|Hanazono Kindergarten in Gifu, Japan|
Some moments in life have really touched me with sheer joy. One of these precious memories certainly was telling stories and puppeteering at the two Hanazono Kindergartens in Gifu last year. These performances were truly a challenge for me as my audience was composed of more than three hundred Japanese young language learners aged from three to five. All at the same time!
Butterflies in my stomach.
Guess what? I loved it!
Buddy and I felt super loved before, during, and after both of our presentations. We were welcomed with lots of warmth and excitement by every single person we met at school. Children shouted hellos, teachers served us tea, and our pictures were in the hall. Buddy and I were kindly introduced to the kids, children enjoyed the kamishibai stories, and everybody laughed a lot with our puppeteering. After the show children sang and danced a marvellous thank you song, I got the most amazing medal, and had some delicious cake. We truly felt as kindergarten pop stars!
As I planned to come back to Japan, I hoped to be able to return to Hanazono to have a similar experience again. As you have probably guessed, fame is highly addictive.
But would I have the same feelings?
Could I run the risk of losing that great memory that I had experienced there?
It was even better!
|Taking the classic photo before my second show at Hanazono Kindergarten in Gifu, Japan in 2014.|
I felt much more confident as I knew the children, the school, and had been successful in the past. Many children remembered Buddy and I guess me too. The difference was that this year I had the whole fifty minutes with Buddy instead of alternating telling kamishibai stories with some puppeteering sketches as I did last year. This represented a real challenge as I could run out of time or maybe lose the momentum with the kids.
This year children were to teach Buddy how to sing the songs they know in English. I also chose three sketches that I knew children would love. These were Buddy farting and pooping in his potty, teasing him with a huge inflatable hammer, and having Buddy flying over the kids with a balloon. With these three powerful acts I was ready!
Children greeted us joyfully, laughed loudly at our jokes, and participated giving lots of commands. Everything went well and Buddy and I have now double Hanazono memories! I gained lots of practice and confidence in my puppeteering skills with large groups and I feel now very empowered to get even better at it. ( Puppeteering can also be highly addictive, beware!)
I plan to invest in my professional development as a puppeteer to be able to come up with a much more elaborate experience for children all over the world. Buddy is also very excited about all this!
Last year we got a medal from the children and this year it was the same.
Can you notice any difference?
Here you can watch a clip that I have prepared for you with some of the best moments of these two performances. Enjoy it!
I would like to thank Mark Kulek who has made these magic moments possible not once, but twice. Mark is the founder and director of Gifu Kids which is a lovely school for kids in Gifu as the name says it all. Mark has also had the privilege of teaching these lovely children at both Hanazono Kindergartens for the last eight years.
|Mark is now a friend who I admire both personally and professionally.|
What are your best memories with young language learners?
Have you ever had similar challenges to mine that you simply loved?
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