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木, 14 10月 2010 18:38

Halloween Resources

It's finally beginning to feel more like autumn here in Tokyo, and at englishpool we are almost in full Halloween mode. The window has been decorated with a five foot cut-out skeleton (thanks to the excellent skeleton template from SparkleBox) into to which we've attached a couple of flashing eyes! It's so fun to hear the local children commenting on how scary it is...although washing the handprints off the glass is tiresome work.

In the class we are using some great resources developed in Japan so I thought I'd share with you what they are. Firstly we have the Super Simple Halloween Songs CD from Super Simple Songs. The CD comes with a set of small flashcards and a great little booklet giving ideas on how to use the songs and music. As is to be expected the Halloween songs are just as great as all the other stuff the SSS team has done so far. Our students particularly like The Skeleton Dance below. It was a real hit last year at our Halloween Parties, and we even managed to get the mums and dads dancing too!

The second resource that is helping our classes along this year comes from Dream English. Matt has put together some really catchy tunes with simple lyrics and our students just love them. Our favourite this year, and last, has to be The Halloween Chant. The children picked up that essential Halloween vocabulary effortlessly.

So there we have two great resources that allow any teacher to use some themed music in the classroom this Halloween and get the children singing, moving and remembering!

I should also give a quick mention to another site that I just love for it's colouring sheets, printables and craft ideas. And that is Activity Village.

Happy Halloween!


水, 10 2月 2010 18:41

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.

金, 05 2月 2010 18:42

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!


●Paul's, "To help more people speak English!"

●Ai's, "仕事がんばる!子育てがんばる!家事がんばる!健康!ダイエット!英語!"

金, 08 1月 2010 18:42

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!

日, 20 12月 2009 22:36













水, 16 12月 2009 10:33

Cardboard Box Christmas Tree

This is an idea created last year when we had the need for some cheap and cheerful decorations to liven up the function room we had booked for our Christmas party.
As you can see from the photo it's a Christmas Tree made from recycled cardboard packing cases. In this case from the Japanese stationery company Askul. The resulting tree was a great success and as it uses no glue or tape was easy to transport to the venue and could be flatpacked for re-use this year.

月, 16 11月 2009 10:35

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!

月, 16 11月 2009 10:34

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.

日, 01 11月 2009 22:37

Trick or Treat♪







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