mpi Kids English Tour 2017

The 2107 mpi Kids Tour events in Nagoya, Osaka, Tokyo and Fukuoka finished today with the final event in Fukuoka.


This year, Mari Nakamura and I gave presentations on using the activity books based on picture books that we co-authored and were recently published by mpi. The activities in these books draw on our long experience in English education in Japan and are based on nurturing the 21st century skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity in young learners. 


I had a great time giving presentations in Osaka and Nagoya. It was really fun to interact with the teachers.

Mari Nakamura presented in Tokyo and Fukuoka.

Izumi Miyashita gave a seminar on her original extensive reading activities in the classroom using mpi's BBL series.




More information on the activity books and an interview with Mari and I can be found here:





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Using English picture books at junior high school: parts 2 and 3

In part 1, I wrote about how I introduced one of my picture books, "Blue Mouse, Yellow Mouse" at Musashi JHS in July.

The students then got into groups and developed the story in whichever way that they wanted. I told them to continue the story from the last page or to insert some new scenes or to take the story off on any tangent they wished during the course of the story.

On 31st August I went to see the skits they had developed and gave them some advice about the content and presentation.

The students really came up with some super original stories, such as Blue Mouse Land going to war with Yellow Mouse Land and Yellow Mouse being thrown into prison, a White Cat up to no good disturbing the peace in Rainbow Land and Green Mice going off on an adventure and making friends with Purple Mice.

The students made costumes, practiced their skits and performed them at the school festival on 9th and 10th September. I managed to see some of the dramas on 9th September and was really impressed with how they had developed their ideas since the previous class.

Picture books are a source of imagination, stimulation and creativity for all ages!




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2-day summer picture book event held in Shibuya

 23rd and 24th August 2017 I held 2 days of events for young children focusing on picture books.

These events were organized by Trivector, a company specializing in translation and language services.

Trivector's reports about the events (in Japanese) can be read here:


I really enjoyed meeting the Mums and children.

At first everyone was shy but within a short time

all of the children were enjoying storytelling, songs, dancing, quizzes,

games and craft activities.   





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An original way to use English picture books at junior high school in Japan: Part 1

On 8th July I had the great pleasure of visiting Musashi Junior High School in Musashi Sakai, Tokyo, again.

The teachers had thought of a really ingenious way to use one of my picture books (Blue Mouse, Yellow Mouse) that would help the students develop storytelling skills and fluency.

After talking about how I write and illustrate my stories, we got straight down to reading Blue Mouse, Yellow Mouse out loud together, being careful with intonation and expression. Then the students got into groups of five and their task was to think of a way that they could develop or modify the story e.g. thinking of scenes beyond the final page (what did the 10 green mice get up to?), inserting a new scene or developing the conversation in other scenes. Finally, they will develop skits that they will perform at the school festival in September.

This was Part 1. Part 2 will be held on 31st August when I get the chance to see the skits that the students have developed and give them some feedback. I can't wait!!! Thank you Rumi Sato-sensei for organizing such an interesting project.






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Having fun with future nursery teachers

On 6th July I was invited to Jissen Women's College in Hino to give a presentation on using picture books to teach young children. All of the students were in the first year of college and studying to become nursery teachers in the future.

English is only a minor part of their course but they understand the great value in using picture books in both languages.

Using two of my picture books as examples (Peter the Lonely Pineapple and Lily and the Moon) I demonstrated how to read a story (with shadowing by the students) and activities related to the stories including games, songs, movement, dance, simple crafts and presentation skills. At the end each student drew what they wished to see on the moon (the pictures ranged from ice cream to shoes to lots of friends) and presented their picture to the class. It was good timing because the next day was the Star Festival - so why not wish upon the moon as well as the stars?! I had a great time - thank you so much Jissen students and Chiyuki-sensei for inviting me!




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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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