Sand trays for writing practice 

I have been following with interest the report form Sir Jim Rose regarding primary education. I was highly influenced by his original Rose Review in 2006 that pushed synthetic phonics to the forefront of the UK's education system and have adapted a lot of the reviews recommendations for my own classes with great results.

One item highlighted in the report was the use of sand trays for children learning the shapes of the letters. There seem to a few companies supplying the UK market but I couldn't find a single sand tray in Japan so... I decided to make my own.

The design is really quite simple; it's just a tray with sand in it. So I knocked up a couple of sturdy box type trays over the course of a evening. The next day I laminated a piece of construction paper and laid it in the bottom. The I added the sand, which I bought from my local pet shop (it's the kind used in aquariums.)

Actually the amount of sand needed in each box was much less than I expected as I wanted the laminated colour paper to show through when a line was traced. I'd also made a couple of smoothers to flatten the sand after each use but it seems that a quick shake of the tray levels everything off.

So far I've used them in two of our Stage 1 classes with students ranging in age from 3 to 5 years old. The sand trays were very well received and we all had fun tracing the target letters in the sand.

[ add comment ] [ 0 trackbacks ] permalink ( 3 / 656 )
Chocolate Cornflake Cakes 

This month, February, our theme is to do with cooking. It's about as close as I wanted to go to doing a Valentines theme without the hearts and stuff. As we are in a first floor location we try to have an ever changing window display to keep the interest up, so I sketched up this really simple recipe for Chocolate Cornflake Cakes.

Should you be so inclined the recipe is as follows:


100g Chocolate bar
55g butter
1 tbs Maple syrup
1 tbs cocoa
110g cornflakes

1. In heat-proof mixing bowl, break the chocolate bar into small pieces.
2. Add the butter, Maple syrup and cocoa.
3. Place the bowl over a pan of boiling water to melt the chocolate.
4. Stir the chocolate, butter, syrup and cocoa mixture until smooth.
5. Stir in the cornflakes.
6. Spoon the mixture into paper cases.
7. Place the cakes in the refrigerator to set. ENJOY!

You can also find a downloadable PDF file of the Chocolate Cornflake Cake recipe here

[ add comment ] ( 3 views ) [ 0 trackbacks ] permalink ( 3 / 1154 )
Happy New Year! 2010 

Long time since my last post...the end of the year was just so hectic. What with Halloween and Christmas Parties to arrange for all our students as well as themed material in the lessons we were left with very little extra time.

So I suppose yet again my New Year resolution will be to post more often.

Watch this space but don't hold your breath!

[ add comment ] [ 0 trackbacks ] permalink ( 3 / 1155 )
Waseda Info 

I was taking a quick look at sites that link back to us and discovered this little gem of a website for the Waseda area. It's called and surprisingly can be found at

Unfortunately it's only in Japanese but it uses a lot of visuals and maps so armed with a little basic Japanese reading ability you can use it to find bars, restaurants, shops, services and of course englishpool's entry in the Waseda area.

I particularly like the interviews with various shop/business owners in the Waseda area. I think it would be good to offer some kind of video content on this site but don't really know enough about it.

Maybe I could approach to do an interview at englishpool...

[ add comment ] [ 0 trackbacks ] permalink ( 3 / 1045 )
Eigo Story Book Reading Event 

Saturday was the big event. We had 11 students, ranging in age from 1 year old to 7 years old, and their parents squeezed into the classroom. Whereas Tuesday was only mothers, on Saturday we had fathers too; having fathers in the classroom always makes me feel embarrassed, probably because I can imagine myself in their position...

Anyway the event went smoothly, and this time I remembered the stuff I should have done on Tuesday but forgot.

In conclusion the two book reading events were a success, in that they provided an opportunity for existing students/parents to meet people from other classes. We also got to see a few new faces and they got to look around the classroom and see a little of what we are doing.

I am already thinking of doing a Halloween Book Reading this space...

[ add comment ] [ 0 trackbacks ] permalink ( 3 / 1011 )

Back Next