KA VOICECAST for Sunday, December 1st

KA VOICECAST for Sunday, December 1st

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IN THE NEWS with Dan Blasor



STORY TIME- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott


KA News for Sunday, December 1st


This year’s winter courses will be held on Thursday and Friday, December 26 & 27 and will include vocabulary review classes for each track.  These classes will be a great chance for students of all tracks to catch up on or review key vocabulary they’d gone over during the year, as well as an ideal opportunity for new students to pick up any vocabulary they have missed.  The following is a partial list of some of the courses that will be on offer.  The KA Meidaimae school will be offering a Nursery Rhyme course for Kinders as well as several Vocabulary Consolidation classes.  The Nishifunabashi school is offering Vocabulary Consolidation for several tracks.  The Jyugaoka school will also offer Nursery Rhymes, Vocabulary Consolidation, and Eiken classes.  The KA Tama Plaza school is offering Nursery Rhymes, Arts and Craft, and Vocabulary courses.  For a complete list of courses, please refer to the Kikokushijo Academy website or contact your school office directly.

KA’s famed essay-writing course for students in grade 4 of elementary school and above is now available as a correspondence course for students who live abroad or outside of the Kanto area. This is a serious, results-oriented program for students who wish to pass essay exams for junior high, senior high, university or the EIKEN, TOEFL, or SAT exams. Distance Learning students will write and revise weekly essays, complete grammar assignments, and build vocabulary to raise the register and effectiveness of their writing. Each student will correspond with a Personal Writing Tutor, who will guide the student through the course by email.

Students wishing to participate in the Distance Learning course must have:

• Access to the internet

• A computer with Microsoft Word and Adobe Reader

• A strong desire to improve their writing.

For more information about this exciting new program, please contact Kikokushijo Academy or follow the link.

The KA Kids International Preschool officially opened its doors in September and applications for children aged 3-6 are still being accepted.  Children who sign up for the KAIP program will be introduced to the fast-paced, advanced reading and writing program with teachers trained in the Read Write Inc. Phonics method, currently exclusive to Kikokushijo Academy. For general information and answers to frequently asked questions, please follow the link to the KA Kids International Preschool Page.

All KA schools will be closed on the following dates.   Monday, the 23rd of December for the Emperor’s Birthday, Tuesday the 24th of December for Christmas Eve, and the Wednesday, December 25th for Christmas.   KA New Year’s Holiday is Sunday, December 29th through Friday, January 3rd.  All KA Schools will reopen on Saturday, January 4th.



With Dan Blasor

Christmas is fast approaching and as it is every year around this time, television, and the hundreds of festive television adverts launched during the months of November and December is definitely not letting us forget it.  From the world famous Coca Cola truck festooned with sparkling lights to all the major British supermarket and department stores featuring well-known celebrities running through snowy scenes wrapped in the latest designer hats and coats- reminders that Father Christmas will be visiting soon are literally “in our face” with every switch of the channel.

As a parent, the biggest sign that Christmas is approaching is the advertising that jam-packs commercial breaks during children’s TV shows.

In the hour I’ve spent preparing to write today’s segment, my son has seen ad breaks offering him such exciting Christmas presents as a walking, roaring dinosaur, sets of toy characters from various recent Disney movies, to the very bizarre toy ‘Doggy Doo,’ where, at the roll of a dice, you feed a toy dog a treat, and if you’re unlucky, it may poop on the table.  This sample shows just a few of the latest craze or novelty toys available in stores this Christmas.

My question is, do kids need such a massive range of choices?

Recent discussions in the British media and various online sources have raised this question too.  Do children need such a selection? Does it make them happy or just want even more?

The Toy Retailers’ Association reports that the British alone spend 3 billion pounds each year on toys.

This is a staggering amount and to put it into perspective for you, here in the UK, government spending on Pre-Primary education is only about £1 billion per annum.   We spend around three times that amount on keeping our children laden with the latest toy trends.

These so called ‘crazes’ or trends never last very long.  They last a season at best because retailers rely on new crazes each year to ensure that children keep wanting and parents keep spending.   And unfortunately, too many of us give into this pressure to keep on spending.

V&A Museum of Childhood

At London’s Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood, Catherine Howell oversees a national collection of toys that includes items from a 400-year-old rocking horse through to a Buzz Lightyear.

She says that children typically have far more toys than any previous generation

While TV series or movie spin-off merchandising has been a huge hit ever since Star Wars figures appeared in the 1970s, Catherine Howell says traditional toys like dolls and building blocks have retained a consistent popularity.  A child always comes back to a set of bricks because it allows them to use their imagination.

I personally believe ‘playing’ should involve a large amount of creativity and imagination, because what on earth would my children actually learn from pushing a treat in one side of a plastic dog and it randomly dropping one out the back as a pretend poop?

Like many children, when I was young I really liked to draw.   One Christmas, my parents bought me a little chair and desk combo for me to sit on to draw, but, while this may sound cliché, I actually remember that after unpacking the gift, I quickly set about climbing inside the cardboard box that contained the lovely desk and chair combo, and for what felt like hours, pretended I was in a washing machine.

There have been tests carried out on groups of children in Germany, which have shown that there are many benefits from limiting the number of toys children are given.

Two groups were compared—one group of children was given more toys than they could possibly use, while another group was given only a few very simple, basic toys to play with.

Not surprisingly, the children who were given fewer toys were found to be more creative, exhibited longer attention spans, showed better social skills, took greater care of things, and became more resourceful and less selfish.  Children in this group also showed more interest in experiencing nature and playing outside.

Fewer toys in a household results in a less cluttered, cleaner, healthier home, which, when you are a parent, is an added bonus and another reason to keep the numbers down.

My children will no doubt receive a selection of gifts this year, but now that I have read up on all these interesting studies and findings, I will try to be a little more selective about what they will unwrap this year on Christmas morning.  I’ll consider whether a toy will help them learn or grow in some way while they play rather than just giving into media pressure and getting them the gifts that advertisers insist ‘no child could live without.’

One thing is certain.  There will not be any plastic dog poop on my table Christmas day.

Merry Christmas!!


How much do the British spend on toys every year?

The Toy Retailers’ Association reports that the British alone spend 3 billion pounds each year on toys.

What are some toy items that you can see if you visit the London Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood?

At London’s Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood, Catherine Howell oversees a national collection of toys that includes items from a 400-year-old rocking horse through to a Buzz Lightyear.

A test was conducted in Germany.  When children were given fewer toys to play with how did it affect the children?

Not surprisingly, the children who were given fewer toys were found to be more creative, exhibited longer attention spans, showed better social skills, took greater care of things, and became more resourceful and less selfish.  Children in this group also showed more interest in experiencing nature and playing outside.



IMPETUOUSLY is an adverb that means in an impulsive, hasty, or rash manner, without much care or thought.   Synonyms include impulsively, hastily, recklessly, heedlessly, and spontaneously.

A PROCESSION is a number of people, or sometimes, vehicles moving forward in an orderly fashion.  A PROCESSION is usually a part of a ceremony, such as in a funeral PROCESSION.

CONTENTED is an adjective that means feeling or expressing happiness or satisfaction.  The expression CONTENTED WITH as used in the passage means willing to accept something, even if it’s not the ideal.  Synonyms include satisfied, gratified, and fulfilled.

Little Women

Louisa May Alcott

“Merry Christmas, little daughters!  I’m glad you began at once, and hope you will keep on.  But I want to say one word before we sit down. Not far away from here lies a poor woman with a little newborn baby. Six children are huddled into one bed to keep from freezing, for they have no fire.  There is nothing to eat over there, and the oldest boy came to tell me they were suffering hunger and cold.  My girls, will you give them your breakfast as a Christmas present?”

They were all unusually hungry, having waited nearly an hour, and for a minute no one spoke, only a minute, for Jo exclaimed impetuously, “I’m so glad you came before we began!”

“May I go and help carry the things to the poor little children?” asked Beth eagerly.

“I shall take the cream and the muffings,” added Amy, heroically giving up the article she most liked.

Meg was already covering the buckwheats, and piling the bread into one big plate.

“I thought you’d do it,” said Mrs. March, smiling as if satisfied. “You shall all go and help me, and when we come back we will have bread and milk for breakfast, and make it up at dinnertime.”

They were soon ready, and the procession set out.  Fortunately it was early, and they went through back streets, so few people saw them, and no one laughed at the queer party.

A poor, bare, miserable room it was, with broken windows, no fire, ragged bedclothes, a sick mother, wailing baby, and a group of pale, hungry children cuddled under one old quilt, trying to keep warm.

How the big eyes stared and the blue lips smiled as the girls went in.

“Ach, mein Gott!  It is good angels come to us!” said the poor woman, crying for joy.

“Funny angels in hoods and mittens,” said Jo, and set them to laughing.

In a few minutes it really did seem as if kind spirits had been at work there.  Hannah, who had carried wood, made a fire, and stopped up the broken panes with old hats and her own cloak.  Mrs. March gave the mother tea and gruel, and comforted her with promises of help, while she dressed the little baby as tenderly as if it had been her own.  The girls meantime spread the table, set the children round the fire, and fed them like so many hungry birds, laughing, talking, and trying to understand the funny broken English.

“Das ist gut!”  “Die Engel-kinder!” cried the poor things as they ate and warmed their purple hands at the comfortable blaze. The girls had never been called angel children before, and thought it very agreeable, especially Jo, who had been considered a ‘Sancho’ ever since she was born.  That was a very happy breakfast, though they didn’t get any of it.  And when they went away, leaving comfort behind, I think there were not in all the city four merrier people than the hungry little girls who gave away their breakfasts and contented themselves with bread and milk on Christmas morning.

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