I made cards to go along with a writing race practice for the first years after my JTE said she wanted more writing practice. Here’s how the game works
- make two sets of vocab cards
- split the kids into two teams and go over the phrase ‘I like_____’. (This can be used for ‘I play___ ’ or ‘I don’t like___’, easy grammar).
- hand out cards like ‘baseball’ ‘science’ ‘cats’ randomly
- when you call out their card, one student from each team has to run to the board and write ‘I like’ + the word on their card as fast and as legibly as they can.
This has been one of the most intense games I’ve ever done at JHS and something that I’ll definitely do again. Pretty much any writing/drawing competition gets the kids excited but my 1st year students were so much fun to watch as they got into it. They each had two cards so double the chance to practice writing and racing out of their seats.
I got complaints from one class when I first tried it out that there were some kids who couldn’t read the words so I drew pictures just in case to make it easier.
One boy asked me “Sensei, is this round thing in the middle supposed to be sushi??” I kind of just looked at it, realized how weird it looks and lost it which then made everyone else laugh. I laugh way too much, I know that and they know that
I enjoy making crafts and materials but I’ve accepted the fact that I am at best mediocre with drawing anything that isn’t Admiral Ackbar’s face
I think it’s pretty good.
Now whenever this 1st year sees me, he just yells ‘Hey sensei, sushi!’ at me. I like feeling that I can joke with my students and since I see the ones at JHS only every couple of months or so, I want them to have fun and feel comfortable with me. It’s ok if they think I’m silly or quirky, as long as they get into the games and get something out of it.
It looks like typhoon weather has worked its way up to Fukushima. Yesterday was beautiful and clear but thunder, lightning and pouring rain woke me up around 2 am. I live in a very small house that shakes when trucks pass by so it was a rough early morning feeling my walls shake every so often. I hate being a light sleeper.
The rain has calmed down slightly, I can see fog rolling in over the trees from the 2nd floor of the junior high. I’m hoping it calms down just enough tonight so I can make my 2nd osteopath appointment. As much as I enjoy rain for the cool air it brings in the summer, I want this typhoon to pass soon.
It’s my first day back at JHS after months of only being at elementary school. I only make visits for a week or so every few months and it’s a totally different atmosphere. At ES, I have back to back classes with grades ranging from 1st to 6th and everything is on me. At JHS, I have a lot more open periods and help with activity planning rather than the whole class. There’s no running around outside and my lunches are by myself in the kitchen. As much as I like interacting with the kids, having lunch alone gives me a nice break where I can eat at my own pace without being bothered and just read. Some days at ES I’m bombarded with questions and kids playing around with my stuff so I don’t always get to finish my food (which isn’t ok) and some days the room is so quiet that I feel awkward making conversation. I don’t have to worry about that at JHS. The next two weeks will be a nice change in my schedule
ESL at the elementary level should be games from start to finish based on a theme like food, colors, numbers or simple grammar like “can you__” or “what do you like?”
The best games have been the ones where the kids have to either compete against each other or get out of their seats to beat the clock and complete a drawing. Last week I hit a snag with “what do you like” and this week decided to just not bother with the textbook for a class and focus on a game instead. In Hi Friends 1 (the 5th grade textbook) “What do you like” is introduced with describing different t-shirts and the characters saying what color and design they like when asked by their friends.
For this game, I put sheets of paper with t-shirts I drew on the board and covered them with a sheet of newspaper so when the kids got up to draw, the finished product would be a reveal. I then give one giant dice to each team.
- All the kids at once ask me “what design do you like” and I’ll respond with “I like hearts” or “I like stars” (I have the example designs drawn at the top of the board)
- Student 1 rolls the dice and if it’s a 6, they draw 6 hearts and so on.
- They race to draw as many as they rolled while the rest of us countdown from 10 to 1.
- Next, everyone asks “what color do you like”?
- Student 2 will race up to the board to shade in the design student 1 drew.
It usually continues like this until there are about 4 designs on the t-shirts. I teach them to drum roll on their desks and then do a reveal of each which is the best part.
Lastly, I ask “how many ___?” and use all t-shirts to ask how many hearts, triangles, whatever.
Some kids go crazy with the shading and some manage to be super neat within a short amount of time.
***This kind of game works great with drawing faces as well. Substitute design with parts of the face and body and have the kids race to see which team can get 2 eyes, 1 nose, 1 mouth, 2 ears, 2 arms, 2 legs first with each face part being a number (1=eye, 2=nose, etc). They can only draw one of each and if each member keeps rolling a 1, then it’s multiple eyes for their face. For the face drawing race, I usually make it a rule that everyone works together and even if they forget the word for the face part, they can count to 6 so I want to hear numbers too. This usually takes the pressure off if they can’t remember leg or something. I use this with 3-4th grade. At first, when I quickly drew the “bodies” on the board, they looked like mushrooms so I started calling it the Nameko game
My desks at the BOE are full of these fish. I’ll find them stuck between folders, in my bags, behind my textbook. I started out with enough to go over numbers 1-10 and then just kept going up to 20 in multiple sets. My predecessor left some soft mat material in a box and I got the idea for making fish after seeing some mom blogs on how to get little kids to recognize both colors and numbers. These usually find their way into my kindergarten bag and are good when I have some time left at the end. I play a few games with them but here are the two I use the most.
- Spread all the fish out at the end of the play room or gym and separate the kids into two groups
- I yell “get the BLUE fish” or some other color
- When it’s their turn, they have to run to the other side, grab whatever color fish I yell and then run back to their team before I finish my countdown from 10.
The 4 and 5 year olds pick up really quickly and it’s important to speak very slowly and emphasize the color.
- split the kids into groups of 2-4 depending on class size
- lay out the set of 1-10 fish on a circular blue sheet of paper on the floor (this is the ocean)
- Have the teams race to “fish” all of them out with a long loop of string that catches onto the paper clip
- Afterwards we all count out loud from 1 fish to 10 fish.
This kind of game is good for motor skills as well as counting in English. It works best with the 5 year olds.
Being an elementary school ALT means I make my own lessons and my own crafts. As much as teaching on my own makes me nervous sometimes and can be stressful, I love browsing homeschooling blogs, pinterest, and art blogs for ideas that I tweak for English language learners. I figure the more colorful and eye-catching, the better. Sometimes my crafts come out looking pretty good, sometimes they come out looking weird (like the picture below)
For those of you who don’t know Funasshi, he’s a giant pear that has been recently voted Japan’s top mascot. Google Funasshi and some videos of it will pop up. This character is so popular right now I figured it’d be cool to use it in some way
With 3rd and 4th graders, I teach parts of the face and body, nothing complicated. The game is tweaked from something I found online and the idea to use Funashi along with making the removable face parts was mine. Here’s how it works.
- Go over parts of the face
- ask them “who is this?” and they’ll all yell out Funashi because it’s impossible not to know
- Go over the phrase “Oh my god! Funashi has no ___” in pieces and then all at once. The kids all know oh my god and ‘has no’ isn’t too bad
- Remove parts of the face one by one and have the students raise their hand to name that face part and say it as a full sentence with the class then shouting all at once “oh my god”
For 2nd grade, I repeat along with them. For 3rd and 4th, they can pretty much say it by themselves and then when there are no parts left, we all yell “oh my god, Funashi has no face.” This one gets a lot of laughs out of the younger kids because it’s so hideous but it gets them speaking longer sentences.