For many of you who were in the MD area when I was still in the states you probably knew that I dabbled in arts, crafts and photography. I had a creative itch that popped up a couple of years ago and I just started to scratch it about a year and a half prior to moving to Japan. Teaching at Amity has given me tons of opportunities to explore my creative side by making props and toys to use in my preschool classes! I think its one of the reasons why I LOVE to teach so much!
At Amity we teach normal every day classes, but ever so often we get a special class called a seminar. A seminar can focus on anything the student likes. Seminars are a lot of work, but they can also be the most rewarding because you can see the students really enjoying what they are learning about as well as using their newly learned English! I had a 40 minute seminar today with a little girl names Serika. She is in a Baby C class at Amity and while I can’t really remember what age she is, I can tell you she’s still in diapers, doesn’t say a whole lot, and sometimes throws herself on the floor and has temper tantrums – but she also laughs hysterically at peek-a-boo and wants to give me high-fives any chance she gets! The focus of Serika’s seminar was the letter A, circle and the numbers 1 and 2.
I spent a lot of time on Pinterest and the internet searching ideas to incorporate in this 40 minute seminar. 40 minutes doesn’t sound like a long time but with a toddler who has a very short attention span 40 minutes can seem like an eternity! Here’s what I decided to make/use:
I started the seminar with the Letter A and the word Apple. Serika traced the felt over the A with her finger. I also had an A cut out of construction paper that she drove a car over to trace the letter. I used an alligator prop we had at the school and she fed the alligator apples (I found this awesome apple shaped kitchen sponge at the 100 yen shop!). I had a plastic container with sugar in it which I tried to get her to draw the letter A but she didn’t like the sugar on her fingers so we didn’t really use it.
Next we moved onto circles. I attempted to cut circles out of sponges and tried to do a lion circle craft, but she was too young for the craft portion. She did enjoy stacking the circle sponges.
Finally we got the numbers portion of the class and we focused on numbers 1 and 2. I made some numbers out of cardboard and punched holes in them – then I thread a shoe lace through them so she could sew. I got the idea from here and it worked double time because we said the number as she thread the lace through the holes which worked on her fine motor skills. We also counted pom-poms and put them on the corresponding numbers, put stickers and stamps on pages with corresponding numbers, and clipped clothespins with numbers on them to count pictures. I attempted to get Serika to pop bubble wrap and count as she popped it but she didn’t like that too much, so she just watched me pop it. The last thing I had her do was sort objects and count them as she put them on a plate. I filled a plastic container with 100 yen junk and she would pull things out and count. I later did this with a 4 year old and she really liked it as well. It seems that the kids are fascinated with this “treasure box.’
The seminar was a success, but tons of work. I will complete another seminar on Serika next month – hopefully it will go well, but I will keep you posted!