Kimono of 1000 Cranes

Japanese tradition says that folding 1000 cranes will grant you a special wish.  Happymess kids are wishing for greater understanding amongst differing cultures, with the belief that understanding can conquer fear (of the unknown).

Happymess kids have made a goal of folding 1000 cranes.  There are currently about 2/3 of the way and still folding.  They are using their cranes in many creative ways.

In this picture they have created a paper kimono consisting entirely of cranes.  Gold cranes make a belt design.  Not pictured:  a pair of dangling crane earrings.

While folding cranes they are studying Haiku, the Japanese form of poetry that involves writing a very short poem.  These poems are typically 3 lines, with a 5-7-5 syllable pattern.  The word haiku comes from the word “cut” and thus these poems cut to the essence of the subject matter.

Basho Matsuo (1644 ~ 1694) is known as the first great poet in the history of haikai (and haiku)

Spring departs.
Birds cry
Fishes’ eyes are filled with tears

Bush clover in blossom waves

Without spilling

A drop of dew

These poems are often about nature and reveal man’s connection with nature through imagery, juxtaposition and a surprise conclusion.  Our team tried writing several haikus and then visited a Japanese teacher who helped them translate their English haikus into the Japanese language.

I have reprinted here an informative instructional piece to inspire your students as they attempt this deceptively simple style of poetry.  The original can be found at this link   http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Haiku-Poem

What you feel should be in a haiku. When you see or notice something that makes you want to say to others -“Hey, look at that!”-include that in a haiku. Many people go for walks just to find new inspiration for their poetry.

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Many haiku seem to focus on nature, but what they are really focusing on is a seasonal reference (not all of which are necessarily about nature). Japanese poets use a “saijiki” or season word almanac to check the seasonal association for key words that they might use in a haiku (thus the haiku is a seasonal poem, and often about nature. But it does not have to be about nature if the seasonal reference is about a human activity). The season is important for coming up with words to use in a haiku, because the poem has so few words, simple phrases such as “cherry blossoms” or “falling leaves” can create lush scenes, yet still reflect the feeling of the verse. Moreover, season words also invoke other poems that use the same season word, making the poem part of a rich historical tapestry through allusive variation. In Japanese, the “kigo” or season word was generally understood; “autumn breeze” might be known to express loneliness and the coming of the dark winter season.

  • Winter usually makes us think of burden, cold, sadness, hunger, tranquility, death or peace. Ideas about winter can be invited with words like “snow,” “ice,” “dead tree,” “leafless,” etc.
  • Summer brings about feelings of warmth, vibrancy, love, anger, vigor, lightness, action. General summer phrases include references to the sky, beaches, heat, and romance.
  • Autumn brings to mind a very wide range of ideas: decay, belief in the supernatural, jealousy, saying goodbye, loss, regret, and mystery to name a few. Falling leaves, shadows, and autumn colors are common implementations.
  • Spring, like summer, can make one think of beauty, but it is usually more a sense of infatuation. Also common are themes like innocence, youth, passion, and fickleness. Blossoms, new plants, or warm rains can imply spring. For more information on seasons, go to the link listed below.Seasonal references can also include human activities, and Japanese saijikis contain many such listings. Be aware that some references to human activities, such as Christmas, are effective season words, but require a geographical limitation; while Christmas is a winter season word in the northern hemisphere, it’s a summer reference in the southern hemisphere.
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Add a contrast or comparison. Reading most haiku, you’ll notice they either present one idea for the first two lines and then switch quickly to something else or do the same with the first line and last two. A Japanese haiku achieves this shift with what is called a “kireji” or cutting word, which cuts the poem into two parts. In English, it is essential for nearly every haiku to have this two-part juxtapositional structure. The idea is to create a leap between the two parts, and to create an intuitive realization from what has been called an “internal comparison.” two parts sometimes create a contrast, sometime a comparison. Creating this two-part structure effectively can be the hardest part of writing a haiku, because it can be very difficult to avoid too obvious a connection between the two parts, yet also avoid too great a distance between them that , although this is not necessary provided that the grammar clearly indicates that a shift has occurred.

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Use primarily objective sensory description. Haiku are based on the five senses. They are about things you can experience, not your interpretation or analysis of those things. To do this effectively, it is good to rely on sensory description, and to use mostly objective rather than subjective words.

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Like any other art, haiku takes practice. Basho said that each haiku should be a thousand times on the tongue. It is important to distinguish between pseudo-haiku that says whatever the author thinks in a 5-7-5 syllable pattern and literary haiku that adheres to the use of season words, a two-part juxtapositional structure, and primarily objective sensory imagery.

We have found that studying and writing haiku style poetry is a great linguistic exercise.  The poems are short and the attributes quite specific, thus making the haiku less intimidating for the young student.

Worksheet for Creating Your Own Haiku

http://www.abcteach.com/free/h/howto_haiku.pdf

Girl folds for world peace

Kimono of 1000 cranes

Dressed for tolerance

Let Me Count the Days:  Homeschooling is a haiku of global learning.

Sharing the Love: Our Favorite Childhood Myths are as Real as You and Me

There are discussions as to whether or not there was a “real” St. Valentine, and if so, who he really was and how he became the symbol of love.  Like concerns about the validity of St. Nick, or Santa Claus, I find the discussion irrelevant.  The “realness” of these characters is not important.  What is irrefutable is the FACT that these two saints, be they real, embellished or imagined, have brought very real love and caring into our midst.

At no time is gift giving more prevalent in our predominantly secular and me-centered world than at Christmas.  Why?  Because we all believe in the importance of Santa Claus.  We do his work on his behalf.

 Similarly, there is no better love than the love we share with others.  A few days ago on St. Valentine’s Day, our Happymess Kids and their Destination Imagination team visited a local nursing home to distribute roses and homemade cards.  AT first our group was uncomfortable with the whole idea.  They weren’t sure what they would find at the nursing home and they were afraid it would be embarrassing speaking to strangers.

“Can’t we let someone else (from our church) distribute the flowers?” they whined.  And (believe it or not!), “But we have SO much homework…”, trying to appeal to me, the rabid homeschool mother.

I firmly directed them into the car and off we went.

 One of the first women we met was Emily.  She is 107 years old.  She was truly delighted to have her rose.

 Scooter was afraid to get too close but he loved giving roses.  We stayed awhile and talked to Emily.  The children quickly realized that the flower was not the real gift.  The real gift was the visit and we made sure to stay and talk with each person.

 Annette was delightful, kind and articulate.  She put her arms out to Bounce and Scooter explaining, “We’re not scary.  We are just old

In the end, after spending almost two hours at the nursing home we found that we had visited with many people and we gathered to share our stories.  One woman asked us to put her flowers in a vase by the window so she could enjoy them.  Another began to cry when she realized the rose was for her.  Still another thought they were for sale and began searching for her purse until we could explain the rose was gift.  All of the people were pleased to have visitors and we found that we had very much enjoyed talking with everyone.  The patents had become “real” to us.  They were people too.

Team I.C.E. (Imagine, Create, Empower) was humbled.  They were no longer embarrassed.  They really connected with the needs of the patients and felt that they had been able to bring joy through the gift of a simple rose and a moment of shared  kindness.

Now they are planning their next visit:  daffodils for Easter.

 Is St Valentine real?  Absolutely, every bit as real as the Easter bunny.  We could have visited the nursing home at any time, but we didn’t.  We went to honor the holiday of love.  We were sent by St. Valentine, whomever that may be.  And we are grateful.

Next we look forward to helping out the Easter bunny on his mysterious missions.

Let Me Count the Days:  Homeschooling is learning that sharing love with those less fortunate is a gift we can give ourselves.

One Good (Page) Turn Deserves Another

 

Greetings Bibliophiles, Literacy Advocates and (Home) Educators.  World Book Night is almost here!

Here is an opportunity for each one of us to take a step toward improving literacy in our communities.

World Book Night is an amazing idea that began last year in the UK.  This year it is coming to the US as well.  The organization is offering to give away FREE 1 million books from people (like you) who love books and love to read to (others) who perhaps do not yet share your joy in reading..  You choose the book and the venue for giving.  They send you the books.  You give them away.  It is that simple.

This is a call for action.   We can put our thoughts into action. We can share our love of reading with those who have not had the same opportunities.

 

Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.
 – Frederick Douglass

http://www.us.worldbooknight.org/

Follow this link, choose your books and register, but BEFORE  Midnight Monday, February 6, 2012.

This could be you!  On April 23, 2012 we distribute 20 copies of our favorite book to our favorite people or favorite charity.  How fabulous is that?

If you choose to participate, follow the above link, then come back and reply to this post with which book you chose, why and where you plan to make your distribution.

We chose I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.  This is a beautifully written autobiographical story written as a novel.   It has long been one of my favorite books.  We plan to donate 20 copies to a local charter school that has dedicated itself to improving literacy in an impoverished community.  They have a limited library.  The 20 copies could go to individual students to kick-off their summer reading program.

Now it is your turn.  We look forward to hearing about your choices and actions for improving literacy in your community.

Let Me Count the Days:  Homeschooling is sharing the joy of reading with others less fortunate.