December 13, 2010

Kids' Christmas Party

New Hope Preschool and New Hope Narimasu (the church we are associated with) are putting on our annual Kids' Christmas Party this Saturday, December 18. To cut down on crowds, we are doing the party in two sessions this year: 11:00 to 12:00 and 2:00 to 4:00. All children are welcome. Admission is free. See the details here.

December 10, 2010

Children Around the World Celebrate Christmas

At New Hope Preschool we read the children a story during circle time every morning. In December, we have been reading a two-page spread each day from  Children Around the World Celebrate Christmas by Susan Osborn. The children love it!

The book talks about Christmas celebrations in ten different countries. For each country, a fictional child introduces himself and his family, tells what he likes about Christmas, discusses his country's Christmas traditions, and tells how to say "Merry Christmas" in his language (with phonetic spelling).

The illustrations show the children in their traditional costumes with details of their homelands. After introducing Christmas in the ten countries, there is a two-page spread for children to make their own page about Christmas in their own country. It has places for pictures and sentences with blank spaces for children to fill in with their parents.

Then come  a few pages describing how to do some of the activities the children mention in the book. These include a Mexican pinata, Norwegian Christmas pudding, French clay figures, and Sri Lankan paper chains. The preschool children were very interested in these, especially in the clay figures. We didn't have time to make them here so I'll share the instructions.

How to make French clay Christmas figures (santons)
  1. Mix 1 cup salt, 2 cups flour, and 1 cup water until the mixture is like play dough.
  2. Use the dough to make figures of the nativity--Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, shepherds, animals, etc.
  3. Bake the figures in an oven at 250 degrees Farenheit (120 degrees Celcius) until they are dry (one to two hours)
  4. After the figures have cooled, paint and display them!
New Hope Preschool students are free to borrow this book (after we finish with it this week). If you want to buy it, it appears to be out of print but amazon in both the US and Japan do have copies. See below.

December 08, 2010

New Hope Preschool News: Dec. 2010

Here's a recent newsletter we sent out to preschool friends and families. If you want to be on the mailing list, sign up on our website.

Dear New Hope Preschool Friends,

Christmas is almost here and we are busily preparing. We’re preparing for several Christmas events and preparing for our new elementary school. Here’s what’s up.

Our big Christmas party is on Saturday, December 18. The attendance has increased every time, so this year we will have two sessions, one at from 11:00 to noon, and the other from 1:00 to 2:00. All children and their parents are welcome to attend. Check out the details on our website.

You probably know that our preschool is associated with a church called New Hope Tokyo. This year, the church’s Christmas service at Narimasu will be held on Sunday, December 19, from 10:00 to 11:30 AM with refreshments afterward. There will be special dance numbers by children and adults, a choir singing Christmas music, and a short Christmas message of encouragement from our pastor. Everyone is welcome.

Planning for the elementary school
continues. We are making good progress in selecting great curriculum that is suitable for our unique situation as a Christian international school in Japan. The core language arts, social studies, humanities and Bible curriculum is set (Tapestry of Grace) and we are strongly considering Singapore Math for our math curriculum. It has excellent reviews from all around the world, and according to another international school I visited, Japanese parents find it easy to help with homework because the approach is similar to that offered in Japanese schools. I’ve been talking with a Japanese teacher and a librarian about how not only to teach Japanese as a language, but how to sprinkle  Japanese literature and culture throughout the curriculum. I don’t want to talk too much about the elementary school here, but please contact us if you are interested, and we can talk or put you on our separate mailing list for elementary school.

Plans for the Montana Western Adventure in the summer continue too. Keep watching for details.

Merry Christmas!

Jeremy Seminoff, Director

December 07, 2010

Preschool Christmas Crafts - Part 1

There are so many wonderful Christmas crafts for preschoolers to do that I'm sure we'll end up with more than one page on this blog. Here are the first few crafts.

Christmas Tree Count-Up Calendar

Counting down from 25 is tough for preschool kids, so this year we made a count-UP calendar. On December 1, the children colored and cut out a Christmas tree and glued it onto construction paper. They got a sheet of paper with the numbers from 1 to 24 on ball-shaped ornaments and a star for 25. We sent them home with the trees and numbers with the instructions to put another ornament on the tree each day through December 24, then on Christmas day to put the star on top of the tree. It's good counting practice for kids and their parents. Children realize that as the tree fills with number, Christmas is getting nearer and nearer. I got the template from a website that I can't remember right now, but it would be easy enough to make at home.

Christmas Stocking Lacing Craft

The children made some nice decorations for the classroom while practicing writing their names and working on fine-motor skills with cutting and lacing. They liked decorating with stamps. (I smudged out the names for privacy.)

"Stained Glass" Christmas Bells

This was a coloring project. We gave the children outlines of stained-glass Christmas bells and let them color in the panes with markers. We encouraged them to think about what colors would look nice next to each other and they did a great job. One of the most exciting parts for the kids was using permanent markers.

December 06, 2010

Solar System and Paper Mache Planets

A recent preschool theme was the solar system. What better way to learn about the planets than by making our own solar system out of paper mache?

First, we discussed the solar system using books and posters.

Then, the kids made models of the four big, gas planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) out of paper mache.

Finally, each child held a planet--paper mache for the big ones, little balls for the little ones--and orbited the sun (a giant pink ball in the middle of the room). Fortunately, the real planet stay in their orbits better than our models did! Unfortunately, we didn't get any photos of our living solar system.

Our Solar System (revised edition) Solar System (Kingfisher Young Knowledge) Planets: A Solar System Stickerbook

Preschool Lion Crafts

When we studied about Daniel in the lions' den, we also studied about lions and other members of the cat family. Mr. Isaku did an art lesson on using simple shapes to draw lions. The children's drawings turned out great!

One of our younger children drew this lion.

This lion is in the zoo. I guess that's a zoopkeeper with it. It's nice to see the kids writing spontaneously.

This girl wanted to show the similarities and differences between cats and lions. They live in different places.

I like the bars on this lion's cage in the foreground.

Mrs. Amy took advantage of the beautiful fall leaves and turned them into lions' manes for the craft she led later in the week.

We're Going on a Lion Hunt

November Memories

We had one birthday in November. Look how cool this guy became upon turning five.

Fallen leaves in the park provided lots of fun!
Balloon Volleyball! The real fun began when there was more than one balloon in play at a time.

November 12, 2010

Graduates' Class - Best Christmas Pageant Ever

In one of our classes for international preschool alumnae and returnees, we are reading a chapter each week from The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a great read-aloud that I recommend highly. At certain points in the book, I ask the children to demonstrate comprehension by sketching a quick picture on the whiteboard of the scene we are reading about. Here are a few from chapter 1.

Mr. Shoemaker's Toolhouse on Fire

The Herdmans Stealing Five Dozen Doughnuts

The Herdmans' Mean, One-eyed, One Short-Legged, Broken-Tailed Cat

Ms. Brandel (Jacket on Head and Broom in Hand) Chasing Claude Herdman's Cat Around the Classroom

November 10, 2010

Preschool Fire Station Visit

This week's "My World" theme is fire, so yesterday we went to the Shimura fire station for a tour.

The firefighters had just finished rehearsing a flannelboard story so we got to see the premiere performance. It was called "Fire is Scary" and was about some children who played with a lighter and started a fire. Things turned out fine (whew), but it was scary enough that I'm sure our children will always remember not to play with matches.

The firefighters had laid out all of their gear for us to see.

Children got to go inside a fire truck.

A firefighter showed us how fast he could get into his full gear.

I got to practice using a fire extinguisher.

Children got to wear small firefighter jackets and helmets.

They even gave the children firefighter origami and erasers shaped like fire engines and ambulances (sorry, no picture). When we got back to preschool, the children made and sent thank-you pictures to the firefighters.

It was a wonderful day.

Firefighter Ted Richard Scarry's A Day at the Fire Station (Pictureback(R)) Even Firefighters Hug Their Moms I Want To Be A Firefighter