Global Network of National Geoparks

Engaging Children in Early Childhood Education in the Itoigawa Geopark

Source :Itoigawa Global Geopark, Japan Published :May 4, 2015

Presenting the Geopark in a way that is fun and easy to understand

for children below age 6



Since the region received recognition as a Global Geopark in 2009, Itoigawa City’s Board of Education has implemented Geopark Studies as part of the citywide school curriculum. This has allowed the Itoigawa Geopark to interact with children living in the Geopark in a very real and direct way. However, until now, little had been done to effectively engage very young children, particularly the 3-5 year old bracket. To improve this situation, the Itoigawa Geopark has begun several new programs including new Itoigawa Geopark-themed English flash cards.


A few of the Itoigawa Geopark English Cards 


The Itoigawa Geopark English Cards were created to expand Geopark Studies into Itoigawa’s preschools and kindergartens. English classes have already been part of the preschool curriculum, with two English classes per semester taught by a native English speaker. These classes were generally left up to each teacher to plan and there was no guiding curriculum. The Itoigawa Geopark took the opportunity to offer a curriculum for preschool students using a Geopark theme. 


Itoigawa Geopark English Cards in use at a local preschool 


The cards use elements of the Itoigawa Geopark to teach English. For example, colors are taught with the green of Itoigawa Jade, the blue of the Sea of Japan, the white of Itoigawa Geopark’s heavy snowfall. Likewise, vegetable names are taught with a focus on vegetables grown within the Geopark. In this way, children learn not only about their hometown and its Geopark, they also learn English in an easy way that introduces words using things they are familiar with. By giving these cards for free to all the teachers within the Geopark, they also promote a unified curriculum, easing the children’s transition into school-based English education.

By engaging children from an early age, we hope to continue to promote interest in Geoparks and their hometown.