TWENTY-six eight-year-olds from Azabu primary in Tokyo have been visiting a nearby nursery school each week to do work unheard of before last year.
The pupils devise their own project, gather information, submit weekly progress reports and make a presentation to their own class at the end of six weeks.
Child-centred project work was introduced nationally last year after research showed Japanese children do not enjoy studying, despite their high standards.
After playing with the infants and interviewing their mothers, three Azabu boys decided to design and build a toy slide and car out of plywood and cardboard, said teacher Harue Tokuwaki. Two others kept journals on what they learned about infants and babies.
"I think they have learned how to empathise with and care for the weak," said Tokuwaki. "They became aware for the first time that what they learn in the classroom has application in real life."