Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Reaching Out to Japan With Tweens: A Fun and Thoughtful Project

Our tweens' Girl Scout troops are making 1000 origami cranes to send to a sister Girl Scout troop in Japan as a show of support and friendship in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami. The significance of the origami cranes comes from the story of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who was a victim of the Hiroshima atomic attack and suffered from leukemia as a result of the nuclear fallout. Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds 1000 cranes will be granted a wish by a crane such as long life or being cured of a disease. Sadako died when she was only 12 years old from the disease and folded 644 cranes before her death. Her classmates folded the remaining amount after she died as a sign of their love and support. There is a statue in Sadako's memory in Hiroshima, and the tradition of sending 1000 origami cranes is recognized today as a symbol of world peace and solidarity.

Our project began with a local librarian attending our troop meeting and showing the girls how to fold these beautiful animals out of colorful origami paper. Particularly for younger tweens, this took some doing, but all of the girls got the hang of it after a while. This is a complicated origami project to do as an introduction to origami, and it is a testament to the librarian's patience that all of the girls in the troop were able to successfully make their cranes. Each girl went home with origami paper, an instruction sheet, and an empty shoe box and will return to our next troop meeting with the shoe boxes full of origami cranes to mail to our sister troop in Japan.

To help sustain the girls' efforts, our tweens made candy sushi as a snack for the troop. This was a fun but sticky project involving Rice Krispy treats, Fruit Roll-Ups, and Swedish Fish.  You can find recipes for candy sushi fairly easily online, but here are our tips:
  • Make a batch of Rice Krispy treats, but add a few more marshmallows than usual (you want a pliable rather than crisp treat).
  • While one tween makes the Rice Krispy Treats, have another tween unwrap and unroll one package of Fruit Roll-Ups. Our local market was out of the green kind, so we used dark purple instead (we liked that the color scheme reminded us of Cherry Blossom season here in Washington). I've also seen tie-dye or rainbow ones used to great effect.
  • Press a flat layer of Rice Krispy treats onto each Fruit Roll-Up roll leaving about a half-inch plain.
  • Lay a double row of mini Swedish Fish length-wise down the cereal treats and then roll up the "sushi" roll ending and sealing with the plain half-inch. You could also use sour straws, gummy worms or fruit licorice instead of the Swedish Fish
  • Use a sharp knife to slice the "sushi" into pieces. We served ours in cupcake liners.
We found that one batch of Rice Krispy Treats and one box of Fruit Roll-Ups made enough "sushi" for 15 hungry tweens as a mid-afternoon treat. (Orthodontists: beware!)

The troop has decided to host a bake sale to raise funds for the Red Cross to accompany these origami cranes, and I think our tweens will make another batch of candy sushi to sell at the fundraiser. We may try to make a more professional looking nigri-style sushi like these from not Martha for the bake sale.

Has your tween taken part in any efforts to help Japan after the earthquake? Please share what they're doing below!

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