Postcard Writing with the Amabie (the Japanese Yokai that can stave off epidemics) | #curatedquarantineideas

Day one of quarantine with the kids, and we’re (knock on wood) off to a good start. I recognize I have a huge advantage in that a) I am primarily a stay home parent, b) I homeschooled my oldest for a year, c) I am an early childhood teacher, and d) my backyard is pretty much a playground. But even with all this on my side, the reality of social isolating is daunting and a huge pressure on parents. Luckily there are amazing resources and ideas being shared all over the place for folks to do with their kids, and I thought I’d share some ideas too.

Atlas’s Amabie Postcards

Today’s activity is a simple one: postcard writing, but with a pandemic twist. ;) My dear friend Rebecca shared this amazing website which taught me about the legend of the Amabie in Japan.

“As legend has it, in the 1800s a mythical yokai appeared off the coast of Kumamoto, Japan. The Amabie, as it was called, was described as a mermaid-like creature with long hair, a beak and 3 legs. It made several predictions related to bountiful harvests and, before disappearing back into the sea, left the locals with some advice in case of an epidemic. According to records, “If an epidemic occurs, draw a picture of me and show it to everyone,” said the yokai.”

So we ran with the idea for our daily writing activity (one of the two more structured times we have scheduled). Using blank white postcards* (an easy purchase on Amazon), Atlas drew his version of an Amabie on the front of the cards (I encouraged him to reimagine it a little for every postcard). Then on the back he wrote asking his friend to send him a joke and signed his name off. We researched jokes online (which was a lot of fun) and I wrote down his favorite joke under his message, so his friend got to enjoy it too. We will find a new joke daily.

*The beauty of using postcards is that there is a nice space to draw, a small space to write (so there is no pressure to write a lot), and postcard stamps are less expansive than regular stamps.

We made a list of all the friends he would like to send a postcard to, and he chooses two a day to write to. Then he crosses them off the list once he is done. This way we can keep track of who he has already written to. :)

Art With Kids – It’s The Process Not The Product (so just have fun)


For young children, it’s the process of making the art that matters vs the end product. They are interested in the way the colors mix, the drip of paint and glue being squeezed, the feel of the materials, and the enjoyment of peeling as many stickers off a sheet as possible. They don’t care if their end result always ends up baby poop brown 🤷🏼‍♀️, so neither should you.

Have fun with the making together. Get creative with the materials and tools you use (Pilot was very excited to have ‘space paper’ (foil) to paint on). And don’t feel pressure to save everything they make. Also remember that this is why it’s important for even young children to have good quality (which doesn’t have to mean $$$) materials. How can they enjoy mark making if the crayons and pencils they are using don’t leave a lovely bold mark?

Flower Power (in your mud kitchen and beyond)

Did you luck out with a lovely bunch of flowers for Valentine’s Day? A week on they may be ready for the compost, but don’t be too hasty throwing them away. Instead pull off the petals and use them in your tiny human’s mud kitchen.

Don’t have one? No worries. Why not set up a little potion making/cooking station inside with the petals, water, and any other natural ingredients you can find. Worried about the mess? Use a towel as a tablecloth/rug to catch all the spills.

Creating an Early Morning Play Invitation (which equals more sleep for you!)

My Atlas is an early riser but the rest of us are not. The temptation is always to wake us, so in an attempt to earn a little more sleep, we’ve started setting very intentional play invitations for him to wake up to. Plus snacks! ;) This one was left for him and a buddy who slept over. It only took me a couple of minutes to set out, but it bought us quiet until after 7am! #winwin

Tape Measures | #unexpectedtoys

My little guy is very into trains at the moment and a way of extending this play is with the addition of tape measures (this week’s #unexpectedtoys). Once we’ve built his big track and long train, he loves to measure and record how big everything it (we keep clipboards with paper and markers in the playroom for this purpose). Although it mostly looks like scribbles and his knowledge of numbers stops at 5, this early numeracy and literacy activity is a great introduction to all kinds of skills. So what are you waiting for? Grab some measuring devices, create a play invitation, and see where your tiny humans take it!