Prior to the start of the summer of 2019, Ruth, Hiroko and I were able to schedule a lesson at St. Joseph’s Orphanage which would be open to preschool, kindergarten and lower grade elementary school children. Armed with puppets, picture books, snacks, and prayer we waited expectantly for the kids to arrive. The staff there would like the program to be open to whomever would like to attend, so we weren’t sure how many children or what ages would participate.
At first, two elementary-age girls arrived. It was lovely to meet them, but they left giggling at our silly dancing and opening song. The clock was ticking our lesson minutes away, but finally, slightly damp and smelling of soap bubbles, a nice group of kindergarten-age children and their caretakers arrived! Little feet carried them into the room and we began the “ball” lesson.
Ruth was the main teacher and led the lesson with her gentle grace and sweet voice. Lots of giggles, happy faces, and great participation followed. Hiroko and I sat with warm children in our laps, little hands holding our own. One boy in particular kept coming to my lap and seemed to really enjoy being with me. I prayed for him and all of his friends quietly in my heart as we all practiced “ball” and Ruth passed out animal shaped cookies. “Please!” “Thank you!” Little voices filled the air with English. We acted out a story using puppets and sound effects, and I was able to reprise my role as “the snake” for “Can I Play Too?”
At the end of the lesson, we thanked the orphanage director for her hospitality. We are praying that she will be happy with our program and invite us back.
On June 13th in Higashi Kurume, we were able to hold a sample JOEE lesson and shoot footage for a promotional video for JOEE. Ruth Ingulsrud recruited children from Christian Academy in Japan, Honeybee English School, and local kindergartens to participate in the video. Also, myself, Raku Dishner, was recruited as a fellow teacher for the JOEE organization, and (as I later discovered), a volunteer assistant for the video.
Shin Theodore Lewis, a recent graduate of Christian Academy in Japan, and talented cinematographer, volunteered his talent and camera to be director and also to film the lesson.
It was a sweltering start-of-summer day, but the children were excited and eager to dance, laugh and play with Ruth and Mehh-gumi the Lamb puppet! Moms were also there and had a great time assisting and participating with their children. Each family signed a waiver allowing us to use their faces in the video.
The theme of the lesson was “ball.” Ruth read the story “A Ball for Daisy” by Chris Raschka, followed by Mo Willems’ well-loved “Elephant and Piggy” book, “Can I Play Too?” I was surprised and nervous as Ruth called me up to manage a large snake puppet and participate in the story! She also passed around various sized balls and played the game “pass the ball”. The children counted and passed and tossed and caught the ball while saying “Throw!” and “Catch!”
Many picture books were available at the lesson’s end for the children to read with a helpful grown-up. They were all rather sad when the lesson ended. Ruth, the kind moms, Hiroko, Shin and I were sweaty, but satisfied with our hard work and the resulting happy, happy kids!
Having video footage of a JOEE lesson will help us to raise funds, introduce our program to prospective orphanages, as well as recruit volunteers and teachers. We are grateful to all who participated in the sample lesson and to Shin Theodore Lewis for his grace and talent to help us with this project.
People of JOEE recently had the pleasure and privilege of presenting some of its program at the St. Francisco Children’s Home. Thanks to an introduction to the administrators of the home by Flavio Gori who volunteers through the Catholic Miserichordia organization, JOEE was invited to participate in a planned activity on June 1, 2019.
We were met by the very friendly nuns who run the home and were given a quick tour of the facilities. The home is quite large and has a lovely playing area with a quaint tree house giving the place a storybook feel.
There is a care facility for the elderly nuns connected to the children’s home staffed by gracious caregivers. The chapel, which is also accessible to the children, is beautiful and serene. I couldn’t help thinking how wonderful it would be to put on a puppet program there for the children to help them celebrate Christmas or Easter.
While the older children played soccer outside with Flavio and his friends, the younger ones made beautiful puff-paint masterpieces in the large upstairs room. As the artwork dried, the children gathered for story time with Meh-gumi the Lamb. Learning English was fun and interactive with the puppet helping to explain and act out simple words and expressions. At one point, we needed help from the children in demonstrating the word, “under.” The storyteller was too big to crawl under the chair and so the children happily volunteered. One after another they went “UNDER” giggling the whole time.
Meh-gumi was a big hit with the kids. Everyone wanted to meet the lamb. The children loved talking with the puppet and gave her hugs and kisses before we left. Meh-gumi was thrilled! So many hugs! So many kisses!
I hope we will be able to return to St. Francisco again to teach joyful English to the young residents and to play another exuberant game of Duck-Duck-Goose. Thank you, St. Francisco Children’s Home, for welcoming JOEE!
On May 25, at the invitation of the alternative school, the Mitaka “Free School,” JOEE arrived at their facility across from the Ghibli Museum. This school helps to educate students who have trouble learning in traditional Japanese classrooms. The people of JOEE arrived on a Saturday morning to give a two-hour lesson to the children of the school’s staff.
The lesson began with a puppet-assisted reading of “A Ball for Daisy,” a Caldecott-Award-Winning wordless picture book by Chris Raschka.
著者：Chris Raschkaの字のない絵本「A Ball for Daisy」のパペットでの読み聞かせからレッスンが始まりました。
This book is particularly effective in helping to teach the word ball. The students empathize with the little shaggy dog who loves his red ball so very much and is heartbroken when the ball pops. His sorrow turns to joy when he receives a new blue ball.
Because we had a full two hours with the children, and because we had parents available to help, we were able to add an art project to our lesson. The kids had fun creating colorful finger-painted balls that turned out beautifully!
We met with the parents after the lesson to get their feedback. They had very positive comments. They encouraged us to offer some JOEE lessons to local families in the fall. We would love to come back to this vibrant neighborhood to teach more children!
JOEE volunteers have begun teaching immersive English lessons to children aged four to seven at a children’s home in Mitaka called Choyo Gakuen. Six children are delighted to meet puppets, hear stories and play games that teach a beginning set of English vocabulary.
A college-aged volunteer joined our regular teaching staff, and she was a big hit with the kids．When a couple of the children became hyperactive and needed a little calming down, she paid special attention to them and they were soon ready to listen and join in once again.
子どもたちは、実際にパペットで演じた絵本の読み聞かせを最も楽しんでいるようでした。モ・ウィレムス著作の”Can I Play Too,”というお話の最後には、『ヘビさんの投げっこ』という場面があり*、子どもたちと実際にパペットを使って一緒に投げっこ遊びをしました。 *ゾウとブタがどうしたらお友達のヘビを仲間に入れて、みんなで一緒にボールの投げっこ遊びができるか考え思いついた場面。
The children especially enjoyed story time that was enhanced by puppets acting out some of the parts. They got to play “Toss-the-Snake” at the end of the Mo Willems’ story, “Can I Play Too,” where Elephant and Piggy try to figure out how to include a new friend, Snake, in their game of catch.
By the end of the English lesson, the children had learned words like “ball,” “throw,” and “catch.” The very last activity was to have the children ask for a ball-shaped treat by politely saying, “Ball please!” The response was, “Yes!” and they got to eat their round snacks. We had as much fun as the kids and we look forward to our next teaching session.
On October 14, 2018, an intrepid band of JOEE supporters met together at the cafeteria of the International Christian University (ICU) in Mitaka to begin the adventure of creating a non-profit organization called JOEE or the Japan Orphan English Education initiative.We discussed structure, methodology, mission statement, timeline and took a look at the various skills that our group of volunteers brought with them. We plotted a course and then hopped to it.
We will be meeting for a second time on November 11, In the space of less than a month, we have made good progress in registering JOEE as a non-profit foundation, opened a bank account on behalf of JOEE, and visited a couple of places where we would like to share the JOEE experience.
The first lesson will take place at a Mitaka orphanage on November 29 and four of our JOEE members will be there to help out.