Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Elementary School Debut

Yesterday I taught my first class about Japanese culture in the after-school enrichment program at my daughter's school. It was hectic and not all that organized, but it was a lot of fun. There are 15 kids in the class and Rachel is there as my "helper".
The class will meet for 6 sessions, and I decided to jump right in and start with some writing. First I told them about the two Japanese alphabets (syllabarries actually, but who even knows that word anyway) and the kanji characters. They practiced reading a tiny bit and I showed everyone how to write their own name. We also did a little guessing game where I wrote a letter or character on the board and they had to tell me what kind of letter (hiragana, katakana or kanji) they thought it was. If it was a kanji they tried to guess its meaning.
We had a good time and they all looked pretty happy about it. Next week we're going to try calligraphy with ink and a brush. I need to practice myself first! I haven't written with a brush in years.
I'm also making little journals for everyone, mainly because the description of the course that went home to all the parents said that they would have one. It's a good idea, but not one that came from me! Anyway, I have been handstitching little cardstock cover journals with red embroidery floss and they look kind of cool. Next week everyone can write their name on the cover of their journal in Japanese and in the following weeks they can keep track of what we do. I want it to be like a little portfolio, where they practice doing something for most of the class and then when they're ready they do a "masterpiece" version in the journal, which I will keep between the classes. Then at the end of the 6-week session they can take their journal home and show their parents what they've worked on. We're going to spend two weeks on writing, then we're going to do classes on how to draw anime, kamishibai a traditional type of picture story telling, origami (have to) and finish up with a sushi party. Sounds pretty fun, huh?

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