most recent edition, June 15, 2003
Unit plan and student surveys

School Bus Rocket
Where are you from?
(part 1)


  If you ever travel to another country, you are probably going to look and talk differently from the people living there, and people there are probably going to wonder where you are from and why you talk the way you do. Imagine that! That's what it was like for me when I went to Japan, a string of islands just off the eastern coast of Asia (can you find Japan on the globe?). When I went there, I visited some schools and met lots of kids. I told them my name, "Joe," and where I was from, "Georgia (in North America) but they didn't really know where that was, or why I couldn't speak their language as well as they could. The teachers had told me to try to answer their questions and to teach the English phrase "Where are you from?" In Japanese, it's "Anata wa doko kara kimashitaka?"
Then we practiced the English version of the question with our friends by answering the question with the name of the neighborhood where we lived.
Try practicing the question in Japanese and have your partner answer the question by giving the name of his or her neighborhood or town. "Anata wa doko kara kimashitaka?"

  After practicing the phrase, I decided to have some more fun with the question, so the whole class asked me the question: "Joe, where are you from" (or in Japanese, Joe-san wa, doko kara kimashitaka?" ).
  I tried to answer their question in a different way to introduce the story I wanted to tell, so I walked over to the window, looked out and said:
  "I can't see my house from here. Even if we climbed to the top of Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan, we still couldn't see it!" And we don't have time to go there by plane now. That would take us all day!
  But, if we had a rocket,
we could fly high enough and fast enough to see it right now. I ask them: "Who wants to take a ride on a rocket?"

"Yes!!!," everyone yells.

I now show them the first picture of School Bus Rocket, and the story begins:

I rode on an orange bus like this to school every morning when I was in primary school. This time I made it a rocket so we can can ride it all over the world!
But before we take-off, let's give names to everyone in the picture.

  1. What shall we name the white chicken?
  2. The black and white dog?
  3. The boy with the blue hat?
  4. How about the other boy?
  5. How about the little girl with blonde hair?

Which one of the characters would you become?
Now we are ready for the count-down? READY?!

Let's try it in Japanese: Ten (Jyuu) . . . nine (Kyuu) . . . eight (Hachi) . . . seven (Shichi) . . . six (Roku) . . . five (Go) . . . four (Yon). . . three (San) . . . two (Ni) . . . one (Ichi) . . . B-L-A-S-T OFF (SYUPPATSU) ! ! ! ! !

Look, there's the Japan archipelago! And there is my home in Georgia, all the way across the ocean in the southeastern part of North America!
What's that below the sun?! Maybe it's a U.F.O!
Who want's to go even FURTHER into space? .  .  .

O.K., but if we go FURTHER the earth going to get SMALLER and SMALLER. Is that O.K.? All right! Here we go ! ! !

Can you find each of the words? Try leaning the Japanese words for them? 

  1. Earth Chikyuu
  2. Sun Taiyou
  3. Stars Hoshi
  4. Moon Tsuki

All right! Who wants to go even FURTHER into space?! 

If we do, the earth is going to get even SMALLER AND SMALLER. Don't get scared and cry! Here we go ! ! !

Where is the earth?
Chikyuu wa doko desuka?

Yes, it's that little blue ball near the bus in Our Solar System.
What number is the earth from the sun?
Chikyuu wa taiyou kara nan ban me desyouka?
Let's check! Yes, its the third planet from the sun. And how many planets are in Our Solar System Watashitachi no Taiyoukei?

  1. Mercury (Suisei), is the hottest planet!
  2. Venus (Kinsei), is still too hot for life!
  3. Earth (Chikyuu), our planet, is just right for life!
  4. Mars (Kasei), is the red planet, but too cold for life!
  5. Jupiter (Mokuusei), is the biggest planet, and even colder than Mars!
  6. Saturn (Dosei), is even colder than Jupiter!
  7. Uranus (Meiousei), is even colder than Saturn!
  8. Neptune (Kaiousei), even colder than Saturn!
  9. Pluto (Tennousei), the coldest planet!

Now who wants to go even FURTHER into space? But now Our Solar System is going to get "SMALLER AND SMALLER." We won't be able to see the earth anymore! Will you be O.K.?
Here we go!

Wow! ! !@ We can see our galaxy now! Our Solar System is in the Milky Way (Amano Gawa). Who wants to go further? Now, even the Milky Way is going to get smaller and smaller. Do you still want to go?
O.K.! Here we go! (Ikuzou!)



Look! Now we can see even more galaxies. We call all of the Galaxies we can see in space, "The Universe" (Uchuu).

In the center of some galaxies are the most awesome places in space -- places where ANYTHING gets eaten and disappears! Yes, Black Holes! Does anyone want to go into one? O.K., but if you do, you will probably become part of a star somewhere, and I mean a REAL STAR, not a MOVIE STAR!

Here is a photo taken of a star being born!

We have come so far, I am afraid that we might run out of gas on our trip back to earth. We could ask that UFO to fly with us just in case we run out of gas! Shall we ask for help? Let's radio that U.F.O. and ask them for help.

(end of part 1)

(part 2)

"Hello, Hello, can you hear us?!"
Moshi Moshi!? Kikoemasuka?

We can understand a little Japanese too!"  Where are you from? Anata wa doko kara kimashitaka?," they asked us.

"We are from Earth!" we yelled.
Watashitachi wa Chikyuu kara kimasita!

Yeah, that's a nice place!

"Can you lead us back to Earth," we asked.

"Yes," we will!

 "Thank you, Thank you!" we yelled! Arigatou, Arigatou!
And we began our trip back to Earth!

Through our galaxy, the Amano Gawa (Milky Way).

Back through Watashitachi no Taiyoukei (Our Solar System).

We could now see the Chikyuu (Earth), the Taiyou (Sun), the Hoshi (Stars), and the Tsuki (Moon).

Hey! there's Joe's home in Georgia, and the Japan archipelago.

Thank you for guiding us! Please come again!
Gaido shite kurete, Arigatou! Mata kite kudasai!

We're back ! ! ! We did it ! ! ! ! That was a great trip!
Tadaima! Yattazou! Sugoi tabi deshita ne!

more Earth Riders Stories

Unit plan and student surveys
Teachers' K-2 introduction