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I've had a box of Scrabble Junior lying around the classroom for ages, but had struggled to use it in my classes. Various reasons..but even on the easiest game there didn't seem to be much educational value getting students to lay tiles over ready spelt words.
Until today that what can only be described as a flash of inspiration, I grabbed some card and cut it up into blank tiles. I then wrote lower case alphabet letters on. And voila! I now have a new game for reinforcing the lower case alphabet...which is essential if I'm to reach my goal of getting all our young students into the habit of reading!
So, if you've got a box of Junior Scrabble lying around gathering dust, get cutting that card!

...of course my ultimate goal is to have my students challenge me to game of real Scrabble (no pictures) but that seems all a long way off at the moment.

火, 15 9月 2009 22:42






火, 08 9月 2009 22:42






ポールも緊張していましたね~~ (^o^)







月, 31 8月 2009 10:12

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...

木, 27 8月 2009 10:13

English Story Reading

The first event was on Tuesday, we have about six children and their mums for the session. We started with a little light hearted warm-up; we'd prepared this huge pretend bento box from which I was able to pull out various food items and see if the children knew what they were. Lot's of fun and surprisingly the children knew quite a lot of the English names for the foods (and weren't afraid to shout them out!)
That of course set us up perfectly for The Very Hungry Caterpillar. We followed that with Albie and although I thought it's language is way too difficult the pace and excitment of the reading grabbed the children's attention. We finished with two titles from the Oxford Reading Tree, Six in a Bed and Strawberry Jam.
All in all a fun 30 minutes for all involved...let's hope Saturday is as smooth.

月, 17 8月 2009 22:43


2009年 8月25日(火)11:00~11:30






えいご絵本よみきかせ会PDF ダウンロード (220KB)


火, 04 8月 2009 10:15

Photos of the classroom

Finally we got round to taking some photos of the classroom. They're in black and white because we took them to use in our new flyer/pamphlet which we are busy distributing at the moment.

This is the adult area. The 'antique' table spent most of it's life in a clothing factory cutting room so is very flat and heavily scored! The stools we commissioned from a guy up in Akita prefecture.The ceiling fan we picked up from yahoo! auctions and is a Odelic SH901 for those that are interested (sorry but many people have asked!)

This is looking out of the classroom. What could be called the children's area. We decided that we wanted the children's area to be as clear as possible so we put in a long high shelf to keep the stereo, flashcards and other lesson stuff away from small hands. The low table is yet another 'antique' and functions as a blackboard.

This shot is taken of the entrance area, very stylish don't you agree...? The photos you can see just above the yukari plant, and some unidentified specimen, are of my great grandmother and great grand father when they were babies, so must have been taken about 100 years ago. The photos look great on the wall and are always a talking point with new students.

火, 04 8月 2009 10:14

Book Reading Event

After the success of installing and running Koha we've seen a lot of interest from the student's mothers about book reading especially the Oxford Reading Tree series, which seems to have received a lot of favourable comments in the Japanese press as most of the mums we speak to know about it.

So we thought we'd share some of our favourite stories in a special event dedicated to story reading on August 25th and 29th. The first book I've chosen The Very Hungry Caterpillar namely because it's a story that everybody probably knows, although possibly not in English! When I've used it in class I've had a lot success naming the food (but pear and plums always leaves them stumped), counting the items and with the slightly older children saying the days of the week. So hopefully this will be a good book to start with.

The second book, or probably books, will be taken from the Oxford Reading Tree. As yet I'm undecided on which stories to use and with so few words in the books I'm going to have to provide a narrative in order to keep interest. I suppose I'm aiming at demonstrating how mum or dad might use the book at home.

The final book will be Albie by Andy Cutbill. Why? Just because I love this book. The story is crazy and really lends itself to reading aloud, even if some of the words are difficult to comprehend the pace and expression of the story keep them hooked to the final Allllbbbiiiiiieeeeee!

木, 02 7月 2009 22:44














木, 02 7月 2009 10:16

Setting up a Koha library system

I'd been searching for a suitable lending library software application after purchasing sets of graded readers. Of course I'd been using a pencil and paper system to keep track of books borrowed but thought it would look more professional and be more fun if we could do it on a computer.

After many searches and trial downloads I finally settled on Koha an open source integrated library system. As an open source program it's free to download (much like a lot of the other software we use: OpenOffice, TurboCash, Inkscape etc.) but that doesn't mean it's lacking in any features. Although I only plan on using it with our 500 book library the software is capable of being used by regular lending libraries with multiple branches, thousands of books and patrons.

I'd originally played around with Koha about 3 or 4 years ago and at the time it was extremely complicated to set up on a windows system. Since then Rob Wier has made installing Koha 2.2.9 on a windows system an absolute breeze. For full instructions head across to where as well as the actual program you'll also find all the other application necessary to run it on a windows computer. As well as comprehensive guides to installing and setting up a Koha system.

The installation went smoothly with only a few things that needed changing, such as linking the OPAC site to amazon Japan instead of It looks like Rob has even figured out how to get the Z3950 server feature to work on windows which makes creating the catalogue so much easier.

So the program is all set and seems to be working fine so now it's just a case of entering all those 500 books onto our database, adding new members and finally lending books. We're about half way though at present and should be fully finished in the next week or so (as we only have a hour or so available each day to enter books!)

So here's a big thank you to the Koha team for creating and releasing to the public such a great program.