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Autumn arrives in October

As you set foot in our Montessori building, this is what will welcome you. The beautiful “Montessori” with children was cross-stitched by Mrs. Almoula. It is a timely celebration in the 47th year of our Montessori School being established in 1973. Saint Maur International School also has much to celebrate during the 148th year of its founding in 1872.

Since the end of August, it has been nice to see the children face to face in the classroom.  They are now well into a new routine in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Once a week, they go to the school library in the main building. On the way back, they passed by the school bus.  They also stopped by to see the cement mixer busy at work on the new gymnasium and Cougar Cafe. There is a bit more time needed before its completion, so it’s fun to see the progress.

These are the cement mixers and cranes being used.  On the way back to the Montessori building, we got a closer look.  Sometimes, the big crane is carrying heavy objects up into the air from one place to another.

We’ve recently noticed that Sister Carmel’s sakura tree, which was full of pink cherry blossoms in pre-spring February, has changed to green leaves. Now with the coming of autumn, the leaves are changing colors and falling.

 

 We read about the change in seasons, and how the leaves change colors in autumn.  We learned a poem about falling leaves.  We also observed the colorful leaves from outside and tried coloring the drawn autumn leaves.

We talked about superlatives…  Biggest-smallest,  tallest-shortest…

Who is the tallest girl?  The tallest boy?   The shortest?

The children all love puzzles. It feels good when a piece goes in the right place. Yes, it fits!

Look, the apple for my snack today looks just like this poster of ‘A, a, apple’!

As part of Fun Day in October, the children each brought recycled items from home, e.g., boxes and pet bottles, to make something creative.

Construction activity:  Hmm… Where can I place this?…

Our creations…

 

Look at my binoculars. I can see you!   Can you see me?

After the construction activity, the children had a chance to go to the interim gymnasium.  It was a rainy day, so we had to wear our raincoats when going back and forth from the Montessori building.

Under the protective roof of the gym, we walked on the line, following the classmate in the lead position.

Balloon tossing was very popular; even the younger children had so much fun chasing the balloons. Each of the three classes had their given color of a balloon: red, yellow, or green.

 

Crafts:  The children drew with markers on a piece of wood, under the theme of “My family”.

Halloween activities

Let’s enjoy the nice autumn weather in the playground on the roof of the Montessori building!

 

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Back in school after online learning March-June

Thank you, God, for children who fill our days with memories.

Finally, after almost six months since starting online learning back in March, we are able to see the children ”face to face” in the classroom once again from the end of August.  How nice it was to see the children, mask to mask, in person.

With Ms. Yuri joining our class and the Montessori team, we have started the new academic school year. Ms. Hoshi is now working in the school library, and we will have the chance to see her when we visit the library every week. We enjoyed welcoming in person both the old and the new children.

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are following a “new normal” such as hand washing throughout the day, wearing a mask all day, observing physical distancing when lining up, partitions positioned on the tables, good ventilation along with air-conditioning with windows and doors partially opened, and sterilizing the school equipment and Montessori materials, especially after the children have gone home for the day.

The Parent Support Group (PSG) has kindly granted our wish at the end of the last school year for an air purifier in each Montessori classroom.  Oh, it’s a wonderful addition to our classroom.

The children seemed excited to be back in the classroom and were eager to work and refine their fine-motor skills using their hands.

The children were intrigued to figure out what matches, by looking at the small parts and then the whole picture.

Walking on the line: for balance and gross motor movement.

Last year’s youngest group of children are now helping the younger children, remembering what the older children had offered them earlier.

The masks have already become an accepted necessity, to protect ourselves and have concern for others.  The importance of washing our hands regularly has been explained for getting rid of the virus/germs around us.  The children understand the value of sterilizing their hands and what they touch.

There is development in the children’s concentration and composition skills using the Large Moveable Alphabet.

Another self-discovery task is learning the names of the different shapes.

Once a week, “Show and Tell” is a time to share and explain to the entire class what has been brought from home. A variety of questions are raised by their friends after each presentation.

Early in September, we practiced the three emergency drills involving the entire school, from Montessori, Elementary, Middle up to High School.  The first schoolwide coordinated effort was the earthquake drill, later the lockdown drill, and finally the fire drill.  There will also be unannounced drills in the near future.  Our Montessori children were calm and followed directions well, as practiced earlier.  They understand that they are safe when we stay together and follow the directions given by the teachers and assistants.  The children took seriously the earthquake drill of going under the table.

The whole school, including faculty and staff, evacuated to the next-door Futaba School grass area during the fire drill.

In the classroom the children value working in pairs and taking turns, and respecting each other.

A favorite activity remains socializing in the classroom’s library corner.

During the day, there is always time to socialize while working together on a project, which also reveals their creativity.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Dr. Maria Montessori, the founder of the Montessori educational method of teaching.  Montessori schools can be found all over the world. To celebrate her birthday, the children colored cupcakes with candles.

Of course, we took the time to enjoy the real chocolate cupcakes baked by our school cafeteria, Cezar’s Kitchen; this photo below was taken by Ms. Furstenau before our feast. We hope to show you our smiles under our masks some day soon.  Please stay safe and well.  We will, too.

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Unprecedented March

Sister Carmel’s memorial sakura tree beside the Fine Arts building is the sign of spring on campus.

Girls Day, or Hinamatsuri (Doll’s Festival), is celebrated on March 3rd to pray for the health and happiness of young girls in Japan.

Using origami, a square piece of paper, the children made a kimono folding the square in half, corner to corner, and making the square into a triangle.  Use a flat  surface to make a nice crease.

Color the faces of the emperor and empress, then carefully cut out using scissors.

Do the same with the lanterns.

The children made a pop-up card using the cut-outs, and pasting golden origami paper as a screen.

Happy Girls’ Day!

One day in February, we saw a beautiful sky and puffy clouds while playing on the roof!

We can now see longer cranes stretching skywards from the gymnasium site.

But this spring 2020 was like no other due to the spread of Coronavirus, and the school administration decided to close down the campus. Initially, it was planned to last three school weeks, followed by our one-week Spring break. All the students, from Montessori up to High School, were to stay at home and keep up their learning online with their teachers.

The Montessori staff are taking turns reading a book to the children every day through the Montessori blog set up for the duration of the School Closure.  We also suggest activities, crafts, and movement classes that can be followed each day from home.

Then, at the end of March, the Saint Maur administration made the difficult decision to extend School Closure through to the rest of this academic year.

Below is a photo of the children taking home their Hina dolls on what would turn out to be the last day on campus for this academic year, on February 28th.  Unfortunately, some children were absent that day, including Ann who would leave for Texas a couple of weeks later.

The children are staying at home to be safe from the spread of COVID-19. It is sad that we cannot go to school to learn together and play with friends.  But for the safety of everyone and their families, we have no choice but to stay safe during this pandemic.  Let us pray that we will be able to go back to school after everything has been resolved in Japan.  In the meantime, we will maintain the classroom learning and discovery online.

Everyone, stay safe and healthy.  And let’s keep in touch!

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February, the shortest month of the year

Montessori through Elementary students participated in Fun Day, with the theme of Science Experiments, on the last day of January.  Our class dealt with the  “Chromatography experiment”.  After coloring coffee filter paper with color markers, we placed the tail of the paper into a petri dish of water and watched how the colors separated right before our very eyes!

In this colorful experiment, the children saw the colors that make marker ink move and split apart when the ink on filter paper dissolves in water.

 

In the afternoon, a Bake sale fundraiser sponsored by the Elementary School Student Council was held. Prior in class, we have been talking and following up on the bushfires down under, and the children wanted to do something to help the people of Australia, as well as the indigenous animals, in some small way.  They brought coins to buy baked goods, and also to contribute donations.  Many children gave coins from their own wallets.

The Elementary School Student Council raised ¥267,557 to help Australian communities prepare, respond to, and recover from the ongoing natural disaster, and to aid in saving the wildlife and begin to restore the lost homes of indigenous creatures such as koalas.  Thanks to the organizational effort by the Student Council, the Montessori children were able to share in the school-wide theme of “kindness and consideration” while also having fun together.

Excursion:  On February 7th, the children of Language 1 Class from all three Montessori classes went on an excursion to Hamagin Space Science Center in Yokohama, where they had exhibitions related to hands-on experiences, such as touching a meteor from outer space.  There were also a training room, discovery room, a big Robot where the children could enter to play, and so much more activities. Below shows us on the school bus ready to head out. Photos courtesy Mrs. Tougeron, one of our volunteer chaperones.

On the way back to the bus, we stopped by a nearby park, where the children could run and play in the open-air outdoors.

The excursion was lots of fun, and, sure enough, some children also had a nice nap on the way back to school. Zzzzz…

According to the Japanese calendar, Setubun (literally, “seasonal division”) represents the day at the beginning of spring, February 3rd.  Traditionally on this special day, Japanese people throw roasted soy beans to cleanse the home and to drive away evil while inviting good fortune.

Before the family had to transfer to Texas, Ethan’s mom came to our class to share her story about Valentine’s, and to read a story about a puppy’s “love”.  The children then made personal Valentine’s cards.

Then came our all-time favorite Valentine’s Day, on the 14th. They learned to fold Origami to make lots of hearts.

Reading buddies: Montessori children of the Language Arts 1 and 2 classes had several visits by our 9th graders who were their reading buddies this school year. They came to read to the children in small groups.

Some of these 9th graders were also in our Montessori School nine years ago. The children appreciated the older ones coming in.  Thank you to the big 9th graders for taking the time to read to our young Montessori children.

A discovery:  Look!  The Vietnam flag shares the same colors we happen to wear today!

Map-making and flag-drawing are colorful activities.

It’s only the end of February, yet, all of a sudden, Sister Carmel’s early Sakura tree on the school campus is already in full-bloom! The children celebrated Ann’s third birthday under the sakura tree dedicated to Saint Maur’s long-time principal, during 60 years of devoted service to her children.

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A Happy New Year 2020

A Happy New Year!  On the first day back, the children colored and cut out numbers 2-0-2-0, stringing them across a ribbon to celebrate the New Year—a special one for the Olympics/Paralympics in Tokyo.

  According to the Chinese calendar, 2020 is the Year of the Rat.

In Ms. Mimi’s class five years ago, there was a boy who came to Montessori when he was three, and left when he was four.   He had a favorite stuffed rat and carried it with him when he first started school.  He loved artwork, involving drawing, coloring, folding, cutting and pasting.   One day he made a three-dimentional furry rat in the classroom all by himself, and was happy to show his friends.

He now is in third grade in Stockholm.  When he lived in Madrid and attended an international school last year, he entered a visual arts contest and won a prize. His artwork has been exhibited at presentations during the UN Global Summit meetings last summer in New York. Congratulations!

Due to his dad’s work, the family has lived in such diverse destinations as Helsinki, Nagoya, Mauritius, Madrid, and now Stockholm. Every Christmas he and his family would send us Christmas greetings.

Excursion for Language Arts 2 children (older 5 and 6 year-olds) — the children from all three classes in Language Arts 2 went on an excursion to Shinagawa Acquarium with Ms. Catherine and Mrs. Almoula.

What a great experience to see the fish up close.   Photos courtesy of Mrs. Vicario.

 

For the rest of the children, it was the theme day of “Under the Sea”. The children, aged 2 to early 5 years old, gathered in the Upper Rec Hall. After listening to Ms. Sallie’s recitation of “Rainbow Fish”, the children colored their paper Rainbow fish and put one shiny scale on it.  They then made the fish into headbands. The children also played games, sang, and danced to the music.

Making fish headbands:

In the afternoon, Language Arts 1 children colored the pictures of their fish, cut them into stripes using scissors, then played with them as puzzles in the afternoon, taking them home at the end of the day.

Fun with magnets catching fish in the classroom:

Practical life — sweeping with brush and dustpan after lunch:

Fine motor skills — using their hands to complete the work:

Language Arts — using the Large Moveable Alphabet to write sentences:

Language Arts — using the Small Moveable Alphabet to write a story:

Birthday celebrations:Artworks:

Making New Year cards:

Teen and Ten Board — using beads for quantity and numerals:

Looking for flags of countries from the wall map:

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Let’s celebrate the birth of Baby Jesus. Merry Christmas!

It is the month to celebrate the birth of Baby Jesus.  “A Savior is born: Glory to God! Peace to Mankind.”                                  On December 6th, the parents of Montessori and Elementary schools childen were invited to our Fine Arts Auditorium to listen to a joint Christmas concert from 6pm.  The Montessori children were the opening program.  As the curtain rose, the energetic five- and six-year-olds ran up to the stage and danced to the song, “Go! Santa, Go!”

Then came the youngest group of two- and three-year-olds who danced with bells.And the four- and five-year-olds sang and danced to “Angels We Have Heard on High.”

Concluding this musical segment, all three classes of Montessori children gathered on stage to sing and act out “The Friendly Beasts” that told the story of how different animals played their part in helping to welcome the infant Jesus. The donkey carried Mary safely to Bethlehem, the cow gave Jesus his manger and hay for a bed, the dove cooed Baby Jesus to sleep, the sheep gave their wool for a blanket, the camel carried a gift “in the Wise Men’s pack.” The youngest group acted out all the parts as the older children sang the lyrics.

“Baby Jesus, kind and good
Was humbly born in a stable
And the friendly beasts around Him stood
Baby Jesus, kind and good.”

In preparation for the concert, the children practiced in separate age groups.  They also made animal headbands.In conclusion, the Montessori children wished the audience, “Merry Christmas!”

On the last week of school, the children visited the campus chapel in the Fine Arts building and had a Christmas service with Mr. Agnew, who is the religion teacher.  He told the Christmas story, and how the children should be kind and thankful to their moms and dads who take good care of them everyday.During the month, the children read the story from the Bible of the First Christmas. We visited the nativity scene in front of the school office in the main building.In the classroom, we also have a nativity scene from Germany.  The children love to place the wooden figures as they recall the story of the First Christmas, and sing the song, “The Friendly Beasts.”      Last month (November), the Montessori and Elementary schools students celebrated International Children’s Day by wearing the colors of their respective countries’ flags.  As a joint project, the children filled-in a small paper feather with lines, designs and patterns using black markers. The Elementary Student Council put all the feathers together to make a pair of large wings.  We took group and individual photos in front of the wings that said, “Where will our wings take you?” The children took their angel photos home in special frames that we had decorated in class for Christmas.Making Christmas cards…

Our German mom gave a presentation on how German children celebrate Saint Nikolaus Day—cleaning their boots and leaving them by the window or door, on the night of December 5th, to have them filled with goodies, including coins, nuts, oranges, chocolates, or small toys.Enjoying Christmas pizza luncheon together.Making patterns using beads…Making maps…Continuing to talk about, identify and to draw various construction vehices as one of our study units.And using our imagination and having fun…Where will our wings take us?  We aim to continue our journey of discovery in 2020. Have a wonderful Christmas holiday.

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A busy month of November

In November, the Elementary School had their Sports Day on our Japanese sister school Futaba Gakuen’s playground.  The Montessori children went to watch some events and to cheer on their friends and siblings.

Diwali is the Hindi Festival of Lights.  Mrs. Almoula is from India, and we were able to join her presentation. She told us a story of how she would prepare and celebrate this festival as a child.  The house was cleaned and decorated with diyas candles, and they would decorate doorways with rangoli designs, and made meals and treats to share with families and friends.

Mikan-picking excursion:  One bright sunny day in November,  Ms. Mimi and Ms. Hoshi took the 18 children in their Montessori class on an excursion to Shiba Seaside Farm, accompanied by two moms, Mrs.  Pandian and Mrs. Boehmert.  Here we go on the school bus!

Arriving at the farm,  the children were shown how to pick mikans off of their branches.  “Twist, twist, twist and pull gently.”

Off they went, searching for some juicy mikans to pick and taste.

Some picked big ones; some picked small ones.

Later, we were given plastic bags to take home our pickings, to share fresh Vitamin C with our families.

Then it was time for lunch. We said grace together before our meal under the open sky.

Thanksgiving:  November is the month to remember, and be grateful for, our blessings. The children talked about all the things they are thankful for… their family, their home, food, the Sun, the colorful leaves and so on.

Everyday, we say this prayer before lunch, thanking God for all the wonderful things we have received:

“Thank you for the food we eat
Thank you for the world so sweet
Thank you for the birds that sing
Thank you, God, for everything.

Thank you for my family
Thank you, God, for loving me.
For each and every child, I pray…
And thank you for this special day.   Amen”

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School construction in progress

School construction site next-door ties in nicely to our study unit on the various related vehicles and equipment:

Construction vehicles are seen from our classroom window.  “Look over there!”

“Wow, what’s that?”

What is that crane lifting up?

We see some vehicles that are small, and some others are big.

So, when Fun Day in October came, we decided that the Saint Maur construction site would be the perfect theme.

The three classes started the Fun Day by gathering in the Upper Rec Hall.  We read a book about a construction site while the cement mixers outside were getting their mixture ready.

We came back to our respective classrooms.  We colored the parts that go into making the various construction vehicles, putting them together like Lego pieces.

We are in charge of cutting out the round tires.

We are crumbling the newspaper to make the soil that was dug up.

The tires were cut out… let’s count them; do we have enough?  One, two, three…

Let’s color the Cement truck together for our mural.

A collaboration mural: The children from 2-and-a-half to 6 year olds all worked together.

Autumn is finally here. For Halloween, we made Jack-‘0-Lantern bags to put some treats into…

Coloring.

Poking on the line with a push pin.

Do you think my Jack-O’Lantern looks like me?

Pasting on the yellow cellophane.

Carefully cutting with scissors.

Using stencils and stamps.

We made our bags with handles.

In the library on Halloween orange/black day.

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A new school year 2019-2020

Welcome back to all our returnees, and a warm welcome to our new families. It sure has been a very hot summer in Japan, but hope you all had a wonderful and exciting summer wherever you were. With much cherished memories, we are back in school to reunite with our old friends and to make new friends.

As you enter the Montessori foyer, the first thing welcoming you is the colorful Truffula trees fenced in by a colorful crayon gate, all kindly built for us by Mr. Levy, an Elementary School teacher.

The construction of the school’s new Activity and Sports Center and also Cougar Café has progressed during the summer, and huge dump trucks are now busy going back and forth in front of our classroom carrying soil dug from the school site. Once the foundation is completed, then the new building construction will noticeably commence.

Another change during the summer was the resurfacing of the Montessori roof. The ground has been enhanced with colorful playing designs, and the logs of the play structure have been replaced, along with colorful new playground equipment.

One afternoon, there were workshops held for the Montessori parents, introducing “What is Montessori School at Saint Maur?”, followed by other workshops for Language Arts 1 and 2 .

In the month of September, the entire school from Montessori through High School had practice drills for earthquake, fire and lockdown.  The children listened and quietly followed the instructions over the P.A. system. They did a great job, knowing they will be safe together with their teachers and classmates.

“What the hand does, the mind remembers.”
by Maria Montessori

The children are now busy in the classroom, eager to discover and learn new things everyday using their “hands”.

Taking care of oneself …

Spooning carefully …

Socializing, cooperating, communicating …

Weaving

Some children are getting older and losing their teeth.

“Show and Tell” time gets children involved with each other.

A visit to the library is an opportunity for self-discovery … The children get to choose their own books.

Celebrating birthdays with classmates …

This year we have a classmate from The Democratic Republic of Congo.  Do you know where this country is on the world map? It is a country on the continent of Africa. We searched for the flag of the DRC, and colored the flag in three colors; red yellow, and blue.

Now we know another new flag of our classmate!

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2018-19 school year in review

Another school year is completed, and on June 10th, 2019, ten of our classmates, along with 23 students from Ms. Sallie’s and Ms. Catherine’s classes, participated in their completion ceremony.  The children stood on the stage of the Saint Maur Fine Arts Auditorium, as parents and Elementary school students witnessed the ceremony.

The children started with a prayer of thanks. They received their certificates one by one on the stage, and shook hands with Mrs. Levy, our Montessori principal.

The children sang a song accompanied by Mr. Levy’s guitar. They are now ready to move forward as First Graders, whether at Saint Maur or in another school in another country.  Well done, and best wishes in the future.

Looking around the classroom at a glance:

The children presenting and sharing the experience of discovery with each other:

The children discovering in pairs or in small groups of their choosing:A marvelous sense of accomplishment to build self-esteem and self-confidence.The children building a Roman Arch followng a diagram:

The children studying Geography throughout the year: Making maps and learning about the world we all live in.

The children love flags: They are so colorful.

The children building their concentration and working on their own:

The children working with numbers:  Numbers are everywhere!

The children making combinations of ten: And the numbers get bigger:

The children reading and writing:  Tracing with Sandpaper Letters.

The children using the Large Moveable Alphabet:

The children matching what goes together:

The children sound it out:  You read it!

The children learning about Honeybees:  Did you know that bees cannot see the color red?

The children and crafts:  Coloring and cutting.

The children beading:

The children grooming their hair in front of a mirror:The children cleaning up:

The children at play on the roof: The play area is being redone during this summer!

Learning tasks and various materials:

Moms, not only the children, are also taking classes and discovering.  One of the Adult Enrichment classes offered at Saint Maur is how to wear a Sari. Moms had fun taking this course led by one of our Indian moms, and they wanted to show us their pretty Saris. They came to visit our afternoon Language Arts class, and explained to us the fabric used for their Saris.

The children’s birthday celebrations:  Understanding that the earth goes around the Sun one time while the child  turns a year older—a child turning five would circle five times.

Birthday treats shared with classmates:

Pictorial celebration of each year, prepared by their parents:

It’s lunchtime!:

Too cute to eat up… :

Yes… lots of learning and lots of fun throughout our school year, on and off campus:

Reflecting back :

We had children joining us throughout the year, and we also had children who had to move and leave us during the year. The above photo of the 23 children, Ms. Mimi (far left, middle row) and Ms. Hoshi (right, back row) was taken at the end of the school year.  Of the 23 children, do you know the different nationalities we had this year?We had children from…Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Japan, Pakistan, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, and United States.

Isn’t it wonderful that the children are each an ambassador of their respective countries, learning and playing together in the same classroom everyday?  What a great experience they can treasure to make the world a better place as they grow.

…And more to learn, to experience, and to explore during the summer!