Just a few ramblings about my schools:
The craft refuge
A couple weeks ago I was wandering around the halls of my school during my downtime and stumbled across a great place. I was outside a room admiring some origami when the door opened and 2 ladies beckoned me in. I had never been inside before... it was an arts and crafts room. They sat me down, offered me juice, and started showing me how to make an origami rose. It was really difficult! Next they showed me how to do some little crochet projects. I was talking to them and had mentioned my birthday was next week. They gave me a bunch of origami roses, crochet flowers, and candy. I visited them again this week when I was at this particular school, and I sewed a mini stocking that they put candy in and made my own origami Christmas wreath. I told them when I'm coming again and they said they'd plan some more craft projects!
The 25 student mountain school
I have 1 school that has a total of 25 students. That's grades 1-6. It amazes me that they could run a school but it is up in the mountains in the most rural area you've ever seen. I love the friendliness and closeness of the small schools. During a break, I walked with my principal to the nearby crane watching spot to see the rare and beautiful cranes. The 5th and 6th grade class is a combined 4 students, and the class is usually a fun discussion of English and not a lesson from a textbook. The other day the principal gave me the most delicious desserts! It amazes me how often Japanese people love to buy desserts and will always buy snack souvenirs whenever they go somewhere and bring them in to work.
Christmas party with the special needs class
On my downtime at one of my schools, I like to go visit the kids in the special needs class. The teachers arranged a lesson day with them as a Christmas party. We sang songs, played hand bells, and made cupcakes. We literally made "cup cakes:" we used hotcake mix and put them in paper cups. During lunch, they surprised me by putting a candle in mine and sang a late Happy Birthday to me. The kids are great.