I Taught Drinking Games to 6 Year Olds

Last Friday I took the school bus up to visit my favourite school: the mountain school. Full of a grand total of 35 kids, I love the small classes and knowing everyone, and last Friday was no different. In fact, on this day I taught the entire school! However, I was not aware I was going to be doing this until I was thrown in front of a class and told to “go ahead” – so I had to do some quick thinking. Hence, the teaching of drinking games.

Before I went to the school I received a fax that (clearly haphazardly translated) seemed to say “prepare a couple games to play with grades 1, 2, 3, and 4”. I did not read this as “you will be teaching two periods entirely alone without any English assistant or home room teacher. Please prepare materials, games, and anything else you may need to teach these grades”. Fortunately, as the JET motto is (aside from being “every situation is different”) “always be prepared” (.. or am I thinking Boy Scouts?). At about 11 pm on Thursday evening I thought I had better make some sort of flashcards or something just in case. Thank god I did, because that just in case kit ended up carrying me through two 50 minute periods. I prepared a few colour flash cards (6 in total) as well as some small cards with numbers on them for games. I wasn’t sure how much English these kids already knew, nor was I sure what exactly I was going to be doing.

After arriving at school Friday I was informed I would be teaching the first 3 periods (no time to linger around and think up ideas). Before I knew it the smallest child I had ever seen had stumbled up to me and said (in the best attempt at English ever), “Rachel-sensei. English!”. She lead me along to a room full of other equally small children and no other teachers in sight. Well, at least I had my poorly made flashcards (which looked MUCH worse in the light of day then they did at midnight when I had finished them the night before). After a few repetitions of the colours, which the kids picked up in no time, it was time for games. I’d say a colour and the kids had to touch something in the room that colour. Five minutes. I had conveniently brought along a couple fans (that kind of look like a wider version of fly swatters) so we played a challenge game: two kids to the board, I say a colour, first kid to swat the colour wins. Max, 10 minute game. (There were only like, 9 kids.) Well, that brings my total class to about 20 minutes, leaving me with 30 minutes of time to fill. Quick thinking time. So I taught the kids the numbers 1-10. Then I taught them a game which they seemed to really enjoy (and later played on the bus ride home – success!). The game was simple, a counting game. Each person can say up to three numbers, (eg. you can say “one” or “one, two”, or “one, two, three”) and the next person counts from where you left off. The kid who ends up having to say number “seven” sits down. Then the counting starts over again. The LOVED this! And the caught on rather quickly. At first I wasn’t sure how to explain the game to kids who were learning colours and numbers for the first time, and I basically just explained it in English and they caught on no problem. That managed to eat up a good 20 minutes and despite its origins in drinking culture, it is a great game to play with the youngins. I managed to fill up the rest of the time easily and get through the next period without too much trouble. And those two periods ended up being my favourite classes of the year! They were so cute!

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This One’s For You, James

What do you see when you look at this picture? I don’t think any image could do this view justice. Although perhaps it’s not what you look at, in this situation, it’s what you see.

the sun setting over japan

I see this every day when I come home from work, and it never fails to stop me in my tracks. Often I pause, sometimes take a picture, but every day, no matter what, it always makes me smile.

Since re-contracting last Friday, I have been thinking a lot about myself (although, don’t I always? – ha) and what makes me happy. What is it that I like about Japan so much? I haven’t really been able to put it into words. Perhaps it’s got nothing to do with Japan, either; perhaps I just like being alone, being independent, and self-sufficient.

Anyway, this post was not meant to be about my own personal musings. It was meant to be a post about concrete things, that I could explain and you would understand. For example, one thing I indented on telling you all was that, if I leave my work at precisely 1625, I will arrive at the first set of lights on my bike ride home just in time to see a lady walk her many dogs. What’s special about this? One of those dogs, one tiny little thing, has no back legs, but rather two tiny little wheels on which he pulls himself along. It is the most heartwarming thing I have ever seen. He is so happy. The other dogs are all on a leash, but not him, and he wanders wherever he pleases. He, like the sunset, also always makes me smile. Another concrete piece of information, is whenever I leave work, the baseball team is always practicing, and I have to walk by the field to get to my bike. Everyday, without fail, as I pass the field, the entire team shouts “goodbye Rachel!” as they remove their baseball caps, run to stand in a line, and bow. That always brings more than a smile to my face.. more like a laugh. I stop and wave back. They are my favourite kids (for that reason, and also because they are all so good at English that if I am ever bombing in class with a lack of responses, one of them always gives me a look as if to say “fine, I’ll bail you out of this one” – will raise his hand, and help me out). That was what I was going to tell you.

I guess this post should be entitled “things that make me smile” – but the fact that it isn’t makes me smile too.