Sunday, August 29, 2010

Gavin's school

Today was Gavin's school's opening ceremony. I sometimes forget that we are in the military until we go to these special types of events. The classes sat together in the auditorium, did special stretches (a Japanese tradition to get blood flowing to the brain for learning power), and then sang the anthem. I get choked up every time I see all the military personnel saluting the flag and the kids holding their hands over their hearts. It has so much more meaning over here than in most places in the US (unfortunately). After that, the kids went to the classrooms and signed up for home visits with the teacher. They also got to meet their new friends in class. It was a quick meeting - but I still can't believe my baby is going to kindergarten!

hamura zoo

Today, with Gavin's Japanese class, we got to go to a local zoo (which I have been told by many people is a great place to go). It was only about 10 minutes away and had free parking (except on Sundays - which today was - it was 300 yen, or about $3). The cost to get in for adults is 300 yen, kids 4 and up is 50 yen and under 4 is free! The Japanese class teacher also has a class of local Japanese kids that she teaches English to, so she brought them along as well. Some parents just dropped their kids off, but Patrick and I wanted to see the zoo also so we stayed and just lagged behind. The teacher took charge and had fun activities for them all.

The first stop was to the Red pandas (which were the teachers' favorite). They were quite beautiful, definitely the nicest looking pandas I have seen (including the one at the C-bus zoo, aka #1 zoo in the US). I didn't expect much since it was a hidden little zoo in the middle of some trees surrounded by a city. But I was very, very impressed at the quality of their animals.

Next to the pandas was a petting/handling area. They had guinea pigs, chicks, rabbits and other sorts of animals like them. The kids were allowed to pick them up, pet them, feed them, etc. It was very clean and organized! And the kids LOVED it. I was afraid Evelyn would turn into Lennie from 'Of Mice and Men" and accidentally strangle or kill one of the animals, but she didn't - thank goodness!!! She loved it and was a very good listener to her teacher. I poked my head inside once to get some pictures - but otherwise, Patrick and I sat on a shaded bench and relaxed from a distance. It was such a pleasure to watch the kids have fun from afar and not be directly in charge of them!

Next we walked through the main path of the zoo. There were meerkats, lynxes, giraffes, zebras, monkeys, condors, ostriches... you name it and it was probably there. I was super impressed with the types of animals they displayed as well as the quality of them. We stopped in a shaded area for some lunch and then the Japanese kids came and asked the English kids to play. It was fun to watch them run through a field, regardless of language or ethnicity.

Once playtime was over, they split into groups (the teacher's brother was also there as a guide) and went around to more animals (Evie's favorite were the penguins, Gavins was the giraffe). Then they had to draw a picture of their favorite animal and talk about it in front of the group and learn the English and Japanese word for it. It was a great day (although I am exhausted!!!) and the kids got to go outside and enjoy a little of Japan!