Learning the names of animals not commonly seen in Japan (1-4 grade)

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Name of Teacher: Jonathon Allred

Class/Grade/Language Level: Elementary 1-4 Grade

Textbook and specific lesson: No textbook necessary

Goal: To learn the name of animals not commonly seen in Japan

Preparation: Cards with the animals of your home country

Class time: 45 minutes

  • With all my 1-4 grade lessons, I like to start class with English greetings. I have prepared a set of laminated cards that have pictures of me demonstrating what I want students to do. First, I ask who the classroom leader is and I have a picture of myself raising my hand, shouting, “ME!” I have that student tell everyone to “stand up” and then, “Let’s start Jonathon time!” Last, I have them tell the class to “sit down.” I then greet the class in English and tell them to greet their neighbor(s) in English. I sometimes bring a set of laminated characters to class and ask each student, “Do you like ~?” to which they respond, “Yes, I do” or “No, I don’t” while doing gestures. This portion of class can take close to 10 minutes sometimes, but I think it’s worth it because I have the students speak a lot and they are always very excited during this part.
  • The second phase of class is a short song. My favorites are the Hello Song with gestures, Bingo, Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes, and If You’re Happy. Basically anything that gets the kids up and moving and having fun. I don’t usually spend more than 5 minutes on a song.
  • Next, I introduce the topic of study. Teaching the animals in one’s home country is one of my favorite lessons because many of the kids have never seen some of the animals and their reactions are priceless. Furthermore, it is a chance to let students know that there are other places in the world outside of Japan. I usually ask them, “is this animal in Japan?” Of course lots of pictures are necessary for this lesson. Babies of the animal you are introducing are usually a hit. It usually takes about 10 minutes to introduce the animals and get students used their English names.
  • After introducing pictures of the animals, I use an activity that gives the students a chance to recognize the word by ear before having to produce it through speech. One game that is great for this is the touch game. It’s very simple, but allows the teacher to gauge how well students can recognize the animal and its English name. Post all the cards on the board, divide the class into two teams (with mascots of course), and then call up one student from each team at a time and call out words on the board. They turn around and run a short distance to touch the appropriate card. The students love competing in teams and get really into this game.
  • Last, I use an activity that enables the students to say the word quickly. I used to play “around the world” in middle school when I was a kid, but it can also apply to elementary schools too. After explaining the game, have one student at one end of the class stand up and stand next to the closest student. Then hide the cards and reveal them one by one in front of the two students. The first one to say it accurately gets to move on to the next student, while the student who lost must sit down and go back to his or her seat. This game gets very competitive and you’d be surprised how fast students can remember English words this way.
  • After all the games are over, if there is time I usually review the words once or twice. If there is no time, then I end class by having the classroom leader say, “Class is over,” and thank me and the HRT.

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