A new school year, welcome!

Hello to both our new and returning families in Ms. Mimi and Ms. Hoshi’s class,

This school year has started with 18 children (which includes 4 new families), and we are anticipating more families to arrive shortly in Japan.  The children from last year have welcomed and helped their new classmates feel comfortable in their classroom environment.  Aged from two to five years old, our students represent 10 different countries. They are excited to tell each other about their adventures over vacation.  The returning children came back to school a little taller, older—and with greater confidence.

At the new easel.

Practicing numbers.

“Oh, no.  Be careful! ”    “I can’t reach any more.”

Caring and cooperating:  “I can help you carry it!”

Snack time is also social time.

Using the Moveable Alphabet to write words.

Sound Cylinders involve matching the subtle sounds such as beans, sand and rice inside the cylinders.  Shake and listen carefully.

Caring for their environment such as sweeping under the table after lunch time.

Carefully rolling a mat and returning it to the proper place after use.

Concentrating: transfer the beans using a tong.

Communicating: in the Library Corner and also face-to-face.

So far in the month of September, we have had school-wide emergency drills: “Earthquake drill” and “Fire drill” involving Montessori, Elementary up to Middle through High schools.  Our children earlier received instructions on what the drills were about; and they practiced prior to the actual drill, so no child cried or panicked on the day.  We are expecting one other emergency practice, the “lockdown drill”, for all students soon.  Safety remains a top concern, from start to finish.

Earthquake position: practicing for the earthquake drill.

In preparation for the fire drill: our children walked through the Futaba Walkway to get to the evacuation area.

We are a team and a big family: respecting and caring for each other and our school environment.



Ready for the hot summer!

Hello, the summer has arrived, and we hope the children are enjoying their vacation.  Some students have flown back home to be with their families and relatives.  This year, in our class, we had children from Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States, making the world so much closer.

Below are maps some of the children made from January to June. These include the continent map, as well as maps of Japan, Australia, North America, South America, and Europe. The children loved looking up the relevant country flags.  Attending an international school, they become representatives of their home countries.

This school year we had children who could speak Chinese, English, French, German, Hindi, Japanese, Polish, Russian and/or Spanish.  At school, they all used English as their common language for study and communication.  Families may come and go from Saint Maur International School in Yokohama, but the fact that our students develop friendships and study with classmates from around the world will be an asset wherever they may live in this international global society of ours.

“Look, your pants have the same color as this flag of Thailand!

Figuring out the puzzles.

Saint Maur is the oldest international school in Japan, having celebrated its 145th year.  Today, we can marvel on the countless number of students from around the world who have attended Saint Maur for their education and have become part of its rich history.  The children truly experience the song, “It’s a small world after all”, in the classrooms.

For Mother’s Day, the children made heart-shaped flower cards for their moms to thank them for their love.

The children made their own clocks, so they could answer the question, “What time is it?”

The children also learned about the Solar System, and studied about the eight planets, including our Earth, that all orbit the Sun.

In the month of May, the Kazenoko Theater Group came to our school to perform three folktales from around the world.

The Annual Sports Day was comprised of color teams and held in the temporary gymnasium.

Some events were held outside the Montessori School building.

The Annual Family Picnic was enjoyed by the children and their parents at nearby Negishi Park.

Here is looking back on this past school year to reflect on what the children have discovered.

Look! We’re getting older, we lost our baby teeth.

Learning to take care of ourselves.

Discovering in pairs and groups.

Repetition to master a skill.

We love to perform.

Our young creative artists.

Visitors to our classroom.

And, finally, the Completion ceremony: These 10 children from our class have completed Montessori, and are ready for a new adventure in First Grade beginning in August.  We wish them the very best in Elementary School!

We wish you a nice summer vacation, meeting your grandmas and grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins; exploring nature; doing physical activities such as biking, hiking, swimming, camping; and telling us about all of this and more when you come back in August.  Can’t wait to hear about your stories!  ‘Till then, take care, and have lots of fun!

We miss you.  See you after the summer.

Keep smiing, and stay happy!


Happy Children’s Day

In Japan May 5th is a national holiday known as Children’s Day.  Families celebrate the healthy growth and happiness of their children. For this special day, families with boys fly carp-shaped cloth streamers (Koinobori).  The carp was chosen because it symbolizes strength and success.

The children drew pictures of their friends and families celebrating Children’s Day under the Koinobori.

The children also made their own Koinobori by coloring, cutting, putting stickers on the carp and making a clay base.  When they were done, we celebrated with a Koi-shaped rice cracker treat. “Itadaki-masu.”

Art exhibition in the Fine Arts Building:  In April, Grade 12 International Baccalaureate (IB) Art students had their work exhibited  in the Art room of the Fine Arts building.  We were invited to come and enjoy the IB artists showcase their art pieces.  Our class had a chance to visit the exhibition and to admire the artwork on the way back from the library.  The children walked quietly, looked at the display, keeping their hands by their sides so not to touch anything.  Some artwork was also displayed on our Montessori roof.

Ballet recital: Some of the Montessori students are involved in ballet as an extra-curricular activity.  In April, Montessori children, along with Elementary students, performed a recital in the Fine Arts Auditorium after-school in front of parents and friends.  They did a fantastic job!

We love reading, and it’s more fun when we have reading buddies. ” Can I read to you?”The Fourth graders from Ms. Takeda’s and Ms. Culek’s classes came to our afternoon Language program (Daily 5 and Language Arts classes) to read to the children in two separate classrooms.  It was a lovely time to celebrate reading.  

The Montessori concert was held in the auditorium, where we performed dances and singing in different languages in front of our parents and the entire Elementary School. It was fun to be on stage. Our parents were happy to see us sing and dance.

Every April 29th, we hold our big fund-raiser, the International Food Fair.  As our contribution to the Food Fair, the Montessori department organized the two most popular games, Fishing and Lucky Pencil. The pre-first graders volunteered to help in half-hour shifts throughout the day.  The two games combined sold close to 1,100 tickets.  Thank you to all the children who came to support our games. We hope you had fun getting different prizes. It was a very hot day on the main building’s rooftop.

A nice surprise: My old Montessori students (now 29 going on 30) came to visit the classroom at the end of Food Fair day.  Illi, who was in my class, came with her son who is two years old.  Kay was in Ms. Sallie’s class.  They graduated Montessori in 1994, and both went on to High School at Saint Maur. They remain close friends.  How nice it is to have life-long friends from Saint Maur.

…so it’s almost the end of the year.  Just six more weeks of school left. We still have Kazenoko theater group coming for a performance, Sports Day in the temporary gymnasium, Family picnic at Negishi park, and more.  How exciting!


Happy Easter 2018

Spring is here.  April 1st is Easter Sunday.  Happy Easter to you and your family!

On the last day before Easter break, each child took home their handmade Easter basket with their own Easter card, along with a hand-crocheted hen egg cover made for our children by Ms. Mimi’s church friend, Ms. Takahashi.

A few days following the previous blog, the same “Sister Carmel” sakura tree has turned pink!  This photo was taken after visiting the library.

In February, Xinyue’s mother offered to come with some of her Chinese friends to show us how to make a Chinese New Year’s ornament using origami paper. They showed us, step by step, how to fold the square colored paper and then draw lines to cut out the ornament with scissors.


This is how it looks when you open up the paper after cutting.

The Chinese character means “spring”. We put a yarn in the middle, and, look, we now have a beautiful ornament for our celebration.

Valyn and her family returned to Singapore for Chinese New Year’s to celebrate this important annual holiday with her relatives.  After they returned,Valyn’s mother came to share how they celebrated Chinese New Year’s back home. She also offered us some cookies from Singapore. 

March 3rd was Girls’ Day. We enjoyed making traditional Hina dolls using paper plates and colored origami paper.  We also had a taste of Hina-arare (colorful rice crackers) to celebrate on this special day for girls. Of course, the boys enjoyed it as well.

Then came March 17th.  We learned more about Saint Patrick of Ireland and colored shamrocks.  Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

You can see that March was an eventful month. All the three Montessori classes accepted an invitation to the Ikebana (flower arrangement) display at Ehrisman Hall near the campus.  The flower arrangement teacher, Mrs. Kamata, whose daughter had attended Saint Maur Montessori, explained to us about the beauty of arranging flowers and the message of peace it conveys to people. The flowers were arranged by YIS and St. Maur parents as part of their Adult Enrichment programs.  Our parents are all “life -long learners”, too, discovering new things everyday.

Then came Japanese Culture Week.  The Japanese mothers got together to plan interesting presentations for us over three days.  On the first day, they read us a picture story of “Hanasaka Jiisan” using kamishibai (see the picture below).

In the olden days, when there was no television or movies, the kamishibai-man would come on his bicycle to the neighborhood to read to the children kamishibai stories outdoors.  It remained a very popular entertainment among the children, who enjoyed some snacks as they listened to the tales. Our mothers showed us photos of those days, and we also got to eat some treats!

On the second day of Japanese Culture Week, the parents (five mothers and a father) helped us make sushi crafts using styro foam and colored paper. It was fun making sushi to pack and take home… too bad we couldn’t eat them, as they really looked so real!

On the third day of Japanese Culture Week, mothers helped us make a collage composed of our names in Japanese katakana characters. There were plenty of colorful sakura cherry blossoms decorating our names, thanks to the mothers also bringing in punched-out paper petals.

On the last day of Japanese Culture Week, we dressed up in Japanese costumes, and  all three classes went up on the stage in the Fine Arts Auditorium to sing a Japanese song in front of all the elementary students at their Elementary assembly.  Then we had a chance to see a traditional Japanese drama performance of “kyogen“.  Although it was hard to understand the old language spoken, we could visually see and enjoy the two kyogen performers act in front of us. We also tried to practice their movements and emotions. Thank you to all the Japanese parents who helped us appreciate Japanese culture by preparing such interesting and informative presentations

We look forward to see what more discoveries and learning are awaiting us in the months of April, May and June.


Starting the year of the Dog 2018

When the children came back to school, it was the Year of the Dog.  They were well rested and had happy faces to start the new year.

The children were soon back to their school routine, enjoying the work they chose.

In mid-January, the Montessori children joined the Elementary School students, from first to fourth grades, on Math Fun Day. It was a day to play with Numbers. The children were split into different groups with a mix of different grade levels, and went to various places in both buildings to play games. Some wore clothes with numbers on them.  The Montessori children were interested in shapes, which is geometry, a part of math, as well as making patterns.

In the afternoon, all three Montessori classes got together to play a game of Bingo. For some of them, it was the first time to play, but the older children were able to help the younger ones to identify on their Bingo cards the numbers that were called out by Ms. Sallie.

The children also engaged in various outdoor activities, playing with number-related games.  Some groups got to play games in the new temporary gym!

Medical Alert! This winter season, we had children confirmed as having contracted influenza type B. Consulting with the doctor, they stayed home until they could receive a doctor’s note to say they could return to school.

In our class, we had days when almost half of the students were out sick.  Thank you for making plans for your children to stay at home when they were sick or not feeling well, for the sake of your child and other classmates’ health.

To prevent the spread of contagious germs, we talked with the children about washing their hands thoroughly with soap, as well as covering their mouths with their elbow when coughing or sneezing.

Outdoors, it has been a very cold winter.  We even had lots of snow on one day, in mid-January, on our Yokohama campus.

In the month of February, we celebrated Setsubun. It is a fun Japanese festival to celebrate the day before the first day of spring (on February 3rd). Families celebrate by throwing roasted soybeans outside the door of their house to chase out the oni (ogres ).

Then came our favorite Valentine’s Day.  We made bunny Valentine’s cards using only hearts.

On Valentine’s Day, the Elementary School students were dressed up as Love Bugs, and the French School children next door paid us a visit to say “Happy Valentine’s Day!”  They were dressed as Lady bugs, grasshoppers, wasps and other bugs.

It’s still cold…but we can tell that spring is on its way.  And, yes!!  We just found a sign of spring on our school campus near the Montessori building, on Sister Carmel’s Kawazu-zakura tree!  It’s already blossoming in pink.

Soon we won’t need our jackets anymore to go play outside.



Some fun events in 2017

Annual Montessori International Week:
In October our parents came to share with us their home country and/or where they have lived. They talked about geography, language, history, songs, dance, food, lifestyles, currencies and more.
Singapore by Hanae’s parents. We got to touch, smell, and taste the bright red Dragon fruit imported from Singapore. For some children, it was their first time to even see the fruit.

France by Agathe’s mom. She made an original slideshow for us to learn about the history and also the Palace of Versailles. We got to dance as if we were in the ballroom.

India by Jenisha’s mom on one day and Siyona’s mom on another day. We learned about the flag of India, some Indian words, and tasted some Indian snacks.
We also got to touch and smell different spices used in Indian food. The decorations in India are colorful and beautiful.

United States of America by Mako’s mom. She drew pictures to show us the famous sites around New York City. We learned what the busy state of New York is famous for.

United Kingdom by Rafael’s mom.  We learned how Guy Fawkes Day (Bonfire night) is observed and celebrated. She baked us a Parkin cake, the traditional cake eaten on that day. The children stuffed newspapers in big shirts and pants to make effigies of Guy Fawkes.
Happy 145th Birthday to Saint Maur International School.
We are the oldest international school in Japan, and the third oldest in Asia.

We dressed up in national costumes and joined in the International costume parade.

Halloween: We made jack-o-lantern bags. Peek-a-boo!

Fun Art Day: We learned about famed illustrator Eric Carls’ artstyle.

Montessori & Elementary school-wide art collaboration. We participated by painting small colored images that were brought together into an original compilation. ‘‘Oh, I found mine over there!’’

Excursion:  In December we went on a mikan (tangerine)-picking excursion to Seaside Farm in Yokohama; we were driven on the school van class by class. We picked mikans full of Vitamin C and tasted them on the spot. Some of us even ate three mikan!  We picked some more to take home as souvenirs for our families.

The Montessori and Elementary School Christmas Concert was held in the Fine Arts Auditorium on December 1st from 6:00 in the evening.  All Montessori children were up on stage for the opening performance. We sang and danced to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus and to say,‘‘Merry Christmas.’’ It was on live stream for relatives living abroad or in Japan.

We visited the school chapel. Mr. Agnew, the religion teacher, told us the story of the Nativity and about love.

We made headbands for the Christmas party.

We all had a pizza lunch, our favorite.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!   Have a restful winter vacation with family and relatives, and see you back in school in January.


New friends, great start!

Hello, the children have had a good start to the year, making new friends, eager to learn new things.  They are excited to be back in school.

The children enjoy choosing their own work.

I like to draw on the white board.

Look what I built… I am careful when making it taller.

I am making a continent map; there are seven continents.  I am from India, located on the continent of Asia.

Flags are colorful and fun!  We are trying to sort and group the various flags.

Let’s see… where does this piece of the jigsaw-puzzle go?

I am tracing number 4 with my fingers using the Sandpaper Numbers.  I can “feel” this numeral.

I love numbers; can I keep writing on the white board?

Hmmm…  I want to write about my mom’s bread machine.  I’m using the Large Moveable Alphabet to do this.

Shapes!  I like it when the shape fits in its corresponding place.

I have to be careful when using scissors. And, my classmate is curious and wants to observe.

One day, in October, the first graders and their homeroom teachers came to visit our classroom to read us stories that they had written about their summer vacations.  Seven had been classmates until last June.  We were so excited to have them visit us, and happily listened to our friends’ stories.



End-of-the school year, and off to summer!

“Hello, bonjour, buenos dias … hello to all the children of the world!”

It’s already the end of the school year!  Each child accomplished so much in the 10 months!  A great example is how the older children made maps of the continents, countries—and territories or provinces—learning the names and the flags.

There were so many new things to be discovered, explored, and mastered through the activities chosen on their own—to be done independently, in pairs, or in groups.  The school theme of the year, “communication and collaboration,” took place every day in the classroom.  Each child studied about their world and about the rich variety of countries that they and their classmates come from.

On May 11th, the annual Montessori Family Picnic was held in a large public park, called Shinrin Koen or better known as Negishi Park.  All the Montessori children with their families spent the time playing among the green nature and picnicking on the grassy knoll. The many families mingled and had fun from morning to early afternoon.  The weather turned out to be a lovely early-summer’s day.

For Mother’s Day on May 14th, the children made a bead bracelet for their moms.  It took a lot of concentration. The set of beads chosen were either of the large or small variety, depending on what size the child preferred working with.  A colored card was provided for each child to draw their mom.  Moms loved their cards and bracelets.

Montessori Sports Day was held on May 19th in the school gymnasium.  The children were divided into four colored-teams and worked in stations. Prior, they were able to practice here for a few days.  This will be the last time to use the current gymnasium for Sports Day, as a new sports-cafeteria complex will be rebuilt in its place.  This happens to have been the same facility that Ms. Mimi and Ms. Sallie used when they were students.

This school year, the children in our class represent nine different countries: Canada, China, France, India, Japan, Pakistan, Romania, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The children learned who came from which continent, from which country.  The maps and flags they look at in the classroom are real to them, as they relate to their dear classmates.  The world in which we live becomes a closer place.  The children can apply the knowlege of their geography to make it real whenever their dads and moms go on business trips, or the families go take a personal excursion. Geography is one of the popular areas of learning in our Montessori classrooms.


Life cycle of a butterfly: The children learned about the life cycle of a butterfly, and made a 3D craft of the four stages in the life cycle.  They learned a big word, “metamorphosis” —the change into different forms: from egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, to an adult butterfly.

“Look!  A real white butterfly is on my finger!”

Our last day of school was on June 2nd.  The parents and some grandparents gathered in the classroom before dismissal time, to present to the students moving on to first grade, a smock-shaped photo card from all their classmates, and to say farewell to Iris, who will be moving to Germany.

Montessori Completion ceremony was held on June 5th in the Montessori Fine Arts auditorium. Congratulations to the nine children going to first grade.  They cover the range in time spent with us: some for three years, some two, for some just one and some for a few months.

There were 27 students in total who completed the Montessori program, nine from each of the three classes.  Hope they will remember all the fun times they had in Montessori.

The Senior Graduation: The Senior (12th grade) graduation ceremony was held on June 3rd in the Fine Arts Auditorium.  This year there were 36 graduates, five of whom started their education from our very own Montessori classrooms.  Two of the Senior graduates,  Naoko and Helena, were in Ms. Mimi’s class (with Mrs. Almoula back then).  The two girls started Montessori as morning children, and were in the same classroom for three years.  We wish the Senior graduates all the best in their future endeavors, as they leave Saint Maur to commence a new chapter in their global world.

Have a safe and relaxing summer vacation, wherever you may be.  Thank you for reading our class blogs this school year.


Happy Easter


Our Easter display by the window of our classroom includes what the children made in the pink boxes.

Easter, which is a Christian celebration meaning new life, fell on April 16th this year.  The class drew designs on their eggs, wrapped in hen covers hand-crocheted by Ms. Mimi’s friend at church, and put in a basket that was made out of paper cups, which the children decorated with tissue papers and pipe cleaners for handles. 

 On April 27th, Thursday, the Montessori children who have been taking Ballet Classes after school gave their mini-recital, along with the Elementary ballet dancers, in the Fine Arts Auditorium.  Six children from our class participated and performed on stage with confidence.

The annual Food Fair on April 29th, Saturday, was a great success, under beautiful spring weather conditions, attracting many people to a day of international food and great family fun.  The parents worked very hard helping out, cooking and having prepared a wide variety of cuisine, reflecting the global family at Saint Maur, in the numerous food booths on campus.  Their support added much to the festivity, and was greatly appreciated.

The Montessori children sang in a mini-concert as part of the live entertainment outside the Fine Arts Center.  We also were responsible for two of the game booths, Lucky pencil and Fishing, located on the Recreation lot. The older children took shifts.  The Montessori games sold a total of 1,207 tickets altogether (one ticket worth 100 yen).

The highlight of the Fair was the fundraising Raffle.  This year, the proceeds will be used to help the construction of the new gym and cafe.  Did you know that the “first prize” was won by one of our classmates?  Iris’s family took home a Bicycle, YC & AC 1 Month Family Membership, American House Dining Voucher, 2 Pairs of Sunglasses, Brooks Brothers shirt, Baseball Game Tickets for Two, and a Basketball.  Congratulations to the top lucky winner!

Then came the month of May.  For Children’s Day, May 5th, Friday, the children made a kabuto (helmet) with koinobori (carp streamers). This day was a national holiday as well as a school holiday.

The school year is passing by quickly.  Recent hightlights include … Some are learning how to write numbers and words. The children are learning to work cooperatively together and helping each other.  They enjoyed “Show and Tell”—showing and telling what they brought from home. Some children are loosing their tooth. The children enjoyed their creativity building things.  They can play games taking turns and learning to be patient.


The children love going to the school library in the main building to choose their own books.  Our parents are encouraged to do so as well. The children had Movement classes twice a week where they learned to move their bodies, work on their coordination skills, and learn to dance to the music.




Sakura, sakura…in Yokohama!

We welcomed two new children, Jeanne and Charles from France, to our class after the spring break. The city of Yokohama turned pink with the blossoms of sakura everywhere. It’s, indeed, a beautiful time of year in Japan.  For some of our families, it may be their first time to see Japan’s national tree in bloom.  On a sunny April 6th, the children had snacks in their backpacks as they headed to a nearby park.


As we were having our snacks, the wind blew and petals started falling.  A child found a bunch of sakura blossoms on the ground. It might have been a crow picking the flowers and dropping the petals below.  We took some back to the classroom and placed them in a water container on the snack table. The children could examine the blossoms close up, and discovered that they all have five petals.

One day last month in March, one of Ms. Mimi’s students from 1996 — yes, two decades ago — paid a surprise visit to the classroom after school.  It was Francis and his mom.  They were happy to visit Francis’ old school.  Looking at the Montessori materials, Francis still remembered the classroom.  He is now 24 years old, having graduated from Harvard University, and is now ready to go on to Med school from this autumn.  Francis said, “Ms. Mimi, I remember you teaching me how to tie my shoe laces right there!” It’s a pleasure to know that Francis learned to love learning and discovering, and decided to pursue the field of medicine to help people.  Good luck in your bright future, Francis.

      This young boy in 1996 became a tall young gentleman.

On Tuesday, March 14th , we had an author, Ian Whybrow, visit us from England.  He invited the whole Montessori children to come to the library, and  he read us some of his books.  One of our students had brought two books that he had gotten in England. The children could tell that their classmate loved the two books; each looked like it was read again and again.  Mr. Whybrow was happy to meet a boy from the same country, and autographed the two books for his new little friend.

On March 17th, Saint Patrick’s Day, we all wore something green.  The children discovered that just the word “green” meant many different shades of green.  Some wore light green, others wore dark green, while some wore pastel green.  Other popular shades worn were yellowish green and bluish green.


Then we took out the Montessori sensorial material, the Color Tablets III, to grade the shades of green — from the darkest to the lightest.   Once the children came to understand that there were so many shades of the same color, they began to appreciate the subtle differences in other colors around them.

The children enjoyed making a St. Patrick’s hanging Shamrock craft with cherry blossoms. “Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!”