Education · Elementary School Education · Lesson Plans · Living in Japan · Teaching

Let’s Play With Numbers 5

It suddenly hit me today while I was at work that there is another feature that I could do very easily: Lesson Plans & Games. Therefore a new category has been created and I will be going back through my older entries to add those that are included. Now, when I say lesson plans and games, this really will only be applying to elementary school since I am just a glorified human CD player in jr. high schools. Now, I have a lot of lessons that I have done to date, but I am just going to start with my most recent lesson I did at my elementary school on Tuesday. My elementary school lessons are going to revolve around Eigo Noto (英語ノート) and its curriculum, so some of the activities and games might be a little wonky or hard to understand without the textbook. Will post pictures when I have them.

So, yesterday (Tuesday for me) was the “Let’s Play with Numbers 5” of Eigo Noto. Why elementary school kids need 6 weeks of just playing games where they say the numbers 0 -20 over and over again is beyond me. I made it a point to, after the first lesson of just saying numbers, that each lesson after that would include some sort of English where we use numbers in conversation. For example, my second lesson was asking “How old are you?” “I’m 12 years old.”. The previous week they had an activity where they had to write their favorite kanji, count the strokes, and then find classmates who had the same amount of strokes in their kanji and write their friend’s kanji if it had the same number of strokes. Eigo Noto wants students to just say, “How many?” which would be fine if they were in first grade, but 5th and 6th graders are up for more of a challenge and I had my students learn, “How many kanji strokes do you have?” “I have 5.” instead. I wrote the kanji strokes part in a different color and explained that they could use any other word in its place. Cue some real time practice with items in their pencil cases. Yesterday, I wanted to make sure that students still remembered this English because it is pretty useful and it appears over and over again in their jr. high school textbooks.

Each lesson begins with a routine greeting of:
Hello everyone.
Hello Katherine.
How are you?
I’m (they choose their own mood) , thank you and you?
I’m (recently it has been “hot”.

And then we get down to business. First I had students sing two of the songs from Eigo Noto called “Ten Steps” and “Twenty Steps” which has a dance that mimics “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” but you are saying numbers instead. “Ten Steps” goes: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7, 8 9 10, 8 9 10, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 while “Twenty Steps” goes 11 12 13 14 15 16 17, 11 12 13 14 15 16 17, 18 19 20, 18 19 20, 11 12 13 14 15 16 17. Yes, it sounds ridiculous and it is ridiculous. Students really have a hard time with “Twenty Steps” because the numbers’ pronunciation is really long and difficult for Japanese people. I usually do “Twenty Steps” acapella a few times and speed it up as we go and finish with a “challenge” of singing with the CD.

Next was a review of the previous English I mentioned above (thankfully several students in each class remembered it so I did not have to do a total review). I then handed out number cards to each student and told them that the number card they had represented the number of books they had. They then had to go around the room and ask their classmates “How many books do you have?” until they found someone with the same number of books as them (“I have 5”). The game finished when everyone found their partner and returned to their seat.

The next game is a game that Eigo Noto wanted us to use called the “Doubt” game, but we all know it as “B.S.” Now, I clearly could not teach elementary school kids the term B.S., so we kept the term “Doubt” for the title of the game. In Japan, it is played the same way, but kids are used to only yelling “Doubt!” out when they think a player has put down the wrong card. It took some effort, but I had to retrain kids that they should say, “I doubt it!” At first students were only allowed to put one card down at a time (they had to say “I have whatever the number” when they put down the card), then I changed it to up to four cards of the same number after a few minutes, and then I made it so that they could also put down numbers in a sequence. I found it to be a good way to keep the kids excited about the game by giving them more options and other ways to come up with strategies. Jack was 11, Queen was 12, King was 13, Ace was 1, and Jokers were all-powerful.

And that was all the time I had. I usually hate letting games go over 15 minutes because kids’ energies get too high, but it was so hot and they were really enjoying playing the card game in their lunch groups.

Next week may be my last week at this elementary school, and I will be really sad if I have to switch elementary schools because I am switching jr. high schools because the second year students cannot behave themselves. My boss and some of his co-workers will also be coming to my class to observe “Eigo Noto.” They claim that they are not coming to observe the ALT, but I have a hard time believing that since “Eigo Noto” can change so much depending on the teacher. My school keeps telling me not to worry, but having the higher ups come and watch is always a little nerve-racking…especially when you are not following the lesson plans that they created because, to be blunt, they kind of suck.


2 thoughts on “Let’s Play With Numbers 5

    1. 5 classes in a row at elementary school is rough. I have energy while I am there, but after a long day and the bike ride there and back…I pretty much just fall asleep.

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