Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Four Thanksgivings Down... One More to Go

This week has been a week full of Thanksgiving here at school!

E1 and E2 were combining to perform two different skits for their program on Wednesday, so Monday afternoon E1A and E2A, and E1B and E2B met up for their first, and only, practice together. The E2 students were narrating, while the E1 students acted behind them. Both skits focused on different historical parts of Thanksgiving. A classes' skit talked about the pilgrims going to talk to the king, and why they left England. B classes' skit addressed the voyage on the Mayflower and life once they arrived in Plymouth. Practices ended up taking up the entire period, but overall, I thought it went well. :) My favorite part was the one line, "And one baby was born" and then one of the students would go "Wah! Wah!" but instead, the whole group said, "And one people was born!" Sadly, I wasn't able to watch their final performance, due to having CE Thanksgivings going on at the same time.

Tuesday morning all the CELA teachers met up in Office 2 to shred chicken for the Kindergarten Thanksgiving. Their program consisted of the teachers putting on a Thanksgiving inspired skit (also about the pilgrims and the Indians), along with eating their own little Thanksgiving feast. First, one of the national teachers explained in Chinese the story of the first Thanksgiving and what would be happening in the skit. Then the CELA teachers and assistant teachers put on the play. After the skit, the kids and teachers set up the kindergarten playground for the feast, moving tables and chairs from their classrooms to the playground. It was great to see even the pre-K kids helping out. After that, it was time for a prayer, and then we were finally eating!

Chief Massasoit getting her head dress attached.


Some of my K3 students enjoying the feast.

It's time for Charlie Brown!
Wednesday afternoon was when the BIG Thanksgiving celebrations took place at CELA and for my CE students. E1-E2's Thanksgiving took place at the same time that I had CE6 and CE5. In both my CE classes, we had a Thanksgiving themed class and party. Last week I had told both classes that I'd bring a snack, and then if any of them wanted to bring something to share, we would have a party. At the beginning of class, we read Squanto and the First Thanksgiving so that they had a bit of background about why in America we celebrate Thanksgiving. Then I asked each of them to share something they were thankful for. Their answers included: family, friends, teachers, and God, which I thought was pretty cool! Then we handed out snack and watched "Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving. After everyone in CE5 had taken one piece of cake I told them that there were still a few pieces left so if anyone wanted seconds they could come up and see me. Sure enough, I left with a pan that had been licked clean. :) Several of the kids told me how much they enjoyed the apple spice cake! Then it was off to the E3-E6 Thanksgiving celebration, which started with a feast. There was turkey, pumpkin soup, rolls, pumpkin seeds, craisins, and gravy. The students had just under an hour to eat, which included seconds and thirds for many of them, before we headed over to Luther Hall for part two of our Thanksgiving activities. Each grade had been assigned a different book about Thanksgiving. Now it was time for a trivia game which pitted both sections of the same grades against each other to see who could answer questions about their classes book first. The winning class got a bag of chips to share. Since there were still 15 minutes left after the trivia had been completed, the E6 students went back up to class and finished watching Snoopy's version of the pilgrims crossing the Atlantic on the Mayflower. E6A enjoyed their chips while they watched. All in all, I think they had fun!

Lined up and getting their food

Time to eat!


"Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.  For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods."
Psalm 95:2-3

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Start of So Many Thanksgivings

...And thus begins the season of feasting (which is loosely defined as whenever the first "Thanksgiving" activities start taking place through sometime in January)! Last night kicked off the beginning of Thanksgiving activities with the O.S.F. kids baking apple spice cake and watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. We had about forty students sign up. When they started arriving we asked the kids to set their bags in the back of the kitchen, wash their hands, and then we broke them into four groups. The girls all arrived first. The boys were a little late, but they were still in time to catch most of the instructions. Several of them apologized on their way in. No worries.

All of the ingredients were out on two tables that were pushed together in the front. Three of the four groups' tables had recipes on them (the last group had to share). Once everyone was in a group and at a table, we talked through the ingredients and had a quick apple peeling and cutting demo. Then it was off to the races! We had about seven teachers there, which was great because it meant that every group had at least one teacher at their station, Graham could walk around and take photos, and I could float as well. I started out by handing out knives, with the warning, "It's not a race. It's better to be careful and slower and have all ten fingers than to be really fast and only have three." Then I handed out apples. For the first part of the evening I hung out by the ingredients tables so that as kids came up looking for one thing or another I could point it out to them and help them measure it out. But as kids finished measuring out the flour, sugar, vanilla, spices, etc, I had a chance to sort of walk from table to table.

Peeling apples

Out of the bowl and into the pan

Still slicing and dicing...
I think all the groups took my warning seriously, since for most of the groups, all the other ingredients were mixed together before the apples were ready to be added. But, better safe than sorry. :) Of course, as with every mass baking experience, there are stories to tell. Eggs break. 1/2 a cup of water is added to the batter instead of 1/2 a tablespoon. But nothing that we couldn't bounce back from. After everything was mixed together and poured into a pan, it was put in the ovens. The kids then washed their dishes and cleaned up their stations. Since I knew it would take around 30 minutes for things to bake, Mark lead the kids over to the religion department to watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. And by the time that finished, the cakes were being pulled out of the ovens.

First out of the oven

The finished products

The students gave them rave reviews, even the ones that were a little darker. The teachers thought they turned out alright too. All in all, I'd say success was ours. Praise God!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween with the Kiddos 2014 (萬聖節跟孩子們 2014)

This week the kindergarteners had their big Halloween activity. The assistant teachers had helped to decorate one of the rooms as a haunted house (with a tent, jack-o-lanterns, Halloween posters, tombstones, and skeletons) that over the course of the past week different kindergarten, CELA, and CE classes have visited, mainly to listen to or read stories.

Some of my K3 students after listening to "Where is My Broom?"
Yesterday Whitney and I decided to have a relaxed day where we combined our classes and talked about Halloween and had a fun day. For the first part of class, we shared a brief history of Halloween as a holiday and then we had a fun activity sheet that the students could work on using Halloween themed vocabulary. Towards the middle of class we headed down to the Haunted House. The lights were off as the students sat down to listen to "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allen Poe. Some of the assistant teachers had dressed up and hidden around the room before our students came down, so randomly throughout the story they'd come out. Maybe they'd just sit next to a student, maybe they'd tap one on the shoulder, and they even tried grabbing one! We talked about the story before returning to the classroom. Our final Halloween themed activity of the day was watching an episode of Scooby Doo centered around Halloween and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Before the kids left, Whitney handed out lollipops.

The E6 students down in the Haunted House talking about "The Fall of the House of Usher."

"Happy Halloween! Have a lollipop."

This morning the kindergarten students had a chance to show off their costumes in a parade and then go trick or treating around campus.

Lining up for the costume parade. This little car could actually transform!

Some of last year's students showing off their cool costumes.

Iron Man!

An Egyptian prince

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Running the Race, Salting the Earth, and Acting as a Light

Whew! The past three days have been a whirlwind of activity. There was track and field day on Friday. Along with the team retreat up in Taipei being this weekend as well.

Friday morning was kick started by running a 400 meter teacher relay for track and field day at the middle school. We were the only girls team who showed up, so we got first by default and ran with the boys. Before the race I was talking to some of last year's E6 students. One of the boys exclaimed, "Teacher! Why would you want to do that [run the relay]?! Don't!" I laughed and replied, "Because it's fun." But, they all came out to the sidelines to cheer for me which was nice. One of the girls took some pictures for me. It's a short run, only 100 meters per person with four people on the team. And even though there was no chance of us beating the boys (and honestly, that's probably a good thing), it was still fun to get out there and do our best.

American teacher group photo after the race
Although the middle school teachers had the day off from teaching to watch (and help time) the races and different events, those of us at CELA still had class. Friday's are one of my busy class days with two kindergarten classes in the morning and then E1 Bible and E6 in the afternoon. Classes went well though, and the day flew by in spite of the fact that I was tired (I hadn't been able to fall asleep the night before). After classes ended, we had a quick dinner of chicken rice (雞肉飯) before loading up the van and starting our drive up to Taipei. Most of the guys had taken the train up earlier in the day, so we'd meet up with them once we arrived. It's about a 3-3.5 hour drive from Chaiyi to Taipei depending on traffic. We lucked out that most people leave Taipei for the weekend and head south, so traffic wasn't too bad. We stayed at Greenhouse Hostel in Taipei. It was conveniently located near the Sun Yat-sen Memorial and within walking distance of Taipei 101. It was clean, comfortable, and the staff were friendly and helpful. Once we had stashed our luggage in our rooms we had a quick debriefing about plans for the next couple days and then it was chill/bed time.

Saturday was a blend of activities and free time. We started off enjoying breakfast at a nearby coffee house and writing letters to people - family, friends, etc. My table talked about how in this digital age we're loosing the art of writing letters. An art that many of our grandparents possessed. It's kind of sad if you think about it. We even made our own envelopes! Then we walked over to Taipei 101 where we had free time to check out shops and eat lunch if/when we were hungry. Emily and I spent most of it PageOne, an English bookstore located on the fourth floor. I treated myself to some ice cream from lunch (I was still pretty full from breakfast and knew that we'd be having a big dinner). Afterwards we had a team building activity near the Sun Yat-sen Memorial. Matt divided us up into two groups. Each group represented a "culture" and had it's own set of rules. After interacting with our own groups long enough to get familiar with the rules, the two "cultures" started mingling. We rapidly discovered that each cultures rules were VERY different from each other. After team building, we had free time. I ended up by the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial. The sun was shining, a gentle breeze was blowing, and there were young drum and bugle corps out practicing. It doesn't get much nicer than that! So I sat and listened to them warm up and practice while I journal-ed. We met up again for a pre-dinner devotional time and then headed out to Chili's for supper. We had an enjoyable evening of good food and friends.

Writing letters

Team building - getting familiar with our society's rules

Sunday (today) was fairly laid back. We had a late start with a service around 10am. We just met in one of the rooms. Carl talked about how as Christians we act as the salt of the earth. We enjoyed a lunch together (most of us went to Macho Taco), and then loaded up the vans again for the return trip to Chiayi.

Church service while we're in our bunk beds? Yes, please!
Praise God for a great weekend! And tomorrow it's off to the races again with classes...