Design Your Own Pokemon
- Name of Teacher: Tom Batten
- Class/Grade/Language Level: Elementary School 4th grade
- Textbook and specific lesson: Basic directions, facial features, and body parts
- Goal: Students will design their own Pokemon
- Preparation: Blindfolds, cut out face and facial features, post-it notes, blank A4 paper. Altogether no more than an hour’s prep time.
- Class time: 4 classes of 45 minutes each
Technically, this is 4 lesson plans rolled into one, or rather 4 lessons that build upon one another. The end goal is to have the students design their own monster after having learnt basic directions, facial features and body parts. I would recommend this for 4th grade, mainly because the students will be required to already know colours and numbers, and by that age they almost certainly will. Could possibly be done with 3rd grade, but 1st and 2nd will be too young.
Lesson 1 – Directions
If you’re wondering what on earth teaching directions has got to do with monster designing, don’t worry, all will become clear later.
1. Greetings & your favourite warm-up game/song = 10 mins
2. Teach the students the following phrases: “turn right,” “turn left,” “go straight,” and “stop.” = 10 mins
3. Create a maze around the room = 5 mins. The desks are already in a criss-cross formation, so this is very quick and easy to do. Use previously prepared pictures of something scary or dangerous to act as the barriers/walls between the desks (maybe a “STOP” sign or dynamite, for example) and a picture to act as the goal. Lay out a path to the goal. Don your blindfold and then have the students direct you to the goal, using the directions you taught them (no Japanese allowed!). The students will grasp the game instantly.
4. Maze game = 20 mins. My original plan was to make groups of 4 students and have one student blindfolded while his/her teammates follow and direct them through the course and have the groups compete for the best time. However, there were a couple of groups whose members all refused to wear the blindfold, so in the end I decided to split the class into two teams and call for a volunteer to wear the blindfold from each team, with the rest of the team directing. Each team has one go on each path/course (one after the other, not simultaneously), with the fastest team scoring a point. Once each of the two teams has had a go on the course, make a new one.
5. Tidy up and review = 5 mins
Lesson 2 – Facial Features
1. Greetings & warm up = 10 mins
2. Teach facial features = 10 mins. Instead of using flashcards or pointing to your own face, I found drawing a funny face on the blackboard got the students’ attention a lot more. Once you’re confident they know all the features that you want to teach, it’s time to play a game. Yay!
3. Simon Says = 5 mins. OK, not the most original game, but it’s perfect for this lesson. Use this game to practice what you’ve just taught, so focus mainly on facial features as opposed to making them hop/punch/breakdance etc.
4. Fukuwarai = 20 mins. This is a famous Japanese game which is similar to pin the tail on the donkey. The basic premise is to stick cut out facial features onto a cut out blank face, while blindfolded. Depending on class sizes, there’s different ways of approaching it. For a class of 30 students, I had six groups. Each group had a blank face on the blackboard. One student will be blindfolded, and the other team members will help. Line up each team so they’re facing their blank face, maybe 3-4 metres away from the board, with their cut out facial features on a desk/chair next to them. The ALT will call out a facial feature, e.g. “left ear!” The non-blindfolded team members will quickly find the correct part and give it to the blindfolded student. He/she will then slowly walk to the board with the other team members helping – “go straight, go straight…stop, up, up, left left…OK!” (This is why we taught them directions in the previous lesson. Remember to teach them up and down too!) The students swap the blindfold with each facial feature. You can treat it as a race if you want, with a point available for the fastest time with each facial feature.
You can easily find a fukuwarai template on the internet, or make your own. Alternatively, you can even just give the students some chalk and have them draw on the blackboard. For each facial feature, stick a magnet on the back. Make sure you don’t use cut outs for features that you haven’t taught the students; e.g. if you didn’t teach them eyebrows, don’t give them eyebrows to stick! Blindfolds and magnets can be bought at Daiso or any other 100 yen shop.
Credit to Hugo Dragonetti and David Amaral who gave me this idea from last year’s lesson plan book.
Lesson 3 – Body Parts
This lesson plan is almost identical to the second one, so…
1. Greetings & warm up = 10 mins
2. Teach body parts = 10 mins. Again, try to be inventive with this. Draw a funny body on the board, use a puppet, medical skeleton or something!
3. Play Simon Says, focusing on parts of the body. 5 mins.
4. The Touching Game = 20 mins (forgive the eyebrow raising name; I’m just a “call a spade a spade” kind of guy. In this game the students try to stick a post-it note onto a nominated body part of their opponent while trying to avoid said opponent doing it back.
For obvious reasons, you should keep the boys and girls separated. So, divide the classroom into two, with girls on one side and boys on the other. You should oversee one group and the homeroom teacher the other. Then divide each sex into two groups, so there are four groups altogether – one group of boys versus the other group of boys, and one group of girls versus the other group of girls.
Each of the four teams has their own pad of post-it notes. One member from each team comes forward to face the other, post-it notes armed and at the ready. The ALT calls out a body part, e.g. “right foot!” The first student to stick the post-it note onto their opponent’s right foot scores a point for their team. You may want to use a time limit. After each round, change the students.
It’s important to remind the students not to get violent and to take care with one another; you obviously don’t want any students getting injured!
Lesson 4 – Design A Monster/Pokemon!
Now the students have learnt facial features and body parts, it’s time for them to design a monster. First, do your greetings and warm-up. Only spend 5 minutes doing this, as you’re going to be pushed for time. Then hand out a sheet of A4 paper to each student.
There are many ways you can go about this. Perhaps the easiest way is to describe the monster to the students and have them draw a rendition, e.g. “it has a green head, with six yellow eyes, one left arm and three right arms etc.” (This is why the students must already know colours and numbers). For advanced classes, you can throw in shapes if they know them.
Alternatively, you can hand over all creative freedom to the students and have them design whatever they want, and at the end of the lesson ask for some volunteers to present their monster to the class, describing its features in English (you may not get any willing volunteers though). The problem with this approach is that there isn’t a lot of English practice, so I wouldn’t recommend it.
Another variation is to fold the papers into 3, with the top third for the head, the middle for the body and arms and the bottom third for the legs, and then have the students pass the paper to the left/right/forward/back, so each third is drawn by a different student.
However you chose to do it, know that this simple activity takes longer than you expect, so plan accordingly. When all is done, ask the homeroom teacher to display the monsters at the back of the room.