Happy Birthday Buddha!

Easter is not the only religious celebration in April. In Japan, Hana Matsuri – meaning the flower festival – celebrates Buddha’s birthday and is traditionally held on the 8th of the month. During Hana Matsuri it is traditional to make model houses decorated with sakura (cherry blossom flowers), as these were said to be in full bloom when Buddha was born. Tanjobutsu (representations of the baby Buddha) sit inside the houses and ama-cha (sweet tea), representing the sweet rain that fell from heaven when Buddha was born, is poured over them. It is then considered to be holy and is taken home to be drunk as holy water.

Sakura Classroom Decorations

This is a fun, and messy, way to create pictures of cherry blossom to adorn the classroom in honour of Buddha’s birthday. Don’t forget to explain what cherry blossom flowers represent.

You’ll need:

white A4 card

red and green marbling ink

pink, cerise and white tissue paper or our assorted warm colours tissue paper pack and blue and brown tissue paper

water pots

glue

glue stick

straws

What to do:

give each child a piece of A4 card, either pastel or white and a straw

mix green and red marbling ink in a sturdy water pot with a small amount of water

now, get the children to put their straws in the marbling ink and then put their finger on the top of the straw, trapping a small amount of ink

with their finger still place, move the straw onto the A4 paper and release the top

get the children to blow the ink into tree shapes

leave to dry

whilst the trees dry, the children can prepare the flowers by scrunching up small pieces of cerise, white or pink tissue paper into balls

they can also prepare sky and ground pieces by tearing blue and brown tissue paper into rough shapes

once dry, apply glue in dots to the tree branches and place the tissue paper balls on the glue dots

allow to dry

once dry, use glue stick on the top and bottom of the picture and stick on the blue sky tissue paper and brown ground tissue paper

mount the pictures on black poster paper for effect

done!

Or follow this video to create simple cherry blossom pictures with paint and mount them on black backgrounds, using black poster paper and glue.

Discovering Religion

This is a great opportunity to introduce different religions to the children. With today’s multicultural society, it’s entirely possible that you already have a Buddhist in your class. If you do, why not ask them to prepare a short presentation about their beliefs and, if they celebrate Hana Matsuri, what it involves? You can then turn this into a monthly activity, with the focus on a different religion each month.

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