Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kindergarten Sports Festival

4 of the kids from the orange class

Carl here...

I realise that my last couple of posts have been about sightseeing, so I just wanted to reassure my readers that the internship isn't all play and no work; I do occasionally get my hands dirty, sometimes!

I was recently asked if I would like to volunteer to help at my kindergarten's sports festival (undokai). Obviously, wanting to get involved in as much as possible whilst in Japan, I jumped at the chance; I even volunteered Amy to help too! The scheduled day was Saturday 12th October, but on the morning I received a phone call from the kindergarten principle to say that the event had been postponed until the Sunday because of rain. This change of date meant that Amy couldn’t help out because she was already working in Tokyo, she would be dressing up as a witch for her kindergarten's Halloween party.

In the beginning...
Sunday morning came, and the weather couldn’t have been better, a clear blue sky. The festival was being held in the kindergarten’s field, over the road from the main kindergarten building, this is very convenient because it's only 5 minutes along the road from my apartment. As I cycled towards the kindergarten, I found myself becoming more and more wary. I was passing a lot of cars with kindergarten kids in, and there full families! I was unsure of how I was supposed to be helping out; I had been practising various racing games and loads of dancing with the kids over the past few weeks, I had all my fingers crossed that I wouldn't have to dance in front of 1000 people - 280 kids and their families, plus all the teachers and special guests, oh and did I mention that they had a professional video camera crew (to make a video for sale to the parents afterwards)?

...the risen sun!

Opening Ceremony
The event kicked off with all the students marching onto the field according to their respective class, and then the parent volunteers also marched on. I had the privilege of marching at the front of everyone, alongside the flag bearer, I had to make sure that the flag, and the little kid holding it didn't take off in the wind! The ceremony was very good, especially since some of the kids are only 3 years old; they had to stand in line for a long time, during all the speeches and the raising of the Japanese flag and national anthem.

part of the opening ceremony

The day consisted of lots of different games, races and general activities and everyone was encouraged to get involved. All the kids were kept busy, and most of the parents took part in at least one activity.

The first event
This was the first race of the day. The circuit was really good, the kids started by being a human ‘tank’, which was made out of cardboard.

They then had to run under a big net...

...and pick up some ‘washing’ and put it into a basket and run to the next stage (with the basket) and ‘hang up’ the washing on a clothes line, then they had to sprint to the end. A unique way to teach life skills!

In another game, the kids had to throw bean bags into baskets above them.
Two teams competed against each other, the team with the most bean bags was the winner.

The parent and child skipping (4 people) was fun to watch, the most successful teams were those in which the parents just carried the kids and jumped. I’m not sure if that was cheating or not!

The parents’ relay races were fun to watch. Each team had 8 people in, some of the parents got very ‘into’ it and dressed up for the occasion. This wasn’t to be a simple ‘running-only’ race however, in the spirit of trying to embarrass the parents as much as possible there was a little bit more to it. The parents ran for the first few metres whilst blowing up a balloon, when they got to the designated spot they had to sit in the balloon to burst it. Then they had to run another few hundred metres and get in some giant sacks, once they had hopped 10 metres or so, they had to sprint to the finish and pass on the baton.

Band procession
The Band procession was very good, especially when you remind yourself that some of these kids are only 3 and 4 years old. I’ve had a drum kit for years and these kids still kept a better rhythm than I can!

We had an hour break for lunch, and all us teachers were served up some very nice sushi.

Kids Relay races
This was fun to watch, some of the kids didn’t seem to realise or maybe care that it was a race, and they were quite content slowly jogging around the circuit. They all had fun all the same, and that’s really what counts!

Parents, 20-man skipping
This game was just for the fathers and was very funny to watch, imagine 20 grown men try to skip in unison!

The kids have been practising this for a few weeks now and I'm very sorry to say that I know the dance off by heart!

After a few more different dances, I was (rather reluctantly) given the left hand of one of the teachers who had dressed up as a superhero, I'm sorry that I don't have a photo because her costume was very good. I was marched onto the field and then I had to help 'show' everyone the dance. Though thankfully, I don’t have any embarrassing photos of that to put online!

The Final Event
The final event was the finals of the parents relay event. The teachers (including me!) would be racing against the winners of the earlier heats. No pressure they said, but the teachers always win! We had to run ¾ of the way around, get into a big sack and hop for about 20 metres, then sprint the rest of the way and pass the baton onto the next team member.

Closing ceremony
For the closing ceremony, all the kids and volunteers marched back onto the field and the classes that had accumulated the most points throughout the day had trophies awarded to them. After the awards ceremony and speeches, the Japanese flag was lowered and the day ended.

Despite getting some seriously pink sunburn, it was a really good day and my cheeks were aching because I had been smiling and laughing so much. I think I will be incorporating some of the games (especially the parent relay race and the ‘human-tank’) into my karate club's summer event when I return to the UK.

No comments: