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Unprecedented March

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

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

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

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

Do the same with the lanterns.

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

Happy Girls’ Day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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February, the shortest month of the year

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Map-making and flag-drawing are colorful activities.

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

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A Happy New Year 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Making fish headbands:

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

Fun with magnets catching fish in the classroom:

Practical life — sweeping with brush and dustpan after lunch:

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

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

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

Birthday celebrations:Artworks:

Making New Year cards:

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

Looking for flags of countries from the wall map:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A busy month of November

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

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

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

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

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

Some picked big ones; some picked small ones.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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School construction in progress

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

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

“Wow, what’s that?”

What is that crane lifting up?

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

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

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

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

We are in charge of cutting out the round tires.

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

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

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

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

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

Coloring.

Poking on the line with a push pin.

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

Pasting on the yellow cellophane.

Carefully cutting with scissors.

Using stencils and stamps.

We made our bags with handles.

In the library on Halloween orange/black day.

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A new school year 2019-2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taking care of oneself …

Spooning carefully …

Socializing, cooperating, communicating …

Weaving

Some children are getting older and losing their teeth.

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

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

Celebrating birthdays with classmates …

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

Now we know another new flag of our classmate!

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2018-19 school year in review

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

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

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

Looking around the classroom at a glance:

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

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

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

The children love flags: They are so colorful.

The children building their concentration and working on their own:

The children working with numbers:  Numbers are everywhere!

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

The children reading and writing:  Tracing with Sandpaper Letters.

The children using the Large Moveable Alphabet:

The children matching what goes together:

The children sound it out:  You read it!

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

The children and crafts:  Coloring and cutting.

The children beading:

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

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

Learning tasks and various materials:

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

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

Birthday treats shared with classmates:

Pictorial celebration of each year, prepared by their parents:

It’s lunchtime!:

Too cute to eat up… :

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

Reflecting back :

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

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

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

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The eventful month of May

The months of April and May were filled with fun and exciting events.  Annual Food Fair:  This takes place every year on April 29th, a national holiday, on the Saint Maur campus.  This was the last Food Fair of the Heisei Era, as Japan enters the new era of Reiwa, with Emperor Naruhito ascending the throne on May 1st, following the abdication by Emperor Emeritus Akihito on April 30th, both signifying the importance of the Imperial family as symbolic figures of Japan.

The two games that Montessori offered on the roof of the main building were Lucky Pencil and Fishing.  These two games had the best results, selling 1,627 tickets in total. Good job, one and all!  Special thanks go out to the Pre-first graders who helped with the Fishing game, and to the Pre-First Busy Bees Club that helped wrap the prizes.

It was a hot sunny day, and there were a lot of people who came to enjoy the international food, raffles, games, and great camaraderie.

Face-painting was one of the popular activities in the interim gymnasium.

Montessori Spring Concert: On May 3rd, we had our annual Montessori Spring Concert in the Fine Arts Auditorium. The theme was “Friends”.  We invited the parents, friends, relatives, and all of the Elementary grades to come and listen to our concert.  After Principal Ms. Levy’s welcoming address, the curtain went up, and there stood all the Montessori children in their colorful outfits singing, “Hello, Bonjour, Buenos Dias…” to start the program.  The children aged from 2.5 to 6 years old represent over 20 countries in the world.  They sang songs and danced.

The Montessori Spring Concert video:  check out

The children calmly faced the audience, and were happy to perform to a big crowd.  It was such a good experience for them.

Ramadan:  The Alisha Tahir Family observes Ramadan, and the mom came to talk to us about how Muslim families observe this important nineth month.  She told us how the adults fast from sunrise to sunset, but the young children need energy for their daily activities so they can eat.  At this time the children will try hard to show love and acts of kindness towards their friends and families.

 We then colored a picture that said, “Ramadan Kareem”, meaning have a “generous Ramadan”. It is written in the Urdu language, in a calligraphic art form, with a picture of a moon changing its shape in a month.

Kazenoko Theater: Sponsored by the PSG and arranged by Ms. Catherine, the Kazenoko Theater were invited to perform some plays for us.It was in Japanese, but their performance was very visual, as we tried to understand the stories by looking and by listening to their songs.

Children’s Day, May 5th is a national holiday, and the first one in the new Reiwa Era (令和).  We wore our Kabuto, the Japanese warrior’s helmet, made of newspaper. It is a day set aside to respect the children and appreciate their personalities, as well as celebrate their happiness.

Mother’s Day:  We all love our moms.  Thank you, mommies, for taking care of us everyday.  We made cards and little decorations for them.

Montessori Sports Day & Family Picnic at Negishi Park: It was a hot sunny day, and we had the big park to ourselves for our Sports Day, led by Mr. Hitchman, our Elementary P.E. teacher.  Ms. Julia and Ms. Robin also helped us organize this annual spring event.  We showed our parents and friends what we do during our PE / Movement classes.  We had races, an obstacle course, parachute, ball toss, rocket throwing… it was a lot of fun. Some of the photos here were taken by Mrs. Caplette.

Sports Day was followed by our Family Picnic, enjoying lunch in the open air and in the shade; later we played under the sun in expansive Negishi Park.

The school year is about to finish soon; we are now in our last stretch.

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Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

Easter is a time of joy, and a new beginning.  ” Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again!  Alleluia!”

To prepare for the coming of Easter, the children colored in the Easter pictures with crayons, coloring pencils, and magic markers.  They also made the frames, and put up their artwork on our classroom’s glassdoor, where the sunlight came through, making them look like stained-glass windows.

The children also made Easter baskets.  The hen in the basket covering the egg was hand-crochetted by Ms. Mimi’s church friend, who had knitted thousands over the many decades.  Her hens are a testimony to sharing the joy of this special season.

“What is Easter?”  It is a sign of hope, of blessings, and of new beginnings.

Before and after our Easter break, the class has undergone some changes.  Our long-time classmates—Kento, Agathe, and Nicolas—unfortunately had to leave to join their respective families’s move to other locations.  Then we had Gaon and Sho join us from Korea and Nagasaki, respectively.  We will miss our old classmates,  and will always fondly remember them.  We also are happy to have new friends join us.  The nature of an international school involves families who come and go throughout the school year.

At the beginning of April, our Sakura tree at our school entrance gate was in full bloom.

In the month of April, we also had our class excursion.  We boarded the school bus to Nogeyama zoo. Two moms joined to assist us. 

There are actually  three zoos in Yokohama city: Kanazawa zoo, Zoorasia, and Nogeyama Zoo.

This time we visited Nogeyama zoo, located in Nogeyama Park, in Nishi ward, Yokohama, not too far from Saint Maur International School.  Here we are!

Nogeyama Zoological Gardens is an admission-free zoo that opened in 1951, covering 9.6 hectares and housing 1,400 animals of 100 different species.

We started our walk passing by the bird cages,

We saw Condor from South America.  This year we studied about animal habitats, so it was nice to see the continent map on the cages indicating origin.

The highlight of our excursion, according to most of the children, was a “petting zoo” where we could hold small animals like Guinea pigs, chickens, and mice.  Some of the children were a little afraid to touch them, but the friendly staff showed us how to hold them gently.  The little ones were so soft and warm!

 

 

Ostriches have long necks, and they are such fast runners!  It was fun just observing how they scurried from one end to the other, and back again!

Flamingos are so beautiful, and can even stand on one long leg.  How do they do that?

It’s lunchtime!  And we’re hungry!

After eating, we walked some more, and saw the giraffes.  The two giraffes were going round and round the tree, playing with each other.

Then we passed by the chimpanzee cage, and the zookeeper was about to feed these apes, who are our ancestors.  He showed us what the animals like to eat, and brought some fruits and vegetables in buckets, laying them on the floor.  And then he opened the door to let out the chimpanzees.  It was interesting to watch the chimpanzees pick what they liked and feed themselves.

Are we observing the animals? …or,  are the animals observing us?

We walked thorough the tiger room.  He was sleeping soundly.  Shhhh…. We don’t want to wake him up.

We also walked through the reptile area, and saw… the longest snake we’ve ever seen!  It was all coiled up. Is he also sleeping? He was so still.

It was a fun day, learning about various animal behavior.  Maybe the animals are checking out the children’s behavior toward them?!