For example: things that start with the letter V. This is a later acquired sound for native English speakers (5-6 year olds). Factor in a younger audience and the fact that the /v/ sound does not exist in the Japanese language, and this makes for a challenging, and sometimes comical, vocabulary learning experience.
The helpful part is that Valentine's Day is a REALLY big deal in Japan, if only for the commercial marketing of chocolate... But it's celebrated a little differently. On Valentine's Day, it's the girls who give chocolate to the boys. On White Day, which is March 14th, the chocolate giving is reciprocated in favor of the girls. I'm not one to favor commercialized traditions, so we were an "equal opportunity" gift giving class on Valentine's Day.
When I was "home" for Christmas, retailers conveniently put out the Valentine candy as soon as Christmas was over, so I picked up some mini boxes of conversation hearts, which are impossible to find in Japan. Just in case I couldn't get my hands on them, last year I ordered foam conversation heart beads from Oriental Trading Company to use for various activities. I combined them with the heart-shaped letter puzzles that came in the MGT Valentine party pack for a fun matching/sorting/literacy activity.
One trip to the 100 yen store provided all the fun accessories needed for a silly Valentine photo booth. They loved wrapping themselves up in heart garland and posing with friends.
The "love bug" head bands were perfect for our class, which is divided by age group into Honey Bees and Lady Bugs. I modified the project a bit to match those two groups. Totally adorable!!
Holidays are never complete without a "party", which mostly includes something edible served on fancy plates and napkins. Most of the time I try to keep treats as healthy as possible, so we did fruit, cut with heart shaped cookie cutters.
Since Valentine's Day fell on a weekend, we extended our celebration to Monday. I had purchased a couple new books about love, which we read, along with The Prince's Valentine, an adapted Indian folktale, provided in the party pack. Anything with story pieces is always a crowd pleaser, plus I brought in the scarves that go with two of the traditional Indian dresses that I bought when I was in India last May, for the girls to dress up as the Indian princess.
For an open-ended art project, we mixed red and white paint together, and used hearts, circles, and play-dough letter stamps to create a Valentine collage. It was so fun to watch their creative process in deciding how they wanted their pictures to look.
The rest of the week, we talked about grains and vegetables. I have been wanting to try making bread in my crock pot, since I don't have an oven, so I experimented with pumpkin banana bread. The class loved it! There's a recipe I found on allrecipes.com, called "Toddler Muffins", that I used to make for a child I nannied for, which is a great way to "hide" vegetables for picky eaters. Lucky for me, all my students love vegetables and they were super excited to make bread together. I made a recipe card modeled after the MGT cards found in the curriculum, so it was easy for the kids to follow. After we mixed it all up, I took the batter home and cooked it in the crock pot. It wasn't quite as pretty as the pumpkin bread, and one student even told the Japanese teacher it looked like poop, but they thought it tasted "very yummy"! I think the fact that we all worked on it together made it taste even sweeter.
I think it's fair to say that the letter V got a lot of LOVE this week!