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02 April 2013

Jomon Pottery Activity

We're studying Japan right now. We like Japan. The Daddy and I have been there for a visit, before kids. We have various albums of traditional Japanese music laying around, and we recently added Japanese to our school line-up. So finally getting to Japanese history for the first time is pretty exciting.

Photo Credit
Hero's pretty excited too, and was asking to do more "Japanese history stuff." I didn't have a lot on hand; the ideas in the Story of the World activity guide were, for once, not very satisfying. An internet search didn't turn up anything good. I couldn't even find a documentary on the Shrine at Ise, which floored me. And then I remembered that the Jomon period is named for the way they decorated their pots, and it's so simple: they pressed rope into them. So we looked at some pictures. Later in the period, things got much more elaborate. But the Early Jomon pottery is very accessible. This pot seemed relatively representative, so we printed it out for reference.
Then we broke out the play-doh. No mess, no project to figure out what are we going to do with it. Just a model of the pot. Yarn made a good "rope" for pressing into our clay. We talked a bit about how this kind of pot was smalish, so they think they were practical every day pots - stick it in the fire and cook your dinner pots.

I was pleasantly surprised by how nicely the yarn went onto the pot. Wrap the stuff around, and then pull it off. Nothing to it. Turns out nicely authentic looking. If you overlook the fact that it's teal play-doh, and not actually clay. But the design is good!

Hero watched to see what sort of crazy plot I'd hatched, and then he gave it a shot too.

He wrapped the yarn. This step was pretty small, and he worked at it a bit. I didn't remind him to press it in, and maybe I should have; he wasn't super impressed with his results. But it was very authentically his, and I think that counts too.

As with every project, Dragon tagged along too. He gleefully squished my first effort and then was very intent upon making a project of his own. He never did tell me what it was this time.

I'd have to say: not bad for a spur-of-the-moment project. I'm pretty sure that the boys enjoyed it, and hopeful that they'll remember a little bit more because of it. The yarn went into the play-doh toys; I'll be interested to see if they do anything with that in the next little while.


Dorine said...

What a cool idea! I bet you and the boys had a great time! And the results are excellent. :)

Salinda W. said...

Just found your blog. We lived in Japan for three years. It was amazing and such a learning experience for our girls. The Japanese history can be confusing and overwhelming, its very complex. We love all things Japanese and hope to go back some day. What a fun activity you gave you kids.


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