One of the most difficult things I faced when learning Japanese in school was remembering all the Hiragana characters. We didn’t start learning a second language until grade 6 which I strongly feel is far too late. For me all the characters looked a bit alike and even if I remembered what it looked like I couldn’t necessarily remember what is sounded like.
After watching some students struggle last year with the same problem I wanted to come up with a way of having information about the characters but also how to write, spell, recognise…the character. I think in part the way I was taught – confronted by an entire table of Hiragana characters was just too much. Kids need focused attention on each character – not just to recognise and say but write and put it in words to see why they need to know it.
All About あ Flipbook
* The cover
Okay, so this page is fairly straight-forward. I get the students to leave this page to last as they only need to write their name and grade (which you could do in Katakana and Kanji respectively if you wanted)
* Character and Romaji
This is the first page and it is necessary for the kids to make an association between the two as teachers will refer to the character using the Romaji sound.
Here the students need to colour the stroke order, in order.
* Looks Like / Sounds Like
I have actually changed this page as I found the young kids just had too much trouble with the word antenna and working out that the first and last letter make different sounds.
This is just a fun page that can be coloured and speaking practise.
* Find, Colour and Count
By this point the students should have a good idea what the letter looks like…especially as it is written 3 times at the top. I have purposely chosen characters that are similar in shape so they do need to be paying attention!
* Have A Go Writing
The first two they can trace and have the order written. After that it is up to the student to have a go writing the character freehand. I have used the four-square grid method as this is what I find gets the best results in size and placement of characters.
* Complete the word
This page allows for more writing of the character practise but also introduces vocabulary and features other characters with their Romaji.
* Draw It
Probably the most popular of pages for the grade R/1 classes is when they get to illustrate a word that begins with the character. A lot of the students remembered this page as a reminder of the character and sound when I tested them a week later.
When put all together the flipbook is (back page) an A4 sheet of paper. It makes for a good reference booklet which I get the students to store in a plastic pocket inside their own 2-ring binder. That way they can use is as a reference (it also helps me see their character writing progress at the end of the term by comparing new work with old).