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.

0

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!

0

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.

0

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:

0

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.

0

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”

0

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.