Getting Creative & Getting Published

Now that I’ve officially graduated, I have so much more time to do interesting things, especially for my job and in and around Kyoto. It’s helping me re-awaken the artistic side of me that had to be ignored while I was in college, and  I’m loving it!

Recently, I’ve been able to let my creative side loose again, and it’s felt wonderful. At work, since I work with mostly kindergartners, I am constantly given free reign to design new games and activities that help the children incorporate English. The first thing I made for my classes was a felt and laminated paper crepe shop. Children line up and purchase crepes with fake money, while another student “makes” the crepes out of yellow felt pancakes, white tissue paper “whipped cream” and laminated slices of fruit. The point of the game is dialog practice, but it also helps the children learn to wait their turn, do things in proper order and pay close attention to what another person says (there are four possible crepes choices). The kids have really loved it, and I hope to branch off soon and create a burger, cake, ice cream and yakitori stand in the near future as well.

In addition, I’ve also created a full scale board game based on the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood, which is a useful story in EFL language schools since it is a world-famous, simple story. To help the children get used to the concept of “losing a turn” without getting too upset, the game incorporates a reward system that ensures that any child that has already lost a turn in the game can’t be eaten by the wolf. Let me explain:

The rules are relatively simple. The objective of the game is to get to Grandma’s house (and instead of counting squares, EFL students are encouraged to say the vocabulary illustrated on the space). If a child lands on a flower space, they lose a turn (since LRRH stopped along the way to pick flowers). However, before the game starts, flowers are lain all across the board like so:

When a child loses a turn, they take a flower of their choosing. The last curve of the board, where the wolf is, is the challenge. If a child lands on the wolf and has a flower, they’re safe. If they don’t have a flower, they have to return to the space with the Woodcutter, since he was the one that saved Little Red Riding Hood in the story. The children really seem to enjoy playing this game, to the point that many children get upset if they don’t collect a flower before getting to the wolf’s side of the board. (Hasbro, call me! XP)

It was really fun creating these things for the school, and the mothers seem to like them, so I hope to carry on this tradition by making a game for Rapunzel, the Princess and the Pea and possibly Goldilocks and the Three Bears as well. If I had any talent with plastic sculpting, I would make a game for Jack and the Beanstalk as well. It will all take time, but it’s so fun doing it I don’t even realize I’m working- and the kids don’t realize they’re learning, so everyone wins.

Outside of work, I’ve also been volunteering at a local magazine to help them with translations. They asked me to do the feature story of this bi-monthly article, so I got some practice writing in Japanese again, and actually made it to the front page. As of this moment, their website hasn’t been updated, so doesn’t reflect the new issue, but the magazine is Life in Kyoto, and the issue will probably be available for at least a few weeks more in paper. The other day one of my adult students actually came to class, surprised that she had seen my name in one of the magazines she reads, so I feel pretty good about it. The article is about Kitano Tenman-Gu, a temple that I’ve written about in the past on this blog.

Here’s hoping this inspiration keeps strong! There’s so much I want to do!