Monday, December 15, 2014

Great Teaching Idea for Months of the Year: Let's Play Cards!

Fall: Sweet November in Japan
A big challenge in teaching the months of the year is how students can memorize them. Months of the year in Japanese is so simple. January is 1月. (Read as ichi-gatsu) February is 2月. (Read as ni-gatsu). They just use 1,2, 3 to 12 plus the word "Gatsu" to name the months.

On the contrary, names of the months in English doesn't really make sense unless you know its history. January and February have the same ending. The same with the ber months. Then there are April, May, June, July and August that don't seem to follow a particular sound pattern. It can be confusing, I tell you.

To help students memorize the months, it's a good idea to let them say the months as often as possible. Repetition and chants may work but it can be boring. Even as a teacher, I don't like chanting the same words over and over again. 

This card game is  a fun and challenging way for students to say the months of the year as many times as possible. 

Activity: Beat My Month!
This card game is just basically placing higher cards than the previous player. 

Material: Several sets of playing cards
(I use about 4-5 sets in a class of 30 students)
Each card has a corresponding month. 

Ace- January                       7- July
2- Februray                         8- August
3- March                             9- September
4- April                              10- October
5- May                                J- November
6- June                                Q- December

*The King and Joker cards can be power cards. Players can use them when they have nothing to drop. 

How to Play: 

1. Form groups with 6 to 8 students. Give each group a set of playing cards.
2. Let the players distribute the cards to everyone. 
3. Whoever has the ace of spade will go first. 
    As the first student drop the ace of spade, he has to say "January."
4. The student on his right will have to drop the same card or a card higher than ace.
    Every time a player drops a card will have to say the month related to it. 
5. The player who finish all his cards first wins. 


1. If a player did not say the month while dropping a card, he will get back his card and lose one turn. 
2. If a player says the wrong month, he'll get back his card and lose a turn. 
3. If all the players say "pass," the last player who dropped a card can place any card he wants. 

You can add or modify your own rules. So far, these rules work in my classes just fine. I usually do this after reviewing the months of the year and making sure they're familiar with the pronunciation. 

I've been doing this activity for the past 3 years with 1st year JHS students. The students always have a good time. In fact, I just did this activity this morning. The cheer in 3 consecutive classes inspired me to share this lesson. I hope your students will have fun too!

Happy teaching!

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