Red String

Some of these kids are just dangerous.

In one of my wild school’s 6th grade classes there’s this sweet faced boy who hasn’t had his first big puberty growth spurt yet. Most of his friends are taller than me, this kid is like four inches shorter. He’s got shining innocent eyes and fluffy hair. He’s what the internet would call a cinnamon roll.

He’s also deceptively impish. This junior Loki or Pan or what have you came up with the genius idea of bringing a pack of red string (well, red embroidery floss) to class. I asked him about it and no, there were no craft projects. No, there was no other reason. The kid had just brought red string to school to tie around other kids wrists to cause mischief.

You see, a red string of fate is a thing that exists out here. An invisible red string connects those bound by fate. It also pops up in the recent movie “Bakemono no Ko”/”The Beast and the Boy” where the boy ties one symbolically around the wrist of the girl he likes. Well, our little evil genius had his seat mate tie one around my wrist and cut me a second length to give to my love. I just tied it to my work notebook because… Because.

He then went off to recess to sow the seeds of anarchy in a bunch of 12-year-olds’ lives. The best to you, kid. You will go far in life.

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Classroom Japanese: Kubaru

配る (くばる/kubaru) Distribute. Hand out.

When you’ve got some papers that need to be handed out or returned, this is the verb you use. To get a kid to pass out papers at the beginning of class you ask them to 配ってください (くばってください/kubattekudasai)。Here, kids in the front row. Here’s the worksheets from last time. Kubattekudasai.

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The Colorful Zoo

This is a simple update to a YICA worksheet. In YICA, the 2nd graders finish their color unit with a coloring book based activity. They’re supposed to line up, swap colored pencils, and fill out a sheet of animal illustrations. I took the spirit of that activity and applied it to a different worksheet with much simpler rules. 

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A Jeopardy game even 6th graders can play!

In my short stint as a junior high ALT, one of the most popular review games was Jeopardy. The school I was first assigned to had Jeopardy games to review at the end of almost every chapter. But, they say, Jeopardy games are 100% language based and there’s no way to adapt Jeopardy to the elementary level. Not so! I have done it and here are my categories.

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There’s no such thing as Half.

For a white person who grew up with some serious white privilege in a predominantly white city with a history of segregation, the problem of Japanese racial discrimination of children isn’t one I have any real vocabulary or experience to deal with. But last week I had something of a classroom break through. It came from the Japanese language itself.

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Classroom Japanese: Ayumi

歩み (あゆみ/ayumi) Progress. Walking.

This is a local one, kind of a cute quirk. In my other schools in other prefectures they called it something different, but here in Yokohama my elementary schools call the mid-year progress reports Ayumi. The grade cards all say “Ayumi” on the front. Simple and sort of positive way to say it, really. The semester grade cards came out in October around here, but I think some districts do quarter or trimester terms. What do they call it in your school?

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A Pac-man themed board game for practicing directions.

Normally, the 2nd grade directions lesson for YICA ends in a big ol’ melee game. It’s… kinda hard to pull off. So, after it bombed with one of my troublesome 2nd grade classes this year, I opted to just fall back on an old classic: The board game. This one is Pac-man themed and I did my best to make it as self explanatory as possible because them 7 year olds don’t even care than I’m there, man. 

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