Thursday, September 25, 2008

Popcorn, Rice, and Chopsticks!

To continue our study of cultures, my class took their first lesson with chopsticks. It won't be our last. It started out very frustratingly and I heard a lot of, "I can't do it," and "I need help." The real problem was it was hard to explain how to hold the chopsticks. I was able to show them how to hold them initially, but you really do kind of adjust the grip to work for yourself. After much urging on my part to "keep trying", and the addition of popcorn to pick up, most of the students started experiencing success. When I ate with the students at Inagi Dainana Elementary School, the man helping me was very impressed with my ability to use the chopsticks. Not that I was an expert, but I could get the food to my mouth! He said that chopsticks are hard even for the Japanese children, so I guess my students should be pretty proud of themselves. When the popcorn started to run out, I scooped out rice for those that wanted it. I think everyone tried a little. I explained that the rice I made was short grained rice, so it was stickier and easier to eat. That is what they eat in Japan. I also showed them that in Japan it is perfectly alright to hold your bowl closer to your face to eat rice and noodles. Surprisingly enough, they were able to use the chopsticks to pick up clumps of rice, or to scoop it up. I was nervous about the activity at first, but they ended up doing a great job. Of course everyone wanted to take the chopsticks home. We'll have more opportunities later this year to eat with chopsticks. Now we have some practice under our belt. I am getting these pictures posted right away, because everyone was eager to be on the blog. If you haven't been pictured yet, don't worry, there will be other chances!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Trying Something New

We have been studying different communities and cultures. It was a perfect lead in for introducing Japan. We have been working on a few words and phrases, but today we tried some calligraphy. Our reading series story this week was The Ballad of Mulan, so I thought it was a perfect opportunity to introduce calligraphy. We watched a YouTube segment on how to hold the brush and the different types of strokes. I found some pictures of Chinese characters and the stroke order so I had a helper enlarge them. When we visited Inagi Dainana Elementary School in Inagi, the students had tracers under the paper to help guide their strokes. I wish I had found a pad of those when I was there, but we made due with what we had. I bought a bunch of brushes at the 100 yen store, and we used black tempera paint instead of ink. We also used white newsprint instead of the paper used at the school. First we practiced holding the brushes. Then we practiced tracing the characters. The students found the way they held the brush made it a little difficult, but they had a great time working on the characters. We wrote person, day, and above. They wanted to try more, but I told them we would practice another day. It was a fun activity, and the kids are more interested in Japan every day!