Buddhist Temple junk modelling

Updated: Jan 24, 2021

Hands on learning and lots of STEM opportunities.


This has to be one of our most spectacular junk modelling builds so far. And yes..... mummy helped.....a lot :)


Inspired by the topics that were being studied at school about Japan, Mr 7 set about making a Japanese temple. Whoa, hold your horses just a sec - there is so much to learn about Japanese religions that it's enough to make your head hurt! Did you know that Japan has two main religions that exists quite happily alongside each other? Shinto is considered the native religion of Japan and focuses on nature worship. Buddhism was imported from China and pretty much swallowed Shinto up into itself for a long time before Shinto made a comeback in the late 19th century. And they don't mind that Christianity exists alongside those (at least, they don't mind nowadays!). Nowadays, people will quite happily celebrate the birth of their child in a Shinto shrine, marry in a Christian church and say their prayers to their ancestors in a Buddhist temple.


So that was a whole ant hill that needed to be explained to a seven-year-old and his curious five-year-old sister....We managed to get to the point where we understood that different people believe different things (I had to use Moana and the concept of Te Fiti A LOT for this one, so thank you Disney!). And we just about grasped that temples are Buddhist and shrines are Shinto, although Mr 7 kept calling them shrimp!


Then it got a bit easier - we could now focus on the characteristics of a Buddhist temple and which kinds of features they usually have. We also found out that this was quite specific to Japan and that temples in India and China look very different.


We boiled it down to the main gate, the hall, and the pagoda. Pagodas can be different heights so I let Mr 7 choose how tall he wanted his to be and he went for the 5 storey one.


OK, so mummy helped a lot with the shapes and how to put it all together in a low-effort way. I mean, the base of every building we made is literally a bit of cardboard with four folds to make a cuboid. The roofs were tricky but Mr 7 had lots of fun learning how to glue gun bits together. In fact - he did all of the glueing himself, which I thought was quite impressive given that he had never used a glue gun before. Definitely a new skill unlocked!


The final touches were painting the main hall and the gate roofs grey and adding the stone paths. That one was great cutting practice as he had to cut the little "stone" piece out of an old paper shopping bag and the design on the bag was quite odd. He really had to focus to just get the grey bits out.


And voila! He was so proud of his creation. And he was begging to go and see a real temple afterwards so that he could see it all for himself. And they learned in a way that they didn't just forget it afterwards. They will point out temples whenever we are travelling through the city by car or going for a walk and they spot the tell-tale gates. And....drumroll please!...... they will sometimes analyse the building in front of them and say things like "it's missing the bulky main gate" so this must be a shrine"!!!!



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