Sunday, July 27, 2014

Awesome Time Travel Camp - Samurai School

A friend came up with a great idea to run a series of playdates that are all about travelling back in time and exploring different countries and historic events. Well, his original idea of "everything will be made out of and role-played with LEGOs" had to be substantially reworked because the kids didn't care for it much. So M and I suggested limiting or even eliminating LEGOs from these playdates and doing lots more hands-on stuff like crafts and battles and food.

For our first adventure both M and his friend chose to go to medieval Japan, to the time of the samurai. With this in mind, we got together at our house a couple of weeks ago for a morning of samurai school. First, we read the You Wouldn't Want to Be a Samurai book and chatted a bit about samurai training.

Then the kids learned some Kanji (I was amazed that M actually remembered most of the symbols from that one little exercise a few months ago when he wanted to learn some Chinese). The idea was for them to pick a symbol or two to paint on their banners. Both ended up with "Volcano" and drew almost identical banners to take into battle with them.

We then read a legend of Susanoo and the 7-headed serpent and the kids drew their own illustrations - lots of blood and snake guts. It was interesting that both M and his friend were so busy drawing the battle itself, that neither of them bothered to draw the right number of heads on the monster. M came up with a creative explanation that he drew the remaining heads after Susanoo already chopped some off.

It was time for some origami next and we made paper cranes. This is a very challenging origami even for adults, not to mention antsy 7-year olds. But they persevered through the difficulties and got nice looking cranes as rewards.

But after this they were DONE sitting down. They demanded to go out to the backyard and run around. Fortunately, the second half of the samurai school involved some archery practice (supervised) and sword fighting with foam swords. So this was great fun until, after about half an hour of non-stop sword fighting and jumping around in the heat both were tired and cranky and fighting over something. Blood was shed as M's friend hit M right in the mouth with a stick, bad enough that the somewhat-loose tooth got really loose and there was a cut on M's gums.

After everyone was calmed down and ice administered, the kids once again made friends and, realizing that they were starving, asked to make sushi. The day before this camp, we went out to a Thai restaurant, M asked for sushi and got to watch the chef make the rolls. Our sushi didn't turn out nearly as pretty, but the kids didn't seem to mind.

Afterwards, they wanted to jump around and sword-fight some more. But I wasn't all that eager, so instead I offered to try their hands at making zen gardens with rocks and sand. M had a good idea of what a rock garden is because we went to the one in the Raulston Arboretum. It also helped that he understood the ideas of meditative space (thanks to yoga) and wabi-sabi (thanks to an awesome book titled Wabi Sabi). M's garden also had a house on the sea shore (wavy lines on the sand) and was guarded by a twisty wavy sea serpent made out of rocks.

So that was it for the 4-hour camp. The kids decided that next week they wanted to visit pirates, specifically, Blackbeard, on the day of his last battle.

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