Making Christmas Cards

Fifth grade boy: I want to draw Pikachu on my card, but I can’t figure out how.

Sixth grade girl: There’s a picture of him on your pencil. Draw that.

I made Christmas cards with one of my small elementary schools on Monday.* I showed them cards I had received in the past, as well as cards that some of the junior high schoolers had made me last year. I also showed them Christmas! by Peter Spier, that all important pictorial guide to Christmas as celebrated by Americans…25 years out of date. They were stunned by the number of presents everyone received. Here, kids (and I really mean kids) get one present on Christmas Eve. Instead, their main thing is getting cash from relatives for the new year. It’s usually an impressive chunk of change.

Practice makes perfect.

Practice makes perfect.

I had them practice on scrap paper first, since my junior high school students kept messing up last year and ruining the cardstock they had been provided with. Basically the only English they got that day was copying down ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy New Year’. Only the fifth and sixth graders are officially taught the full Latin alphabet, so just those few words was quite an effort for the younger students.



There were some line break difficulties. Japanese is written without spaces between words, so they didn’t find anything significant about the amount of blackboard I put between ‘Merry’ and ‘Christmas’.

Finished product coming together.

Finished product coming together.

Once they had done a rough draft, they started in on the cardstock with colored pencils, markers, and stickers. Many of them modeled their drawings on the Christmas book and the stickers .

Billy Bob, is that you?

Billy Bob, is that you?

Sometimes things didn’t translate well from draft to card.

In the end, each kid had produced at least one card to exchange at their Christmas party. This one was my favorite of the bunch – a self-portrait:



Bonus: I found this kerning game while trying to explain spacing and line breaks to the kids.

* Yes, the whole school. 17 kids, 3 teachers, and the vice principal.



Filed under japan

3 responses to “Making Christmas Cards

  1. These are awesome! I really do miss art with kiddos.

  2. I love the cards, and my little boy would be the one saying “I don’t know how to draw pikachu (or mamoswine, or onyx…)” He’s in first grade this year, and to remind the kids to put spaces between words, the teacher has them put their finger at the end of the last word, to create a space. Would that help with your kids? I know it’s a cultural thing, but at my little boy’s age, he doesn’t exactly realize there should be a space, either.

  3. Mom

    Just found this today. What fun! I enjoyed the kerning too!

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