Hi! Friends 1: Lesson 1: Hello! (AB)

The first lesson in the first Hi! Friends book doesn’t contain much difficult grammar or vocabulary and as a result is a great opportunity to get students used to the textbook, you as a formal teacher, and their new classmates. Though the official lesson plans recommend something like three or four lessons per chapter, in my opinion this lesson is best as a succinct two-parter.

Lesson 1A, Self Introduction

  • Warm Up: Teacher Self Introduction -or- Reward Method Introduction
  • Activity 1: “My name is” Catch
  • Activity 2: Let’s Listen p2~3
  • Activity 3: Design Name Cards

Lesson 1B, Name Cards

  • Warm Up: Hellos of the World, p4~p5
  • Main Activity: Exchange Name Cards

Lesson 1A, Self Introduction

Warm Up: Teacher Self Introduction -or- Reward Method Introduction


I’ve been at the same schools so long I no longer need to do a self-introduction. They all know me! If you’re new, take a few minute to intro yourself. Show pictures. Crack jokes. Whatever. Chances are they made you do this bit in training.

Reward Method Introduction

This needs a bit of setup. In previous years I have given out stickers to kids who win games or participate in lessons. This is sort of hard to keep up after a while. I spent a lot of money on cool stickers. I mean, the kids loved the stickers and I loved playing with them myself, but it adds up. So as a different way to reward and quantify participation, I now print a customized landscape on the back of each grade’s Furikaeri Cards/Review Cards. The inside of the card still has them reflect on the day’s lesson so that their home room teacher can give them an objective grade for participation, but now I have my own real estate on the back to work with.

I introduced this new method this year by passing out the cards and immediately playing the “king”/ousama version of rock paper scissors wherein the kids all play against me and each round sit down if they lose against me. The last kid standing in the last round gets a stamp on their stamp card. Instantly, without much explanation or effort, the class knows the picture on the back of their cards is a reward mechanism and they want more!

It doesn’t hurt when you get hit by a paper ball!

Activity 1: “My name is” Catch

By 5th grade, the kids should know the phrases ‘My name is’ and ‘What’s your name?’ pretty well. They’re taught it on TV and in kindergarten if nothing else. This particular chapter, then, isn’t so much about the grammar itself as getting used to the new teacher, the new textbook, and new classmates.

For this game of catch, I use a paper ball. Just go to the copy room and grab a piece of colorful paper, preferably one that’s in a recycle pile, and crumple it up into a ball. It’s pretty much impossible to hurt someone by throwing a crumpled up piece of paper at them, and unlike a real ball you can replace it in seconds if it goes missing. Also, you can toss it at the end of the day or each lesson to avoid taking home kid germs.

To gain the kids interest I immediately bust out the paper ball after rock paper scissors and start tossing it into the air and catching it. I then start a call-and-repeat of:

My (My)

My name (My name)

My name is (My name is)

My name is Katherine. (My name is Aoi.)

Inevitably on the last call and repeat some kids will say their own names rightly, and others will repeat yours. Tease them good naturedly. Oh? That’s your name too? Nice to meet you! They’ll get the picture. Lastly have them repeat the question after you.

What’s your name?

…and then toss the ball randomly to the kids. If they act surprised, tell them to ‘Catch! Catch!’ as it’s a loan word they’ll instantly recognize. Walk up to the kid who caught the ball and repeat your chanted words as a conversation. ‘My name is Katherine. What’s your name?’ They introduce themselves, you say ‘Nice to meet you.’, and they get a reward stamp on their new card.

About 10 tosses of the ball worked well for me this year. Only about 10 kids get stamps but not everybody is put on the spot. This way the shy kids don’t feel pressured to perform on the first day, but the hams get to show off.

The first book quiz of the Hi! Friends series.
The first book quiz of the Hi! Friends series.

Activity 2: Let’s Listen p2~3

Now it’s time to get them used to the Hi! Friends textbook. This will be the first time any of these kids have had an English textbook in regular school so they probably don’t know what to expect.

Pages 2 and 3 of the book feature a big illustration of ‘Midori Elementary School’ with two teaches and a few students standing in front of it. These are the characters used in both the Hi! Friends 1 and 2 textbook series. For clarity, I print off the portraits of each character and put them on the blackboard with magnets in the same general arrangement as the book page, then draw parenthesis above and below each character to correspond with the blank spaces in the book and number the kids left to right, front to back. This page is actually pretty poorly designed. Two of the characters have their blank spaces to their sides, four below them, and one above. Be sure to point aggressively to whatever character you’re on during the quiz bit so they don’t get too confused.

This page is interactive on the Hi! Friends DVD-ROM but I find it easier just to point to the print outs of each character on the blackboard and do funny voices as I read their simple self-introductions myself. Tell the kids to get out their pencils, and that it’s ok to write in Japanese, and start with the first character.

I call these listening activities ‘quizzes’ and I have the students grade themselves. Once I’ve read out the text for the listening activity, I prompt the kids to get out red pens or pencils to check.

Red pens, please. It’s time to check. Character #1, what’s his name?

I hand a piece of chalk to a kid who has raised their hand to answer and gesture at the chalk board. They write it on the board in Japanese so you don’t have to worry if you don’t know any Japanese yourself. Circle the answer in red chalk to indicate that it is correct. The kids will do the same in their own books. Each kid who writes an answer on the board gets a stamp from me.

Some names go above the corresponding character, some below, some beside.
Some names go above the corresponding character, some below, some beside.

It’s so funny to see how the kids interpret the personalities of the book characters just from their names and the illustrations and sometimes the voice you make when you read their character introductions. Taku is the cool guy, Hikaru is the nerd. Sakura is probably the main character. So adorable.

I put a little extra effort into my name cards.
I put a little extra effort into my name cards.

Activity 3: Design Name Cards

Lastly, the kids get to make ‘meishi’ aka Name Cards aka Business Cards. I tell my kids to put their names on the cards in English and to draw a picture. I demo by roughly making my own cards on an enlarged paper on the board.

On today’s cards, two points. Point #1, name. Names, please. My name is Katherine, what’s your name? Point #2, picture. Pictures, please. What do you like? I like cats, so a cat design. So cute!

If the kids aren’t sure how to write their names in English, write their name for them on p7 of the textbook. There’s a small box on the top of the page to write their names in for practice. I usually skip this bit because most kids have a good idea how to write their names already and it just ends up taking unneeded time. But, it’s there in the book if your students are behind or unsure.

I give the kids the remaining time to design their name cards. When they’re finished, I collect the name card papers. They’re being given a lot of stuff to keep track of on the first week of school so take a load off and just collect all the papers and bring them to the next lesson yourself. That way nobody forgets theirs and gets left out next time.

Lesson 1B, Name Cards

Hellos of the world.

Warm Up: Hellos of the World, p4~p5

For all the space this segment takes up in the book, it sure is useless. I mean when else are the kids gonna use the word for Hello in French? I treat this two page spread as a warm up activity only.

I start by putting the flags of all the pictured countries up on the board one at a time and identifying which country is represented by which flag. Then, the warm up game begins. I pick out two flags from the cluster I’ve made on the blackboard and put one on the far right side and the other on the far left. Russia and Finland are good to start because pretty much no kids will have any clue what hello is in either of those countries native languages.

Russia. Finland. Russia is right, Finland is left. Ok! Hello Quiz #1: Stratchviche! What hello is this? Russia? Finland? Stand up, please! Stratchviche is from Russia? Go to Russia! Stratchviche is from Finland? Go to Finland!

Sometimes you have to gesture wildly to get the kids to realize you’re prompting them to guess what country this is a greeting from and to express their guess by moving their body to one side of the room or another. I countdown from five and then scoot the kids trying to stand in the center to one side or the other. No fence sitting! Then, I give the answer.

Stratchviche is from… Russia! Stratchviche is Russia’s hello.

Kids standing on the correct side of the room get stamps from me. Swap the two flags from round one with two new flags for round two.

The countries and their greetings are in katakana in the teachers’ manual but here’s a breakdown.

Japan : Konnichiwa

Australia: Hello

Korea: Anyonghaseyo

Russia: Stratviche

France: Bonjour

China: Nihao

India: Namaste

Finland: Hyuuva Paiva

America: Hello

Kenya: Jambo

Brazil: Boa tarde.

If you’re not sure how it’s pronounced, check out the DVD-ROM. They have recordings of all the hellos.

Bring a paper bag to collect trash and get on the home room teacher's good side.
Bring a paper bag to collect trash and get on the home room teacher’s good side.

Main Activity: Exchange Name Cards

Kids take forever to cut stuff out. It’s a fact. Give a kid a pair of scissors and tell them to cut a paper thing and it’ll be a few years before they’re done. This activity is no exception, so I do my best to prepare for their time wasting. I bring extra pairs of scissors for the kids who forgot theirs at home today for some reason. I bring extra copies of the worksheet for kids who were absent last time. I bring a paper bag to collect the paper trash in. I walk around with it as they cut their cards out and steal the paper trash off their desks and hold open the bag as I go for others to volunteer their trash. The home room teachers will thank you for that last one.

I give them 5 to 10 minutes to cut out their cards. For serious, it takes me about 20 seconds to cut out the entire sheet of cards in front of them with the paper facing backwards so they can see what I’m doing. They drag their little feet until the last possible second.

As they finish their cutting, demo the grammar while swapping cards with kids who finished quickly. Then, it’s their turn to stand up and exchange cards in a melee. I don’t police this lesson too much. As long as they’re saying their names and exchanging cards, things are good.

When they’ve swapped all eight cards, they glue them into the textbook on p7. Boom. Done. Ok, well, sometimes you need to make a demo page because the cards are just a tad too big to fit in the book side by side. They usually need to have them cover each other a bit like roof tiles. But, that’s pretty easy to get past.

Tile the name cards to fit them into the book page.

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