Amanda brought in a book which had two stories inside. The first one was about Mooncake and Lantern festival which Amanda always celebrates with her grandmother. They eat different flavours of mooncakes. We had a discussion about mooncakes being eaten especially for mooncake festival, but that people also eat them at other times too. The second story was about Deepavali which Amanda remembered celebrating at school a few weeks ago.
Omer shared a video of his family celebrations at Hanukah. He helped to light one of the 8 candles on the menorah. We were wondering why there are 8 candles and why Hanukah is celebrated. Then we watched a second video from Omer which explained the story of an oil lamp miraculously lasting for 8 days when there was only enough oil for one. So Hanukah is celebrated for 8 days and each day another candle is lit.
Zahin showed use phots of Hari Raya when he celebrated in Malaysia with his family. He said they wear special clothes, go to the mosque and eat special foods including cookies with family. Hari Raya is celebrated at the end of the month of fasting (Ramadan).
Guangyuan shared about Chinese New Year which he celebrates with this family. They have fireworks and a reunion meal with family. We looked at some photos Guangyuan had brought in, including a lion dance. We discussed the wearing of red to scare away Nian and to bring good luck.
Gaku shared about a bean throwing festival on the last day of winter in Japan called Setsubun. People throw beans to get rid of evil and welcome good. You must also eat the same number of beans as your age.
Mrs Hayward brought a nativity scene to tell us the Christmas story - the reason for celebrating the Christian festival, Christmas.
Jiwoo, Ella and Siu's mum's came in for a lesson to show us the game Yut Nori, a traditional game played with sticks in Korea. Players move their counters round the playing board according to how many sticks land upside down after the are thrown up. Another turn is awarded if all 4 sticks land the same way.
Sophia told us about the mooncake festival which she celebrates. This is a Chinese festival. She showed us mooncakes and said they represent the full moon which is why people eat them. Sophia also showed a lantern that is used for decoration because it looks like the full moon. We wanted to know more about the beliefs and reasons for celebrating so did some research and found a story about mid-autumn festival online.
Keshav talked about Pongal which is a Hindu celebration that he wears traditional clothes for. He said there are similarities with Christmas because you get a present, but it is different because your parents give the presents not Santa. We wanted to know why Pongal is celebrated so found a story about the roots of the festival coming from a harvest celebration.
Mikhail told us about birthday celebrations in his family. They always have a cake, play games and sometimes have a treasure hunt. He said celebrating with everyone in the family is important.
Swini shared in more detail about her Deepavali celebrations when she was in India. She showed photos of traditional clothes, the rangoli her mum made and all the fireworks.
Siu presented photos on a slideshow about a special celebration in Korea for a baby's first birthday. The celebration is called Doljanchi. The baby wears traditional clothes called Hanbok. Ella and Jiwoo talked about the tradition of getting the baby to reach for a present and this predicts what job they might do in the future.
Jiwoo told us about Korean New Year. People wear Hanbok and eat special rice cake soup. She showed us a video of herself doing a traditional Korean bow which all the children do to show respect to their elders. Jiwoo told us some traditional Korean games which people play at Korean New Year, we hope try out Yut Nori (a game with 4 sticks) next week.
Sota told us about children's day in Japan which is celebrated on 5th May. He showed us a picture of the special armour helmet that boys are presented with. Each year they add decorations to it. It is believed this brings safety for the boys. Carp kites are flown too, these represent the strength of a carp swimming upstream and are believed to bring success for the boys.
Ella also spoke about Korean New Year and that this is the day when children celebrate their birthday and turn a year older. Ella taught us a dance that people do on this day. We had fun learning it.
For our field trip to different places of worship we began at St Andrews Cathedral where we had small guided tours and a talk about Christianity, the main Christian beliefs and some information about the building and objects in the building. We had a sticker booklet treasure hunt to complete.
Next we went to the mosque for a guided tour and learned about the directions Muslims pray (towards Mecca in Saudi Arabia). They pray 5 times a day and we had a look at the clocks which show the times. Before the prayer hall there was a place to wash your face, hands and feet before praying. Inside the prayer hall there were rows of carpets for people to pray.
Next door to the mosque is a Hindu temple which we walked around and looked at the different statues of the gods. There was a ritual being performed by one of the religious leaders with musical accompaniment which we watched.
A little further on down the road we went to a Buddhist Temple. Again we walked around the temple and noticed many lanterns hanging from the ceiling. There were people meditating at different parts of the temple. We were not allowed to take photographs inside. At lunch time we went to the basement of the temple for our vegetarian lunch. Some of us were risk-takers and tried new foods.
nTo conclude the trip we went to Fort Canning Park and had a game of capture the flag - in the end it was a draw between the two classes!
Sophia began her Show and Tell by saying a Chinese poem which translates to 'Take what you eat and eat what you take'. She said this reminds us not to waste food. Sophia sometimes eats with a special spoon that has holes in it. The holes let the soup go through. When she has a special meal with her grandma her family has a hot pot. In the hotpot they cook mushrooms, tofu, fish, prawns and noodles. After looking at Sophia's drawing of the table which was round, we discussed who had a round, square or rectangular table. This led to talking about the spinning tray on the middle of tables often found in Chinese restaurants which allow people to easily share food.
Gaku told us about traditional Japanese food that he eats. He says a special phrase at the beginning and end of the meal to thank the gods for food. He explained the rice is always on the left and the soup on the right. Lots of us wanted to know why, so we did some research online. Left is considered superior to right in Japan and as rice is a staple food in Japan it is placed on the left to show it is superior and has greater importance. You can find out more details here. tadaimajp.com/2016/08/rice-on-the-left/ Gaku said he sits at a low table on the floor to eat.
Siu shared a video presentation about his family traditions for meal times. He begins by helping to set the table and ends by helping to clear the table. He says a thank you phrase before eating. His family like to eat together but sometimes his dad is working. Siu talked about eating Kimchi and Swini wanted to know what it is. Some thought meat or others a vegetable so we did some research to find that is it spicy pickled or fermented cabbage.
Omer showed a picture of Challah break which his mum bakes for Shabbat. This begins with a meal on Friday night. Omer showed a video clip of a prayer that he says and a picture with a cup of wine. He wears a special hat called a Kippa. Keshav wanted to know what Shabbat is so we did some research and watched this video clip below.
Mikhail said he eats his favourite foods with his family such as pizza, vegetables, rice and dumplings. His family eat at a table together. He uses a spoon and fork to eat with.
Swini shared photos to show her celebrating Deepavali in India as well as her special hair cutting ceremony. Her mum lit diva lamps in the house and Swini had a sparkler. During the hair cutting ceremony members of her family gave her necklaces. Getting her hair cut for the first time since she was a baby was part of worship.
As we have continued to look at cultural items the children have brought in, some of the children have started noticing similarities between their own objects and others. For example, after Sota explained about the decoration he hangs on the door at New Years Amanda made a connection to a similar tradition at Chinese New Year. She said the shape is different though. Both hang something on the door. Keshav noticed a similarity to Ms. Nisha's prayer beads to some prayer beads he has which are from two different religions. This led to discussions about the similarities and differences in positions which people from Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim religions pray in.
Ella explained that when her family eats they all sit down together and say a special phrase of thanks before eating. The phrase is saying thank you to the people who have prepared the meal. The eldest person is the first to eat, so Ella waits until the last to begin her meal as she is the youngest. When they are finished eating everyone waits until all the others are finished before leaving the table. After Ella shared about her families customs we discussed possible reasons and concluded that her family valued time together and thought respecting elders as well as people who made the food was important.
Amanda shared about the different foods she eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For breakfast on a Saturday Amanda has egg, bread, fruit and a chocolate cookie. For lunch she has cabbage, rices, soup, noodles and broccoli. For dinner: fish, rice, tomato, egg and noodles. Everyone enjoyed guessing what could be on the plate with the question mark. In her family they only eat when everyone is ready at the table so they wait for her grandma to finish cooking the food. This shows they value being together and sharing the food. Amanda uses a fork, spoon and chopsticks for eating.
Sota's parents cook his food at home sometimes they go out to a restaurant. He uses a spoon, fork and chopsticks. Before his family eat they say a Japanese phrase which is a thank you to their God and a thank you to the person who made the food. We wanted to know why and Sota explained it is so that the God will give them more food for the next meal. Then we wanted to know how the God gives the food. We will do some further research into beliefs and different Gods.
Jiwoo showed us photos and two videos of her meal time with her mum. We heard her say the special words of thanks mentioned by Ella at her Show and Tell earlier in the week. Jiwoo said they mean 'I will eat well'.
Keshav explained about eating a traditional meal in Sri-Lanka. He told us he eats with his fingers, but only using his right hand. His left hand is dirty and his right hand is clean. Keshav compared the custom in Korean families of the eldest eating first with the Sri Lankan custom where the youngest eats first. He said the reason for this is to bring good luck. Keshav said they use a banana leaf instead of a plate and Ms. Shradha explained the custom of folding the leaf toward you if you enjoyed the food and away from you if you did not enjoy it. Amanda was curious if India and Sri Lanka are the same.
To begin our new unit 'Who We Are' with the central idea 'People's actions are a reflection of their beliefs' we each brought in an item special to us. The item was significant to our cultures, identity, beliefs and traditions. At first we didn't know who each item belonged to. We did a 'see, think, wonder' thinking routine to explore the the items and begin to form ideas about who they might belong to. After that we looked at each item, shared our ideas, thoughts and questions and thought about who the items could belong to. After each item was matched to their owner we discussed what the items help us know about the person and their beliefs, cultures and traditions. For example Mikhail said that Keshav brought two books from different countries as he has family members from different countries and he likes to read books. We still have some items left to share and will continue this next week. We are looking forward to inquiring more into all the items as we still have lots of questions.
Tuesday 13th November was World Kindness Day. The Elementary and Middle School students and staff all gathered on the Elementary playground and formed two large circles. When the music played everyone moved round in the the circle. When the music stopped each person said something kind to each other. Some chose to high-five and shake hands. The teacher's all brought in a small treat to give out to the students. We shared the treats out together in the playground after the game. Ms. Berna also made every student a bookmark.