Posted in Elementary School, Resources

ABC Cards

Learning the alphabet is the core of learning English. While some of the Japanese text books have cards included, I like to start teaching them much earlier than 5th grade, so I made my own set of alphabet cards for use in classrooms.

I made two different sets, based on what my students needed most.

Simple ABC Cards


These cards are meant to teach letter identification. This is a great skill for 1st-3rd graders to really get down well. The dashed line under the letter indicates which way the card should be facing.

At my schools, at least, Elementary students don’t begin learning romaji (the roman alphabet) until 3rd grade, so getting them some early shape identification helps them out later in their Japanese lessons, too.

While I included both upper and lower case alphabets here, consider just focusing on upper until 4th grade or so.

Advanced ABC Cards


This set is meant to help students start to see how a letter is written. This is less important in an Elementary School setting, but very, very helpful in a private Eikaiwa (English School) classroom, where you’re teaching writing the alphabet much earlier than they’ll learn in school.

The lines are meant to help students begin to see how the letter is formed on a standard lined page that you use for English.

Activity Ideas for ABC Cards

  • Karuta – this is a regular Japanese game that most students will know how to play. What you will do for this is have the students make a group of 2-4 students, facing each other. Have them spread all the letters out across their desks or between them on the floor, so they can see them all. Then, have them put their hands on their head and wait for you to say a letter (you can have them ask, “what letter is it?”). When you say a letter, they try to slap the correct letter. The one who gets it first gets to keep the card. At the end, see who has the most cards, which is a good integration for counting. (great for 1st thru 3rd grade)
  • ABC Chain – have the students make groups of 4-6. Mix up the cards, and hand them out evenly across all of the students. They should be encouraged to keep their cards secret. Then, the student who has “A” puts it down, and it’s a race to see which group can finish the alphabet fastest. (best for 4th grade and up)
  • Big and Small Pairs – have students make groups of 2-4. Mix both upper and lower case cards together, and spread them out across their desks. Like Karuta, have them wait for you to say a letter, and then they have to find both the upper and lower case of it (one hand on upper, the other on lower). (best for 5th and 6th grade)
  • Word Challenge – Mix up the upper case cards and put them in a stack. Practice this as a class first before breaking them into pairs. One student draws a card, and they have to think of a word that starts with that letter. If they can’t, the other student gets a chance to “steal.” The one with the most cards wins. For an extra challenge: make them draw two cards, and think of a word with both those letters in it. Or set a theme for their answers, like “animals” or “foods.” (works best with 6th graders or private school students)

Download the Cards

You can download them, ready to print and laminate right here!

Cards - ABCs simpleCards – ABCs simple

Cards - ABCsCards – ABCs

These PDFs are made for A4 size paper, and cut out quickly. Make as many sets as you need, I often kept 6 sets of upper and lower case letters with me for lessons, they’re that handy.

Please share your activities that you’ve come up with, we’d love to know how you use these cards in your classroom!

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Posted in Elementary School, Kindergarten, Resources

Color & Shape Flashcards

Hello everyone, Sam here with some more of my personal teaching resources that I’ve used for years now.

This is one that has not only gotten a ton of use, but really helps the students understand the relation ship between using colors as adjectives to something, mainly, shapes.

This works very well for your intro lesson for Grade 5: Lesson 5 in the Hi, Friends 1 textbook, or if you happen to work with younger kids, it makes learning colors and shapes easy, so they’ll breeze through it later!

Continue reading “Color & Shape Flashcards”

Posted in Crafts, Kindergarten

Pipe Cleaner Bubble Wands

Since summer is (almost) upon us here in Japan, I thought I would start to share some of my fun summer activities for very little kids.

This was originally developed for Kindergarten aged students, in small private classes, but with a bit of foresight (and talking to the home room teacher, of course, to approve it!) it could work really well for your ALT classes, too, especially Kindergarten if you can have the majority of the lesson outside.

pipe cleaner bubble wands Continue reading “Pipe Cleaner Bubble Wands”

Posted in Useful Links

Masks as Creative Teaching Materials

It seems like most ALTs rely only on flashcards to teach vocabulary. While they’re a great resource, they lack something fun and tactile for kids to interact with. This is especially true when teaching Kindergarten or early Elementary School lessons, where you need to be interesting as well as educational.

Continue reading “Masks as Creative Teaching Materials”

The best font for ESL

What’s in a shape?

It has taken me quite some time to find a font that works for the unique way Japanese students learn English letters, or romaji. As with Japanese, their way of writing has a specific stroke order and shape to it. In order to not add an additional hurdle to learning a new language, I went on a quest for a font that would work for Japanese language learners. Continue reading “The best font for ESL”