In Japan, March 3rd is Hina-matsuri, also known as Girls’ Day or Dolls’ Day. Families with daughters put up doll decorations at home. The children made their own doll displays using origami paper.
Ash Wednesday began the holy season of Lent for Christians, which lasts for the 40 days (not incuding Sundays) leading up to Easter. It is a time to focus on fast and prayer. We had a mass afterschool in the campus chapel for those who wished to attend. It was nice to see many Montessori families present. They received communion and a blessing, with ashes placed on their foreheads by the priest.
Sakura season is here. There is a sakura tree on our school campus, which was planted by one of our graduate classes in memory of Sister Carmel, the former principal who had dedicated her life (over 60 years) to Saint Maur in the education of children from around the globe and of the Yokohama community. Around this time of year, her sakura tree turns a hopeful pink, announcing the arrival of another spring in this historic port city of Japan.
One bright sunny day, which also happened to be one of our classmate’s birthday, we decided to celebrate his sixth birthday under Sister Carmel’s sakura tree, tasting his mom’s homebaked birthday cake and some ice cream. We enjoyed our own “hanami,” sakura-viewing, enhanced by our yummy treats!
Later, on Saint Patrick’s Day, we remembered Sister Carmel, who was from Cork, Ireland.
“Look, I lost my first tooth today! There’s a hole here; can you see it?”
“I’m going to write about it!”
Writing words using the “Large Moveable Alphabet” on the floor.
Writing a story using the “Small Moveable Alphabet” on the table.
At the end of March, we had Japanese culture Week. Japanese parents volunteered to come to the classroom to show us some fun activities and to teach us more about the country we live in. The first day involved making our own kaleidoscope, a tube of mirrors and colorful bits, whose reflection creates beautiful images. Kaleidoscope was first imported to Japan in 1819 from England.
We made our own kaleidoscopes! It’s so beautiful when you look through the cylinder and turn it around.
On the second day, we tried Japanese calligraphy, Shodo.
The moms showed us how to hold the brush, how to dip the brush in the ink, and write the word こま (koma), meaning a toy top.
We then played with Japanese “Koma” tops.
On the third day, we played a Japanese card game, Bozu-mekuri, using the 100 cards from Hyakunin-isshu, a traditional card game often played on the New Year’s Day.
We discovered how the children could play this game on their own by looking at the pictures on the cards. If you come across a picture of a man, you can keep it. If it is one of a lady, you can take another card; but if you pick a bohzu (monk), then you have to return all your cards. The person who has the most cards in the end, wins the game.
On the forth day of Japanese Culture Week, one of our dads showed us how to fold a squid paper plane. It flew well, and it was fun to fly it. We also made paper poppers, some generating a big sound!
On the fifth day, we had our Japanese Parade, processing around the Upper Rec Hall. There were a lot of parents waiting for us with their cameras.
We listened to Wa-Daiko (Japanese drums) in the Fine Arts Auditorium. Dako-on (literally, the Sound of the Drums) won the national championship. The members were so energetic that we could feel the vibration of the drums!
Then we went to the interim gymnasium and watched a presentation of Aikido, one of the modern Japanese martial arts.
The Adult Enrichment Aikido class, led by an Aikido master, also gave a demonstration.
Two Montessori children who take Aikido classes also participated in the demonstration.
We thank all the parents who prepared and organized such an exciting week of learning more about the country we live in!
We sure love spring!