Matthew's Classroom

I have been teaching English to kids in Japan for more than 20 years: public elementary schools in Tokyo for 11 years, and Hello Kids Komazawa for the last 9. For 3 years I have been teaching weekly lessons to students at Tsutsujigaoka Kindergarten. As I tend to stay at the same workplace for a long time, I've been able to see the long-term results of my work. Being able to really see children's English communication ability grow has been very rewarding. I mainly use APRICOT materials in my classroom. They best suit my goal of having students use as much English as possible while developing confidence and self-esteem. I enjoy teaching development, and I love discussing English education with other teachers!
  • 21. “Let’s Make a Dog” - Book 2 ACTIVITY SHEETS (Unit 4-2)

    img_l[1]Bk2 4-3 本文


    The idea behind this material is for students to cooperate as a class in the creation of a dog using the English “big/small/long/short” and “body/head/ears/legs/tail”. The dog’s body parts are added one at a time. Each part is either very big or very small, so the kids can enjoy the comical aspect of creating a rather disproportionate dog. In fact, the more outrageous-looking the dog becomes, the more liberty students find with their creativity. Short legs on a big body with a small head, small ears but a very long tail…. All rules of “normality” are out the window, and acceptance of the unusual or different is experienced. The more excited the students become, the more enthusiastic they become to produce the necessary English.


    I recently tried the activity with two “nen-cho” classes (5 year olds) at a kindergarten. Each class had 25 students. The second class was more successful than the first. The key for success with this activity lies in the start.


    In the first class, the first part of the dog I presented to students was the body. I placed both the large body and the small body on the blackboard, and asked students to choose one. They decided on the small body.




    Thereafter, the students would only choose small body parts. They had a difficult time accepting the possibility that the dog could have big ears, long legs or a long tail. In their mind, a small body meant a small dog, and so everything had to be small. Even though I tried to encourage them to try long legs or big ears, they adamantly refused. All parts HAD to be small. The result was a very average-looking small dog:



    Worse still, students didn’t use much English, and they didn’t particularly seem to enjoy the activity.


    For the second class, in order to encourage more creativity and English of course, I presented initially a large body AND a small head.




    This way the dog was already “unusual”, and so the students found it easy to be creative. Their imagination soared and the debate on whether the dog should have a short tail or a long tail, or short legs or long legs, was heated. The students thoroughly enjoyed this activity.




    This activity generates a good amount of English when students are prepared to accept the “unusual” or “outside the norm”. This is perhaps challenging for kindergarten kids – unless you show them clearly from the outset that it’s OK.


    Page Top