Online Learning Resources

Japanese Toys, Arts and Crafts

Japanese Art in the East Riding

An online resource exploring traditional Japanese toys, arts and crafts; ideal for supporting learning about toys through history and exploring cultural differences between contrasting countries.

Three of the videos below investigate Japanese toys and crafts, and two explore the connection between Beverley Art Gallery and Japanese art. Use these videos alongside borrowing our 'Toys from the Past' loan box for the greatest impact.

View Loan Boxes

Japanese toys and crafts

Traditional Japanese toys


Discover some of the fascinating Japanese toys collected by Jane Irisa from the East Riding of Yorkshire.

How to play Kendama


Find out how to play with the traditional Japanese toy 'kendama' in this video from Hinoka and Akari

How to make an Origami Crane


Learn how to make a crane using the Japanese paper-folding craft of origami in this video from Hinoka.

Japanese Art in the East Riding

The videos above can be used in a variety of different ways in the classroom, supporting subjects including history, design and technology, art and design, geography, science, maths and English. Some activity ideas are listed below.

Visits to Beverley Art Gallery are warmly welcomed; please contact us in advance of your visit to let us know you are coming. If you wish to see the artwork 'Street in Japan' by Alfred East (featured in the 'Beverley Art Gallery, John Champney and Japan' video), please request this when you get in touch, as this painting is not always on display.

Visit Beverley Art GalleryView guides for self led visits

Suggestions on how to use these videos in the classroom

Key Stage One
  • Watch the 'traditional Japanese toys' video together. Invite students to share their favourite toy from the video and explain their choice. They could draw a picture of it, write about it, or present their favourites to the class. A whole-class survey of favourite toys could be taken, and the results presented in a pictograph or bar chart.
  • Compare toys from the UK with toys from Japan, using the 'traditional Japanese toys' video and the 'Toys from the Past' loan box. Ask students to sort them based on the materials used or the way they work.
  • Watch the 'how to play kendama' video and compare it with the European cup and ball toy, which can be found in the 'Toys from the Past' loan box. Ask students to design and make their own version of kendama or cup and ball - and then test each other's toys.
  • Use the 'Fred Elwell and Japanese dolls' video to discuss the things that influence paintings and other artworks. Fred was influenced by other artists and he was interested in Japanese arts and crafts, so he painted the Japanese dolls into his art. Ask students to talk about what they are interested in and to make a painting or other artwork that reflects this.
  • Watch the 'Beverley Art Gallery, John Champney and Japan' video and talk about Alfred East's travel to Japan in 1889. Identify the UK and Japan on a map to see how far he travelled and imagine how he might have felt undertaking his project.
  • The 'Beverley Art Gallery, John Champney and Japan' video explains that the exact location of the building Alfred East painted is a bit of a mystery - no one knows exactly where it is. Challenge students to paint or draw a picture and then guess the location of one another's artworks.
Key Stage Two
  • Watch the 'traditional Japanese toys' video, then hold a class debate about which is the best toy and why.
  • Compare toys from the UK with toys from Japan, using the 'traditional Japanese toys' video and the 'Toys from the Past' loan box. Ask students to consider design, function and materials used, then present their findings appropriately. This could include using lists, descriptive writing, tables, mathematical diagrams, or oral presentations.
  • Invite students to follow the instructions on 'how to make an origami crane', then explore origami further and create their own instructional video or pictorial 'how to' guide for a different origami shape.
  • Inspired by the 'traditional Japanese toys' video, 'how to play kendama' video and 'Toys from the Past' loan box, ask students to design and make their own toy. Students could evaluate their toy, and one another's toys, using agreed criteria.
  • Use the 'Fred Elwell and Japanese dolls' video to discuss the things that influence paintings and other artworks. Ask students to create their own artwork, reflecting their influences and interests.
  • Watch the 'Beverley Art Gallery, John Champney and Japan' video. Ask students to discuss what most interests them about the story: the commission of Alfred East, the mystery of the location shown in the painting; or something else?
  • Alfred East mainly used oil paints to make his artworks, but this painting from Japan is in watercolours. Ask students why they think this might be; and invite them to explore different media to recreate the same scene.
Download printable teacher notes (PDF)
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