The other day the elementary school principal invited me to come and see the children's summer projects that would be on display for a few days.
Japanese school starts in April and ends in March. There is a month summer vacation, a two or three week winter vacation and a week spring vacation. Because summer vacation does not come between grades the children get sent home with summer homework. I can't really say first hand what summer homework is all about because I always took my kids out of school a week before summer vacation and before homework assignments were given out. A lot of workbooks, a poster project, calligraphy homework and an independent project of the child's choice. (I made my kids do a report about some aspect of American life every year.)
So here are some of the independent projects this summer. There were reports also (that didn't photograph well) and though not every child did something (non-required homework), most of the children seemed to have had a good time.
This is a bank made out of a section of bamboo... Probably from the child's yard or field.
A little wooden house.
Fossil impressions and an embroidery kit.
I saw the little boy who made this carrying it to school one morning.
"A solar hard-boiled egg cooker."
"Does it work?"
"It makes soft-boiled eggs."
An assortment of artwork and a bit of calligraphy.
I had to take a picture of this poster. It says,
Raise Your Hand When Crossing the Street!
(That's the proper way to cross the street in Japan...)
And as I was leaving the school I hurriedly snapped a picture of the 5th grade class in session. The children sit in rows at their wooden desks. They wear their gym clothes during classes (though they arrived at school in regular shirts and shorts and dresses etc.) The set of bags hanging there by the desk have toothbrushes and lunch mats and drinking cups etc. in them. Larger ones will hold the school shoes (the girl near the door is wearing the indoor school shoes) and library books. The cushions that the children sit on double as a padded "helmet" which can be tied under the chin... That tradition began during the war when Japan had to be worried about bombings. Nowadays I suppose it can be used for protection against falling things in an earthquake...
Just a quick glimpse into a Japanese elementary school.