0

Academic Year 2020-21 comes to a close & we are off on our summer holidays!

In the month of June, we were able to complete the academic year 2020-21 in the classroom. Fortunately, we were able to meet face-to-face for most of the school year, except for the three days from Dec. 8 to 10, 2020, and the two weeks from Jan. 24 to Feb.5, 2021. It was a welcomed time learning at school, unlike the last academic year when we had to finish the end of the school year online.  The children were happy to wear their masks both in and out of the classroom. They cooperated with extra anti-virus measures, washing hands, observing proper physical distances even when pairing on tasks and during Circle Time. The children, as a result, could see their teachers and friends every day at school, thanks to the decisions made by the school administration.

Monday, June 7th, was the Completion Ceremony for our 22 Montessori graduates from the three Montessori classes.   We could hold the ceremony in the Fine Arts Auditorium, with each graduate limited to inviting three members of the same household—due to Covid-19 preventative measures recommended.  We had a few practices earlier in the Auditorium with the children, and then the actual day arrived. We started with a prayer thanking God for this special day.

“Father, we thank you for the night, and for the pleasant morning light.

For rest and food and loving care, and all that makes the world so fair.

Help us to do the things we should, to be to others, kind and good.

In all we do, in all we say, to grow more loving every day.  

Amen.”

Then the children performed a well-rehearsed dance to a song about a Rainbow of Different Colors, just like we are at Japan’s oldest international school, which, by the way, will be celebrating next year Saint Maur International School’s 150th Anniversary (1872). “The World is a Rainbow…”

The children received their certificates, one by one.  There were also messages delivered on stage by our principal, Mrs. Forbes-Dias, and from our Montessori Head, Ms. Sallie.  It was a lovely day to honor our graduates, completing their studies as Montessori children and ready for new adventures and discoveries as Elementary School students.

And here we are, the Montessori graduates of 2021 from Ms. Mimi and Ms. Momo’s class. And in 12 years, they will be graduating from High School!  We took our last group photo with big smiles!  (a quick five seconds of masks-off to show off our happy faces)

What did we learn over the last few weeks? Let’s see our classroom in action. A three-year-old carefully pouring beans from one jug to another, a part of Practical Life activity.  Concentration and eye-hand coordination are developed.

Learning about the parts of the frog and the stages of their life cycle. Egg, tadpole, froglet, and into adulthood.

The last week of school ended with the younger children presenting their Show & Tell.  They could now express themselves so much more as we reflect on the first time they had their Show & Tell in the summer of 2020 when they had just started school. They confidently expressed themselves and accepted questions from their curious classmates. They could respond to them.

Science experiment:  Magnetic and non-magnetic. The children first had to guess if an item was magnetic or non-magnetic, and then they experimented to see if their hypothesis was correct or not by moving the magnets closer. They took turns with a partner.

“Noah’s Ark”:  We read a story from the Bible about Noah’s ark and filling it with pairs of God’s creatures.

God instructed Noah to build an ark and gather all the animals, two by two, as there was going to be a massive flood.

We also had many stories and puzzles related to Noah’s Ark.

We know why God brought the big beautiful rainbow across the sky following the flood.  It was a symbol of peace.

We love the seven colors of the rainbow. After we colored the lines of the rainbow, we put them together to make long wiggly lines.

A 6-year-old reading a book to a younger child. He is also explaining to her about the picture of a butterfly.

Sometimes a student reads and shares a story that the child had written.

Drawing on the easel:  Not only do children write words and sometimes stories on the easel, but they also like to express their creativity.  This boy is writing about a “Cat Family”. The easel became a place where discussions started.

Geography was an ongoing project throughout the year:

Map-making, a popular activity in a Montessori classroom.  Making a continent globe, learning key facts as they pinned the outlines.

The continents of North America and South America:  The children inquired into which classmates came from what country, and from which continent.  

The continent of North America: Discovering the national flag after outlining the country with a pushpin, and pasting the parts together. The children did research along the way.

The Continent of South America: Drawing their products on the map as well.

This child is making a map of Japan, and learning the names of the nation’s regions. This is the map of Japan where we now live and go to school:  The country of Japan, the region of Kanto, the city of Yokohama.

One hot day, we got to enjoy cold popsicles in the afternoon. Yummy… they hit the spot.

I’m done already! Oh, that was good!    

When the children were eating lunch, they knew that they had to eat in silence since they took off their masks.  As a result, the children developed their own sign language to communicate with each other through the transparent hard-plastic table dividers.  How clever and fun!

This was our last month to enjoy some creative obento lunches. A child actually ate these fun boxed lunches created by her mom below. And we all enjoyed looking at the details as shown in these pictures taken during lunchtimes.

 

 

And the last obento was… a bouquet of flowers with love by mom!

 

Standing behind the gorgeous basket of flowers from all of our children’s families, the Montessori team of the 2020-21 school year would like to say “Thank you for the fun times we had together with the children and parents this academic year in the classroom on campus.”  It was a real coordinated effort, which also included school staff in the Library and PE, as well as AV / Lighting crew for the Fine Arts Auditorium. Continue to stay safe and well, and have a restful summer vacation.   We took off our masks for a quick photo to smile at the camera on the last faculty work week. Please stay cool, and wear your masks whenever outside to stay healthy during the hot summer!

A little information about our class this academic year:  We had 19 children. Their families are from 6 out of the 7 Continents (with the exception of Antarctica).  Did you know that we had children from 14 nations, able to converse in the various languages spoken at home?

We are a truly international Montessori school.  And each child is an ambassador of their family’s country, learning to work and play together at school on campus with classmates from different countries, observing a variety of foods, customs, and religions. We truly live in a global community, and we live “in peace and harmony” with each other inside and outside the classroom on campus, using the school’s official language of English for communicating and learning.

Our children here (including the two classmates who left in April and are not in this photo) hold passports from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Romania, Russia, South Korea, Syria, and the United States of America,

The languages spoken at home include Arabic, English, French, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Romanian, and Russian.

I hope you enjoyed this final Class Blog of the school year 2020-21.  For me, It was a pleasure to witness, especially when selecting these photos, the age-specific achievements and growth of our children academically, socially, physically, and emotionally.

I’d like to conclude this blog of Ms. Mimi and Ms. Momo’s class with a prayer entitled, “Growing up”,  by K. Faulkner:

“Look at the marks upon the door, each day I grow a little more.

We make the marks so we can see I’m taller than I used to be.

Lord, help me to grow straight and true, and grow each day closer to You.  Amen”

 

0

May, the last full month of this academic year!

The highlight of the month of May was that we were able to take a tour to the brand new building, the Cougar Café, Sports & Activity Center!  After the Opening Ceremony on April 29th, the classes took turns in taking their first steps into the long-awaited new facility next door.   It’s now our turn as a class!

When we entered the main door on the ground level, it was actually the 2nd floor of the building, where the Cougar Café will be located.

When we went in, there were no tables or chairs yet in the eventual new Cezar’s Kitchen cafeteria.  The blinds on the windows were down, but when they’re up, it’s a grand view.We can wash our hands without touching the faucet; it’s all automatic!  The Montessori children will still be eating in the classroom for now, but from First Grade through High School, this is where the children will have their lunches every day.

We went down the stairs to what is the 1st floor, which is where the Spectators’ Stands are located.  One more flight of stairs down led us to the Gym Court on B1.

We sat down on the bleachers and looked down onto the Gym court, which is on B1.Isn’t the court bright and beautiful?We went down to the full basketball court.We then descended another flight of stairs to B2, where our PE rooms, Activity Rooms 1, 2, and 3 are.  Activity Rooms 1 and 2 can be combined to make one large room.  There are big mirrors for dancing! And two sets of stereo-and-sound systems.We love our new Cougar Café, Activity & Sports Center.  And it’s conveniently right next door to our Montessori building, and faces the Fine Arts Building where we have our performances.

Being the month of May, we held lots of special events.When you enter the Montessori building, you could see Yoroi Kabuto in the foyer for Boys’ Day (now called Children’s Day).

We decided to make our own Kabuto (helmet) using newspapers.

Each child colored the Koinobori “carp streamer”, and placed it on their own kabuto!

We actually wore them on our heads!  “Happy Children’s Day”!  Oops, be sure to hold on to it so it doesn’t fall off.

Each child folded their own smaller Kabuto using origami paper.

On another day, we had a second chance to go into the new building.  We were invited to the exhibit by the Adult Enrichment classes.  Even our parents are learning new things at school! There were paintings, a photography display, and ikebana flower arrangements.  A classmate’s brother is in 8th Grade, and he came over to read to our class a fun story about a monster, as part of his English speech class.   The children loved the book he picked for them. Thank you so much.

Because of Covid-19 this year, we were unable to invite the parents over to observe our class as in the past. There is so much learning going on in the classroom to observe firsthand.  Hopefully, when this pandemic is over, our parents can come and observe our fun classroom.

For the Spring Concert, each child learned three dances: the class dance, by age group, and the whole Montessori dance routine. Our class performed the song “Happy” by Pharrel Williams.  We practiced in the Upper Rec Hall (URH). 

For the final performance, we videotaped the dance in the Fine Arts Auditorium so we could send the event to our parents online.

The photos below of the performance were taken by Ms. Furstenau.  We did our final dance routine in front of the Fine Arts Building: a mob dance involving the entire Montessori school, children, teachers, and assistants. Again, filmed for later viewing online by the parents.  Mr. Hitchmen is the P.E. teacher for 5-6 year-olds.  The class is a lot of fun.  They use Activity Room 3 in the Basement of the new gym, where we can run around and even do rock climbing!  (Photos taken by Ms. Furstenau.)

During the spring, we learned about the “Life Cycle of a butterfly”.  We read a lot of books about butterflies in the process. Each child colored the Monarch butterfly and cut it out. After laminating and putting a magnet on the back, the children tried to find places where their butterflies could rest… but it had to be somewhere “magnetic”. They had fun guessing where first, and then experimenting with their butterflies. We could hear the children say, “Is this magnetic or non-magnetic?”

The children put a little bit of glitter on their butterflies as well.

Eventually, we found a good resting place for our monarch butterflies, right by the window looking out to their natural habitat.

Here is a sampling of some of the class’s butterfly-related activities.

We even formed a huge butterfly life cycle puzzle. The children always cooperate on such group discoveries and get it done.  Each child made a wheel of the Life Cycle of a Butterfly.

Happy Mother’s Day card with many happy thoughts and love!  We painted our hands to make a handprint.  It tickled!

Sketching a plant.  We first needed to observe carefully.

Our annual Sports Day was held on May 21st, in the new Sports Center for the first time.  We also used the Montessori URH and LRH.  Each class did a parachute, and popped some popcorn; wish they were real!!

And back in the classroom… being creative while learning!

Life cycle of a frog;  The adult frog lays many eggs. The baby frog is called a tadpole. Then it grows legs and a tail and becomes a froglet. Then the last stage is the adult frog, and the cycle begins again.

Reading phonetic cards, then opening it to see the picture inside to confirm.

An older child helps a younger one to learn their teens.

0

Happy Easter : the month of April

Happy Easter! Christ has risen, symbolizing hope, joy and a new beginning.  This year, Easter fell on April 4th.The children made their Easter cards and Easter egg baskets the last week of March.

The Easter baskets were made with a milk carton and some colorful tissue paper that the children rolled into decorative balls. Making Easter cards, and coloring, and cutting out Easter eggs.

The children took home their Easter cards and baskets on Japanese Culture Day, the day before the Easter break.

… and in April there were more wiggly teeth!  Children often stand in front of the mirror, checking which tooth is wiggly..

Flags: On their own initiative, the children started combining two activities and discovered a new matching game to play.

Good cooperation and concentration.

A child found the flag of her home country (Brazil) and her host country (Japan) while having her snack!   Learning the names of 10 shapes.

 

Making Shape mobiles.

Sandpaper Numbers: Tracing the correct formation of numerals with two fingers. Putting the numbers in order Birthday celebrations: Sharing her photos from each year, from 0 ~ 4 years old.

A new addition in the family: Writing a story about his newborn brother using the Small Moveable Alphabet.

Transferring using chopsticks to develop her fine motor skills.

Circle Time: A new child joining Circle Time for the first time.  She started dancing to the music in front of her 18 classmates!  Show and Tell: Things we can’t bring into the classroom, we can still share with photos. “I like jumping on the trampoline.”

Montessori Fun Day, April 29th: The children went to the interim gym for the last time before the new gym opens, and they had fun tossing in the air and catching the large balloons.   In the classroom: The children wanted to see what they could do with 100 paper cups. “Look what we made together!”

They also watched a video about beautiful butterflies and their life cycle.  Spring is here, and we do see lots of butterflies and bugs. At the end of the day, they all enjoyed some sherbet. It was yummy having a cold snack with friends.

Opening Ceremony of the new Cougar Café, Activity & Sports Center on April 29th.  

April 29th, which is saved for our annual Food Fair, was unfortunately canceled again due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  But this year it was a super special day in the 149-year history of Saint Maur International School. The old gymnasium (which Ms. Mimi used as a student) was demolished, and a brand new multi-story facility was completed after close to four years of construction next to our Montessori School Building.

Three children, one from each Montessori class, were invited to represent Montessori at the Opening Ceremony.

The three children sat with Ms. Mimi to listen to a live performance by the school Jazz band; special prayers and speeches by the School Head, the Architect, and a Construction company representative; and a thank you speech by the Student Council president.

Luna, the High School Student Council president, delivered a  “Thank you message” in three languages (English, Japanese, and French) and also joined in the ribbon-cutting ceremony with Ms. Thomas, Chairperson of the Board; and Mrs. Endo, School Head.  Luna was in Ms. Mimi and Mrs. Almoula’s class in Montessori for three years.

After the ceremony, Principal Ms. Rachel Forbes-Dias led her Elementary & French section representatives and Montessori children on their first tour of the new building. It was an exciting tour, to be the first to witness the new building.

At the entrance of the new building is a Cross made from pieces of the original wooden floor of the old gymnasium. To the right is a tile of Margaret flowers, which are found elsewhere on campus in various buildings. Can you find them? The Margarets are on our school badge. 

We went down from the levels of the cafeteria (2F), Spectators’ Stands (1F), and gymnasium (B1) to the activity rooms 1, 2, and 3 (B2).  Our pre-First children and Grades 1 and 2 students will have their P.E. classes in Room 3. Younger children will use Rooms 1 and 2. Look at those nice climbing ladders and colorful rock climbing boards in Room 3. Of course, there will be safety mats for them.  Each Montessori class will have their private tour of the new building the first week of May.

When we walked to the official gym court, this is what we saw from the bleachers. The volleyball players were having a Volleyball Clinic by Volleyball pro Ms. Hatakeyama.

The Opening of the new building is the highlight of the month, and perhaps of the year!  Congratulations on the newest addition to our campus: the Cougar Café, Activity & Sports Center!  This marks another new chapter in Saint Maur International School’s history.  How many of these children will graduate from Saint Maur?

Are you interested in looking at April obento lunches by one of our moms? Can you identify who the characters are?  

0

An eventful month of March, face-to-face

While it hasn’t been so long since we had to stay online, from March to June of 2020, we are happy that this time around we are learning and discovering together in the classroom. March certainly was an active month, face-to-face.

Happy Girl’s Day, “Hinamatsuri,” March 3rd:  Each child made a craft honoring the emperor and empress, using paper plates and origami paper.

St. Patrick’s Day,  March 17th:   Each child made a flag of Ireland and their own rainbow headbands.  Did you know that Sister Carmel, who was the headmistress of Saint Maur from 1967-1991 was sent by the Sisters of the Holy Infant Jesus to Japan from Ireland?

We learned the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.Japanese Culture Week, March 22nd-26th: The five weekdays were dedicated to learning more about Japan, the country we all reside in.  In following the strict rules for containment of Covid-19, our parents volunteered to make presentations on Japanese-related cultural activities by making original short videos that the children could watch in the classroom, offering them a new way of learning. We are grateful to the moms and dads, grandma, and middle school and high school siblings who participated.

“How to make Dorayaki”: by Reyna’s parents. They even arranged for this Japanese confectionery to be taken home by each child.

“Haruga kita”: by Landon’s mom, a songwriter in her own right, who explained, sang, and taught us this traditional spring tune.

.“How to write Japanese characters”: by a professional calligrapher, Leo’s grandma, using brush and ink.

.Japanese national anthem“: by Michiko’s dad, who taught us the words and the meaning of the lyrics.

How to play Ken-dama“: by Ran’s high school sister, who let us play with her wooden ken-dama.

.During the week, we also played with classic Japanese toys, such as Koma (Japanese top), Otedama (juggling bean bags), Take-tombo (bamboo copter). Mid-week, we had four middle school students (two were in Ms. Mimi’s class when they were in Montessori) come to the Upper Rec Hall and teach us the dance called “Make You Happy”, one of the dance songs that were used in the school-wide Japanese Day videos.

“Introduction to Yokai”: by Riku’s dad, on interesting Japanese monsters and goblins.

On the school-wide Japanese Day, we participated in listening to Okinawan music in the Fine Arts auditorium on Friday.Japanese Costume Day: The children and faculty wore Japanese traditional or modern versions of the kimono, yukata, happi coat, hanten, ninja, karate or soccer uniforms. Since Japanese Week fell in the midst of Sakura blossoms, we took a little stroll outside the campus, walking to nearby Motomachi Park for some Sakura-viewing one nice sunny day.

The colors of the Hinomaru, the Japanese flag, are red and white. Some cute Japanese obento lunches by creative moms made lunchtime more fun for all.  By the way, at lunchtime, we take off our masks, so the children eat in silence as much as possible.  And we listen to music while eating.

More classroom activities: From butterfly puzzle making, matching shapes, fitting in Cylinder Blocks, to using tongs to transfer objects, and the Binomial Cube.

Story-writing is an on-going fun activity, especially for the pre-first graders.  They are writing every chance they get. At this stage, it is not about spelling.  It’s all about wanting to express themselves in writing. It’s okay to spell phonetically, as the children will learn to spell accurately in no time.

Sakura in full bloom, at the school entrance and the Futaba passage-way… a popular seasonal occurrence.

0

February…spring is almost there.

The month of February went by quickly. After two weeks of online learning, how happy we were to be back in the classroom  “person to person”.  This month we had the Japanese celebration of Setsubun (changing of seasons), the Chinese New Year, and our favorite Valentine’s Day.

And… our new building right next door is showing progress day by day!  The workers are very busy. We love watching the digger skillfully move around Sister Carmel’s blooming sakura tree.

We can even see a different digger from our classroom, where our future playground will return. And we also had to move past at the end of the school day.

For a few days, we had a peek of the new building until the outer drapes covered it again. We know that in April it will be partly ready!

According to the Japanese lunar calendar, Setubun literally means “seasonal division”, and is a festival held on the day before the beginning of spring.  In the olden days, rituals are held on this day to drive away evil spirits by throwing roasted beans and welcoming good fortune.

Valentine’s Day:  It was fun folding a square origami paper into lots of hearts for the people we love. The older children also helped make them for the younger children.

Happy Valentine’s Day! We made a bag and put some treats in it to take home.  We love you!

Library:  On Thursdays we take a trip to the library in the main building.

The librarian shows us how to flip the pages carefully

We get to choose our own library books every week.  Did you pick a fiction or non-fiction book?

It was such a nice sunny day, so we decided to make a quick stop on the roof of the main building.  What a nice view of this side of Yokohama! We carefully walked on the line.

We also played “Duck, duck, goose!”

We even saw an airplane. “There it is!”

In the classroom, everyone is focused on the work they chose, working on their own or with a partner.

Show and Tell: “This is a robot that my dad and I programmed together.”

“This is how I control the robot.  See, it can balance itself!”

“My Show and Tell is carefully trying to pile up the ice cream.  Would you like a double, triple…or more?”

Cylinder Blocks

When the long hand is at 12, then we know what time it is by looking at the short hand.

One day we had a pizza lunch together. We all love pizza!  Yummm.

“More pizza, please!”

After eating, we passed the balloons!

And also did a little dance together!

In the month of February, we studied about teeth. Some children had a wiggly tooth.  We learned the importance of brushing our teeth.  We need to drink milk to make our teeth strong; it’s a good source of calcium. These are grown-up teeth to practice brushing properly.

Children have 20 primary teeth.  When we lose a tooth, a new permanent tooth is there to replace it.

 

We learned the names of our 20 teeth.  Central incisors, lateral incisors, canines, first molars, and second molars. The sharp teeth are called canines, to tear our food.

During the month of February, four children lost their tooth!  Two children lost their lower central incisor, one lost her lateral incisor, and one lost her upper central tooth. Can you identify which one?

Losing teeth means we are growing.  We need to take good care of our teeth, as we only get two sets of teeth in our lifetime.

 

 

And… we even discovered that our cafeteria lunch drink had…central incisors!

We compiled and colored the pages of “My Teeth Book”.

These flags have two colors, red and white.  These have red, white and blue…Which one is the flag of your country?

Some worked on making a globe and a map of Australia by pinning the outlines of the territories and states, and gluing the pieces together.

In our class, we have children with passports from over a dozen different countries. Out of the 7 continents, we have children from all continents except… Antarctica.  Do you know who lives in cold Antarctica?  That’s right, the penguins!

0

January 2021

The school resumed as planned on January 6th, face-to-face in the classroom. One day it was predicted that it would snow even in the Kanto area; and taking the necessary precautions, the school was canceled.  But the storm front stayed away. While the Montessori children stayed at home, they were encouraged to draw a picture of an imaginary snow day, or a memorable day they would have in the snow. Some children wished for some snow so that they could make a big snowman like this one.  This picture was sent from my friend. The snowman looks warm with his hat and scarf, with a carrot nose and a big smile!  The friendly dog wants to play with him.

Although we wished for some snow that day, we know that spring is on its way.  If you look carefully at Sister Carmel’s Sakura tree near the Fine Arts building, you can already see the little buds coming out. They will soon open up to show their five pink petals!  Just wait and see.

Then, we went back to online-learning again from Jan.25th for at least two weeks.  Our goldfish miss the children during the Online Learning.  They love being greeted by the little ones as they come through the entrance after sanitizing their hands at the door.  Do the goldfish look a little sad and lonely to you?

We have two child-size skeleton diagrams in the classroom. Every bone has a special name. The children learned the names of the main bones:  skull, clavicle, humerus, rib cage, pelvis, femur (thigh bone, the longest and strongest bone), patella (knee bone), and so on.

Look at all these girls with braids!  Aren’t they pretty?

Some children are practicing how to braid with three yarns of different colors:  “Take the one on the side, bring it to the middle, take the other side, move it to the middle…”

Below is a timer. ” Wow, how does this work?  Look at all the bubbles moving!”

Thank you, Ms. Momo, for reading to us. We love storytime… 

And drawings on the marker board.  The children have great stories to tell about them; just ask.

The magnetics can make creative 3-D shapes. The younger children learn from observing the older children.

Snack time and lunchtime, and birthday treats are some favorite times of the day. “Look at me! I have tongari-cones on my phalanges (finger bones)!”

“What shall I eat first? Vegetables, rice, fish or… can I eat dessert first?”

We say our grace together before we eat, thanking God for the food we are about to enjoy.  “My lunch is too cute to eat up…”

The birthday child has treats to share with everyone in the classroom.
“Would you like one?” “Yes, please. Thank you, and happy birthday!”

Show and Tell:  “Does anybody have a question? Show me your hands.”

“Can you see the skeleton of the pig?

Sometimes, a child who brought a card game for “Show and Tell ” can teach the others how to play the game and in groups.

The Montessori bells have 8 bells, representing a full musical scale. Some children can play the songs that we had practiced for last year’s Christmas concert.  The virtual concert had to be postponed due to online learning.

“May we watch you?”

Children attempt to write a story using the Large Moveable Alphabet.

Some enjoy the Trinomial Cube:  “Yes, I did it this time!”

Some of the children will learn the names of the territories of Australia before pinning the map.

Hope that we can soon be with each other face-to-face again in the classroom. Please remember to keep your mask on when you go outside.  See you soon.

 

0

Peace be with you

Peace be with you this season in the midst of the Covid-19 global pandemic.Merry Christmas 2020

If you walk along the Futaba pathway to Saint Maur, you will see a manger scene (during the day and lit at night).During Advent, on the way to our weekly trip to the library in the main building, we stopped near the entrance to have a look at the manger scene in the hallway.Yes, we were getting ready for the coming of Christmas and the Christmas concert.  However, due to Covid-19, it was decided that we could not invite the parents to the Fine Arts Auditorium for the Montessori/Elementary and French Section concerts.  We decided instead to videotape the “live” performances on stage and send it to the families so that the children could watch the concerts with their parents before the holidays.  Each class had a Christmas dance to perform, while our older children were to play Handbell songs. Everyone rehearsed hard each day.Unfortunately, the last eight days before the Christmas vacation went online again.  And we never got to record our concert performance in the auditorium.  We also missed our annual visit to the chapel during Christmastime.  Our Christmas pizza lunch party was canceled. But we all wanted to be safe, and so we cooperated. We had our Class Zoom meetings, a combined three-class PE/movement session, and a Family Christmas Zoom online get-together.

Earlier we had a chance to participate in the Christmas charity projects, bringing coins and bags of assorted presents for the homeless people.  Our principal came to explain about the coin jar that would be placed at the entrance. Since we only had one day in the classroom together in the month of December, here are some activities taking place earlier in the library and the classroom.

We found more citrus fruits on the tree!Number workSinging “A, a, apple” Our minds are full of ideas.  Creating a Christmas tree by segments, connecting plastic pieces together, or using different shapes with magnets. Some learned the names of 10 different geometric shapes.

Our favorite lunchtime.In our map studies, we looked at our Continent globe and flat maps of the continents.We saw where we live, pinned and pasted the country of Japan and the regions including Kanto on our own paper maps.We also studied the seven continents as we pinned our world map.Some students pinned and pasted the map of Australia, which included the territories and states, and the country flag. The year 2020 was an unprecedented school year.  Let’s pray that the new year 2021 will be one of hope and peace in the world.  And, hopefully, we will all be able to travel around the world again.We miss the days together in our sunny play area on the roof.  Please have a nice Christmas vacation at home with your family.  See you soon in the classroom in January. Till then, stay safe and healthy.

0

Pumpkins, falling leaves…and Thanksgiving.

It’s that time of the year to celebrate the harvest and to be thankful for all the things we receive from God.  We are thankful that we are healthy and safe, and can come to school every day to be with friends and teachers, to discover and learn about something new. This semester we have been wearing our masks in the classroom. We took pictures wearing masks, put our faces on the puppet fabric, painted the Montessori smocks; and the children made a miniature puppet of themselves.

Painting our smocks red…

Drawing what’s on our smocks…

And talking with each other.

We have three little (real) buttons on our smocks.

We continue talking about the autumn leaves. Some children picked them up on the way to school.  We are observing the different colors and shapes of the fallen leaves.  In our Montessori Leaf Cabinet, we have drawers of different types of leaves.  Did you know that they all have a name for their shapes?

Talking about leaves, something interesting happened during lunch time.  Two children who were eating the school cafeteria lunch that day shouted that they had a “leaf” in their lunch!  A leaf? No way!

But, yes, it was true.  A little leaf was discovered “in” their spaghetti sauce!  Don’t worry, it was a fragrant leaf called a bay leaf from the laurel tree, used as an herb. It helps to make the sauce tastiest, but sorry, you shouldn’t eat that leaf!

Oh, on another day, something else happened during lunch time.  Our classmate’s tooth fell out as she was enjoying her lunch.  Good thing she didn’t swallow it!  Can you see her newly lost tooth and the little gap in her row of teeth?  The next day, she told us that when she left her tooth under her pillow, a tooth fairy came to deliver a present… not a coin, but a bill!

Learning: In our unit on the human skeleton, we are learning that grownups have 206 bones.  Do you know how many bones babies have?  Surprisingly, they have more.  They have 300 soft bones that will eventually fuse together.  We have a life-sized picture of a skeleton to learn the names of the bones.  We named him “Max.”  Each of his bones has a scientific name.

The longest, strongest, and heaviest bone in our bodies is the two thigh bones.  We are learning the scientific name of “femur.”  On our knee is the round disk-like bone, a knee bone, called “patella.”  We have finger and toe bones called “phalanges”… And the list goes on.

There is a rubbing activity.  It’s like magic… When you keep rubbing the paper with a crayon or a pencil, you can see the picture appear as you rub it hard.  There is a hard outlined skeleton picture placed under the paper.

In November, one of our classmates had a birthday and he became the first one to turn six years old in our class. Carrying the planet earth, he walked around the  Sun (a candle) six times.  What does this mean?  Yes, each time the earth rotates around the sun, he turned a year older!

A visitor: From time to time, we have visitors coming into our classroom.  One November afternoon,  a Middle School student, who was actually in Ms. Mimi’s Class when she was three years old, visited our class to perform her storytelling entry at a virtual international schools’ Speech Contest coming up that week.  It was an amusing story about a gorilla who was itchy and his animal friends tried to help him.  There was a lot of action, and we all enjoyed being the audience.  By the way, it was her first time performing in this Speech Contest, and she ended up with a silver prize. Congratulations!

The children take good care of their classroom.  One activity is trimming the plants.

Practical Life activities:  Transferring beans with a pair of tongs.

Language activity: Using the Small Moveable Alphabet to write a story.

“Can you put a clip on the beginning sound of ‘hat’?”

Sharing reading time together in the Library Corner.

Number work: The Teen Board, matching the quantity and the symbols.

Sorting activity:  Sorting different colors.

 Drawing on the whiteboard.  

Arts and Crafts:  Cutting, pasting, and drawing to make a Thanksgiving turkey puppet.

 Gobble, gobble… Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

0

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!

 

0

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.