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.
After the tour, we met up with other volunteers at the front entrance. The Italian ambassador’s wife was there with several friends and they had brought bags of artwork supplies.
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.
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!