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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