Looking into a mirror, we wonder what the children see… how do they view themselves as their images bounce back to them, what features do they choose to focus on, what do they notice about themselves that they did not see before? The trajectory of each child’s self portrait has been both illuminating and interesting to follow and to accumulate over the course of this school year, a tool for reflection on our ever evolving understanding on the identity of each child.
Portraits from YIS ELC on Vimeo.
We are approaching the end of the school year. One morning this week, the Atelier was alive with many children actively creating with their hands and minds. I realize that some of the children are leaving Japan and not returning to the ELC after the summer holidays. I began to think about how much I am going to miss having them and seeing their creations. The children express themselves in many different ways through various media. This E2 child has expressed her inner emotions as well as displaying her skills through painting or making designs with different materials since she was in E1. When she is creating something we observe her releasing any qualms or tensions she may have to focus and to be in the moment of creating. She expresses herself in a unique and beautiful way. One feature common to her creations is happiness with the use of bright colors. Her recent painting is filled with many hearts. It’s full of love, hope and joy an expression, perhaps, of her optimistic outlook towards what awaits her as she moves back to her home country.
The weather was perfect for our much awaited field trip to Children’s Natural Park and to visiting the petting zoo. Riding on the bus, being outside in nature, having a picnic lunch and exploring the playground will be a recyclable memory of our beautiful time together in ELC 2015-16.
ELC Field trip 2016 from YIS ELC on Vimeo.
“It’s moon!” A child exclaimed. She was exploring with Kinetic Sand and made a moon shape with a petri dish. She then made a crescent shape by cutting it with the dish.
The children in the Atelier and I naturally began to talk about the moon. Then one E1 child, listening to our conversation, drew two moons.
“Moon in Mumbai,
Baby moon in Japan.
Mama moon came Japan,
See baby moon.
They go together, Mumbai, Japan, Mumbai, Japan…
We see moon in the morning and night.”
Her drawings and words are simple yet beautiful.
Knowing her move from India to Japan a few months ago, her words touch my heart ever more. Two moons in Mumbai and Japan might be a way for her to stay connected to her life in Mumbai and help her to adjust to a new environment in Japan.
From mark making to communication
Over the months, we have observed increased interest within the children to communicate through the alphabetic code. As a provocation, boxes for each child were set up in the classroom with different kinds of paper nearby, with the intention of the teacher to see what interests this may stir within the children. Some children showed interest in these boxes and asked what they were for. When we asked them what they thought they might be, several children thought they may be boxes to put toys in.
Little notes with a message were secretly put into each of the boxes…
There’s something in my box!….
Over the weeks, some children begin to put pieces of paper into their own boxes…but one day, a child makes a card for three of his friends, with a message written inside and secretly places them in his friends’ boxes. The ‘secret’ is the key as there is an element of surprise for the receiver, and the thrill on the side of the giver/maker. When this is revealed at our morning meeting, there is contagion within the children how they all want to surprise their friends! It is a joy to witness and share in the moment the emotion within the children their desire to surprise, create and give to another, as much being able to appreciate the receiving of gifts and thoughts from others.
Message box from YIS ELC on Vimeo.
One morning it was a good opportunity to offer a different material to the child who has been making various types of crowns with papers. She happily accepted wire as the new material and tried to create one, and she ended up making four crowns, one for each member of her family. Then she skillfully and beautifully decorated them with twisted ties.
On a different day, she challenged herself to make a crown with white paper clay. She struggled a little because it couldn’t form a loop shape and broke easily when her crown was too thin. However her attitude was calm all the time, never frustrated, and she persevered to successfully create one.
Through the observation of her crown making, I was deeply impressed with not only her attractive crowns and her sincere effort but also her respectful manner towards materials.
‘Where we are in place and time’ is our fourth transdisciplinary theme for this school year. Our central idea inquires into how change is inevitable and affects our lives, an orientation in time and place which looks at the past, the present and the future. We began by posing a question to the children: “What does change mean to you?”
‘Change’ to many children means changing clothing, or changing into a different identity such as a princess or a superhero. There were also other ideas such as change in direction, change in weather, change in traffic lights, exchanging toys, change in the treasures of the treasure box (meaning different treasures), change in appearance such as hair growing longer and changing houses. When we asked the children to draw their initial ideas, we discovered further meanings which incorporated the aspect of ‘change in place’ as in moving countries and schools.
The following slideshow shares the children’s second drawings which focus on an aspect of change in place, a shift in time from before to now (from past to present). The children are accustomed to answering questions, but in our small group work, we wished to observe how children formulate questions to elicit more information from each others’ drawings.
Change Drawings from YIS ELC on Vimeo.
One warm and sunny day morning, it was a perfect opportunity for outdoor painting. The children in the Atelier became all excited and helped to prepare for it. Painting outside, using a big sheet of paper and a special sponge brush which a child found a few days ago, all these materials inspired their sense of enthusiasm.
They were delighted by the colours and the space they could use freely. “Look! I’m making a trail!” Unintentional dripping from the sponge brush caused an interesting effect and became one of their shared techniques.
“We can put it here!” A child suggested showing their finished painting on the wall in the Atelier. Then I knew that she still remembers her collaborative painting experience last year. She must have been so proud of the painting displayed on that wall where everyone could see.
Sports Day was filled with good spirit and fun! The following video and slideshow communicates more than words can ever convey…thank you for joining us and cheering on for The Hina Dolls!
Sports Day from YIS ELC on Vimeo.
In Japan May 5th celebrates children day or ‘Kodomono-hi’ in Japanese with a wish that children grow in good health, living each day with strength and courage. Banners in the shape of a carp (a type of fish) called ‘Koinobori’ are hoisted high above rooftops which appear to be swimming in the sky. In Japanese folklore, the carp is a symbol of determination and vigor, overcoming all obstacles to swim upstream. Samurai warrior figurines and samurai helmets called kabuto are also displayed in homes to inspire strength and bravery. The ELC traditionally hoists four koinobori each year. This year, with the help of our four Japanese moms, two new koinobori were created, totaling six koinobori for the children to enjoy and to admire. We are very grateful to Ayako, Kumi, Mariko and Miyuki for helping us learn and appreciate this Japanese holiday through a very creative experience.
Koinobori from YIS ELC on Vimeo.