The rainy season (梅雨 | tsuyu) is upon us! Thankfully, not every day is a rainy day, but it can certainly damper your daily routine with kids. Here are 5 fun ways to overcome the rainy season in Japan with a toddler. This list is a combination of stuff I’ve picked up in the classroom and with little Kaiju.
5. Outside Play
Kids love to play outside, no matter how hot or cold, so why not let them splash in some puddles? I sometimes let my class out to play in the mud (in their rain boots) after the rain has stopped. #confessionsofakindergartenteacher
For us, rain or shine, we’re out to walk the dog. So, after the rain comes to a trickle, I dress little Kaiju in old clothes, a raincoat and boots. I put on my rain boots, too, and we all go outside to stomp in puddles near our building.
Before we go outside, I line the genkan with old newspapers, a towel for our Shiba, and prepare a clean set of clothes to wear after shower/bath time. Then, she gets another round of water fun in the tub, which should be enough to tire her out for an early bedtime.
I recently fell in love with this book, Teru Teru Bouzu (てるてるぼう) by Kouji Oguma (おぐま こうじ) on a visit to the pediatrician. Like nearly all Japanese children’s books, it’s written exclusively in hiragana.
What I like about it is that the text is entirely Japanese onomatopoeia for the weather. Ever wondered what a sunny day sounds like? Or raindrops? How about a heavy downpour? The illustrations match the text and I like to alter my voice to match the weather.
Teru Teru Bouzu (てるてる坊主 or てるてるぼうず)
So about the teru teru bouzu in the book above…
These creepy looking dolls actually serve a purpose: hang them up on a rainy day and they’ll bring sunny skies. They’re fun to hang up especially if you have something special planned for the following day.
All you need is tissues, a rubber band, string, and a marker.
First, make a ball of tissues, then drape another tissue over it, securing the “head” in place with a rubber band. Draw eyes and a mouth and add a string to display the teru teru bouzu near a window.
You can make cuter teru teru bouzu by making their bodies out of colorful tissue paper.
Kami nedo (紙粘土) is a lightweight, fast-drying clay that works well with little hands. At kindergarten, we often buy it for school projects.
One year olds might be weirded out at first so just encourage them to touch and poke at it for a sensory experience.
2-3 year olds will use their imagination to make snakes, cookies, people, and so on.
I prefer kami nendo to abura nendo or Play-Doh because it’s very easy to clean up. Once it’s dried, it won’t turn brittle and crumble, so you can paint it as well. Store extra clay in a ziplock bag so it won’t dry out.
2. Sensory Play With Water
Don’t want to go outside? Bring the water indoors! Some toddler-friendly experiments to do at home:
Learn colors by adding blue, red, and yellow food coloring to cups of water. Then combine colors for a “magic show.” Afterwards, you can use paintbrushes or even cotton swabs to “paint.”
Food coloring (食用 色素 | shoku you shiki so) here in Japan is normally a powder. You can find it in the baking section of most supermarkets. Alternatively, Amazon Japan sells McCormick McCormick liquid food coloring
Take a Tupperware container, fill it with water, and add ice cubes for splashing. If you don’t have ice or an ice cube maker, hit up a combini– and get some limited edition snacks for you and your little one while you’re there!
Dirty & Clean
Have fun drawing on plastic animal toys or cars with washable markers, then give them a soapy sponge bath to make them clean.
Here’s is a ridiculously fun “magic” science show that kids will definitely love. I’m so excited to do this during summer school in August!
Hydrangea Bubble Art
I had so much fun making this sample for the parent-child craft for my (4 year old) kindergarten Open House event. It involves paint and using a straw to blow bubbles.
Would I do it with Kaiju? I certainly wouldn’t let her see me blowing bubbles in the paint solution! BUT, I’d definitely let her dip the cut out hydrangeas into the mound of bubbles.
I just thought this craft was perfect for sharing as hydrangeas are the signature flower of Japan’s rainy season.
Bubbles on the balcony, in the bathtub, bubbles make everything — even gloomy days — better!
I’ll also share a tip: the secret to perfect bubbles is SUGAR!
Add 25 ml of sugar to 200 ml of lukewarm water. Add 50 ml of dish detergent and mix.
Or, you can always hit up Amazon for a giant bottle of bubble solution to keep on hand.
You can also up your bubble game with a battery operated toy and you’re set! Little Kaiju got a light-up bubble wand from our recent trip to Tokyo Disneyland and that thing is awesome!