I want to just take the time here to talk about the fact that I absolutely adore my first graders. I particularly love my first grade sentaku (elective) class. They have been so good that I let them choose their own seats as a “present”. This, of course, was a HUGE thing to them. There was cheering and happiness at the mere thought of it. I told them if they are good they can stay in their seats, but if they are bad I will pick their seats again. They are more difficult than before, but still not bad. I may have to separate a few boys for a day, to show them I mean business. But I actually think it will work – a testament to how good the kids actually are. I also taught the kids the idea of under (~の下に), on top of (~の上に), and in (~の中に). In Japanese (because I am making a bigger effort to learn it) the words are under =した (shita) 下, on top of =うえ(ue) 上, and in =なか (naka) 中. As homework I had them draw five pictures with sentences. My example was “The boy is in the box.” Followed by a (in retrospect - possibly disturbing) drawing of a boy in a box. All the students know they can pass the class and grade without doing the homework. This homework was very tough compared to my usual assignments (such challenges as: write you name in English letters seven times!), so I was pleased to see that 7 out of 20 did the homework. Even more pleasing was the fact that the students did a great job making sentences! It is something that they are rarely assigned to do. They are frequently asked to make sentences from words, but rarely are they expected to generate an original sentence by themselves. The results were very good. Some kids obviously worked together, but what they made were some really good sentences. Some were very creative, one of my favorites was “The tree is under [the] sky.” “The pen is in the ポケット [pocket].” “The cat [is] on top of [the] wall.” “The dog [is] in the dog’s house.” (complete with a picture of a dog sleeping in a dog house labeled “pooch”)
I think I need to have future assignments where sentence creation plays a key role. The pictures were done with care, and the sentences were very good and well thought out. I am really proud of them.