Kindergarten’s Sweet Potato Harvest

On November 5, the Chofu kindergarten classes got their hands dirty harvesting sweet potatoes.

Our wonderful gardener Ito-san planted the sweet potatoes during the summer and our students have been patiently waiting to help him with the harvest. When the time finally came, both kindergarten classes put on their boots and gloves and eagerly dug in.

It was hard work and students teamed-up in order to tackle the larger, more stubborn potatoes. In the end we had quite a haul! The children took some of the sweet potatoes home. Others are for math activities and art projects. Mrs. Kanoh (ES Secretary) even took some and made daigaku imo (candied sweet potatoes) for us to enjoy. The last of our harvest will be saved for planting next year. (Susan Huber, ES Teacher)

Kindergarten sweet potato dig

Autumn is the season of the harvest and at ASIJ our Chofu kindergarteners got to experience a little bit of the farm right on campus. Students dug up sweet potatoes in our Elementary School garden and learned about the structure of plants. They were surprised to see how deep the potato roots went below the ground—some were a struggle to dig out!

But our efforts will be well rewarded because now we can make daigaku imo (sweet glazed potato) and have a delicious Fall treat!

Nursery community container garden project

Martha and Hiroko’s Nursery class began a community project to make our school more beautiful. The children have learned that a community project is when you do some thing for your community that everyone will enjoy. You do it to make your community a better place to be.

We planted flowers in the containers at the front entrance of the school to make our school more beautiful. We prepared the planters last week. First we put a grid at the very bottom of the containers to cover up the holes, so the dirt does not come out. Next, we put very light rocks at the bottom of the containers so the water can drain out and then we filled them with very nice dirt. We chose pink, white, lavender and red flowers to plant in the containers. Our flowers will need lots of water, sunlight and air to grow. They will also need plant food to grow and make lots of flowers. Now the walkway up to our school looks so beautiful. It will make everyone happy when they come to school! (Martha Mundy, Nursery teacher)

Down to earth: Kindergarten potato dig!


The Kindergarten gets “down to earth” and studies plants during May. We look at the different parts of plants: seeds, stems, roots, leaves, flowers. We also discuss the purpose of the different parts of a plant and study the life cycle of plants through books, videos, and observations. We visited the Jindaiji Botanical Garden earlier in May to see the wide variety of plants that exist. The students also each planted a couple of seeds in a transparent plastic cup and measured the roots and stems as they grew over a period of two weeks. On May 30 we had an exciting culmination of the plant unit by digging up potatoes right in our backyard (in the garden on the ASIJ playground). And lastly, Ms. Kanoh will make delicious mashed potatoes from our dig for the class to enjoy. (Jon Sack, Kindergarten assistant teacher)

A favorite fall activity—sweet potato digging!

DSC_0046Sweet potato digging is a big thing at the ELC—and a popular fall activity for children in Japan. It is a little like the trip to the pumpkin patch in the United States. Our children and many of their parents headed off on a bus to the sweet potato farm in, of all places, Setagaya-ku. They had done lots of preparation in their classrooms before going, including growing their own sweet potatoes in some classes. This is one outing where we often have many dads join in for the digging. All the children dig and dig and dig and then return to school with bags of sweet potatoes that are then measured, drawn, lined up, counted, sorted, categorized, made into sculptures, cooked and graphed. If you stop by the ELC, you are likely to smell the aroma of sweet potato pies or muffins cooking or to see kids figuring out how many sweet potatoes tall they are. Our school is full of potatoes, vines, leaves and roots. A very good thing in a school in a building in the middle of a big city! What could be sweeter?

Halloween at the ELC is also very sweet! We hold a very small celebration, which consists of an all school, community sing along. In their music classes, Mayuka Suzuki has been teaching all of the children in the school the same five Halloween songs, which they love. The sound of the voices of 100 children raised in song is lovely. It was a perfect start to our Halloween Day. (Judy Beneventi, ELC Director)DSC_1370