I Went to Japan to Use an Infinitive

This is a team challenge of creativity, geographic knowledge, tactics, and chance. It revises infinitives.

This activity was prepared for and used in regular second-year junior high school classes studying Sunshine 2, Program 6. The topic of that Program is infinitives.

First, put students into groups of four and have them move their desks together so they can discuss amongst themselves. Next, give each group a marker pen and piles of scrap paper (or a small whiteboard). Draw a scoreboard on the blackboard and label the groups according to their position in the room (or the colour of their marker pen; or they can choose a team name, etc.). Then, display a map of Japan for the whole class to see (pptx and png files are attached).

The groups have fifteen seconds to choose a prefecture, think of something famous there, and write a sentence on their paper/whiteboard using an infinitive. It has to be related to the prefecture! After the fifteen seconds, they hold up and read their sentence aloud. Examples include:
I went to Kyoto to drink green tea
I went to Kumamoto to meet Kumamon
I went to Yamaguchi to eat fugu
I went to Ehime to pick oranges
I went to Fukui to see dinosaurs
I went to Nagano to ski

Once a prefecture has been ‘used,’ block out its name (in PowerPoint you can do this with the highlighter function in the slideshow).

Each team that has selected a prefecture that no other team has used will receive a point. However, if a prefecture has been used by more than one group at the same time, they don't get a point and that prefecture ‘remains in play.’ Repeat as time permits or until all prefectures are used. The aim for each group is to finish with the most points.

This game is very interesting (you can learn a lot about different prefectures) and gets very exciting. In the first few rounds, teams tend to choose obscure prefectures (or negotiate with their neighbours) to reduce their chance of doubling up. However, as more prefectures get eliminated and more famous ones remain, the challenge and tension increase.

Japanese-to-English dictionaries can be used (if students are fast enough). Ideally, the role of ‘scribe’ and ‘reader’ in each group will change each time.

Finally, to conclude: have all the students stand and do a “whip-around” where each individual student has to think of and say aloud a sentence using the grammar point (same rules, i.e. I went to [prefecture] to [verb], no prefecture can be repeated). They can sit once they give a correct response.

Submitted by Keith Miyazaki November 30, 2020 Estimated time: 20-25 minutes
  1. Joey_Ph June 2, 2021

    Thanks for this activity idea. I used it in my 8th Grade class with a modification. Instead of a group activity and a point system, I used BINGO. I might upload the files and activity instructions hoping it won't be filed under IP flagged. :-P

  2. pyrl_ June 28, 2022

    Hey I like the idea of using it as a bingo, how did that work?

  3. aggro crag June 12, 2023

    also works with unit 5 part 1 of blue sky 2

  4. ryninhiroshima December 7, 2023

    I used this for my HS 1st years and was happily surprised how much they got into it! Some teams started trying to "take over" areas, e.g. going for Hokkaido, Aomori, Akita, etc.

  5. ryninhiroshima December 13, 2023

    I have small classes, and I ran into the issue of no two teams going for the same prefecture, so every team had the same number of points. To solve this, in the last 5 minutes I told them they could take as many prefectures as they could write proper sentences for. One team clearly pulled into the lead then. Great activity to teach infinitives! I learned a lot and the kids really enjoyed it.

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