Spring is here

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.

In the classroom:   Addition strip board  

“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.

We studied about “habitats,” where animals live.  Where do penguins live?  How about lions? I live in my house in Yokohama!

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!



Under construction

From our classroom located on the first floor of the Montessori building, we are able to see trucks and dumpster vehicles pass by, heading toward the construction site with excavators and cranes.  The old gymnasium having been torn down, our new Activity and Sports Center, as well as cafeteria and multi-purpose rooms, and the Couger Cafe will be completed next year in 2020.  The children love looking out the windows at these big vehicles.

One day, we saw a big excavator and got so excited. It was as if we were watching a big dinosaur lumber by before our very eyes!

As major construction continues outside, we also love to build things inside.  There are Legos, blocks, and … a Roman Arch!  We have to be very careful, though, or it will tumble over.

At the end of January, Ms. Kathryn Claire, a singer, songwriter and musician came to visit with our Montessori and Elementary School students from the United States.  She sang with us, taught us some songs, and presented each of the three Montessori classes with a copy of her CD.  We have been listening to her songs in the classroom.  She played her guitar, violin, and also harmonica.  Thank you, Ms. Kathryn, for a fun afternoon during your music workshop.

February 3rd was Setsubun, which comes a day before the Spring, according to the Japanese lunar calendar.  We’re all waiting for signs of the new season!

But then, guess what!?  To our surprise, it started snowing one day in mid-February, and the children went up on the school roof to play in the falling snow.

Then came our favorite Valentine’s Day,  to express our love and appreciation for our family and friends.  We also celebrated Chinese New Year’s in February.  A girl, who is from Singapore, went back home to celebrate this special occasion with family and relatives at home.  A boy who used to live in Hong Kong told us the story of the Dragon dance and about firecrackers.  He brought red envelopes for everyone with lucky chocolate coins inside and good luck charms for his classmates.

Excursion Day:  Our Language Arts class, the 4-5 year olds,  took the school bus to Hamagin Science Museum in Yokohama for a fun day of discovery.

The children walked through the floors of the Space Captain Room,the Laboratory Room, the Space Room, and the Play Room, where they were able to touch things like meteriorites and perform experiments.  There was even a big robot.  We are grateful for the two moms who volunteered to chaperone.

The teachers, as well as their students, are life-long learners. On Feb. 16-17, (Sat-Sun), Ms. Sallie, Ms.Catherine and Ms. Mimi, along with the Montessori principal, Mrs. Levy, attended a two-day workshop of Professional Development, at Seisen International School in Tokyo. The theme was “Positive Discipline in the classroom,” conducted by Ms. Cristina Varriale, a counselor at Seisen.  We learned about the tools and strategies that are positive alternatives to traditional disciplinary methods, how to apply techniques that are kind yet firm, and encouraging.  The teachers became involved in a lot of role playing, putting themselves in their children’s shoes, thinking about what the child may be thinking, feeling, and deciding to do.  Is the child excited? Sad? Upset?

Ms. Cristina Varriale will be offering her “Positive Discipline” workshop at Yokohama International School (Loft Space) on Saturday, March 2, 2019, from 2 to 4pm. It is free and open to the general public.  To register, please go to outreach@tell.jp.com   The participants will be learning strategies to avoid power struggles, while also helping their children acquire greater sef-control and self-discipline.

New Year 2019

A Happy New Year 2019, and just one more year to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics!

The children made New Year’s cards for celebrating 2-0-1-9!

It’s getting colder in Yokohama!  We need our pairs of mittens to stay warm!

In and out…

Birthday celebrations…

More Show-and-Tell…

Geography:  We live in Japan.

Hmm,  where do penguins live?

In February, the older group of children (from Reader’s Writers Workshop and Mr. Fior’s French class) boarded two buses and went to Tokyo to visit an aquarium.

The rest of the children at school had their Theme Day of “Under the Sea,” making crafts and playing games.  They made paper fishes, and with a magnetic fishing rod tried to catch them. They also baked fish cookies with Ms. Sallie.

On the last Friday of the month, the children participated in “Fun Day”. The two and three year olds stayed at school and had fun playing with balloons, making simple kites, and also exercising, hopping from one hoop to the other.

The 4 to 6 year olds bundled up and went on a walk to nearby Minato-no-Mieru-Oka Koen.  They took their simple kites that they had made and flew them while running around the park and around the flower garden.


In the afternoon, the older children went to the Elementary School building, and watched the popcorn pop!  Mr. Hitchman, our PE teacher, and Ms. Beardsly helped us pop the kernels.   Oh, do we all love popcorn, especially the ones we watched pop right before our very eyes! 

“Did you hear the popcorn POP?!”


The 2 and 3 year olds loved their popcorn, too.

Merry Christmas and Peace on Earth

‘Tis the season of Christmas.  For unto us the Baby Jesus was born.  He is the light of the world who gives us hope.

On the last day of school before the Christmas break, some parents were able to join us to say farewell to the Tomioka family, who will be assigned back to Singapore in January. The transfer was so sudden, we were sad to learn of Hanae’s departure to a new school.  The children made a special album for Hanae to remember us by.  Perhaps in the future, Hanae may return to Saint Maur wearing a full Saint Maur uniform.  Families may come and go; such is the life at an international school.

The month of December was a busy month. The Montessori children prepared for their Christmas concert (see photos below). The Montessori and Elementary Christmas concert started at six in the evening on Friday, November 31st, and the Montessori children performed according to age groups.  The Fine Arts auditorium was packed, and the children performed happily in front of the Elementary students, parents, and friends.  For some of the children, it was their first time to be on stage, yet nobody cried or showed any stage fright; everyone seemed to enjoy performing.  It was a meaningful stage experience, a debut for the children.

On December 14th, Mr. Agnew, the school’s religious studies teacher, invited the Montessori children to attend Christmas service in the school chapel.  We listened to the story of the first Christmas, and about God’s love that Christmas brings to us. “Thank you, God, for baby Jesus! We love you!”

Each child made a tiny Christmas tree out of a pine cone that Hanae and her dad picked up for us from the park.

On the last week of school, we had our annual Christmas Pizza party.  “Yummy, we love pizzas!”

This semester, many of the children made maps…

Touched and smelled Earth’s treasures…

Lent a helping hand…

Made turkey crafts for Thanksgiving…

Learned parts of an “excavator”…

Brushed our teeth…

And laughed.

The children chose the Christmas cards to give to their parents.

Merry Christmas and have a restful Christmas vacation.  See you back in school in January!

International Week presentations (cont’d) and parade, Adult Enrichment

International Costume Parade: One day during International Week, the children all dressed up in International costumes.  It’s time for the big parade!

Wow! Lots of parents were waiting for our arrival in the Upper Recreation Hall!


International week presentation (Part 2):   Germany – Mrs. Boehmert came to our class to share with us how the children in Germany celebrate Saint Martin’s feast on November 11th.  They make paper lanterns and carry them in a procession.

We learned about the country’s geography, referring to a map.  We also tasted some freshly baked German bread.

We were shown different types of lanterns that the children might make for the festival.  Then we made our own lantern decorations.

The same week we learned about the United States of America:  Mr. and Mrs. Nash along with Mrs. Farmer talked to us about their native country.  We also had a quizz about sports, popular children’s names in America, food, and so much more.

Since the presentation happened to be on Halloween Day, the children enjoyed playing a Halloween-picture Bingo game.  They also received some Halloween treats to take home.

We even sampled some roasted pumpkin seeds, which, for certain classmates, was a first-time experience.

Halloween – We made jack-o’-lantern baskets and learned how to fold two strips of paper into springs for the arms and legs.

 Diwali is a Hindu celebration of the Lights held during the period between October and November.  It’s a major festival in India.  “Happy Diwali!”

One of the popular classes of Saint Maur’s Adult Enrichment Program is for the parents to dress in an Indian costume.  Our Indian moms volunteered to show any interested parents how to wear a beautiful Sari, consisting of a long strip of cloth that can be wrapped around in various ways.

The moms wanted to show the children their beautiful Indian costumes, so they came up on the roof during recess time.  The children were excited to see their moms participating in Indian culture!

The parents are excited to learn new things, just like the children!  That’s what the Adult Enrichment is all about… to promote life-long learning.

And, here is a two year old making his own discoveries in class, beginning his life-long learning.

Class excursion: mikan-picking

As the hot summer left, and the colorful autumn leaves started to fall, the class went on its first class excursion to Shiba Seaside Farm in Yokohama.  The 20 children and two moms, along with Ms. Mimi and Ms. Hoshi, boarded the school bus. Off we went!

After arriving at the farm, we entered a patch of mikan trees where the children were shown how to pick mikans without using scissors.  The trick was to hold the mikan and… twist, twist, twist until the fruit fell from the branches.   These mikans, rich in Vitamin C, hung low enough for us to pick them.

The first part involved picking the mikans, peeling their skin and enjoying the taste and smell as the class ate near the trees.  Some children loved the sweet juicy mikan so much that they ate three, four, and even more mikans!

Then it was time for us to pick some more.  We were given a bag and could fill it all the way to the top.  We tried to pick the ripe-looking, orange-colored mikans, not the green ones which had not ripened yet.

“We love mikans, we’re still eating!”





Our backpacks on the way back to the school bus were a lot heavier than on the way to the farm.

We were getting hungry again.  It was time to have our lunches in the open air.  It was picnic time!

On the way home, some children were fast asleep, lulled by the cadence of the school bus.  Sweet dreams!  Thank you to the two mom-chaperons who helped us all day.  It sure was an exciting excursion.

Elementary sports day:  On November 2nd, the Elementary School had their Sports Day on the field at Futaba Elementary School.  Futaba school is our sister school, and we share the same school badge.  Their campus is located adjacent to ours.

We walked to the field,  watched, and cheered as many of the children have siblings in Elementary School.  They were divided into four different color groups, and they had the color T-shirt of their respective color teams.  Many parents came to cheer them on.

Reading Fun Day, Dress-up Day and International Week (Part 1)

The theme of Fun Day for the Montessori School and Elementary School in October was “Reading”. We all love reading!

The Dress-up event was becoming their favorite character in a book. The children dressed up as a princess, unicorn, witch, dog, monkey, car, character from the Bible, and much more.  They enjoyed talking to each other about their characters.

Another event was the Door Design:  Each class from Montessori up to Grade 5 made a door cover from a book for a display in the main building.  Our class chose the book “Draw Me a Star” by Eric Carl.  It was fun to draw (a star)!

And we took turns in pairs to pose under our poster.


Ms. Catherine’s class chose the book “Shape Space” by Cathryn Falwell. Each child chose a shape and drew a picture with their faces on them.

Ms. Sallie’s class chose “A Busy Year” by Leo Lionni,  and each child took a picture by the door poster dressed as a mouse.

The fifth grade boys and girls took the older Montessori children in small groups and guided them around for a door tour in the main building.  We got to see many interesting doors.

Reading moms:   We had two moms from Elementary School read to us.  We liked listening to stories by different moms.

As part of the Language program, we sometimes have Elementary or High School students come to our Language classes in the afternoon, and we become “reading buddies”.  We also then become friends with the older students attending Saint Maur.

International Week (Part I)  – Presentation on France by Agathe’s parents.  They made a slideshow for us and showed us how different types of cheeses are made in France, from cow, goat or sheep milk.  We learned how the holes in Emmental cheese are made by doing a science experiment on fermentation, mixing yeast and sugar in warm water and placing a balloon over the bottle’s neck so we could watch the gas escape into the balloon.

Do you know what we are doing below?  We are making our own butter by shaking the cream inside a jar, really hard until it turns into butter!  “Shake, shake, shake!!”

Then we strained the extra buttermilk to isolate the solid butter.  We took a small portion of the butter to sample at home.

We also tasted three different types of cheeses from France: Crotin, Brie, and Comte cheeses.  You can see the “new” taste on our facial expressions!

International Week Presentation on India:  Jenisha’s and Thejasvi’s moms taught us some facts about India.

“Who knows what the national animal of India is?”  Yes, tiger!   We learned about what the national flag symbolizes, the many languages spoken in India, the food, customs and festivals, dresses, currencies, and much more.

We tried practicing an Indian dance.  We also smelled the different spices used in Indian cooking and tasted homemade Indian treats. That was the best part!


Next week we will learn about Germany and the United States…  to be continued.


Our busy bees

Our class, in fact all three Montessori classes, received a surprise gift of a Lego box.   It’s too early from Santa Claus, isn’t it?   So guess from whom?

It was from the Elementary School Student Council, who had asked the PSG (Parent Support Group) for Lego boxes for all the Montessori and Elementary classes.  The PSG generously granted their wish, and… the Student Council members were at our door to make the delivery.  Thanks to the PSG and the Student Council, the children are seen busy expanding their imaginations during lunch recess.

Observing the patterns of the seashells with a magnifying glass. Hmmm.

Matching the lids to their containers.

Constructing a colored map of Japan, as well as learning the names of the geographical regions, including Kanto where we live.
Knobbed Cylinder blocks: matching the cylinders to the right sockets of varying depths and widths.
Knobless cylinders: building a 10-cylinder tower with cylinders of the same height but narrowing widths, stacked in the correct balancing order.
Working in pairs: matching the colors.
Sorting pencils of different colors, into groups of the same color
Show and Tell time: sharing time.  What are you showing us today?
 Pouring activity.
Working in pairs: taking turns matching cards to complete the pictures.
 We are responsible to clean the floor after lunch.
We made crowns.  Now let’s make bracelets!
 Creation with magnet shapes to make a three-dimentional object.
Who lives in this colorful town?
Our favorite time in the Library: we choose our own books.

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!