Ogijima Future Education Project is aiming to set a rich education environment for children on Ogijima. We have planned out an activity for Ogijima kids to gather beyond school and nursery school.
For the last several months, children and parents have been meeting weekly for a bilingual Japanese/English story time at the Ogijima Library. From April through July children gathered for songs and stories, first in Japanese and then in English. Popular Japanese songs were, 「大きな栗の木の下で」 (Under the Big Chestnut Tree) and「バスにのってゆられてる」 (OnThe Bus) . In English we loved singing Wheels on the Bus and Teddy Bear Teddy Bear.
We read so many stories over the months – some short and simple, some long and complex. The stories varied depending on the children in attendance as we often had the children choose the books! Sometimes we were able to read the same books in English and in Japanese, like Papa Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle … or Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. The library also has a beautiful bilingual book called Where Are You Going? To See My Friend! by Eric Carle and Kazuo Iwamura.
As the months wore on, the children’s attention to and comprehension of stories in their non-native language (English for most, Japanese for some) has been increasing.
After a short break during August, storytime started again in September. We sing songs and read stories every Thursday afternoon. Sometimes there are many younger children who come, sometimes the older children join. The story readers remain flexible, changing plans mid story even as needed and many of the children look forward to this time together each week.
This week we read 「ちか100かいだてのいえ」 (The 100 story House Underground), 「もう ぬげない」 (I Can’t Take It Off), Ten Rubber Duckies, and Daisy’s Hide’n’Seek. It was a lot of fun. Having this shared experience, in both Japanese and English, has been valuable for the families on Ogijima. Not only is it cognitively enriching, but it encourages relationships, and within those relationships our children can learn and grow.