Welcome Michaela, Welcome to Russia........"oni wa soto"
It was an unbelievably busy Monday at school today. There were so many things to do and downstairs, we kicked off the start of International Month in fine style with Julia, Iva’s mum. She dressed up in traditional Russian clothes and Iva, too, and taught us so many things. She taught us how to count up to ten, which was a little bit challenging as many of the words are really difficult to pronounce; she read us a book about a Monkey called “Cheburashka”. He is born in Africa, however he accidentally falls into a crate of oranges and lands up being shipped to Russia. There are many variations of the story however the one Julia read to us today was about “Cheburashka” and how he tries to find friends and eventually creates a special place for him and the crocodile who became his friend. He welcomes other animals that need to find a place where they can be cared for. Julia played us a short video of some Russian dancing. The women were dancing the “Kalinka” and the men were dancing the “Gezatsuka”. Julia twirled and danced around just like the ladies in the video and she gave some of us a beautiful white handkerchief which we put on our baby fingers. We could wave it around to the music too. We noticed that the music and dancing were so fast; even Julia was tired when it finished. She showed us the Russian alphabet which has 33 letters in it and she read them all to us. In fact she taught us how to say thank you in Russian which is “Spasiba” and hands up which is “Ruki verh”. She also brought a mans hat, with lots of medals on it, to show us and some of us wanted to try it on.
The photos show the traditional costumes and the Russian alphabet and the delicious “Piroshke” that we had for our second snack time. “Piroshke” are traditional pastries made from dough on the outside and different fillings inside. Some of them had salmon inside and some had vegetables. Some of us had a few pieces to eat because they were so delicious. We want to say a huge “SPASIBA” to Julia for the wonderful learning experience she gave us. We were all so curious and interested. We feel really lucky when our mums, dads and members of our family come to school to teach all of our friends and teachers about the country that is a part of our heritage and ethnicity.
This morning also saw us celebrating “Setsubun”. We spent time fulfilling many of the traditions that are a part of this matsuri in Japan. We made “Ehoumaki” with Hisami san. We cut up cucumbers and carrots, we spread cooked rice on a large square of nori and then we rolled it up. It was such a long roll and Hisami told us that traditionally, people have to look towards a certain direction and eat the entire long roll, without talking in between. The long roll was way too much for us to eat so our teachers cut the long one into small pieces and we tried to eat ours without talking at all. This is said to bring good luck to us as well as chasing the “oni” away by throwing “mame” at him. We decided that instead of throwing real beans at him, which we rather wanted to eat, we would make our own “mame” by squishing newspaper into balls. Later on in the day, we threw our homemade “mame” at the “oni” and shouted “Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi”. We also ate some “mame” later in the day and really liked them.
Upstairs, we decorated “oni” masks at the one activity and could use any colours that we wanted to even though we know that most depictions of the “oni” on “Setsubun” are red ones. Nanako spoke to us about “Setsubun” and she used a question to hear our thoughts. This was the question: “Where do you think the “oni” lives?” Ava: “In an ‘oni’ house; Tokutaro: “On ‘oni’ island”.
Then she asked us: “Do you want the ‘oni’ to be in your house?” and we all shouted “No”. So she reminded us of the words that we need to say, in Japanese, so that the “oni” runs out of our homes. “Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi”. We made “Ehoumaki” which we ate at snack time and it was so delicious. As soon as we had eaten our snack, the lights went out in our classroom and it became dark. Oh oh! Who was coming? An ‘oni’ in a green maske appeared and we threw our beans at him and shouted “Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi” and then he disappeared. Phew! We then looked at a compass as it tells you which direction you are facing. We did this so that we would eat the “ehoumaki” facing the right direction.
When we first arrived at school we started putting our finishing touches to our art work. Jessica, Jeremy and Sophie all put their polka dot shapes in the large piece of paper. We just need to add a few bits of colour to some areas and some thinking clouds with our thoughts and then……voila……it will be complete.
So you can see what a fantastic day we had and what a wonderful start to International Month it was.
Spasiba and have a great evening.
Love Shelley, Darren, Hisami, Ayaka, Liezel, Nanako, Goh, Christine and Maryna