Vivid Art Exhibition, Fujisawa, 2017

The 4th Vivid Art Exhibition was held at the Kuramae gallery in Fujisawa from 1st May to 8th May 2017.


This annual exhibition is of art produced by the members of the "Face of Wonder" art classes run by Mitsushi Kaneko-sensei. These are regular art workshops in the Tokyo and Shonan area for disabled adults and children and their friends. The works of art produced in these "Face of Wonder" art workshops are full of expression and, encouraged by Kaneko-san's guidance, each individual develops their own independent and creative style. Every year there is a Vivid Art contest for the art produced in these workshops. I felt highly honoured to be asked to be on the panel of judges to try and select the winners from over 180 pieces of art. It was really difficult making the selections from so many expressive and diverse pictures. Below are some photos of some of this year's works. 

And more details in Japanese can be read here:





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Art and craft activities based on picture books

I love to introduce creative activities based on picture books when teaching children or holding an event.

I have selected some photos of craft activities and the picture book they are based on.

For any teachers or parents - I hope these photos give you some ideas how to introduce some creative activities based on picture books for your children/students.


The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle




Lily and the Moon by Mari Nakamura and Patricia Daly Oe




Blue Mouse, Yellow Mouse by Patricia Daly Oe 



A Trip to Grandma's House by Mari Nakamura and Patricia Daly Oe




For details of some of the books shown on this page please visit my "Works" on my home page.

In English:


In Japanese:












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Event held at English Square in Kanazawa

I had the greatest pleasure of being invited again by Mari Nakamura, the owner of English Square in Kanazawa, to hold a picture book event for her students.

We held the event on Sunday 5th March and were happy to have warm and sunny weather that day. The last time I was in Kanazawa was in December and there were high winds, rain and some snow, all in one day at that time.


It is so easy to get to Kanazawa from Tokyo now, with the direct shinkansen from Tokyo station. The scenery from the shinkansen window of mountains and the Japan Sea is also quite spectacular.


So, we held two sessions. The first group were parents and children of the younger age group and the second group were the slightly older students, from third grade upwards, and some parents. We had a great turn-out of nearly seventy children and parents in total.


I based my sessions on the two books that Mari Nakamura and I wrote and had published by mpi Phonics last year, Can We Be Friends? and A Trip to Grandma's House. After reading the books and singing the songs connected to the stories, I introduced some creative activities where children could use their English and imagination.

As one of the themes in Can We Be Friends? is animals and another theme is talking about what you can and can't do, we had a lot of fun with puppets.



In a Trip to Grandma's House, the bear family are helped by a group of shapes - circles, triangles, rectangles and squares - to get to their grandma's house. So it was really interesting to see the amazing ideas that the children came up with to create other objects from shapes to help the bears overcome various obstacles.



I was very impressed with Mari's students. Many students volunteered to come to the front to perform the dialogues that they had made in pairs with the puppets and all of the students worked really well in groups making interesting objects from shapes. It was fascinating how different the creative ideas were. For example, given the task of thinking of a way to get the bears quickly to England to meet the Queen, one group made a rocket, one group made a ship, one group made a submarine and two groups made airplanes, but both airplanes were designed completely differently.


I could see how these children have had plenty of training in using imagination and English at English Square with one of the most respected teachers and teacher trainer in Japan, Mari Nakamura.


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Picture bookreading at Nellies English Bookstore on February 19th

I gave a bookreading of 3 English picture books at Nellie's English Bookstore in Iidabashi, Tokyo,

on 19th February 2017.

I read Milkshake Shake, Can We Be Friends? and A Trip to Grandma's House


It was a really large crowd! From babies to elementary school children and plenty of parents joining in the fun, too. 

All of the children joined in the songs and dances related to the stories.

Thank you to all of you who came.

I'm looking forward to seeing you all again! 



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English picture book event at Kanazawa Meibundo Beans Bookstore

There was an English picture-bookreading event and seminars for teachers held at the Meibundo Beans bookstore in Kanazawa on 10th December, 2016.

I gave a book-reading of mpi Phonics English picture books and a seminar for teachers on Active Learning with Picture Books.

Thank you to everyone who came!







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JALT National, 2016

Mari Nakamura and I made a joint presentation "Nurturing Presentation Skills with Picture Books" at JALT (Japan Association of Language Teachers) National, Nagoya, on 26th November. In our presentation, sponsored by mpi Phonics and Nellie's Books, we used our two new books "Can We Be Friends?" and "A Trip to Grandma's House" to show how young learners can build presentations based on picture books.

In the first section on "Can We Be Friends?", teachers enjoyed using puppets to make conversations about what they can or can't do. in the second part of our session, we had two teams making objects out of shapes to solve various problems which was based on the "Trip to Grandma's House" story. And in-between we sang the "Can We Be Friends?" song with movement and gestures.



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23rd November, 2016 (public holiday)

Parent and child bookreading, singing and play 12:00-12:45

Bookreading, playing and movement in English for elementary school children 13:00-14:00

Venue: Kuriyama Park Sports Center, Koganei-shi, Tokyo

Contact: 042-382-1001

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A Trip to Grandma's House (new picture book)


How can the shapes help the family of bears visit Grandma?

Children can enjoy seeing the bears' adventure and the objects made by the shapes in this new picture book that I co-authored with Mari Nakamura (illustrated by Chiiko Watanabe and published by mpi).



The book can be used by parents or teachers for children to learn the names for shapes and enjoy making their own pictures from shapes.


The book includes a CD with narration, rhythm reading and song and can be ordered on these links:

Amazon Japan 


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Can We Be Friends? New picture book release

I wrote the newly released picture book for young learners "Can We Be Friends?" (published by mpi and illustrated by Fumie Maejima) together with Mari Nakamura.


It is the story of a friendship between a cat and turtle. Can they be friends even though the things they can do are quite different? 


Children will enjoy trying out the actions illustrated in the book and following the friendship between the cat and turtle as it develops. It can help young learners of English to understand how to use the "I can.." and  "I can't..." structures and can be used as a basis for many classroom activities if used for teaching.


The book includes a CD with narration of the story, rhythm reading and a song.


Available from Amazon Japan or mpi





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mpi Kids English Tour 2016

The English education company, mpi (previously known as Matsuka Phonics) holds the mpi Kids English Tour each year in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka.
The seminars given during these events introduce many ideas for teaching English and this year Mari Nakamura and I will be holding seminars about introducing Active Learning when teaching children.
Active Learning for young learners of English includes the skills of thinking independently and using language to express ourselves and give presentations. We will demonstrate how these skills can be developed even in young children learning English as a foreign language by using the examples of activities based on 2 picture books.
Information in Japanese about the mpi Kids English Tour is written in this article:
The tour schedule is as follows:
Tokyo: 30th October, 13:00 - 16:30 AP Nishi Shinjuku, 4th floor, Room HI
Osaka: 6th November, 13:00 - 16:30 CIVI Kenkyu Center, Shin Osaka Higashi, Room E705 
Nagoya: 16th October, 13:00 - 16:30 IMY Hall, Convention Room
Fukuoka: 23rd October, 13:00 - 16:30 AQUA Hataka, 3F, Convention Room A
東 京 10月30日(日)13:00〜16:30 AP西新宿 4F ルームHI
大 阪 11月6日(日)13:00〜16:30 CIVI研修センター新大阪東 E705
名古屋 10月16日(日)13:00〜16:30 IMYホール 会議室
福 岡 10月23日(日)13:00〜16:30 AQUA博多 3F A会議室
More details and reservations can be made through mpi's website (at present in Japanese only):
There is a 1000 yen discount for the full afternoon of seminars if you reserve by 30th September, 2016.
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