Learning Occupations and Places through Art

Duangsamorn Haruyama, Gunma Kokusai Academy Pre-School

Quick Guide

  • Keywords: Community helpers, places, vocabulary learning, team work for young learners
  • Learner English level: Beginner
  • Learner maturity: Preschool, Lower Elementary School
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Activity time: 90 minutes
  • Materials: Community helpers and workplace pictures with magnets attached, markers/chalk/erasers for the main white or black board, “I want to be_____” picture worksheet, crayons or other coloring utensils.

Introducing cooperative activities into the English classroom for Japanese young learners can be challenging, especially for classes with a large number of children. This activity promotes active cooperative learning as a team. Children help each other with drawing their own town map and together, decide where to set the places. In addition, they are able to share their dreams, talk about community helpers, and learn job and workplace English vocabulary all in one lesson.


Step 1: Print out and laminate pictures of community helpers (people who live and work in our communities) and their workplaces, or any other occupations and workplace pictures would be fine. Also, perhaps adding some jobs/places which are common in Japan would be a great idea, for example, a Ramen shop owner and Ramen shop, idols and a TV station, and so on, and then attach magnets

Step 2: Make sure that the white/blackboard is blank and markers/chalk/erasers are ready for everybody. You may need chairs or stools for students to reach the higher places while drawing.

Step 3: Prepare a “I want to be______” worksheet for drawing. This will be put up on the wall in an art gallery corner.

Step 4: Make the art gallery corner in the hallway.


Step 1: Go over what the children in class want to be when they grow up and then discuss the jobs and workplaces.

Step 2: Introduce the activity and give students 10 minutes to use markers or chalk to draw an easy map of an imaginary town on the board together. For this step, the teacher could help and explain how to draw roads, intersections, parks, rocks, flowers, and so on.

Step 3: Give each student a workplace and decide where to place them together. Make sure that there are enough workplace pictures for the students.

Step 4: Show each community helper or occupation picture and ask about where each one works. Then, have the children, one at a time put each picture on the board next to the correct place until they finish.

Step 5: Review all the community helpers, occupations, and place words.

Step 6: Praise the students and reflect on how they worked together. Alternatively, the teacher could even discuss any problems that happened during the activity and how to prevent similar ones next time.

Step 7: Have the students draw a picture of what they want to be when they grow up on the drawing worksheets and color them.

Step 8: Display the artwork, the “I want to be____” worksheet” of each child in the hallway like a gallery.


This English activity helps children learn vocabulary in a more creative way. It also promotes a student’s sense of self-worth by letting them share their dreams through their artwork. Equally important is the idea that everybody is a piece of a jigsaw puzzle needed to complete the task. The role of the teacher for this lesson is to be a facilitator by providing the materials, and a guide by leading the conversation and reflecting upon the students’ work. Finally, children are able to memorize words better if they use them creatively.