Japanese Festival

The Japanese Festival is a long time third grade event which culminates the unit of study on Japan. Eac
h year in the spring the Multi is transformed into the sights and sounds of Japan as all third graders set out displays to proudly show what they have learned.  Many of the booths are interactive, so one can practice calligraphy, or be amazed at the eruption of a volcano. At some point, they always gather together to sing and dance. Traditionally, Mr. vonAmmon, third grade teacher, always greets the children and their families, “Kon Ni chi Wa”.

Hanging over the Multi each year is a colorful dragon. Many years ago, the first dragon was created out o
For many years on Festival day, all children in the Ray School attended one of three shows during the day. Sharon Poulin, third grade teacher remembers, “One of the projects for that event was the the making of origami Star Boxes which were filled with special treats for all the students, their parents/teachers/staff etc. to be given out at a booth. It seemed like we were making Star Boxes for a million people!”

Mrs. Poulin added another memory: “I also remember the Giant, Giant Japanese Fish. The children worked for long periods of time to copy this huge pattern, assemble the two sides, and then magnificently decorate and stuff these fish for the Festival. When it came to put them together it seemed a tradition that two sides would not fit, so back to the drawing board!”

The children are always wonderful putting in so much time and effort to make the festival such a success. And they demonstrated that they had learned so much from Haiku Writing and illustrations to a wonderful computer lab project. All the classes had running shows on computers set up in the hallways. At the booths visitors participated in tea ceremonies or learned how to create a Japanese garden.

One year, Jean Keene’s (librarian) grandson Jeffery, who was quite creative, made a huge Tori Gate through which all entered the Festival area. He used large cardboard boxes and assembled several pieces in Mrs. Keene’s basement. It is still used today.

The Festival is a wonderful occasion, not only a way to celebrate and to learn about another culture through learning traditions and studying the unique elements that distinguish the culture, but also to realize the similarities between cultures. The children learn generally in their classroom groups and in small groups they delve more deeply into an aspect of the culture that interests them. At the Festival all this learning comes together in many colors, beautiful music, a time for them to teach their parents and their classmates what they have learned.
June, 1998


f bottle caps! Just before the Festival Mrs. Hawthorne, third grade teacher, would gather all the 2nd grade teachers and Dave Stewart, the custodian, to put up the dragon. It was an event in itself. Later the children made a new dragon as a special project Art.