Note: This post was edited in June 2017 to update link information and coordinate with an upcoming re-design to the “Resources” section.
In my stacked Level III/Level III Pre AP/Level IV AP all-in-one-section class, we’re getting ready to do a travel themed unit centered around a visit to the city of Hiroshima. Meanwhile, my Level 1 students are a couple of weeks into a travel unit on Tokyo (something I wasn’t yet doing with the kids now in the upper level class back when they were 1st Years) — so why not kill two lesson preps with one stone and introduce the upper level class’s target patterns by talking about some Tokyo tourist attractions? Some online resource-fishing led me to a (now-defunct) Japanese site called Find Travel, which has multiple lists of “Can’t Miss” tourist spots in Tokyo and other places. I really like that the site’s pages have nice, big pictures with blessedly small, caption-like chunks of text, although the vocab & grammar are still a stretch for my threshold intermediates.
Additionally, I found a couple of cute maps of the zoo that feature the names of the animals in very novice-friendly formats: one with accompanying pictures, and another (more or less) without. Granted, animal names aren’t something I consider particularly useful for everyday conversation, but I figured we can use the maps for a fun one-day activity around circumlocuting to learn the names of the animals and practicing physical descriptions, colors, body parts, etc. And then I had my one really good curriculum idea for the year: what if the Level 2 unit that introduces vocabulary for people’s physical traits — a unit I just happen to mildly despise — evolved into a unit about describing the animals at the Ueno Zoo instead?