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Elementary School Stuff!


I like to start off the first five minutes of a class genki.  I usually start by reviewing a phrase or two; anywhere from 'Hello' to 'What's the weather like?'  This gets everyone into English mode and creates a relaxing environment with the ALT.  I usually try to include a game along with it.

Some fun activities for phrases are:

Phrase Activities (3-6 nensei, 5min)

- Tell everyone they have to practice the phrase with 5 people.  The first person to speak with 5 people wins.

- Give everyone 1 minute.  They have to practice the phrase with as many people as they can.  The student who talks to the most people wins.

- The gokiburi game.

- Sit in a circle and have the kids go around and say the phrase to the person sitting next to them.  Time how long it takes to go around the circle.  If you have two or more circles, the circles can race each other. (you can make many variations of this game.) (see also the Stopwatch game)

Passport Control (1-2 nensei, 10-15min)

-This is great to do as an introduction, it is something you can build on throughout the year, and it gives you an opportunity to talk with each student. Make sure everyone has their passport, you can make these or find one in AJETs 'Team Taught Pizza.' book. Have students line up and go through 'passport control.'  As they go through they have to practice the taught phrase with you. When they do they get a stamp or a sticker or something WAY COOL!!!

(There is also a "passport" included with the Genki English Worksheets pack!)


Teaching culture can be tons of fun!!! Have fun with it!!! It can be incorporated into almost any lesson. However, the great thing about teaching is that it doesn't always have to be done in the classroom. You can teach culture in the hallways, outside on the playground, or when going home from school.

The best way to teach culture is just by being yourself. Elementary students are quick. They'll notice your differences almost instantly and will be quick to catch on. Once you get a feel for your elementary school, teaching culture will come naturally. For me, I began by giving a few students High 5's. Now most students are giving each other High 5's. Different hand-shakes are a lot of fun too. Some of my kids even say 'Dude.' No, I didn'tintentionally do this!!! J


Songs are a great way for younger students to practice speaking English. What songs should you sing? Well, think back to those childhood songs you used to sing. Try them out. They may just work. Here are a few ideas for you:

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes (have the kids make up their own body parts song.)
The Hokey Pokey
Happy Birthday
London Bridge is Falling Down ( Full "London Bridge" Lesson Plan!)
10 Little Indians
Old MacDonald
ABC Song

A cool activity for songs is to break the kids up into groups and have them make their own actions to songs.

Other songs with real practical phrases are also great, such as songs found on the Genki English CD and songs found elsewhere that contain practical phrases.  After singing you can demonstrate the phrase in a practical situation.  It's amazing how much and how easily the kids remember. WOW!!!


Teaching about holidays is a great way to teach about culture.

Some things I have done are;
Drawing and making pumpkin faces and monster masks
Making Turkeys from hands
Making Turkey feathers to be put on a featherless turkey
Making Christmas stockings and filling them with something (ie. stickers) when X-mas comes
Making Ginger Bread Houses- YUM!!!!
Coloring Easter eggs
Making holiday cookies and decorate with frosting- DOUBLE YUM

Advent Calendar (3-6nen, 20-25 min)

Great way to review numbers and teach about X-mas at the same time. Make a X-mas tree that you can leave up in the class room until X-mas. Also make some sort of calendar. Have the students make ornaments for the X-mas tree and have sensei make the star. Have each of the students pick a number (1-24), of course they have to say what number they chosen.speaking practice. Call out numbers randomly from 1-25. When a student's number is called they have to come up and put their ornament on the calendar. As each day of the month passes the students will take their ornaments off the calendar and put it on the tree. Ask sensei to have the students say what day it is in English since you won't be around everyday. The teachers are usually very happy to contribute to your teaching. Oh yeah,.#25, which is the star to top off the tree, is usually special.  Make sure the teacher knows this.  Perhaps he or she can make a game out of who gets to put it on top of the tree.  If you have more than 25 students in the class, start the calendar in November, double up on ornaments, or have some students make some presents to go under the tree, just be creative.. J


Sing 'Head Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.'  Break the kids into groups and have them create their own songs and/or actions.

Sing 'The Hokey Pokey.'  Same as above.

Complete the Picture (1-2 nensei, 10-15 min)

Hand out a picture of a person's torso, arms, and legs to each student. Review body parts by holding up your hand and saying 'hand,' pointing to your ear and saying 'ear,' etc. After reviewing a body part, have the students draw that body part on the picture.

Complete the Person Game (3-4 nensei, 20min)

Split the class into two or more teams. Draw two pictures of a person's torso, arms, and legs on the board; one for each team. Lay numbered cards face down on a desk. Each number corresponds to a body part (1-eye, 2-hand, etc.) Have one person from each team come up to the front of the class. Say 'show me your (body part).' The person to show that body part first wins. They get to choose a numbered card for their team. If they choose 1, they get todraw an eye, or whatever body part corresponds with 1, on their team's picture. The first team to complete the picture wins. If a team chooses a number card and the body part(s) have already been drawn, TOO BAD!!!  They only get one chance to draw. This adds a bit more excitement to the game and usually gives the slower team a chance to catch up. Note: for older kids I add in 'right' and 'left' (ex. Show me your right hand).

Also, Check out the Body Building Game

Twister (3-6 nensei, 20min)

Create a large sheet of paper, big enough for five people to stand on. Put four different colors on the paper. Have 5 students stand around one sheet. Create cards and choose, or call a color and right or left hand or foot (ex. Right hand green).  The students then have to put whatever is called on that color (ex. Put right hand on green). The right hand must stay on green until the 'right hand' is called again. Only hands and feet can touch the ground. If someone falls they're out. This is great fun and usually goes until there is one person left standing, bowing, bent over, not fallen.whatever.  It's also a great opportunity to have the students speak by having them call out colors and body parts.


'I like' Color Race (3-6 nensei, 20-25min)

The main point of this game is to teach 'I like...' However, it's also great review for colors and vocabulary. The kids get to practice some speaking too.

For 3 nensei (3rd year):
Prepare a set of color cards.  Place these cards face down on the desk in the front of the class. Split the class into 2 or 3 teams. Have one student from each team come up to the front of the class. Say 'Go!' and each student must grab a color card.  They must run around the class and find something in the class with the color they chose, grab it, then run back to the front of the class and say, "I like (color)."  For example, if a student picks the color black; he or she must find something in the class that is black, grab it, run back to the front of the class and say, "I like black." The first student who does it wins!!!  EASY!!!  FUN!!!

For 4-5 nensei:
Add in a set of picture cards.  Set the picture cards up in the back of the class. a point for their team. This time, Say 'Go!' and each student grabs a color card, then they run to the back of the class and find a picture card they like.  After they find something in the class with the color they chose, grab it, then run back to the front of the class and say, "I like (color) (picture card)."  For example, if a student picks the color black and then runs to the back of the class and grabs a picture of a banana; after grabbing something in the class that is black and running back to the front of the class, they should say, "I like black banana(s)."

For 6 nensei:
If they've played this game before, have them put and adjective in front of the color and picture card. anything they want to say.  For example, "I like scary black bananas" or "I like big blue pigs."  It's amazing what some of the kids come up with.

Newspaper Sumo (3-6 nensei, 20-25min)

Divide the class into two teams. Put a piece of newspaper on the floor in the front of the class. Have one student from each team stand on either end of the newspaper with their backs facing each other. Hold up a card and the first person to say what it is gets to take a half step backward. Continue this until the heals of the two students touch. When they do, it's SUMO TIME!!!! The students try to push each other off the paper with their bumbs. The first student to step off the paper loses and the other team gets 1 sumo point. Great Great GREAT FUN!!!!!

See also "Newspaper Sumo"

Karuta (All grades)

There are two types of karuta that I use:

Make teams and have one student from each team race to find the picture, letter, color,.etc. The student who wins gets a point for their team. The team with the most points when finished wins. Create groups of about 4 or 5. Prepare a set of cards (whatever you're teaching; animals, numbers.) for each group. Have the students stand up around the cards and put their hands on top of their heads. Call out a card and the first person in the group that touches the card gets to keep it. The person with the most cards in the end wins.

(see also Richard's Karuta page)

My Alphabet Book (1-2 nensei)

In Japan, students are not taught the alphabet in schools until their 4th year, and many times incorrect pronunciation comes along with it.   The alphabet book is a great way to expose the younger children to the ABCs and the phonics of pronunciation at an early age and learn some fun vocabulary at the same time.

Make out a sheet with two letters on it.  Next to each letter put a small picture.   For example, if you are introducing 'A' & 'B,' draw or cut out a picture of an apple and put it next to the letter 'A' and perhaps a picture of a banana, boy, and or bird for the letter 'B' (see ABC vocab on Joel's shogakko plan.)  Next to the pictures have a box where the students can draw the picture themsleves.  Introduce the letters and their pronunciations. Then introduce the pictures and ask what letters they begin with.  Hand out the alphabet sheet and have the students draw the picture they like in the box (good for a future "I like ___" lesson.)  I also have a place for them to practice writing the letter.  After, you can play a game or two with the new vocabulary (ie karuta.)

I created a whole book and gave one to each 1 nensei at the beginning of the 3rd term.  They leave the book in the classroom.  After I teach a few letters and play games with their vocab, the students can take out their book anytime (during break or at lunch), draw the picture they like, and practice writing the letter.  This is great to the student's vocabulary because they're able to practice English when I'm not there.  The teachers also say that the students often help each other with the pronunciation of the ABCs and vocab.

Joel Bacha


Also have a look at Joel's Year Plan
and Joel's Brand New Curriculum Guide Book with loads more ideas!


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