Ideas, tips and information about teaching Kindergarten (Nursery) school and elementary school.

Kindergarten activities
  • Warm up- Standing in a circle, and passing a balloon or ball is a good activity you can use. Like, when you catch the ball you say 'my name is...' or any target vocabulary.
  • Janken games -teaching the kids rock-paper-scissors is doable. And, playing games utilising it can be fun. For example, 'janken-train': all the kids walk around while you play some music, when you stop they have to play rock-paper-scissors, the loser follows the winner and they start walking around again. This can be repeated until you have one big chain. Can get hectic, but can be used to practice grammar points (like, the loser should say 'My name is-.' and join the back of the line.
  • Card Games:
    Concentration -Teach them some vocabulary with pictures. Then, sit in a circle, the middle have pairs of big cards face down, and each person can turn over two at a time to try to find a match. Works well in smaller groups.
    Karuta -sitting in a circle with pictures of the target words, they listen to you say one, and try to be the fastest to grab it.
  • Fruits basket -Teach them vocabulary for a topic with pictures, like fruits/animals/foods/colours etc. Then, sit everyone on chairs in a circle. Then, give each student a card/sticker with a picture. When you say ' basket' the children with that card should get up and change seats. If you say 'fruits basket' (or, whatever topic it is) everyone should move seats. With kindergarten, just changing seats is fine. With older children, taking away a seat and making it competitive so there is a winner is an option.
  • Christmas Activities:
    Pass the parcel - You wrap up a prize, then wrap another layer with another prize, until you have a giant parcel with many layers/prizes. Daiso is good for making this cheaply
  • Simon Says - using simple instructions, like clap, walk, jog, jump, wave, sit down, stand up etc. can easily be demonstrated and picked up by the children and they enjoy it. Good activity for entertaining all of the children at the same time, so it's a good activity if you are doing a class with a lot of children.

Kindergarten songs
General:
- 'Hello, how are you?' song: "Hello, Hello, Hello, how are you? I'm fine, I'm fine, I hope that you are, too." (Note: This is taught in Eigo Noto, at elementary school, with a dance. Also, you can change 'fine' to anything, and add in extra dance moves or pictures.)

Christmas:
- Jingle bells - (you can bring or utilise the schools hand bells to make this interactive.)
- Rudolf the red nose reindeer - (pictures and noses/hats for the students can make this more interactive.)
- We Wish You a Merry Christmas - Very simple song they can actually sing with you.

Kindergarten tips
  • Often, the teachers will have very low levels of English, so knowing basic Japanese conversation/instruction words can be useful for communicating with the teachers and leading activities with children.
  • With songs, you often have to simplify them. Or, only get the students to join in at one part (like, saying 'Hey!' in jingle bells).
  • Sometimes schools will ask you what they want you to do, other times they will just ask you to prepare something. Often, you're sat down in front of a group of expectant children, and teachers with no guidance. So, don't be afraid of making mistakes and being embarrassed. Just be confident, even if you don't feel that way!
  • Bringing your skills to the visit is always a good idea, like if you can play an instrument, sing, dance or have an interesting talent.
  • Bringing pictures and physical things they can see or touch is nice for them.
  • A lot of times, you'll just be asked to 'play' with the kids; it can be a little daunting walking out into a playground full of small children if you know little Japanese, have no guidance, and all the kids are running away and hiding. But, just approach them, be friendly and don't be embarrassed of making a fool of yourself!