FIAR - A Pair Of Red Clogs & Grandfather's Journey

For the past two weeks we have been rowing the books: A Pair Of Red Clogs by: Masako Matsuno and Grandfather's Journey by: Allen Say. Both of these books take place in Japan (and Grandfather's Journey also takes place in the US - California). We decided to row these books together and do a two week study that revolved mainly around Japan and the Japanese culture. 


A Pair Of Red Clogs is about a young girls delight when her Mother buys her a new pair of clogs, painted with red lacquer. Mako, the little Japanese girl was thrilled with her new clogs until the day comes that she puts a crack into one of the clogs by playing the weather-telling game. She was so disappointed and longed for a bright, shiny new pair to replace the ones she had..... so much that she does a dishonest thing..... 

~ Bible: We always like to start with a Biblical lessons when working with Five In A Row. A Pair Of Red Clogs lead us to talk about being honest. We had learned of the virtue of honestly earlier in the year.. so this gave us a good chance to review it. 

Mako deceived her mother by making her broken shoe look dirty, so that she could get a new pair of clogs. Ephesians 4:2 says - With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love. Jesus states that He is the Truth in John 4:16 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If we admit our sin and ask for forgiveness we will be forgiven from our guilt and deceit. Acts 3:19Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.

Mako's mother and father show a quiet wisdom and calmness in their dealings with her. I have been in prayer over having a Meek and Quiet spirit with my husband and children for some time now. I spoke to the boys over the struggles that even Mommy has with working toward being whom the Lord wants me to be. 

Our memory verse for this week: Proverbs 15:1A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

~ Social Studies & Geography: We talked about stewardship.. which was shown in the book when Mako was told to try and clean her shoes and she said "It was what they always did.".. cleaning an object before buying a new one.... taking care of what you own. Good stewardship was also shown by Mako's parents (their quiet and gentle wisdom) which helped turn Mako back to honesty. 

The boys and I have enjoyed learning about the Japanese culture. We read A-Z Japan learning about clogs, markets, different hair styles, sitting around a low table to eat at meal time, kimonos, Japanese writing, amazing animals found in Japan (such as cicadas - known for making loud, whirring sounds.. and if you lived in Japan you may have one as a pet!), buildings, government, people, land and unusual places - the "floating" shine on the island of Miyajima, called the Itsukushima Shrine.

We also located Japan on our map and later added our story disk for both A Pair Of Red Clogs and Grandfather's Journey. Don't laugh too hard but one interesting fact I learned is that Japan is an island... not sure where my mind has been my entire life but I actually never realized that before. Guess you do learn something new everyday :-) 

Noah drew the Japanese flag and we talked about the red circle in the middle symbolizing the sun. Japan "the land of the rising sun". The Japanese word for the county is "Nippon" meaning "the place from which the sun comes". People once believed that the first Japanese emperor was a child of the sun goddess... of course we know that not to be true. 

~ Vocabulary Words Learned: lacquer, suspecting and perfectly

~ Language: We did a little review on story-telling/reminiscing (flashback), since the book begins with Mako, as a grandmother, preparing to send a new pair of clogs to her granddaughter... and then she proceeds to telling the story. 

I also asked the boys to write in their journals one thing that really "stuck out" in their mind about Japan. (Below.. Aidan's then Noah's)

~ Art: We talked about the illustrations in the book made with a combination of pencil, pen, ink and colored pencil. One thing that really stuck with Aidan was the unity of theme through color. The artist used the color yellow as a unifying theme on every page of the story. Below, you can see the illustrations in the book and then how Aidan unified his picture with the color yellow as well. 

~ Math: In the manual a suggestion was made to play market (like the lady in the story who sold the clogs). We took things a step further by actually going shopping at our local grocery store. I made a list (including words and pictures) of what we needed to purchase for the boys.. they picked out each item, adding it to the basket, counting to make sure we have the correct amount and then paying for the items (counting money).  

~ Fun: We made candy sushi (since we do not like real sushi), and worked on a few Art projects - making a cherry blossom tree and a fan. I also found the video Big Bird In Japan on youtube for us to enjoy! 



Grandfather's Journey is told by the Grandson about his Gandfather's Journey from Japan to North America (residing in California for a while, the place he liked best in the US). Grandfather has a love for two countries and the book describes the strong and constant desire to be in both places at once. When in one country he misses the other country.

~ Bible: The Golden Rule - Matthew 7:12 - Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Grandfather shows us how to act on the Golden Rule, he shows the quality of friendliness and kindness in his journey and is able to make friends with all types of people. 

We also spoke about sorrow and grief. After the bomb falls on Grandfather's village he becomes sad and no longer desires to travel. The Lord desires to comfort people in their time of sorrow. He wants to comfort us, if we allow Him to do that work within us. Isaiah 40:1 - Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. The boys thought back on a time they felt sorrow... when their cat passed away, when Daddy works long hours, when they get in trouble.. precious!

~ Social Studies/Geography: We learned about ancestors.. the book spans four generations and ties each of them together. The boys tried to identify any interests that they have in common with someone in their family. Aidan said that him and his Popaw Bobby liked to hunt and him and his Daddy liked to fish. Noah said he liked to play with Mommy and Mommy liked to play with him. They are such sweethearts! 

We continued to learn about Japan and their culture. We also added the study of California into our lessons. We learned about California with our Roadtrip USA curriculum and for fun we did our California puzzle book, Which Way USA?

We had already learned about World War II, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the first use of nuclear power in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. We spent some time reviewing what we had learned. The boys are very interested in learning about wars in the past.. but I am cautious over how much they need to know at such a young age. In the book.. while in Japan Grandfather wanted to travel back to California... "But a war began  Bombs fell from the sky and scattered our lives like leaves in a storm."... "The last time I saw him, my grandfather said that he longed to see California one more time. He never did." - taken from Grandfather's Journey. 

~ Vocabulary Words Learned: foreigner, homesick, poetic pose (which we also reviewed in our language lessons). 

~ Art: We tried our hand at Origami. 

~ Science: We learned about different land types (mountains, both in North America and Japan.. deserts with their wing and sand-eroded rock formations, farmland and the rocky coastline of California.. as described in the book). 

~ Fun: To end our FIAR weeks we will be enjoying a Japanese meal... eating our food sitting around a low table (coffee table) on cushions (pillows). YUMMY!!

This will end out FIAR books until the beginning of April when we will be reading The Story Of Ping. The next few weeks we will spend learning about Easter, rejoicing... praising.. and honoring Jesus for dying for our sins, God for sending his son to save us and spending time with our wonderful family!! 

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