Meet the Zodiac Family Plus More


Today, I’m going to share a quick tip on how I preteach zodiac animals waaaaaay before the Chinese Spring Festival.  By the time we reach the point for the Legend of Chinese Zodiac, students are familiar with most of the animals already.  Sounds amazing, right?!

How?  You might ask!

Well, simple!  When I co-create stories with students in class, after the first month, I switch my main characters in the story from human to animal.

In this photo, you will meet Panda King, Tuzi Phil, Xiaozhu Wilber, Houzi Suzie, Houzi Joey, and Longxia Sophie.

If you are thinking about how I fit them all in the same story, I can tell you to guess again.

In fact, I started with Houzi Joey who wants to go to a Halloween party.  Then, the next story is about Houzi Suzie who wants a friend.  The third animal story is about Xiaozhu Wilber and Panda King, two unlikely people who become friends.  Just today, I brought in Tuzi Phil and threw in Longxia Sophie to spice things up.  Because Longxia Sophia is so picky.  She doesn’t eat any familiar food my students know: hamburgers, pizza, hot dogs, salad…  In fact, nobody knows what she eats.  Very unlike Xiaozhu Wilber who eats everything coming in his way, he is never tired of eating.

Sounds interesting, right?  Give it a try!  One animal at a time, if your students struggle with saying the animal correctly after a class, make it into the next story.  They will know it by heart because they have a deep relationship with these animals.

By Haiyun



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3 months ago

Hi Haiyun, I discovered your blog and this post through a recommendation from Diane Neubauer. After listening to a Podcast late last year I decided I needed to use my class mascots more effectively in my Japanese classes. A few years back I bought my first zodiac animal mascot as an emotional support for a few students. It started with a students who liked the classes but felt overwhelmed at times. They found the stuffed animal comforting if they could hold/hug/pet etc. (I live in a corner of world which had been relatively untouched by COVID until recently). This year we will start with Tora (tiger) San and a create him as our main character of the year (I will have to keep my head around 20 versions but I have a plan, each class will have their own profile poster) and then have him off on adventures. In his adventures to planets in the solar system/around Japan he will meet other zodiac animals (go to love op shops/thrift stores). Let’s see how this goes. I am off to explore your blog more. I really would like to see how you expose your students to a non-roman based writing system. It is the area I feel lets my adventures in CI down and quite frankly clash.

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