they all turned out really well.
(N.B. We have a range of stamps for the children to play with and unfortunately I didn't remove the Hindu sign when making our Muslim prayer mats. I really hope this doesn't offend anyone as it was just children mark making with the stamps I gave them but I apologise as I should of thought to remove it first. They had just all been mixed up as part of our Asia display)
Building a Mosque
This was such a lovely day today. The main part of our afternoon was building a Mosque together. We looked at photos of some and laid out our boxes and tubes to get the shape we wanted. Then we used paper to make cone like shapes. The children then used tissue paper to cover the whole thing in a decoupage way. We let them pick which colours and patterns they used so it's a very bright Mosque but as we made it we spoke about Mosques and their purpose.
We had some fun informative print outs about Jerusalem, from history and technology, to famous people. Button sat and listened to me read it out as she coloured the David's star with 12 colours to represent the 12 tribes. She then wrote a poem describing Jerusalem through what we had learnt. It was simple but effective work today.
This was our last topic as part of this project, Button learnt about the different types of Jews, Synogogues, important symbols and terminology. It was great that she spotted the links to the Bible and knew some of the names like Moses and Abraham. She also understood why these two in particular were important to them. She learnt that they were the Israelites that she has learnt about over the years at Sunday school and on Jellytelly/Minno (Bible programs). I think there is a lot more to learn at a later date, especially around Jews' beliefs and how they differ from Christians, and she's keen to learn it. She seems to find religions fascinating and we will continue to do as much as we can to encourage this learning.