Help please! How do you illustrate “East”?

Seeing as you helped so much with last week’s request, I’ve got something else I hope you can help me with.

How do you illustrate “East”?

Although jazzing up Baby Monkey for North, South and West is really easy, I don’t know how to do East.

I was thinking of something Chinese.  But, viewed from say Japan or Korea, then that is West!

But … would a Japanese style picture be cool in China or Korea???? Or elsewhere?

Any other thoughts of what to do for “East”?

Also which order do you teach the directions?  North, South, East, West?  North, East, South, West?  Or another way?

Answers in the comments please!

As always, thanks for your help, It really helps me out!

(And of course the less time I spend thinking about things like this, the more time I can spend actually making cool new stuff for you!)

Be genki,


P.S.  The winner of September’s comment competition was Gen!  This month’s competition, where a random blog comment wins a free Genki English CD of your choice, is on now – so get commenting!  The CD version of volume 12 is about 4 weeks away!

Richard Graham

Hello, I'm Richard Graham. When I was a kid I found school to be sooooo boring... So I transformed my way of teaching. I listened to what the kids were really wanting to say and taught it in ways they really wanted to learn. The results were magical. Now I help teachers just like you teach amazing lessons and double your incomes!

33 Responses to “Help please! How do you illustrate “East”?”

  1. Olga Garcia

    In Mexico we always teach North, South, East and West.

    We learn that Sun always rises in the East. That`s why maybe, the Japanese culture is always making reference to the rising Sun. Maybe you could illustrate East as something related with the rising Sun.

    Have a nice day!

  2. Emma

    I would teach it clockwise ( NESW)

    I don’t know any cool pic that would work for ” East” …but I am sure a simple compass with, let’s say, someone ( baby monkey?)running on it towards North, etc would work! And at least it is understable wherever you are in the world!

  3. Margit

    I learned it EAST>SOUTH>WEST>NORTH,
    so I guess this is how I would teach it. But I am not teaching it right now at all~what would change with a song.

    Anyway, interesting that you find it easier to illustrate West, I’m curious!
    Like Olga says I think the rising sun great to illustrate EAst.

    I think it’s better not to use countries, this might really cause problems.

  4. Miah

    I see that there are already similar comments here almost by all, but anyways – in my country we learn it North – South – East – West way.

    As for the East illustration I think the rising Sun would be one of the best options. And since Japan is associated with the image, I am sure this is something easy to remember for them. At least when I learned East – West my teacher chose the rising Sun for the East and the contrary for the West, and I remembered it in seconds.

  5. dan burgess

    On a map or a compass, North is always up , south always down and to get west and east right, I remember the word “WE”, but that works for someone who can read english letters from left to right.

    The sun rises in the east and sets in the west no matter where you are in the world. perhaps that’s the way to go. Perhaps have baby monkey watching the sunrise and the sunset.

    By the way, in my western Canadian school, I learned the directions as “North South East West” . Perhaps that’s just subjective depending on the country you’re from.


  6. Cathy

    I agree with Margit that it’s better not to use countries. I think a compass or a map are the obvious choices for illustrating this concept.

    Somehow the order N-S E-W seems best to me, maybe because that’s how I learned it. But if you imagine a hierarchy of ideas, you could argue that North and South are more important (because the weather changes, because they are more real in terms of our concept of the globe while East and West are relative concepts created for our convenience.)

  7. Meli

    I would do it with little monkeys climbing up a mountain where sun is shining.
    I am used to teaching North, East South, West. In Spanish students learn this with this acronym NESO “O” meaning West=Oeste. Then in English would be NESW

  8. Patti

    Keep it simple! Sunrise, sunset and give Baby Monkey a compass rose!!

    I have the kids face north and teach that west is on the left and that east is on the right. Make a map game with a legend where the kids follow compass directions to help Baby Monkey find his way home or a treasure in the garden.

  9. janchalmer

    When teaching DIRECTIONS in English, I think the best order is North, South, West, East. NSWE – spelling WE reduces confusion, when looking at a compass rose, as to which side is west and which is east!

  10. Suzanne

    I prefer North-South-East-West, probably because that’s how I learned it.

    Regarding the dilemma of how to illustrate East, you wrote, “jazzing up Baby Monkey for North, South and West is really easy,”…Dude, you are obviously light-years ahead of me in this area. Glad that some other folks have had some ideas for you though!

  11. sussie

    I agree that a rising sun would be the best way to illustrate East, or a compass with baby monkey moving in the different directions, as someone else suggested.

    At the moment I’m not teaching this but it would be a nice addition! And I’m curious to see how you’ve illustrated all of them!

  12. Liza

    I learned NSEW, but I teach NSWE because we read from left to right and the WE letters spell “we” to make it easier for kids (and me!) to remember where west and east is when looking at a compass and learning cardinal directions.

    Rising sun sounds good to me for East. West for me would conjure up pictures of horses and cowboy hats but I’m not sure if that would translate well cross-culturally.

  13. Lucy

    Maybe East can be illustrated with European children (a boy and a girl) looking at the sunrise?

  14. Carolyn

    A lot of acronyms were taught for NESW:
    Never Eat Sour Watermelons
    Never Eat Soggy Weetabix

    I agree that using countries could be problematic and like the rising sun idea others wrote about.

  15. Iwona

    In Poland

    North, South, East, West

    East is with the sun rising, on your right 🙂
    East has wild west (in America) connotation.

  16. Carla Chazottes

    Hello Richard,

    I learnt North, South, East, West concerning the image I think Lucy’s idea sounds good. Children or whoever watching the sunrise.

  17. Elizabeth

    Must you use countries? As others have said, I’d prefer using a compass to illustrate. I guess it depends on the focus of the lesson — whether it is emphasizing the political/cultural references of North/South/East/West, or simply geared at the directional usage. If direction is the focus, I’d use a compass with something like a mountain in the background (and yeah, use the sun too if that would help) and make clear use of arrows, along with whatever animation you’ve got of Mr. Monkey traveling!

    As for the order of teaching, I’d use the pairs of opposites (N/S, E/W). To me that’s just clearer.

    And in response to your question about a Japanese picture being cool in other countries…. Well, I’ve taught three years in Korea, and I have to say there is still resentment to Japan there. Not sure how affected the young kids are, but just so you know….

  18. Nadia

    For me east is associated with spirituality, yoga etc, so I would draw a meditating baby monkey :)))

  19. Andrea

    I teach it North East South West, then teach them to remember Naughty Elephants Squirt Water, which the kids love and remember easily. I also explain east with the rising sun to kids who are old enough to know that, other wise I say if north is forwards, east is right and west is left and south is backwards. I also use a compass and play treasure hunt in the playground with a treasure map. (5 little steps east, 5 big steps north etc) which is a lot of fun. 🙂

  20. Yukiko Watanabe

    Hi,Richard, In Japan, we call or talk about the four directions 東西南北(east-west-south-north)(Tou-zai-nan-boku / originally these sounds come from China ) order. Each kanji has Japanese sound 東higashi 西 nishi 南 minami 北kita but when we put them together to talk about 4 directions, the order is always like above.So for Japanese it may be easy to recognize them in that order. I agree to the idea of the rising sun to describe east. The sun rises in the east anywhere in the world.(^_−)−☆

  21. Nena

    I like Andrea’s idea! “Naughty Elephants Squirt Water”
    EAST with sunrise!

  22. Jennifer

    I would have a cute baby monkey playing with a compass and then it would work wherever you are in the world… we used the rhyme Never Eat Shredded Wheat… but I think it might be a bit british for the rest of the world! Good luck!

  23. Amanda Pym

    Well Richard-

    I thought of the middle East to get away from the Japanese issue- how about Turkey- a belly dancer would be quite cool- the kids would like to have a go anyway!!!!


  24. Lines

    Richard are you thinking about another vol? you are a genious…
    Looking for the treasure in the treasure adventure in a map:Go two squares north, three east… the treasure is on the left.
    Following instructions in the snakes ladders ( genki English).
    Left and right song changing to north and south East and west…

  25. mart

    I tell the kids that the word news comes from kings wanting news from all directions and sending their men out to look for news .N. E. W .S from north , east , west and south.

  26. Melinda

    Because we are talking about points of the compass, I would definitely use a SIMPLIFIED version of the world map (with the names of the continents/ oceans ONLY) as a background picture.
    I would place Baby monkey in Africa riding a crazy,funky camel in the Sahara desert perhaps. As Lines has already suggested, I would also use the “left and right” song changing the lyrics to west and east,etc because that song has a really catchy tune. BM would be holding a compass or would be looking through binoculars, and when he would turn eastwards,the sun would start to rise, and when turning westwards, it would start to go down.
    In the case of North, polar bears could turn up, whereas BM could see penguins when looking in the direction of south.(After all, he has a magic pair of binoculars…) Therefore the order would be W,E,N,S.
    By the way, the order is not that crucial, I think. It’s the song and how good the illustrations are, that counts.

  27. Amanda

    Hi, I like the idea of the compass. It would be easy to illustrate. Maybe put it on a hat/T-Shirt of a monkey or something??

    I learned the directions: Never eat soggy waffles.

  28. Eric

    I learned it “North, South, East, West” but as someone else has pointed out already, this is the “western” approach, while “South, North, West, East” is the way they learn it in Asia. I also like the idea of a compass rose, but this may not translate well for Asian students.

    If you’ve ever been to China, you’ll recall how they post maps in any orientation–pun intended–without a “north” arrow, making them practically illegible. If I ask a classroom full of Chinese students, “Which way is north?”, they will discuss it for ten minutes before pointing in the wrong direction.

    Good luck with that.

  29. Charise

    I was taught. NESW –> “Never Eat Soggy Waffles”

    Not sure how you would illustrate it though.

  30. Sulochana nair

    Hi Richard
    Good Morning!
    I would like to say that a baby monkey looking for the rising sun in the morning start with a song like where is the sun…… Oh!this is East direction, face to the sun and the behind/back is west, than ur left hand stretch to the North and the right stretched is to the South.
    Or Stretch your right hand to East and your left hand towards west than your facing to the North and your back is to the South.
    Four students standing in four direction.One child facing the sun with a baby monkey Hello there comes the Sun,Oh this is the East direction and the child standing opp to him say I’m opposite to you that is where I’m in the West direction and they both turning one to North and the turning to the south Hold their hands and the same way the North and south also come saying the same and all the four hold their single hand and go in a round way singing the song.

  31. Carmelita

    Hi, Richard . I read the NEWS that you are asking some help how to teach direction. Why don’t we do it the easy way:
    N- orth
    E- ast
    W- est
    S- outh
    How about this anagram , do you think it might help?
    More power to you and good luck. I’m always waiting for new ideas from you.

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