Tag Archives: japanese crafts

6 easy activities with Valentine’s Origami hearts for preschoolers

Reposting from last year as it has proved very popular both with my own kids and as a blog post. 🙂

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These simple origami hearts, suited to young children and Origami beginners, were a big hit with my toddler and preschooler today. You can find the instructions and a printable version on Origami Club here, a photo of the instructions is also pictured below. The instructions are in Japanese, but each step comes with a visual that is easy to follow. Four year old was able to complete this from the visual instructions with no assistance, three year old needed some help. All you need is Origami paper or symmetrical paper that holds a crease.

Instructions for Origami hearts were taken from http://www.origami-club.com/valentine/easyheart/easyheart/index.html
Instructions for Origami hearts were taken from http://www.origami-club.com/valentine/easyheart/easyheart/index.html

After making some hearts, I came up with a few games using the hearts, that incorporated numbers, letters, reading and writing practice. We used recycled origami paper from other crafts to make 30 hearts.

1. ABC Origami hearts

When you finish folding the heart the front parts open up so you can write on the inside of the heart. We wrote a letter of the alphabet on the left hand side of the inside of 26 hearts.

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2. ABC match

Next, using our large ABC foam mat, we did a physical activity with the hearts. The kids got a heart each, opened it to see what letter they had, then matched it to the letter on the ABC foam mat. Once they correctly placed a letter they took another and raced to place it. They really enjoyed this activity.

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3. Word heart match

On the right hand side of the inside of the hearts I wrote various 3 and 4 letter words. I then put out a picture card with 3 worded hearts, one of which matched the picture. The kids had to match the correct word to the picture.

4. Claiming hidden hearts

Kids love to find hidden things, right? Hide the hearts (with words if you’ve done activity 3 above) around a room and have the kids find them. For older children, have them read the words inside the heart to claim that heart.

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5. Counting hearts on hearts

This one is based on a very easy activity on toddlerapproved.com I (heart) counting with numbers one to ten. For our version I drew 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 hearts onto 6 origami hearts. Get the kids to count out the hearts and then place the right heart on the right number.

6. Heart Cards

Finally, we turned the hearts that didn’t have too much writing on them into Valentine’s cards, by writing a message on the inside.

This filled up a whole afternoon with fun and number, letter, reading and writing practice to boot! And thanks to these activities I got my first ever Valentine’s card from my four year old, written by himself, unaided and unbeknownst to me IN ENGLISH* “I love you Mammy”. (*English is his 2nd language so usually cards are in Japanese… or squiggles!)

Very easy paper and rice craft – spider web

This is a very easy activity that even babies can enjoy and you only need 2 things for it. The kids enjoyed this one more than yesterday’s paper plate threading craft. This one is particularly convenient for people who have cooked sticky rice warming in the rice cooker. I have seen this craft on other websites, but usually with glue as part of the preparation kit. For people in Japan you do not need glue for rice craft here as the rice itself acts as a glue. In fact, rice glue which is made from kneading rice, called sokui (続飯) in olden days, was the most common type of glue found in Japan for hundreds of years from the Nara period. During those times people stopped using hide glue, because butchering was prohibited with the introduction of Buddhism. Today rice glue is still used for many things due to its strong adhesive power.

You will need

  • Paper
  • Rice

Optional for more precision

  • A pencil
  • A drawing compass
  • A ruler

I used a pencil, compass and ruler to outline the cobweb for my children before they started sticking rice to it.  The easiest way to draw the web is to draw a line from one corner of the paper to the other on both sides, so that you make an “x”. Then draw a straight line from the top middle of the paper to the bottom and from the left middle to the right, so that you make a plus sign. I had a drawing compass so I drew a big circle with that.

Outline of web in progress

I then drew more circles within that circle as you can see in the example below. My 4-year-old and 2-year-old used this as a guide to where to place their rice; which is the next and last step – just place the rice on the web and it will stick! My 1-year-old joined in, granted it she didn’t stick to the lines, but she had great fun sticking rice to the paper… and eating a bit too! This is a safe activity for small children, but if you use the glue version it will not be suited to babies and younger toddlers.

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While my kids were making their rice webs I tried the glue version using raw rice. It is more difficult and messier and I don’t think it is as suited to small children.

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Just a note on the drawing compass; I got it in the 100 yen shop and was both surprised and delighted that I didn’t have to screw the pencil in like the ones I’ve used before! These come with a mechanical pencil built-in, with lead refills for the mechanical pencil.

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Easy paper plate craft – spider webs

In an attempt to pass on some of my Irish culture to my half-Japanese kids, we are making a Halloween  craft every day of October. Today, we made two different patterns of spider webs from paper plates, both good for improving fine motor skills. We also did some spider rhymes and fingerplay. This is a follow on from yesterday’s paper spider craft. Halloween isn’t celebrated as much or in the same manner as at home in Ireland, but these particular crafts were inspired by a Japanese preschool activity I saw.

You will need;

  • A scissors
  • Tape
  • A puncher (optional)
  • Thread or wool
  • Paper plates

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For the simple version, you just need to cut triangles into the paper plate at different intervals. I taped one end of the thread to the back of the plate and let my preschooler and toddler just start weaving the thread around the indentations. These paper plates were recycled from another activity, hence the writing on them! I think wool would work better, but I had none to hand.

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To challenge my 4-year-old a little more and keep him engrossed we used a slightly more difficult pattern, pictured below. I cut the centre out of the plate for him and then he enjoyed punching holes at intervals around the plate.  He stuck the thread to the back of the plate and then proceeded to thread the holes and make a web. Thread is probably better for this one as the holes were quite small.

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My one year old wanted to join in the fun, but she’s still too small for this particular craft, so while big brother and big sister made their webs, we did some fingerplay. All my kids enjoy “Incey Wincey Spider”.  You can find the words and hand actions below. I took this from Five Little Monkeys, Over 50 Action and Counting Rhymes by Zita Newcome.

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We also did the “Little Miss Muffet” rhyme with the finger play actions from the same book, pictured below.

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This activity is also suitable for children who are on bedrest or for Moms on bedrest to do with their toddlers or small children.

2 minutes easy paper crafts – Ice-creams

I turned on the TV to check the weather one morning this week and there was a crafts show for children on. They were making paper ice-cream. My little ones watched in awe, so it was only fitting that we gave it a try.

You will need a gachapon capsule or a shallow wide cup such as the cup on a flask, or a yoghurt carton would work too. We used origami paper, but you could easily use regular paper. You will also need some tissue and the cardboard of toilet or kitchen roll paper.

Half of a gachapon capsule;

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Insert origami paper into the capsule / cup / yoghurt carton;

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Stuff one to two pieces (or as many as you like) of tissue paper into the origami paper;

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Fold the remaining origami paper over the tissue;

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Take the ice-cream scoop out;

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Cut the cardboard of the toilet roll in half, fold down one end to make a point;

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Place the origami ice-cream into the cone;

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It sits in quite well so I didn’t need to use tape, but you could use tape if you want to secure it better.  My kids enjoyed this more than I expected, maybe because they had seen it on TV. They made paper ice-cream for over an hour, without needing supervision (score!). We ended up with a veritable paper ice-cream shop!


This activity could also be useful for Mothers on bedrest looking to do easy, restful activities with children.

More paper crafts on daysofourlifejapan.wordpress.com

Origami Hina Matsuri Dolls with free printable