Recently I joined up with about 15 other mothers from my daughter’s yochien (Japanese preschool) and we made cardboard camera necklaces for all the kids at her school. The cameras were a prize from our fishing booth at the summer festival.
It was SO fun to see the kids snapping photos of each other. Since most of the parents were also walking around with their cameras slung around their necks, there was the slight excited air of a press conference announcing the magic of summer; more kiddie pools and popsicles to come….
Some of the kids know I helped make the cardboard cameras, so it was cute when they pretended to take my picture. A sweet way of trying to communicate and be playful with me. Of course I love kids AND cardboard, so I was pretty smitten the entire day.
Although the leaves have not quite begun changing here in Tokyo, we got a jump start on leaf collecting when we made Electra’s big fat cardboard book booster seat / leaf press. The other day we opened up the book and took a look at our leaves. I happened to be reupholstering our couch at the time, so I had button thread in my sewing machine in addition to settings that made for the longest stitch possible. We ran stitches through the leaves to create a chain to hang in our window. I have a thick denim needle in the machine that created large perforations in the leaves but they seem to be holding up all right. I must admit they are so beautiful to look at that I want to don a fuzzy sweater and sip spiced apple cider all day long. Isis loves to look at them and I often catch her rearing up on her knees like a mongoose sniffing the air for an opportunity to pull them down. I’m sure she fancies them as the perfect floss for her two new baby teeth.
Here’s a picture of our cardboard beads hung from a stick as a mobile. The thin wide beads were an experiment that remind me of Alexander Calder’s work.
My husband just started taking Japanese classes in the evenings after work, so everyone in the house now is learning to speak in one way or another. After stringing cardboard beads onto long strands to make mobiles, I started cutting out letters to make alphabet beads in both English and Japanese. Japanese has two phonetic alphabets called hiragana and katakana in addition to kanji characters (derived from Chinese characters). One of my biggest challenges when learning to read Japanese hiragana was recognizing the slightly different ways of writing the hiragana. I thought this activity of getting all the slightly different looking letters together would be a good exercise in recognizing environmental print (albeit out of context) for both my husband and my 2 1/2 year old.
Most of the flutes in the cardboard run vertically through the letters and create multiple channels for threading.
I have quite an unruly cache of cardboard accumulating in our small apartment and we have rounded up a good little collection of letters and hiragana.
The only materials we used for these picture stand-ups were cardboard boxes from the grocery store, sturdy scissors, (We have chicken boning scissors from my father, who uses them on the farm for their original purpose.) paper tape (more beautiful than plastic tape) and pipe cleaners or wire.
Use a strip of cardboard and some tape to make a little tripod on the back.
You can make mobiles, spell out words, or make strings of letters with needle and thread. How about a rudimentary version of Scrabble or some other kind of game? I served this mekan (pronounced mee-kon) (Japanese for tangerine) for breakfast. Fruit + chopstick + carboard beads. Mmmmmm.