Halloween Puzzle Activities

In my first year of teaching classes at a Japanese kindergarten in the mid 90’s, I tried introducing Halloween as an October event to the director.  Her response was a flat-out ‘NO!’ –  too scary, strange, and foreign for Japanese children to understand.   Within a few years, an amazing series of events happened. The Nightmare … Read more


As part of my blogging activities, I publish a weekly Fun Facts About English series that offers tidbits of trivia about the English language. This has turned out to be quite a pleasurable indulgence in that I get to research somewhat obscure but fascinating facts. I set out with a goal of creating 50 facts … Read more

Name Plates

  Name plates may seem like an inconsequential part of a student’s learning materials, but they can be quite useful and have genuine meaning to the individual student. As a teacher, you may have your name plate on a desk or door. Imagine someone stealing or defacing it. You can’t help but feel personal about … Read more

Interactive Notebooks – CVC Templates

As a followup to my last post, I developed a series of CVC Templates to help teachers get up and running with their interactive notebooks.       Why Interactive Notebooks?   As an independent teacher offering my services in a variety of kids’ classes, one thing was a constant: no two places were the … Read more

Interactive Notebooks (INBs)

There came a point where I had to intervene. My students’ notebooks were a disordered mess and their bags, when emptied, were a junk pile of crumpled papers, loose cards, and past games. Taking action, I began to roll out a program using interactive notebooks.          What is an Interactive Notebook?   … Read more

The Drama is Real

You may view drama only as entertainment, but dramatic exercises can be valuable teaching and language learning tools. My intention with such activities is not to create an actors’ studio; it’s to get students up, moving around, and interacting with each other in more meaningful ways. Where words and their meaning can seem abstract in … Read more

Doodling in Class

  My twin brother was a doodler. Personally, I can’t draw to save my life (as evidenced by the image above.) Bob, on the other hand, doodled everywhere and ever since I could remember. I came to understand that drawing was the way he looked at, cataloged, and processed whatever he was thinking about, planning, … Read more

Learning Management Systems (LMS) K-12

In my last two posts, I talked about the popular online learning and behavior management systems of Google Classroom and ClassDojo.  In this post, I’m going to delve a little further into Learning Management Systems (LMS) for the K-12 education market. Whether you’re an online teacher with 1:1 students, or operate a network of schools, … Read more

Online Classroom Management Systems – ClassDojo

With the idea that it takes a village to raise a child, teachers are appreciative when parents are involved with their child’s education.  Monitoring, assessing, and grading a student’s learning and behavior and then relaying that information to administration and parents, are some of the more challenging of teacher duties.  Online tech is opening a … Read more

Drills, Dialogues, and Roleplays

Materials and content allowing students to engage in ‘real’ communication, or simulations of what conversations may sound like, should be a goal for many language curriculums.  Drills that develop into dialogues, that in turn pave the way for roleplays, provide a rich repertoire of practice activities to nudge students toward more meaningful, and consequently, less … Read more

13+ Halloween Activities

When it comes to Halloween class parties I keep it as simple as possible — for the main reason I have to replicate the activities six times a day for a week!  Here are 13+ simple activities you can set up and play again and again.   Candy Jar Guess. Put Halloween candies in a … Read more

Remembering Peter Warner

  “A LARGE voice!”  The admonishment of my use of the word ‘big’ came bellowing from the back of the lecture hall where I was speaking.  I was in Nagoya talking about my experiences teaching English in a Japanese kindergarten.   I stood at the lectern fending off this and other barbs from a group … Read more

Clock Work

Yuki had a green paper watch wrapped around his wrist with the hands of the clock permanently drawn to 3:00.  I asked him what time it was.  “Oyatsu no jikan!” (Snack time!) he replied.  “Oh!” I said.  “That’s something to look forward to!”   Yuki couldn’t read a clock yet, but at four years old, … Read more

Teaching Cursive

  Some may think of cursive as an archaic form of communication – one best left to history.  Personally, I think it’s a valuable skill and well worth teaching in my ESL classes as part of the English language.  Importantly, Japanese students will learn cursive writing in their junior high school classes where penmanship still … Read more

Stacked Adjectives

What are stacked adjectives? Nothing made me feel more inculcated into my own language than the idea of stacked adjectives; a revelation that blipped into my head during ‘me’ time in the shower. In an English speaker’s subconscious mind, multiple adjectives have a specific order.  When they fall out of that learned order, the brain … Read more

Trends: Business and Culture Reports

    Though Kinney Brothers Publishing is best known for its Phonics & Spelling and Stories For Young Readers series, we also have teaching material for adults!  Like all of our textbooks, our Trends: Business and Culture Reports series was created out of a need for classroom resources that, in this case, would spark the varied interests … Read more

Teaching CVC Words

  In a previous post, I talked about sight words; what they are, when to start teaching them, and how to effectively work with a variety of learning resources.  For the most part, the major points of that post also apply to teaching CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words.  It bears repeating that, like sight words, when teaching CVC … Read more

Vexillology – A Flag Design Activity

Having an insatiable appetite for details on many topics, I always try to inspire my students to go deeper into their own interests and discover more.  Anything from cartology, vexillology, graffiti, the lives of indigenous tribes, architecture, the LGBT community, kids learning ESL, and yes, even crop circles – I’m in for learning more!   … Read more

Sight Words: What, When and How

What are Sight Words? Whether you call them sight words, popcorn words or high frequency words, they are, by definition, “commonly used words that young children are encouraged to memorize as a whole or by ‘sight,’ so that they can automatically recognize these words in print without having to use any strategies to decode.” … Read more
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