February saw the Kinder and Elementary A classes focusing on parts of the body.
While teaching the names of various parts of the body is important it's usually difficult to get the children to retain the vocabulary. Even the ubiquitous 'Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes' often fails to make a lasting impression aside from teaching them 'kneezza' the combined sound of 'knees and ...' !
So this year in our Elementary A classes we tried creating something a bit more impressive, we had one student lie down while we traced their outline onto some big sheets of paper. The students then had to label the different parts of the body as a team exercise. Aside form a few requests from some of the children (especially the boys) for extra body part naming, it was great fun!
One of our students gave us this as a present last week.
Can you tell what it is? The shape is of course Mount Fuji, or Fuji-san, and the contents are youkan (a Japanese sweet made from beans.)
In Japan Mount Fuji pops up everywhere but this is the first time I've seen it depicted in youkan!
They were delicious by the way!
Shiori, one of our lesson assistants, visited New York recently and she brought back this book as a present.
One Yellow Fish by Linda Kranz, features, as well as the aforementioned yellow fish, other fish of different colours, sizes and shapes.
It makes a great addition to our ever expanding library of children's English language books. There are over 1100 titles in the library so far, all available for englishpool members to borrow.
As well as a selection of board books for younger children, we have the complete set of Oxford Reading Tree, titles from Jolly Phonics, Rigby Star ans Collins Big Cat readers. So there's something for everyone to enjoy.
Last Saturday, 11th February, saw the 15th New Year Kids Museum event held at the Ushigome Tansu Centre. We were proud to be able to support the event through placing two advertisements in the event pamphlet, one for englishpool and one for The Three Little Pigs.
This annual event is organised by Shinjuku Kodomo Gekijo, and as well as featuring performances from the various circles under the Shinjuku Kodomo Gekijo umbrella (including Kobuta wadaiko, The Diamond Lilies gospel group) there are also performances from other organisations run for children in Shinjuku-ku (including Unicycle Shinjuku Azalea, Yuttarino and Shinjuku Junior Leaders.)
I am always surprised at the high quality of the performances and the professionalism of the event, and this year was no exception. It really is amazing what can be achieved by people volunteering their time and energy.
P.S. Next year I'll try and write this kind of post before the event...to encourage you to attend, like.
We were asked by my local Chokai Association (think parish council) if we could provide a one point lesson for their upcoming newsletter.
Naturally we said 'yes'; so after a bit of brain scratching we came up with the theme of directions, as it's probably the most common reason for foreign visitors and the Japanese population to interact.
I also got to have myself featured as a local business, cue mug shot:
The owner of Andy's Country Farm in Wakamatsucho, who provides the flower displays for The Three Little Pigs was also featured. So all in all not a bad bit of free publicity.
Thank you, Toyama 1 Chome.
P.S. Actually it's not the first time for them to be featured, check out last summer's edition on our facebook page.
Every year, in our Sprouts classes, we have a theme of autumn/fall colours. We ask the children and mothers to bring in any interesting leaves they may find. We then arrange look at and talk about the leaves, noting colour, shape and anything else that may be of interest.
As well as leaves, we also receive other autumn items such as chestnuts, acorns and pine cones. All create a great theme that is fun to talk about.
Just in case any of the children and mother pairs forget to bring in any leaves, I also take a walk through Toyama Park collecting various items. The above picture shows my haul of autumn goodies, including various leaves, pine cones types and some very spherical acorns.
Something else we also do is to select a few of the most interesting leaves, arrange them in a laminate pouch and then feed the pouch through the laminating machine. This encases the leaves in plastic as shown below. The children can then take the pouch home as a reminder.
(Beware: laminating leaves is probably not recommended by the laminating machine manufacturer!!)
This is the book I'll be reading in a couple of hours time at the Sixth Story Forest Waku-Waku Camp.
The English title of the book is Fortunately, although in Japan it is known as Yokkata ne Ned-kun, or just Ned-kun.
It was written by Remy Charlip and first published in 1964, and although it looks a little dated it's a charming story about the adventures of Ned.
Let's hope the children gathered today at Okubo Library enjoy the story.
We received these from our favourite textbook supplier, englishbooks.jp. We've finally migrated to the New Headway series, so pictures and language will be a bit more relevant to 2016! No more clunky mobile phone pictures or listening to telephone switchboard conversations! Already enjoying using the text in my classes.
Also received the Macmillan English Book 1 sporting a new cover and a few packs of stinky reward stickers.
As mentioned before the books were ordered through englishbooks.jp, as are most of the books and materials we use. While usually very pleased with their service this time I was blown away, the books were ordered Tuesday lunchtime and they arrived Thursday morning. And this from a company that is based in Miyazaki! How many Tokyo based book sellers can offer this kind of speed? In my experience not many...
Already feeling highly satisfied with the staff at englishbooks.jp on Friday a Sales Rep stopped by to say hello and ask how things were! Pretty fantastic was all I could answer.
I'm pleased to announce that I'll be taking part in the Sixth Story Forest Waka-Waku Camp to be held at Okubo Library on December 4th, 2016.
It's the first time for me to either attend or take part in this event so I really don't know what to expect. I've been asked to co-read a book, one of us will read it in English (me) and the other will read it in Japanese. Sounds different? Apparently they've done the same thing with reading books in Japanese and Korean, and this year thought they'd give English a try.
As I say I know very little about the event at the moment, but just looking at the flyer it looks like it may be quite interesting. The book reading takes place in tents and teepees! And the children move from tent to tent collecting stamps.
Looking forward to it and hope to see you there!
Japanese: 第6回 おはなし森のわくわくキャンプ
Korean: 제6회 이야기 숲의 두근두근 캠프(오오쿠보 도서관)
We will hold our annual Christmas Party on Sunday, 18th December this year. Posters and 'chirashi' are already made and printed and will be going out to all our students this week.
I can't quite believe that I am so organised this year, as I usually leave everything to the last minute! But as some of the mother's have already been asking when the party is I thought I'd get busy!!
I am a firm believer that the secret to language learning is to be able to ask questions. The more questions you can ask in the target language the quicker you will learn. With this in mind, I make sure that in all our lessons the students gain confidence in asking questions.
Take today in our Elementary B class, I put this rather childish green plastic frog in the centre of the table and asked the children to think of a question, expecting them to ask 'What is it?' or 'What is this?' or 'What colour is it?' or 'How many frogs?' etc. as they are patterns we have been practising over the past couple of months and I've these frogs to elicit those kind of questions.
Imagine my surprise when the first question that came to their minds was 'What's your name?' followed by 'What sports do you like?' as if they were interviewing the frog!!!
After many giggles we decided to call him 'Little Green Froggy'.