This is the sixteenth year since the ELC has had an affiliation with the Lady of Lourdes Baby Home. Every year, we invite the younger children from the Home to the ELC to play together and this year, three children visited the ELC to spend the morning with us. Prior to their visit, we asked the children how they can welcome our friends. With no exception to all the other years, the children show much sensitivity towards our visitors – “they speak Japanese, we can say ‘konnichiwa’ in our gentle voices” “we can tell them our names”.
There is no barrier of language, our children are able to communicate without words – they extend gestures of kindness, exchange smiles, knowing how their actions can provide a space of happiness for everyone, including themselves. Our friends reciprocate our children’s sentiments with smiles, where a lovely relationship organically evolves. The morning passed by all too quickly. As our friends leave the ELC, they exchange endless waves of good-bye, not sad ones, but happy ones, in friendship. Our children wave until they are no longer able to see their friends.
Every year we decide upon a gift for our Baby Home friends after meeting them and spending time together. Our children always share many ideas on what they could make as a gift and after listening to their voices, the teachers thought carefully how to put all their ideas together-origami, a storybook, painting, drawing, racing car, jet, rainbow… We all agreed that each child makes a page for a storybook which will include the child’s personal idea and thought. As we wanted our three Baby Home friends who visited our ELC to be a part of our story, I asked one child from E1 and two children from E2 if they could draw our three Baby Home friends as the main characters of the book. They drew with much care remembering how they looked like and how they spent time at the ELC.
‘It was fun to ride a bike with him! …but he was a little heavy.’
‘I really like her! I like what she painted. She painted a house.’
‘I liked running with him!’
Their laughter filled the Atelier. They all looked so happy when they were drawing.
The gift of a storybook with our three Baby Home friends ‘traveling’ through each page, will be precious and beautiful because our children create from their heart. I am looking forward to seeing all the pages the children will create together with their moms and dads next week at our Craft/Luncheon day. I wonder what kind of adventures our three Baby Home friends will have as they turn the pages and enter into it, their adventures and our children’s thoughts coming together?
At our ELC, we wish to nurture within the children a sense of responsibility and care for our environment beginning with their immediate shared spaces of the ELC, both indoors and outdoors and of their personal belongings. In this day and age, when there is such an abundance of ‘things’, there can be a tendency to have ‘too much’ and to throw things out easily before thinking of ways to take care so as to be able to use things for a long time. Showing appreciation for what we have and giving value to them by taking care are dispositions and habits of mind which can be developed through our daily action. Please enjoy viewing our ELC children as active responsible learners, who exhibit their desire for ‘tidy-ness’ and care for their environment, with the elements of fun and creativity which they always add to their learning.
Tidy-ness from YIS ELC on Vimeo.
It was such a beautiful day to go to the park with all the ELC children together. We brought fruits for our snack, papers and markers for drawing. The children always enjoy the large space to explore and to invent. Then I noticed a child, sitting by himself on the ground, drawing something with much focus. I approached him quietly and sat by him. “I’m drawing this,” showing me shiny black berries which were attached to a stem. “I found them when we were walking. I’m going to give them to my mommy.” He drew three more berries on the paper and said, “These are friends (of berries).” The berries must have been very special for him, such that he couldn’t help but make a drawing of them.
We then looked up at the sky together and saw the bright blue sky and thin clouds. “It looks like fish bone!” he said and we shared a laughter together.
I wonder how often do we as adults look down closely at the ground? How often do we look up to the sky? We miss so many opportunities and possibilities to find berries, acorns, leaves, roly-poly bugs, clouds, the sun, birds and more. The children always teach us beauty and wonder are ever present all around us.
As in many celebrations in Japan, and in countries around the world, parents wish for the healthy growth of their children and to lead a happy life. November 15 is a special day in Japan called “7-5-3 Day” or “Shichi-go-san” (七五三) which celebrates this wish for girls who are 3 and 7 years old, and for boys who are 3 and 5 year old. From ancient times, these ages were associated with certain milestones in the life of a Japanese child. The children, dressed in kimono, visit a shrine with their family to pray for their good health.
This tradition was celebrated at the ELC, with all the E1 children dressed in kimono. Please enjoy viewing the slideshow from this experience.
7-5-3 from YIS ELC on Vimeo.
I was looking through the photos of the children’s creations which I had taken this semester. Being in the Atelier with the children, I am able to observe and to know them through their creations and discover different aspects of the children.
The first moment I found a delicate side of this child was when he used four glass bottles, dried flowers and leaves. “This is for Ms. Yuka. This is for Mrs. Cancemi. This is for Ms. Lara. This is for Ms. Destiny.” What he created was very simple yet showed such delicate beauty. He used the bottles like a vase, placing in each of the bottles a little flower and a leaf.
Another time he arranged natural materials on a wooden board. I noticed that his conception of space is one of his important elements in his creations. His arrangement was purposeful and sensitive.
Recently, he invited his friend to make an arrangement with natural materials together. They were excited about autumn natural materials, such as acorns and pinecones. He placed one acorn on a small cork. He even held a prickly chestnut with his two hands gently as if he was holding a baby bird. I learned his gentle and delicate nature through his experiences in the Atelier. He told me this creation is a jungle and it looks like such a peaceful jungle and a tranquil place to be.
The children, on occasion, can come to school feeling a little upset, carrying with them an unhappy feeling due to something that may have happened at home in the morning or on their way to school.The Atelier can offer a comforting space for the children. As they interact and focus on their experience with clay, the light table, painting and other materials, their unhappy feelings naturally seem to disappear, shifting into a peaceful mood.
One morning, I saw a child with tears. She was missing her mom. I invited her to the Atelier as she liked the idea of making a gift for her mom. She decided to make a collage using her mom’s favorite color green. Soon she was focused on designing and arranging each material. She spent the entire free exploration morning time creating a collage.
“Mommy is going to say ‘Oh, it’s so beautiful!’”
She had a big smile on her face when she completed her beautiful collage.
In the E2 class, the children have investigated into measuring each others’ heights – who is taller? This was an important and meaningful question for the children as the result determined the order, and a system, for who should take the Treasure Box home. This week, the E2 children inquired into measuring the length of objects, utilizing a measurement tool of an orange rod. With an orange rod in hand, each child went hunting for objects that would match the length of the rod. They hypothesized, predicted and tested their theories, delighted to discover their findings.
The E1 children have investigated into measuring the length of time – how long is three minutes? The class agreed that three minutes would be the length of time each child would take to have a turn riding on the bike. Through the process of discussions and testing theory against action over several weeks, the measurement tool of a sand timer was introduced. The children have been fascinated by this tool, intently observing how the sand falls from the top to the bottom level. The E1 acted as the experts to explain the use of the sand timer (which they call as the ‘sand clock’) to the E2 children for sharing the bikes.
The two investigations of measurement have been put together into a slideshow below.
Measurement from YIS ELC on Vimeo.
Over the past two months and a half, we have been trying to create and to sustain a safe environment where the children can develop their sensitivity for collaboration and reflective thinking, seeing and feeling themselves as a respected member of a community of learners, appreciating the pleasure and necessity of communication through multiple ‘languages’ – symbolic languages of graphics and visual representations and that of poetic languages, such as of music and dance. They have deepened their relationships with both children and adults, growing in friendship, trust and confidence. As we move into the second half of our semester after the Fall break, we hope to continue to build an environment that is filled with the opportunities to generate many questions and search for ways to clarify them, placing emphasis on the process over product by ensuring that the journey of learning is beautiful, ever engaging, lasting in ways that will make the children’s educational biography memorable, marked by continuing creative agency.
Coming together from YIS ELC on Vimeo.
The leaves in our playground have deepened their Autumn colors of yellow, orange, brown and red. The air is getting chilly but in contrast, the leaves of trees have warm colors.
One day, I was observing a child arranging Autumn leaves on a board. “I’m making a flower!” He placed them to create the center of a flower first. Then he used his selected leaves to make flower petals.
On another day, two children chose leaves from the ground with much care and sensitivity to color, shape and size, and arranged them on a table under a tree. “It’s decoration!” one child said. “Yes, decoration!” the other child responded excitedly. They also gathered short sticks and gently placed them on each of the leaves.
Whenever the children found fascinating color/pattern of leaves, they shared their feeling of excitement with me. They see delicate beauty in nature around us and I treasure and value these moments with and through the children.