A while back I posted about a set of Shichida Flashcards from China that you can purchase from taobao. Since then I’ve had a couple of emails asking me to share my classification, and I kinda sat on them for a while..I apologise for all the super late emails!
You can download the long long list of categories here- shichida flashcard categories.
(Even if you didn’t decide to splurge the $700+ on this set, this list will still be beneficial for you to construct your own flashcard sets!)
Here’s a bit of an elaboration on how to use this with the set from China:
– Some big categories (eg. animals, flowers, fish) need to be subdivided. For example, ‘animals’ becomes ‘animals 1’, ‘animals 2’, etc. Not all can fit into 10 cards per set so some sets had +1 or -1 cards.
– There were some cards that did not fall neatly into a set. Those need to be creatively inserted into one.
– Some cards made no sense at all!!! (For example, the monday – sunday cards, the pictures make no sense.) For those, I looked at the picture and gave them a new name, and wrote the words on the back of the cards, then inserted them into a suitable category.
– As for the verbs, give up sorting them. I grouped them into ‘verbs 1’, ‘verbs 2’ etc..in shichida class they have flashcard sets like ‘words ending with ‘p”, for example. You could try that of you have plenty of time (and patience!).
I hope this post clarifies some of the questions out there!
Looking at my blog statistics, I realised that a lot of parents come here to find out about Shichida lessons. I haven’t posted in a while about Shichida class, and thought that it it might be nice to do so.
Samantha entered Shichida class when she a little over 6 months. Now at 16 months, she has completed 9 months of weekly Shichida lessons.
The first 6 months went along pretty well, with lots of repetition of activities (please see my previous post for the lesson structure).
The third term of lessons had three new changes to the lesson plan.
- Firstly, there was new homework! Every month the teachers will hand out a stack of about 15 worksheets for the toddlers to do. They are pretty simple worksheets that require the children to draw lines connecting one item to another, or draw dots on the paper. I don’t think I will be allowed to post the worksheets here, but I will blog again next week with some similar worksheets drawn by myself.
- The linking memory exercise now has one more card to remember (Total of 6 item cards now).
- There is also a block-arranging exercise during every lesson. The toddlers are given a set of 4 blocks and tasked to arrange them in a specific pattern, like the Nikitin block game. You can read more about it here on this blog entry.
The rest of the Shichida lessons for term 3 remain unchanged (eg. the speed reading, photo memory, etc).
So now I am left to answer the biggest question – was there any discernible benefit from enrolling in Shichida class?The answer is quite simple – I don’t know. There are simply too many confounding factors involved that I cannot attribute Samantha’s current standard to purely the result of a weekly Shichida class. I am sometimes tempted, however, to blame the rapid flashcard sessions and the 1 minute long activities for Samantha’s impatient and easily-bored character, but I know that that’s also an unfair assumption.
Ultimately, we parents all want the best for our children, and will try whatever is out there, even if there is no scientific basis behind the educational method right? Welcome to the era of Parentocracy
I have previously described the Shichida lesson in great detail.
For home practice, here’s what the school recommends (most of it are similar to what is done in class, so you may want to read the post about classroom activities first)-
- Begin with relaxation exercises: Deep breathing/blowing
- Image training: In my opinion this is just pretend play, but try to invoke the use of all 5 senses
- Clairvoyance/Telepathy games: Similar to what is done in class
- Flashcards: They recommend 200-250 cards to be flashed per day
- 63 Day dots program: I have already covered this in a previous post about a set of these cards from China
- Eye training: Similar to what is done in class (image below)
- Photo memory: Similar to what is done in class
- Linking memory: Similar to what is done in class
- Reading a book
A few of my friends have been asking about Shichida lessons because they intend to sign up for it, so I decided to put up this detailed breakdown of class activities for babies 6 months to 1 year old. Every lesson that I have attended thus far has stuck to this basic framework, thus I am able to reproduce it from memory!
The reason why I’m posting this is because I believe everyone should have the right to make an informed decision. The school doesn’t have trial lessons, neither do they allow people to observe lessons before signing up, so many parents may be signing up for a term of lessons, only to find out later that it is not to their liking..
(I apologise if this post is too text-heavy without any images. I’m not sure if any of the images are copyright so all I can do is provide external links to images of the items used during the activities)
Do note that this lesson plan is probably only applicable to younger students (babies), as I think they have more complex activities for older children.
- All lessons start with a 30 second Welcome song in Japanese. This song is unique and I can’t find it on Youtube or anywhere else on the web.
- Teacher announces the day, date and asks students to look out of the window to see if it is a sunny, cloudy or rainy day.
- Blowing / Breathing exercise: There is a hand-made toy with a string or ribbon attached (for example, a monkey with a sting for its tail, an elephant with a ribbon for its trunk), and the students are asked to give a short blow and a long blow to make the string or ribbon move. Blowing/Breathing is said to help the students relax for the class.
- Image training: They call this ‘image training’; to me it’s just pretend play. In this short (less than 5 minute) segment, the students pretend to do certain activities with the help of their parent. This activity is changed every lesson and can range from pretending to fly a kite to pretending to be a butterfly (please see my previous posts for more examples)
- Clairvoyance game: The teacher will hide a picture card behind one of two larger pictures, and ask the students to guess where that picture card is. (For example, there is a picture of a bee. Is it hiding behind the red flower or the blue flower?) (Note: I don’t find how this can be clairvoyance if the teacher knows where the card is..it’s probably teacher-and-student telepathy at best)
- Telepathy game: The execution of this activity is roughly the same as clairvoyance game, except now the parent hides the card instead of the teacher, and sends ‘mental signals’ to the child to tell the child where the card is.
- ‘Hand reading’ game: The parent gets two cards, one which is blank and the other with a picture. With both cards placed face down, the child is supposed to sense which card has the picture (some pictures ’emit’ certain sensations such as warmth or coldness).
- Sentences for daily life: A 1 minute video. Drawings of people doing their daily activities are flashed on the screen, with a concurrent voice-over description (For example, ‘I get on the escalator’, ‘I eat my breakfast’). The images that are flashed can be purchased from the local School (it’s called sentence structure) and from the Japanese Shichida website (if you reside in Japan). The same set of images are shown for 4 weeks in a row, with the voice-over removed on the last week (only the images are shown).
(Note: For more images and information, you may wish to visit these two blogs (they are in Japanese but they have put up pictures of the product –http://yun1211.blog59.fc2.com/blog-entry-1374.html, http://englishtimewithakr.blogspot.sg/2013/06/3.html)
- Flashcards on the TV screen: A series of about 30 pictures with a common theme (for example, animals) are flashed on the TV screen, with its name being read out at the same time. English is used for the first four lessons, followed by mandarin for the next four, and subsequently other languages (Italian, Spanish, Korean, etc) are used. The pictures flashed are exactly the same as the ones I purchased from the china website, so I believe this video can also be purchased from the Japanese Shichida school..
- Flashcards: about 20-25 sets of flashcards are then flashed to the children. The sets have about 10 cards each and are mainly hand drawn. Some of the cards are identical to the ones I purchased from the china website as well. The same cards are used for 4 weeks. On the final week there is one quiz question (for example, the teacher will ask the students to pick the card with 43 dots, from a choice of 2 cards)
- Eye training: Using a picture with a bell attached, the teacher makes the children look to the left, right, up and down in a fixed fashion. The way the teacher moves the item is similar to what is shown on this website (minus the star pattern).
- Photo memory: The children are shown a picture for 8-10 seconds, and then asked to pick out the correct picture from 2 choices.
- Photo memory part 2: The children are shown a picture with a sequence of objects. After 8-10 seconds they are each given the picture and asked to arrange the objects in the correct sequence.
- Linking memory: The children are told a ridiculous story that links 5 unrelated objects together. Following that, the children are given pictures of each item and asked to arrange the pictures in the order that they appeared in the story. Subsequently, the cards are all turned face down, and the kids asked to ‘sense’ and pick out 2 named objects. Here’s a good blog post about it.
- Speed reading: The children are each given a picture book (7 pages, each page with one short line of text) and we all proceed to read the book in time with a recording that is played in the background. We then re-read the book, at twice the speed. The same book is read for 4 weeks.
- Sawako: This is a short story about a little child called Sawako, that is told using flashcards. The first time the story is told in English. The second time the story is told in a foreign language (Korean, Italian, etc). This is a product from the Shichida website. The same story is repeated for 4 weeks, before a new story is used.
- Shichida musical: A song is sung by the teacher, supplemented by picture flashcards relevant to the song. These songs are unique to the Shichida class (I have never heard them anywhere else), and are repeated for 4 weeks before they are changed.
Following which, are a series of about 14 activities the teacher calls ‘left brain’ activities.
- Singing of the ABC alphabet song (They sing it in a strange way, that is again unique to the school) while pointing to the individual alphabets on a laminated A4 card.
- Phonics song (the same song every week, for 15 weeks, and counting..).
- One or two activities that involves shapes.
- One or two activities that involves numbers/counting.
- Watching a japanese video that teaches two addition/subtraction/multiplication/divison equations (This is again probably from the Japanese Shichida School)
- An activity that involves sorting out items according to the alphabet letter they start with.
- An activity that involves tracing outlines of letters with fingers.
- A short abacus activity where the teacher shows counting with the abacus.
- Recently, there is ‘homework’: The babies/toddlers (well, the parents actually) are supposed to complete a ‘picture dictionary’, two to three alphabets a week.
- Finger training: The children get a chance to practice fine motor activity, for example holding a crayon, or inserting a straw into a cup, etc.
The class ends with a Goodbye song
in Japanese..and all this is done in the short span of slightly under 60 minutes..so each activity only takes about 1 minute or so (factoring in the few seconds needed to distribute/collect back the activity materials and occasional screaming children disrupting the class).
I hope this post clears up the mystery surrounding the Shichida lesson plans for interested parents! I will be happy to address any further questions..
For pretend play today we all pretended to be kangaroos – we were given small furry pouches to tie around the child’s waist, and they had to hop to the back of the class to pick up an object. I thought that the activity was too advanced for the children. Samantha can’t even stand independently, let alone hop..so I ended up carrying her by her underarms and bouncing her to the back of the class.
Here are some of the other activities we had (again, very similar to previous lessons):
- Learning about shapes by attaching shapes to a picture (with velcro)
- Forming a picture of a diamond with four blocks – each block had a triangle printed on it, by putting the four blocks together, a diamond can be formed
- Using fingers to trace the letters P and R
- Sorting out pictures of objects that start with the letters ‘P’ and ‘R’
- Learning about long and short – cards with two lengths of string/ribbon attached were given to the children so that the could compare the long string with the short string
- Colouring a picture of an ice cream cone with a crayon