Monday, May 16, 2016

Patterns and Japanese Dolls

As part of our Reading Around the World in Asia picture book study this year, we read both Yumi and Kimonos by Aneelore Parot. When I selected these books, I had my seven-year-old daughter in mind, but my five-year-old son was just as interested (as well as the nine-year-old daughter). Neither of these stories has what I'd call a plot. Instead, each spread has a little activity for children to do with the little dolls. The second book, Kimonos, was especially interactive. Second Son loved searching for the ladybugs, choosing the correctly patterned kimono, and opening all the flaps.

There are Japanese words (including the calligraphy) but no pronunciation guide. I knew a few words and guessed at the others if the children asked. (Most of them are probably easy to find online, if you happen to have an easy way to search quickly for them.) I'm not sure how much they added to our knowledge of Japan, but they were a lot of fun.

It occurred to me as we were reading these books together, that searching for the matching patterns and thinking about what the dolls look like from the back (to choose the right one on the page) engage mathematical skills for pattern recognition and spatial manipulation. These books are a delightful way to introduce these skills, especially if you have a little girl who loves tiny dolls.

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