Parent-Information Evening


Our Parent-Information Evening was held at the ELC on the evening of Tuesday April 15.  The evening was devoted to the sharing of the process of our learning on the Unit of Inquiry: How We Express Ourselves, with the culmination of our learning in the form of our Assembly held last Friday.  Whilst we very much value our Assembly – the product,  we equally place value on the process of working towards our Assembly, which is often not visible in the same way, and we very much wished to share this journey of learning with the parents.

We began the evening by revisiting the meaning of ‘to listen’ through the demonstration of writing the Chinese character for this word.  Each stroke signifies elements of listening, such as the ear, the eye, the heart.  But when the character is completed as a whole, we like to take the interpretation that though there may be ten eyes (different perspectives), we listen with our ears and eyes to come to one consensus.  This is exactly the process the children took to work towards their show.  The children listened to each other, elaborating on each other’s different ideas, with their final story incorporating all the children’s images, feelings, and intentions.

Through our process of learning with the children in this way, we sense that all the experiences we have had together have provided each child with intense satisfaction. Our information evening helped to share this satisfaction of the children with the parents to understand and appreciate their Assembly evermore.






The Show


The ELC children have been working together for many weeks: constructing a story and creating their own costumes. They  were inspired to put on their own show by the Elementary performance that they attended. The morning after the Elementary show, a child shared her great idea with the class, “Let’s have our own show!” The class was unanimously in favor of the idea and we started embarking on a journey of creating a story that represents everyone’s ideas. Below is the storybook created, produced and narrated by the ELC children.

Kodomo Shizen Koen


The ELC children and parents were excited to go on a field trip to Kodomo Shizen Koen. We took part in petting small animals such as mice, guinea pigs and chickens. The children enjoyed running freely in nature and creating imaginative games with their friends, and sometimes finding sticks and twigs of interesting shapes in all sizes. It was with extreme delight when the children finally found the big slide. The joy and exhilaration on their faces as they explored the play area showed how important this experience was for the children.

Please enjoy the collection of photos from our memorable Kodomo Shizen Koen field trip below.  All comments are most welcome.


The Safe Spots


The children have been making marks of various styles and meaning on paper, may it be scribbles, designs, drawings, forming letters or noteswriting messages. We have been finding these sheets of precious work around the classroom, often not claimed by anyone.


As a provocation, the teachers show the children the notes we have found and let the children lead this investigation. We urge the children to consider their intentions for these notes and future course of action.


I made it with Reina, me and Caren. Let’s take the one we made. 

Put in your bag.

In your house.

And at school.

Put it somewhere safe.

Where could that place be? Asks a teacher.

Tumble room.

In your cubby.

In your bag because that is the safest place.

You can put it in a safe place where you can find it. It will be like, like somewhere safe where you can find.


With the criteria in mind, the children explore our classroom looking for their safe spots. Many of the children point out the compact storage box with several drawers and say, “Here!”



Those box there because you can open it all the time.

And we choose this place because look (opens and closes a drawer).

No, that is not a safe place, the safe place is the cubby (bulletin board) because we can see it.


The following day, the teacher asks the children to put their drawings/notes in the ‘safe spot’ of their choice. Everyone has their own idea of a ‘safe spot’. It is interesting to observe the concept of ‘safeness’ for the children: ‘Safe’ means home, and the irony of being a place where it can always be seen, but also a place where things can be hidden, and known only to the beholder.

We look forward to seeing how the ‘Safe Spots’ will evolve.

ELC Student Parent Interaction Day


The children were delighted to have the opportunity to share their experiences and their learning at the ELC with their parents during our Second Student-Parent Interaction Day.  Each child proudly and confidently shared his/her project work on ‘what is music?’ through demonstration, drawings, and/or video recordings as well as share in the moment with their mom and dad his/her favorite spaces at the ELC.

We revisited our Student-Parent Interaction Day through a slideshow. Below is the children’s collective reflection on their experiences.

I like making the Atelier like mommy with snowflakes.

I making with my mommy blocks: Tokyo Tower.

I like building in Tumble room with Kimi and Reina.

I like play scooter.

I like playing with bicycle outside.

I like playing with my mom and when I am going home I love to hug her.

Mommy likes making blocks.

My mom likes Origami.

My mom likes to do Origami too.

Mommy like the make tumble room with Kimi and Reina together.


Narrating stories


We are fortunate in our daily work with the children to share and be in the moment of their many stories through their many symbolic and poetic languages – stories of snowmen and dinosaurs as they construct with clay, stories of animals through construction with blocks, stories of princesses through dancing to music, and many, many more…We live each day, immersed in the stories composed by the children, helping us to make deeper connections and relationships with each other through active listening.  We accept these invitations by the children with pleasure to belong and to be a part of their world.

This week’s blog from the Atelier narrates one child’s story through his work with the sand on the light table; the E1/E2 blog narrates many story threads through the sound of koto.

The stone in the pond: second experience


On Tuesday we experienced beautiful moments through the sound of koto (a traditional Japanese musical instrument) with Dr. Amato and former YIS student, Jane Son, visiting the ELC this time. In this experience, the children were offered the opportunity to play the strings of koto, the vibrations of which seemed to flow magically from their finger tips into their bodies, inspiring their minds and hearts with much emotion.  After all the children finished this experience, Dr. Amato and Jane played a traditional Japanese music, titled ‘Sakura’, as a duet.  An experience involves an interaction with the environment. This experience, once again, was throwing another stone (sounds of koto) in the pond (our imaginative space), sending ripples of images.




We played back the song of ‘Sakura‘ to the children the following day and asked them:  “What things do you think about when you listen to the music?”

“Robots, sleeping”
“Ice cream, sprinkle ice cream with cream”
“…like a rainbow…”
“Flowers are falling down and then nobody picked it and then the flowers bloomed and the sakura bloomed”
“Sea sound”
“Flowers growing”

The children transferred their verbal images into graphic representations, adding layers of details to their initial thoughts.  As each child reads back to us his/her drawing, we become aware of each child’s personal story born through listening to music and receiving inspirations from music, supporting our hypothesis that music also has the capability to tell a story, without words, pictures or any form of concrete material; and more importantly, that young children are capable of sensing and understanding this metacognitive thought.  The children ask us to play back the koto sounds of ‘Sakura’ several times. We wonder what other living organisms will be awakened by this stone before it settles to the bottom of the pond…


Snow – the color of the sand –


A child explored the light table with white sand and some other natural materials. The color of the sand reminded him of snow he had seen during the holidays and of his experience with his family. His story unfolded, coming alive with vivid images, as he moved his hands in the sand.


“Berries on the tree and snow on it! Berries are growing.

 That’s why they fell off. … More snow came! 

 Now it’s raining then snow again…

 Berry grows. Snow, the sun, rain help them to grow.”


“So many snow there (Fuji house)!

 You know what animal I saw?

 Tiger!  I played with him.  I was on his back!”


The stone in the pond


“The imagination is the power of the mind over the possibilities of things.”
Wallace Stevens

In our work with the children, we wish to constuct a pedagogy that is open to imaginings, of possibilities, and we ask ourselves what better space to consider this than through the space of stories, where it can be filled with a world of supposings and imaginings?

Gianni Rodari, in his book The Grammar of Fantasy, has offered us the metaphor of throwing a stone into a pond and how this action provokes an infinite series of chain reactions. The motion of the concentric waves spread out on the surface of the water, to the water lilies and reeds, as if they are suddenly awakened from their sleep and brought to life. As the stone slowly falls, it brushes the algae and perhaps frightens a fish. And when it finally touches the bottom, it stirs the mud underneath and other things most probably forgotten for quite some time. (p.5)

It was exactly this experience when we threw a phrase (the stone) to the children in our meeting (pond): What is a story? We observed the first ripples which were created, with both anticipation and uncertainty but with much trust in the children. We wonder with time in the possibilities of things, in what ways the stone will stir the many encounters before it reaches the depths of the pond…

The initial voices of the children: A story is…
What you read
A story is a book and when you read
You can make up stories, you don’t have to read
A book is for reading and looking at the pictures
Maybe we can’t see a picture and you can’t read and you can’t look at it
Then maybe you can draw in that book
You can read in a car or bus, or school bus, in a truck, and also on an airplane
In a train!
You can read a story inside your iPhone, too, in your iPad
Maybe you can read it all together because we are friends…

Coincidentally, we experienced the world of supposings and imaginings provoked by the display of the Hina Dolls.
I think the dolls are alive…
The dolls wake up at night time and play in the classroom. They also come to my house. How do they do that? They ride on a bicycle…
We observed how the Hina Dolls produced waves that evoked in the children images, meanings and dreams in a movement filled with much emotion and playfulness.




When we visited the library last week, a child was drawn to the snowflakes made with paper displayed on the wall. He looked at them closely and his eyes sparkled. Then we had real snow in Yokohama during that weekend. This occurrence provided an opportunity and the right timing for him to learn how to make snowflakes with origami papers. It was always a surprise for him to open each origami paper and look at its shape/design. None of them were identical, just like real snowfl


After making several snowfkakes, he thought about what he could do with them.  “I have a great idea!” He came up with a plan to arrange them on a big sheet of paper and decorate it.


Later that day, he proudly presented his work of snowflakes to his friends and teachers.


 “Who made this?” 


 “How did you make it?”

 “Cut it, then I made pointy.  Glue tree.   Maybe we can hang.

  …You know, that’s snow falling. I made it by myself.”  


Next day, we hung his creation by the window in the Atelier as he suggested. Some of his friends were inspired and keen on making snowflakes with papers. This contagion happened because the child presented and shared his snowflakes so nicely and with much enthusiasm with his friends.