Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"The Origami Plan" from Edcon Publishing.

Yukiko has no friends, and recess is a lonely time for her.

Someone you will read about: Yukiko. Something you will read about: origami.

At recess, Yukiko sat alone on a bench under a tree. She would have liked to join the girls who were jumping rope nearby, but nobody had invited her and she just couldn't ask them.

Yukiko thought, "All my friends are across the ocean in Japan. I have no friends in this American school."

Two girls from her fifth-grade class, Pam and Melissa, ran past her, giggling. Yukiko stared at the tips of her brightly polished shoes, wishing she were invisible. Tears filled her eyes and she blinked them back, bowing her head so no one could see. All around her, the others laughed and shouted to one another. Yukiko could hear basketballs bouncing and jump ropes slapping on the ground.

"Why don't they like me?" Yukiko asked herself again. It wasn't because she was Japanese. There was a Japanese boy in her class, and almost everyone was his pal. It wasn't because her clothes or speech were different. She dressed like everyone else, as far as she could see, and her English was as good as that of the other students.
A ball bounced toward her and rolled under her bench. A sturdy little boy in a red sweater - a second-grader. Yukiko guessed - raced after it. She moved her feet so he could crawl under the· bench to get the ball.

"Thank you," he said. Then his smile faded when he saw her face. "Are you sick?"
Yukiko shook her head as she replied, "Certainly not."
He sat down on the bench next to her and looked at her curiously. "If you're not sick, what's wrong with you?"

She shook her head again and turned her face away.

The little boy exclaimed, "I bet you're crying because you don't have anyone to play with. My sister Pam says nobody wants to be your friend. She says you're stuck-up and you never talk to anybody because you think you're better than everybody else." He paused and tugged at his sweater. "Well, I guess I'd better go." The sturdy little boy walked away. Her cheeks warm, Yukiko watched him race off to join his friends. "Stuck-up!" she thought. ''I'm not stuck-up. If I don't talk to people very much, it's because I'm shy with strangers. It's hard to talk to people you don't know in a new country and a new school."

Yukiko realized that she had to show the others she was not stuck-up. But she could do it only by being friendly and talking to people. "And that," she thought, "is al most impossible."

It was then that Yukiko thought of the plan: the Origami Plan. It was the only way she could think of to be able to speak to the children in her class without becoming shy and stiff in her manner. She talked to her teacher, Mrs. Talbot, and after history class on Friday, Mrs. Talbot said, "Yukiko has a surprise for us today. She's going to show us a special Japanese skill." Yukiko walked down the aisle to the front of the room. She could hear whispers behind her where Pam and Melissa sat. Again she wished she were invisible, but she turned to face the class.

"Origami is the Japanese skill of folding paper," she said. "Some Japanese people are very clever at it. They can fold pieces of colored paper to look like almost anything."

Yukiko placed a box of colored paper sheets on the table in front of her. She removed a square of green and began carefully folding it. When she was finished, she held up her work.

"It's a frog!" someone whispered.

Yukiko's fingers flew over her work as she told the class about Japan, her school, and her friends there. While she· talked, she made a red crab, a yellow and blue striped fish, a brown dog, a white bird, and a purple monkey. The paper animals were handed around the room so everyone could get a closer look at them. Soon all the children were talking and asking questions.

Yukiko's plan was working!

Folding paper into animals kept her from feeling so shy that she could not talk in a comfortable, cheerful way. Now Yukiko took an enormous sheet of orange paper from her box and started folding it. "Whoever guesses what I'm making can have it when I'm finished," she announced. Guesses came at her from all over the room. Was it another monkey, or a butterfly, or a boat, or a hat? Yukiko smiled, shook her head, and continued folding the paper.

Pam shouted suddenly, "It's a mask!"

"That's right," said Yukiko.

"It's a monster mask and it's supposed to scare you." Everybody giggled.

When the lunch bell rang, Yukiko gathered up all her paper animals and walked back down the aisle. Pam came over to collect the mask.

"It's a beautiful mask," she said. 'I'm going to hang it on the wall over my bed. Yukiko, why don't you sit with me and my pals at lunch? You can tell us more about Japan."

Yukiko smiled and nodded.

She glanced at the monster mask, astonished. Just for a second, she thought she saw it wink at her.

"The Origmai Plan", Comprehension Check. Choose the right answer. In your notebook, write from one to ten. Then, write the letter of the answer you think is correct after each number. Check your answer with the answer keys after the Comprehension Check.

1. Why didn't Yukiko talk to anybody at recess?
a. She didn't know any English.
b. She was stuck-up.
c. She was too shy.
d. She didn't like anybody.

2. What grade was Yukiko in?
a. Second
b. Third
c. Fourth
d. Fifth

3. Why did the little boy think Yukiko was sick?
a. She was all alone.
b. She looked tired.
c. She was crying.
d. She was coughing.

4. Why didn't Yukiko have any friends in her new school?
a. The other students thought she was "stuck-up."
b. The other students thought she was mean.
c. She looked different from the others.
d. She couldn't speak English very well.

5. What is the name of Yukiko's teacher?
a. Mrs. Solo
b. Mrs. Beame
c. Mr. Smith
d. Mrs. Talbot

6. What did Yukiko make with the big sheet of orange paper?
a. A hat
b. A mask
c. A butterfly
d. A monkey

7. What did Yukiko talk about while she folded the paper animals?
a. Origami.
b. Japanese food.
c. Her school in Japan.
d. The little boy she met at recess.

8. What did Yukiko do with the origami animals she made?
a. She let the other students look at them.
b. She gave them to Melissa and Pam.
c. She threw them away.
d. She gave them to the boy she met at recess.

9. Another name for this story could be
a. "All about Japan."
b. "A Winking Mask."
c. "New Friends for Yukiko."
d. "Pam and Melissa."

10. This story is mainly about
a. a girl's plan to show people she's not stuck-up.
b. the kinds of things than be made with origami.
c. the difference between Japanese and American schools.
d. how Yukiko learned the skill of Japanese paper folding.

Origami Gallery. Click on the picture to make it larger.

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