Autumn Handprint Tree 

Using children's handprints in crafts is always a hit with the children and their parents alike. The children get to compare each others hand sizes so a great time to practice 'big' and 'small' and the parents get a keepsake of their child's hand. This simple autumn/fall craft uses the children's hands to create a tree in autumn colours.

Simply take sheets of autumnal coloured construction paper, trace the child's hand with a pencil and cut out. Of course depending on the age of the child they could do some of the tracing and cutting.

Take a large piece of paper, I used packing paper, draw a tree trunk and some branches. Get the children to glue their hand cut outs onto the tree.

And there you have it, a beautiful autumn tree.
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Laminated Leaves 

This Autumn/Fall craft could also make a good Thanksgiving related craft. The basic idea is really simple but the end result is quite beautiful.

Simple gather some attractive autumn/fall leaves from around the neighbourhood. I was up early and scouring our local park, Toyama Park, for a variety of leaves. There were some fantastic reds, yellows and mottled leaves to be had. Of course I would have loved to take my students on a walk to gather their own leaves but with only 45 minutes lesson time it isn't possible. Maybe next year I'll arrange a special extended lesson for this type of activity.

With your collected leaves simply arrange in a laminate pouch, making sure to leave a 5-10mm gap around each leaf for a good seal. Feed the pouch into the laminating machine taking care to keep the leaves in position. And there you have it, laminated leaves. I also sandwiched the child's name and date written on a piece of construction paper in the pouch as a kind of keepsake.

They last surprisingly well and leaves that we laminated last year still look good today.
WARNING: Using your laminating machine to laminate leaves is not recommended by the manufacturer. But it is fun!

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In some of my elementary classes using English Time we've recently started a unit on food, and although I've taught this this unit numerous times in the past I thought it was time to try something different. Now anybody living in Japan will know that this is a country obsessed with food, switch on the TV at anytime of the day and you'll find at least one channel airing a programme about food, but sometimes the food used in textbooks is difficult for children to relate to. Although English Time has fried rice, sushi and dumplings I often find it fails to grab the children's full attention. So...

As I'd just missed the paper recycling truck I was stuck with a bag of waste paper in my hands, mainly comprising of the Co-op's weekly home delivery catalogue. As I was mulling over the sheer mottainai of all this paper an idea popped into my head.

Why not turn the catalogue into a collage. Our target language is 'I like (food name)' and 'I don't like (food name)' so if we make a collage of food we like and don't like it should really reinforce the language.

So armed with scissors, a large sheet of A3, some glue and a pencil we set to work. The resulting lessons were fantastic, the children really enjoyed searching through the catalogues for pictures to cut out. Chocolate, ice cream and other snacks were the favourites but I was also surprised many children choose fish and vegetables to be on their 'Food I Like' poster. During the cutting stage I encouraged them to talk about the pictures they were cutting out and we had fun trying to explain various typically Japanese foods in English.

You can see some of the finished collages below:

All in all I thought the collage idea worked well because the children could really relate to the pictures of the food as it was the kind of stuff they ate daily.

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Teaching good, bad, better than, worse than, best and worst 

Or should the title read teaching the superlative and comparative forms of good and bad? Anyway I thought I'd share this gem of an idea for teaching the various forms of good and bad.

I was in a company class on Tuesday morning working my way through the assigned business English text Quick Work from Oxford University Press. I quite like the textbook as it has a European feel to it and the language doesn't get too tied up in the usual American business jargon that dogs other texts.

Anway I was trying to get them to grasp the comparative and superlative forms of good and bad, and at 8AM in the morning that isn't an easy task, when I came up with this:

Give each student a piece of paper and ask them to draw the popular Japanese children's anime character Doraemon. If you're in Japan all your students will know this character (if outside Japan you'll have to choose soemthing else!)

Chances are, if it's like the class I tried it in, most students will make an absolute hash of the drawing creating giggles all round. This is the beauty of the idea in that now we can use 'his is better than hers', 'hers is worse than his', 'this is the best' and 'this is the worst'.

And I'll bet that whenever they need to use the comparative or superlative of good and bad they'll think back to the time they drew Doraemon.

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More Halloween materials 

I think the Halloween bug has really bitten me this year...I've just put together a new set of Halloween themed flashcards that I then printed, cut, trimmed and then laminated, cut and trimmed; twice! As I wanted a set of cards that I could use for playing 'Memory' and 'Go Fish!', so duplicates are a must.

Was quite time cosuming but hopefully they'll last a good few years.

The link to the Halloween flashcards will appear here, when I get the chance to upload it!

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