|O-Soji... The Honorable Cleaning;-)|
Once a year the kids have school on Saturday-- an "open house" day when moms and dads can drop in any time during the day to watch their kids' classes. Fortunately everybody recovered from colds that have plagued us all week (all three of my boys home for the last three days-- Koshi, Teddy, and Papa--in case anybody was wondering where I went;-), so Yokohamapapa and I were able to go watch classes all day.
I always especially like watching the kids during Cleaning Time after lunch and recess (in that order)--it's so different from my experience in school, both as a student and as a teacher. In Japan, there is no cafeteria--students eat their lunches in the classrooms, waiting for everyone to be served before they put their hands together and say "Itadakima--su!" (I humbly partake). The students do the serving and, after recess, the cleaning up, too. One of those things that educators would term an "invisible part of the curriculum".
|Kids with rags wait for the Sweepers to get done...|
Such a small thing, but one that teaches so much--responsibility, care for one's environment, teamwork to get a job done...
Rooms and halls are swept and cleaned with damp rags (there are sinks out in the hallways for this and for brushing teeth after lunch--another good idea) every day. At the beginning of the year, the sixth graders go down to the first grade classrooms to teach the new first graders what to do (and make sure things actually get clean;-). There are several jobs, and the children do them all on a rotating basis.
Buckets of water, all up and down the hallway, which manage not to get kicked over...
|The Science room|
Koshi wanted us to watch his science class today--interesting because I'd never seen the science room. Do American elementary schools have science rooms? I know mine didn't-- I never saw a science room like this until I was in Junior High. Seventh grade, to be exact.
|Scales and weights (metric, of course)|
|Test tubes... petri dishes are on a lower shelf.|
They start earlier. Plain and simple.
|The experimental results...|
|Seeds without air (left)... and with air exposure (right)|
The window sill in the classroom was crowded with plastic cups--all labeled, some with sprouted seeds, some not sprouted. The conditions (air, temperature, water) were labeled on the cups and collated on the poster charts on the wall with the results noted.
|Aha! That's what it needs!|
Some plants were growing nicely:-))
Back in May, the fifth graders planted rice in a paddy across the street. They go over from time to time to take care of the rice, weed the paddy (their section of it, anyway), and watch its progress.
Some things just can't be taught via worksheet-- and where your food comes from is one of those things.
|Plant the seedlings just... so.|
...the fifth graders' section.
Awww...... planted a bit-- willy-nilly, shall we say? It was loads of fun, though, according to Koshi.
... somehow the farmer's section is *much* straighter;-))
As Papa and I stood surveying the rice paddy during recess, Yokohamapapa decided to rest his arm on a bamboo post marking the corner of the paddy.
He gave a sudden shout...
|Amagaeru-- Japanese Tree Frog (Hyla japonica)|
...and lo and behold, he'd nearly leaned his arm on the cutest little green frog you've ever seen!
Well-- I knew just what to do. Camera out of the camera bag and into my purse...catch little frog... put frog into camera bag. I have a ten-year-old who would just love him:-))
I assured him it would be fine, since Koshi's project group ("Ikimonogakari"--the Living Things Group) was already taking care of a turtle...
...a crawdad (one of those big American Zarigani, from the looks of him)... or two or three...
.... ants to watch them build tunnels and nests...
...and a newt, which Koshi bought at a pet store with his own money earned by washing the windows for me...
I figured-- what could it hurt to add a frog?
|Sensei didn't mind at all... and Koshi's face was like Christmas:-))|