today was my first day of school at tsurui elementary school. grades one through six. after the usual opening introduction type things, my first class was with the special ed kids. for some reason they love making me do the speical ed classes before anything else. this month the elementary schools are doing numbers, so i had a poster with 1-10 and we played bingo and go fish. it worked pretty well even with the handicapped kids, so it should work well tomorrow with the second and sixth graders (the kids in the higher grades get more numbers, we're going up to thirty i think).
after that, i talked with the teachers (all of whom are very nice) and worked on some more posters until it was time for the inevitable sports day practice. while the jr. high kids are fun, and the higher elementary grades are similar to them, the younger grades are super ultra hyper kawaii. they are so cute you just want to scream and run away because they're too adorable. but i ran around with the teachers helping them get in their groups and practice their races and things. sports day practice is a little more lenient for the kids in elementary school, thankfully. i also sat and chatted with one of the sixth graders who had broken her leg during vacation, so she couldn't practice with the others.
then it was time for lunch, which i was having with the second graders. they're about 7 or 8, but they're so small, they look about 5 years old. unlike the middle school kids, these guys are SUPER genki, and SUPER excited to see you. they want to ask you a million questions, play with your hair, have you sign their notebooks, everything. the one thing about kids this age though is that they are super difficult for me to understand, especially at first. they're kids, so they use forms of verbs and things that are familiar and slangy, and they talk really really fast in high little voices. they also can't really understand at first that even though i speak some japanese, i'm not as fluent as they are. so these kids ask me questions and i have NO idea what they are asking me. thankfully, the more they talk, the more i can start to pick up. so i eat lunch with them and try my best to talk to them, and they are much more willing to try and give their english a go than the jr. high kids (these little guys don't have the self-consciousness of the older kids), so i would ask them things like "what is your name?" and say "nice to meet you" and they were thrilled. one of the handicapped kids from earlier was eating with this class, and during clean up time, he came over and used his chopsticks and the little orange fruit from lunch as a microphone to interview me. it was adorable. he asked me (in japanese of course), what my name was, what my hobby was, and what my dream was. i told his teacher afterward (they handicapped kids each have their own teacher, and the three do some things together and some things seperately), and she was happy to hear it. she is one of the nicest people there, too, and her english is good, so we can go back and forth talking in whichever language.
recess was next, and a large group of kids talked to me and invited me to play some game with them, which after they explained it, i understood was tag. so i told them "in english, we call it tag", and they ran around for a while using "tag!" instead of the japanese "taachi". i got tagged too and had to play, so that was fun. after recess, it's time for the students to clean their classroom, and i went back with the second grade to help them. we moved the desks, swept the floor, washed the floor, but the desks back, wiped down the desks, all the stuff japanese kids do every day that american kids wouldn't dream of.
when cleaning time was over, i was just supposed to go back to the teachers room, but the teacher asked me, since i knew katakana, hiragana and some kanji, if i wouldn't stay with the class and take the kanji quiz they were doing. it was sentences with blank spaces and the hiragana for the word next to the blank. the kids were supposed to fill in the kanji. i figured it would be more fun than sitting in the teachers' room, so i stayed and did the quiz, which they all of course did better than me. i knew all the words on the sheet, thankfully, but some of the kanji were fuzzy in my brain (like little brother...i just never write it myself, only little sister). i did what i could, and when all the kids went up to have the teacher correct them, they made sure i went up too. after he marked the ones i missed with the correct kanji, they all wanted me to do it again and watch me this time. so i did it with all of their "help", hehe. one little girl in the class named Kokoro (her name is heart!), who was really attatched to me and held my hand and hugged me a lot, then asked me to stay for math. i told her i didn't have a math notebook, and she told me just listening would be okay. she went back to her desk though and got me a pencil and an eraser, and then cutest of all, took a page out of her math notebook for me to use. so i stayed for math, where they learned about the order of operations when there are parenthesis in the equation. i even got called on to answer a question, hehe. it was then a little sprots day dance practice (the second grade dance is WAY more doable than the jr. high dance, hehe), and then, time to go home. before i left, Kokoro asked me if i was coming back tomorrow, and i said yes, and she was very excited. i'm glad i get to do an english class with the same group tomorrow, since now they know me a bit and will be glad to see me again i think.
i stayed around for a while after the younger kids left (older kids have classes til 4, the younger ones leave at 3), and then went home. i'm now doing the prepwork for tomorrow's go fish and bingo, and i finished the posters with the numbers before i left for the day. lately, it seems to be the trend at school that i'll have a good day, followed by a bad day, followed by a good day. let's hope i can have two good ones in a row though. and thanks again to all who wished me luck this morning, and good work to those of you who made it to the end of the post \ (*3*)/