Teaching Geography/Social Studies at Home: Japan

I’ve been making a more concerted effort to do geography and social studies with my [almost five-year-old] daughter at home. We began our focused effort earlier this month, when we studied Brazil through map activities, a worksheet, books and a Brazilian food.

This month, we’re focusing on Japan!


(This post contains affiliate links. I am being compensated for an honest review of the products in this post, and receive a small commission for anything ordered by readers who click the links within this blog post.)

For your convenience I’ve divided our learning activities into four categories: LITTLE PASSPORTS ACTIVITIES, BOOKS, FOOD and THEATRE.


As I mentioned in my last post, we use the Little Passports program as a “jumping off” point for our monthly lessons. For just $10.95 a month, we receive a fun package in the mail with a letter, picture, activities and crafts from Sam and Sofia as they travel the world on their magic scooter. You can CLICK HERE to read more about the program, and sign up for a subscription.

Here’s a peek at what arrived in our mailbox this month:

1. A letter from Sam and Sofia

2. A picture of Himeji Castle

3. A sushi eraser

4: Origami craft paper with instructions

5.  Worksheet with learning activities about Japan

6. Map sticker and passport sticker to put on the map and passport book that come with the introductory kit.

We began our informal study of Japan with the activities provided in our Little Passports kit. We read the letter from Sam and Sofia, looked up pictures on the Internet of sushi, found Japan on a map and made a cat from the origami paper. Yaya loves her Little Passports goodies, showing them to her neighborhood friends whenever they come over to play or to my mom whenever they FaceTime. I love the way it introduces so many things about Japan that tie into the books we read later on in our studies. And I love that she can now find Japan on a map.

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We found some super awesome books on Japan.

The Way We Do It in Japan was a fun book about an American boy and his parents who move to Japan. He explains — from his childlike perspective — the differences in food, furniture and culture in Japan.


I Live in Tokyo — again, told from a child’s perspective — takes readers through an entire year of festivals, celebrations and traditions in Japan. Yaya loved the illustrations in this book.


We also just happened to be on #5 of The Magic Tree House Series, which is Night of the Ninja, where Annie and Jack travel to ancient Japan in their tree house. We’re big fans of the series at our house, and it was great that the book  lined up with our learning activities this month.



Are you following my “Worldly Foods” board on Pinterest? I pinned some yummy looking recipes from Japan onto it this month. Here’s the one we will be trying at our house, as we love all things curry (click the picture for the link to the VIDEO recipe!).



With my background and degree in theatre and music, I wanted to include some arts-centered activities this month — especially because Eastern drama is SO incredibly beautiful and intriguing! The Japanese have two renowned types of theatre: Noh and Kabuki. Noh is a really fun one for kids to learn about because it involved MASKS. Yaya and I are having fun looking at online pictures of the different masks created for the characters of Noh theatre. I also put together a simple little worksheet for her, where she can design her own masks for stock Noh characters.


I hope I’ve inspired you with some ideas to try in your own homes to teach you about Japan! If you’re interested in doing a short parent-child book review about ANY book having to do with Japanese culture (or any other culture), be sure to e-mail me at cnseifert@hotmail.com.

 And don’t forget to check out the Little Passports program as a fun way to supplement your child’s learning!



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