Since watching the early images from Japan via CNN in our Mexico hotel room, I have had a heavy heart about the situation. We have several friends from Japan. Since, my husband is an English teacher (including ESL certified) he has had the opportunity to meet Japanese students almost every year.
One of the girls' teachers is also Japanese and I was only able to connect with her yesterday. She has been involved with Lily's life since she was one. I breathed a sigh of relief when I found out her family were alive, albeit not unaffected. It saddened me to see her pale face, her eyes did not have the same spirit.
I don't know how to talk to young children about the situation in Japan or tragedy. My girls don't watch news on television so it's only if they hear what is going on from other sources, including family prayers. I decided I would raise the situation of the earthquake and tsunami (not ready to address the nuclear situation) and pick out a Japanese-inspired project .
You will recall that my dad keeps his eye out for vintage craft books. This 1975 Sunset Crafts for Children is one of my favourites.
In the paper craft section, the book features a Japanese dip dye project. Basically, you fold an absorbent paper (we used rice paper, paper towel is also suggested) into fan like folds and dip into watercolour paint, unfold, let dry and enjoy the tie-dye effects. I did find the rice paper we used -while super absorbent- became very thin and tore slightly when we unfolded it. I think a more substantial absorbent paper would work better for younger children.
They were so excited to see their pretty papers the next morning. They were also very complimentary of each other's project because they looked very different. I think it is the first time I noticed them being so encouraging of each other's work.
I was about 5 or 6 when the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes was published and I recall very clearly the first person who introduced me to that book and origami paper folding. I am hoping that my girls will remember our dip dye activity and discussion for along time.