Lesson of the Week: Rock, Paper, Scissors

Thanks to everyone for the (over 100!) comments on Friday’s “Scratch n Sniff” message. ย For those of you waiting for your downloads, I’ve just updated the post so have a look!

It is quite amazing how all the comments that mention “April Fools”ย magicallyย only appeared afterwards! ๐Ÿ˜‰


Today I’m starting a new “Lesson of the Week” feature. ย Where I’ll highlight some real cool Genki English lessons that you might have forgotten about or not tried yet. ย It’s a great way to share new ways of doing the lessons and for you guys to make comments, plus it’s a great way to get more value from your Teacher’s Set.

As quite a few countries start their new school term this week, I’m introducing the best lesson I have for getting the kids totally crazy for English from the start ….

Rock, Paper, Scissors


The full lesson plan is here.

There are so many cool things about this lesson:

  1. It’s something the kids can use straight away – they get to play a game in English!
  2. It’s a great way to teach Genki English Rule no. 2 “Losing just means Try Again!”
  3. You can use it in so many other games to add a touch of chance ( and hence addiction!)
  4. The kids love it.


I usually start off with the Genki Disco Warm Up and then introduce along with gestures, “Rock”, “Paper” and “Scissors”. ย If you look at the video on the Rock Paper Scissors page you’ll see that I then use the Mini Lesson from the Teacher’s Set. This is a great habit to start from the first lesson as

  1. It gives you a breather
  2. It gets the kids hearing other voices
  3. It adds variety and pace to the lesson
  4. They love anything that uses computers!


In case you don’t know the game, everyone shouts out “Rock, Paper, Scissors, 1, 2, 3!” and on “3” you put out either a rock, paper or scissors with your hands. ย Then you choose the winner:

  1. Scissors cut paper
  2. Paper covers rock
  3. Rock blunts scissors


Now when a lot of teachers first listen to the song they say “oh no, I can’t use this, there’s too big a gap between the verses”. ย  As you’ll see on the video this is because the kids go crazy when they win or lose! ย You need that time to get them settled down before the next verse.

The middle section of “Clap your hands everybody, everybody clap your hands” I never actually teach before, I just do it during the song and they always pick it up!

I’ve done this lesson with groups as small as 2 and as many as 1,300 (oh yeah – all at once!) and although in Europe it takes a little more explaining, it never fails as a really, really cool first lesson!

All in English?

As you see in the video I do use a ton of the kids’ own language when teaching this. ย This is an important part of being efficient with our teaching:

  1. It allows you to teach the Genki English rules of “I can do it!” and “Try again”
  2. It allows the kids more more time to speak later.
  3. It lets you ask them and see if they understand the meanings.
  4. It allows them to see that you are a good foreign language teacher ( because you taught yourself – you wouldn’t go to a guitar teacher who couldn’t play guitar, would you?)


If your language isn’t up to it yet, don’t worry, just try it without. I’ve done it in China, Thailand and Sweden when I didn’t understand a word! ย But later on the kids’ language will become more important for you, especially as we start teaching words and phrases that can be interpreted in different ways.

If at first you don’t succeed …

Please do feel free to practise. ย  Running through the mini lesson and song the night before makes a huge difference. ย I might look very smooth doing that video above, but this was after I’d taught the lesson 100s of times! ย I usually make a real pig’s ear of things the first time and usually it takes me 3 or 4 tries to get really good at doing a new lesson.

So have a try and see how you go, your kids are going to love it!

If you’ve done the lesson and have comments or hints/tips, please write them up! ย Similarly if you haven’t done the lesson because you’ve got some reservations or questions, then please ask away.

And if you have any more suggestions for future “Lesssons of the Week” ย then please write those in the comments as well.

Every month I pick a comment at random to receive a free CD, and you know vol. 11 is coming up soon!

Be genki,


P.S. ย The winner of the free Genki English CD for March was ……. David from Antwerp, Belgium! Congratulations.

Richard Graham

Hello, I'm Richard Graham. And 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. So I'm sharing it all with you now...

5 Responses to “Lesson of the Week: Rock, Paper, Scissors”

  1. dan burgess

    I really appreciate your new initiative in reviewing all the courses! I’m new to the program but have been an English teacher for 12 years. I want to start specialising in teaching children because here in Quebec Canada there is ALOT of potential. They’re going to pass a law soon that requires all 6TH graders to spend 6 months in English immersion. Immagine all the parents trying to get their kids ready for that! Have started using some of the methods, with mediocre results. I love to see how they’re used by you James! I see you do alot of preparation before you start playing the actual lesson on the DVD. I wish I could understand Japanese so I could know what you are saying before and after you play the exercises!


  2. richard

    Hi Dan, I’ve just put up subtitles on the video so you can follow along!

    Be genki,

  3. dan burgess

    Thanks Richard!

    I learn alot by watching you teach. I notice that you’re moving as much or more than the kids, also everything that you ask them to do, you do it yourself before to show them, and again with them as they’re doing it. now THAT’s teaching by example.

    I’m looking foreward to the next installment! ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. Julia

    Well done, Richard!

    I got so used to see what’s new on your site from the early morning!

    Vodeos of your lessons are very inspiring. I like you speaking Japanese. It even seemes to me I understand much. At least the rules!

    My kids are fond of the songs and games from the Download Pack. Thank you so much!!!

  5. Karen

    just done rock paper scissors for the first time I don’t know who enjoyed it most – me or the kids !!!

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