Yasmeen Kamrani Sallam
When cherry blossoms bloom in Japan for spring, people gather under the trees for Hanami. Hanami means "flower viewing" in Japanese. This custom is an ancient tradition to view the Sakura blossoms that hold deep meaning. The Sakura petals are not only a beautiful natural spectacle but a metaphor for life itself for their culture.
To teach children about Hanami and Sakura blossoms you can set an invitation to paint cherry blossoms that you will later on use as loose parts for the STEM invitation. To create the Sakura blossoms you can cut up recycled egg cartons in the shape of flowers, paint with tempera paint, and let them dry.
Print and laminate images of the cherry blossoms blooming in Japan. Set the images with twigs, natural blocks, and the DIY egg carton Sakura blossoms. Invite the child to build and explore the beauty of Hanami.
STEM activities are designed to engage and stretch a child's thinking. Introducing the engineering and design process is a natural fit due to the fact that children already like to build and problem solve. This invitation is a perfect opportunity to change a simple building activity to challenge them to think and create in new ways and enhancing their interpretation and perception. There was no wrong or right way to do this activity and the possibilities are truly endless.