Our author for November is Lois Elhert. Elhert’s books are remarkable for their wonderful illustrations. She often uses collage in her illustrations, gluing pieces of paper, fabrics or objects to create vivid and colorful pictures to accompany the text. Ehlert has won several awards including the Cauldecott honour for Color Zoo.
Many of Elhert’s books deal are about nature; planting, growing, seasons, weather. She has written two beautifully illustrated books about autumn leaves which we have displayed on our nature table.
Throughout the school year, we shall be visiting the park opposite school to observe the changing seasons. As part of our Japanese Culture program, we will be celebrating the coming of Autumn (Aki). Colorful leaves (koyo) are to the Japanese autumn what cherry blossoms are to spring. Throughout the month of October, we shall be visiting the park frequently to look for signs of Aki. Today we gave the children special sketch-books and pencils and headed off the the park to see what we could find.
Children seem to have fewer and fewer opportunities to get outdoors and interact with nature. One of the aims of the Elementary School camping club is to give children opportunities to experience the wonder of living in nature even if just for a night or two. There is nothing quite like a good, hard hike, stopping on the way to climb a particularly inviting tree and crawl through some undergrowth before pitching camp, cooking your own supper and sitting around a bonfire in the dark, singing campfire songs, telling ghost stories and toasting marshmallows.
The weather forecast for the trip was, typically, rain, rain and more rain. We told the children that short of a direct hit by a typhoon, the expedition would go ahead, and they should come prepared with suitable clothes. As we set off after lunch, the weather was grey but dry. The campers had a skip in their step and there was a sense of anticipation in the air. We stopped here and there on the way, as nature called to us; an inviting rock to sit on, or secret space under the branches of a tree that demanded to be explored.
We got the campsite by about four o’clock and set about pitching tents before the weather changed. Everyone was cheerful and engaged and there was a wonderful team spirit as more experienced campers worked together with first time campers to put up tents, organize kit and cook super. There was time for some night-time exploration and a few ghost stories before bed.
We were very, very lucky with the weather, and though it teemed down all night, there was a break for a couple of hours in the morning, long enough for us to cook brekkie, strike camp and start the hike back. Despite being caught in heavy downpour on the way home, everyone was up-beat and entered into the experience with true adventuring spirit. The children are already talking about the next camp!
See below for a link on why it’s so important for children to get out-doors and into nature.
The Kindergarten children often recall key experiences that they have had in previous schools, whether they were at our ELC or at another school. Today the KC children went with Ms Pender to the ELC to view an outside art gallery of beautiful creations that the ELC children had made. The children were delighted by the exhibits and discussed them in detail.
Many of the children made connections to their own experiences in the ELC and took delight in finding their own creations and sharing them with those children who had not been at the ELC.
Today we had a busy day out, full of nature-watching and adventuring. We started by digging sweet potatoes at a near-by potato field. This is a popular Kindergarten experience in Japanese schools at this time of year, and helps children to understand where food comes from and the cycle of the seasons.
We had a picnic lunch in the park and then spent a long time clambering in a section of hilly woodland in the park. This was a wonderful opportunity for the children to work their muscles and develop their gross motor skills. As the children worked together to help each other climb up and down a very steep slope, they were engaged in problem solving, risk-taking and collaborating as well as supporting and encouraging each other. They spent over an hour developing strategies to help them negotiate the slope.
On the way home we stopped to sketch some of the changes we observed in the park this week. We were not the only ones sketching! There were some delightful exchanges between the Kindergarten children and the more experienced adults, out with their sketch-books and water colours.
The children have been comparing different writing systems in Japanese and English. We have been talking about the difference between alphabets like the English (Roman) alphabet, katakana and hiragana, and symbol/concept based writing systems such as kanji.
We went on a hunt around YIS to search for Japanese writing. The children discovered many different kinds of alphabets, symbols and pictures. We took photographs. Over the next week we will be discussing the photographs and the children will record their comments on the VoiceThread below. Please feel free to add your own comments to the VoiceThread. Your children can teach you how to do this.
You can help your children to make connections to their Mother Tongue or other languages by discussing writing systems used in your family.
With the sakura blooming and Spring finally in the air, we decided it was time to prepare our garden allotment for planting. It was a perfect day for gardening. The sun was shining as the children got stuck in. Several teachers stopped on their way by to ask us what we were up to and to offer some ideas. They all said they would much rather be gardening than in the classroom. In fact Ms Czubak was so excited, she joined in!
We hope that maybe some mums or dads would like to come and help us plant some things in our garden. We would like to plant things we can eat!
We went for a walk around Motomachi to see how people use spaces in clever ways.
The children took photographs of the interesting things they saw. When we got back, we printed the photographs. Together, we at the photographs and shared ideas the clever ways of using space. Once the children had had a chance to discuss their ideas verbally and listen to other people’s ideas, they wrote comments about the photographs on posties and stuck the posties on photographs.
Afterwards we read all the comments together to see what different people thought of each photograph. Once the children had shared and developed their ideas through talking and writing, they made a voice thread about the photographs.