We prepare and eat a simple snack together every week. Things we make are seasonal and healthy. For example, we made mushroom rice and Japanese style baked sweet potato in Autumn, warm potato soup in Winter, asparagus rice balls in Spring, and banana ice candy in Summer. We also cook traditional treats and dishes such as Kashiwamochi (Child's day celebration) and Eho-maki (Setsubun celebration) . We mainly use non- animal products and we like to use organic and locally-sourced ingredients. However, eating together with smiles is the most important thing for us so we are not strict about what we eat.
Children bring the main ingredients from home, and prepare snacks with their buddies. 'Itadakimasu' is the important ritual to practice just before eating, putting hands together to thank for the food. Children take turns to do the dishes too!
The final Sunday of each term is a lunch-cooking day. We make a simple, humble, but special meal and invite families and friends.
We always explore inspiring and creative learning activities. Every week we run a morning routine consisting of a little exercise, reading aloud and singing, and a quick numbers quiz. We also invite guest artists to run creative workshops.
Our class is held in natural surroundings at Eco House in CERES, a community environment park in Brunswick East, Melbourne.
Children learn the Japanese language through activities and projects. We refer to it as a project-based learning approach, where a teacher sets a theme every term that children explore, reflect on, exchange ideas with their peers, and present their thoughts in a written/spoken form.
For example, we explored 'ceramics' one term. Children found and reported on various ceramics in their homes. They also explored early Japanese history through ceramics as well as Japanese traditional narratives. Then they created a ceramic bowl with a guest artist, and held a little tea ceremony using their own bowls. Children created a written article on their experience at the end of the session.
This integrated study, we believe, will make it possible for children to become naturally and effectively motivated in their Japanese language.