Have you seen the Daruma photo display?

Where have the first 5 or so weeks gone?

As we get ready to welcome our Myojo students and teachers in Week 8, students have had a productive start the the term.

The Reception classes have been learning basic greetings and numbers through songs and fun games and activities. It’s great to see their enthusiasm and effort during class as well as hearing them calling out “sensei konnichiwa” when I walk past!

The Year 1s and 2s have had a fun time learning all the fruit and food names from the story of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”. They not only can say these words but also recognise them when written in Japanese. They are doing a fantastic job. They have just begun making their own caterpillar and foods to use in a game to help them understand the sentence “…(food)…. o tabemashita” meaning “I ate …(food)…”

The Year 2 classes also had a lesson learning about “Hina matsuri”, the Japanese celebration of “Doll’s Festival”. We watched a great video describing the special activities that take place for the celebration  and then made our own mini paper display. Here’s a photo of Imogen and Riya and Jai with their displays.

These students worked hard and completed all their work so had a great time doing giant Hungry Caterpillar puzzle. These are students from Room 27 and 20.

The Year 6/7 students have learnt a number of interesting facts about Japanese convenience stores and vending machines. Did you know they have vending machines in Japanese for guitar strings, bags of rice and hot tinned corn soup just to name a few!

Finally, have you popped past the Japanese Room in the atrium and spotted the collage of students holding a giant daruma? What started as a border of Year 1 and 2 students has turned into a fabulous display of all students who have Japanese with Vinall sensei on the window holding the daruma. Pop past and see who you can spot!



Welcome back to a new year of Nihongo (Japanese) at Woodend.

This year we, Vinall sensei and Keiko sensei, will continue to teach a wide range of both language and culture to the enthusiastic bunch of Woodend students.

Term 1 is a busy one of us here at Woodend as we welcome 20 students and 4 teachers from Myojo, our sister school in Japan, for nearly 2 weeks. They will stay with host families during this time and join our Year 4-7 classes. It is a fun and wonderful time when they are here and already everyone is excited about their upcoming visit. Thank you to the host families for taking up this opportunity.

In our classes this term,  many began the year by learning a bit about TORI DOSHI ~ Year of the Rooster. Below you can see some very cute TORI made by the Year 2 students in Rooms 7,8 and 27.

Our Reception classes are learning basic greetings as well as finding out where Japan is in the world. It has been wonderful to hear lots of “Sensei konnichiwa” as we walk around. Great remembering Reception students!

Through the book HARAPEKO AOMUSHI (The Very Hungry Caterpillar), The Year 1 classes will be focussing on learning fruit names, revising colours and learning to say they ate something. The Year 2 classes will cover this also but work also on learning the days of the week and extra food names. We have had a fun start listening to the story read in Japanese and watching a video version of it done through song.  See the link below. Vinall sensei is teaching these classes.

The Year 3/4/5 classes, working with Keiko sensei, are looking at school life in Japan. This is a good lead up to our visiting Myojo students so our students can have a better understanding of their school life and talk about differences with our visitors. Students also started the year by looking at the Year of the Rooster ideas and finding out what animal represents the year they were born. There is a fabulous display in Keiko sensei’s room of the students and their animal.

The Year 6/7 students have started the year by making TEGATA (hand prints). Tegata are done by sumo wrestlers as the “autograph” and include their name written in calligraphy ink. Our students have written their names on their hand prints also and they are on display outside of Vinall sensei’s room. Students are now focussing on a shopping topic. We have started off by looking at convenience stores and vending machines in Japan. Students have found out some new an interesting facts about these things.

We have had an excellent start to the year with classes settling in well to new routines and lots of positives.

Below are some photos of activities so far this year. Here is the link for the video of the Hungry Caterpillar song.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4n7ReD9o-4U

Thanks for reading,

Sarah and Keiko


All Year 2 class’s chickens

Miss Bolt’s class and their tori in the background

Autograph done!

The final display

Getting ready to stamp their hands

Wishing you happy holidays!


I would like to say thank you so much for your support this year, especially my first year at Woodend.

Students worked really hard and learned more about the language and culture of Japan.  Ultimately this leads to intercultural understanding, appreciation of own and others’ cultures and mutual respect.

In week 8 or 9, students will bring their Japanese book home, as well as their character card they made this term.  I would appreciate if you could spend time to have a look at their book and have some conversations on what your child has learnt this year in Japanese.

Wishing you all very happy and safe holiday season!


Keiko Sensei

Japanese updates

It has been a while since my last blog post.

I would like to let you know what has been happening in the Japanese lessons.

At the end of Term 3, students from Room 9, 10, 11, 24 and 30 had a lesson of “Sushi Masterchef”.  They made their own sushi roll, plated it up and judged each other’s dish. They made a great sushi and it was an enjoyable lesson for all.


This term all classes are learning adjectives using Pokemon characters.  They are making their own character card and then describe their character in Japanese. Here are some examples.


Term 2 Hiragana Challenge!

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Time flies so fast… it is already Week 4.

The inquiry of the term is “People record language in a systematic way”.  We focus on

-The differences of the three Japanese writing systems

-Hiragana writing system

-The sound and form of 46 basic hiragana characters.

Each week, students are introduced or reviews 5 to 10 hiragana characters.  Students learn these letters by doing some writing practice and doing activities of their choice.  Once they remember the sound of these letters, they can come and see me for the test.  When they pass the test, they can move up to the next level.  Y3/4 students can move up their anime character to the next level while Y2/3 students receives a colour sticker of the level in their stripe.  This indicates where they are at and which letter they need to practice. Many students are excited about taking up this hiragana challenge!

In the next blog message, I will update our hiragana learning and share some hiragana apps to support the learning at home and in class.

Keiko Sensei




Term 1 2016…What a busy term!

Isogashikatta ne! Well that was a busy term!

We had plenty of learning going on in our Japanese classrooms this term.

Students were learning self introductions in preparation for our Myojo visitors arriving after Easter, Reception students were starting their language learning journey with learning how to say basic greetings and numbers as well as learn some fun songs while our Year 1s learnt how to ask and say when their birthday was in Japanese. The Years 5-7 classes worked hard on learning about different cities in Japan and different weather related words. Students will use this knowledge to present a water report for Japan in Japanese at the start of Term 2.

As well as all of this we had a very busy time when our sister school students from Myojo visited us after Easter for a week. We enjoyed a whole school Hanami/Harmony Day picnic, the 6/7 classes and our visitors enjoyed a walk along the Hallett Cove boardwalk, the Myojo students enjoyed cooking wit Amanda in the kitchen, dancing Australian dances with Ms Williams and her class and we also had a fabulous farewell assembly for them where they showed us all their clever skills such as dancing, piano and kendama tricks.

Ms Hoskins’ class finished the term off on a real high when they achieved 8 flags on our rewards system and chose to watch Arrietty while enjoying “onigiri” (rice balls).

We are looking forward to seeing the 5-7s weather reports in Term 2 and many more new learning experiences.

Enjoy a few photos from the term.

Vinall sensei and Keiko senseiIMG_0225 IMG_0215 IMG_0239 IMGP1970 DSC_3469 DSC_3511

What is this  だるま DARUMA thing students are talking about?!?!!

Has your child come home and mentioned they were the Daruma today in Japanese or that they want to be the Daruma soon? Let me explain a few things…

Firstly, what is a DARUMA?

A Daruma is a Japanese symbol of good fortune. They are traditionally made of papier-mache, round in shape with a hollow inside and weighted bottom. Red is the traditional colour but now a days you can find other coloured daruma around.

When you buy a daruma they will have two eyes which haven’t had the pupil drawn in. You make a wish and colour one eye in and then once your wish comes true you colour the other eye in.

You can see pictures of Daruma at the top of this blog page. Also there are a number of Daruma in Vinall sensei’s classroom (including a Mickey Mouse themed one from Tokyo Disneyland!)

In Vinall sensei’s classroom students have the opportunity to be the Daruma of the week. It is a highly sought after role with the pop stick draw for the next week’s daruma always a very exciting end to our 2nd lesson each week. The role of the daruma in lesson time is to be a helper for sensei. The daruma gets to wear a special jacket and sit on a special cushion reserved especially for the daruma! Students also get to bring home a certificate on the day and make their own wish on the daruma depicted on it.

Here are some students wearing their jackets…

Hiragana stations (50) Start of 2015 033 Start of 2015 035Start of 2015 032



…and with the               certificate!




2015年(nen) 1がっき(gakki) Term 1 2015…いそがしかったです!Isogashikattadesu! Busy!

It was certainly a busy term. There was a new Japanese Room in Room 22 in the Atrium, new teacher Vinall sensei and new tables and cushions for students to enjoy.

Our Year 4-7 students started the year by looking at a じこしょうかい, a self introduction. Students learnt the importance of a じこしょうかい in Japan. We covered information about themselves including basics like name, age, year level, class (Yr 4/5s) likes and dislikes as well as their family members (Yr 6/7s). All Yr6/7 students and the Yr 5 classes recorded their information onto ipads and then made them into a QR code, making it possible to scan the code and hear the students’ じこしょうかい. To add to the fun of the QR codes students also used a manga app and made a cartoon photo of themselves. These great posters are still displayed on the windows of Room 22 and Ali sensei’s room. Scan away!

Great QR codes and manga pictures

Year 2 classes also looked at the basics of introducing themselves. They covered name, age and likes and dislikes. These are displayed in Room 22 in bunting style posters.

The Reception classes began the year with learning basic greetings and Japanese numbers. We had lots of fun learning these through songs and games and even watched some great clips on YouTube. Here is a link for the most popular one…happy singing!


Reception hands 041 (12) Reception hands 041 (18) Setsubun photos 002





Reception students with their “konnichiwa” and “sayonara” hands. Then with their oni (demon) masks we made to celebrate Setsubun, the bean throwing festival.



Here are some more photos of happenings in Term 1 Japanese…. Hiragana stations (41) Hiragana stations (17) Hiragana stations (19) Hiragana stations (32) Hiragana stations (71)Hiragana stations (44)

The Year 2 students having fun with Hiragana Learning Stations. These focussed on students learning the 11 1 stroke hiragana (Japanese alphabet) through hands on, fun activities.


Hina origami 013 Hina origami 012 Hina origami 009 Hina origami 007 Hina origami 004 Hina origami 003

Students made HINA Dolls to celebrate ひなまつり(hina matsuri), Doll’s Festival which is celebrated on March 3rd. These Prince and Princesses look すばらしい!(subarashii ~ wonderful!)

Stay tuned for more updates and happenings in Japanese in Term 2!



Why Learn A Foreign Language?

Learning a foreign language has many benefits. The following is just a few that I believe are relevant and encouraging for our students here at Woodend.

*Foreign Language study creates more positive attitudes and less prejudice toward people who are different.                                                                                                                          *Dealing with another culture enables students to gain a more profound understanding of their own culture.
*Creativity is increased with the study of a foreign language.
*Skills like problem solving, dealing with abstract concepts, are increased when you study a foreign language.
*Foreign language study enhances listening skills and memory.
*The study of a foreign tongue improves the knowledge of one’s own language: English vocabulary skills increase.
*The study of foreign languages teaches and encourages respect for other people.
*Foreign languages expand one’s view of the world, liberalize one’s experiences, and make one more flexible and tolerant.
*Foreign language study leads to an appreciation of cultural diversity.

(Research from Auburn University, November 2013)

Some food for thought.