Video: Why I Allowed My 4-Year-Old Taiwanese Student Twist My African Hair

There’s no better age to be than four or five years old. (At this age a lot of great things can happen for you during your kindergarten years.)

First, you are encouraged to make mistakes (and not feel ashamed about them). You are also encouraged to ask lots of questions to whoever you want, anytime you want to.
At four or five years old, I imagine mom or dad or grandma cooks your food, buys your clothes, and drives you to school.



Photo credit: Google images


My Juniper Tree students range from four to five years of age. They have me and another teacher, who speaks to them in Mandarin Chinese, to guide them through their days of this exploration phase at Oak Tree Language Institute in Zhubei, Hsinchu County, Taiwan.

Their parents help too. Nearly every student is driven to school, however, one or two ride on the back of their parent’s motor scooter or walk hand in hand to school. I am confident that the students of Juniper Tree have role models in every corner, but I am confident in saying that no one other can answer their questions about braiding hair except for me.


Portrait: Ariam Alula

K3 Juniper Tree’s English Teacher Ariam Alula (as students call me, Teacher Alula) in Downtown Hsinchu, Taiwan. Photo credit: Tanya Weekes


The picture above was taken by a photographer friend named Tanya. She moved to Taiwan from England in December of last year. If you look carefully at the details of the picture (and not just the green lipstick) you will notice that I have hair of various textures.

On some days my hair is soft and puffs out in the back of my head. On other days it is curly and also puffs out in the back of my head. I sometimes curl and twist my hair at my desk during break time (i.e. while students’ are eating their snacks) and notice a few watch me while I do this. I don’t see other women with similar hair texture in Chupei, let alone in Taiwan. They must be curious, I say to myself.


  • What do they think it feels like?
  • Do they want to touch it?


Here is the reaction from two Juniper Tree students who were invited to “explore” touching my hair.
Please note: This experiment was recorded in the morning before we started our morning English circle. This was not part of any lesson English lesson.

Click to watch 



Daisy Makes a Pizza…YUM!

A small girl with a BIG personality is featured in Juniper Tree’s first online classroom video.

It’s nine seconds long so be sure to hear what she has to say!

View herehttp://ariamalula.tumblr.com/post/160045023905/i-work-with-the-cutest-children-ever


Kindergarten Math: Another Go Round of Rubber Bands

On a sunny Thursday afternoon we took a few more minutes toying around with black rubber bands from our I Love Math bags. Every Juniper berry has this bag which includes a set of 20 something stretchy bands that help them recreate the designs displayed in their Math workbooks.

During our Math lessons, students are exposed to a range of activities like matching, counting, and following patterns on page maps. On this exact page students’ are expected to repeat the same designs from their page to the grid board. (See pictures above).

Juniper students were free to create ANY design on their blue boards. I did not monitor them. I did not draw up any ideas on the board. I did not tell them how to do it. Everything pictured here is from the student’s imagination.

I see a clock.

I see the letter “Y”.

I see a sunflower.

What do you see on the students’ boards?