Many Japanese speak English. But they do not think our thoughts. They worship at other shrines; profess another creed; observe a different code. They can no more be moved by Christian pacifism than wolves by the bleating of sheep. We have to deal with a people whose values are in many respects altogether different from our own.

Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

The Mission of Japan, 1937


Choice Card: Crocodile
pronouns, making choices
kindergarten and up
3-4 minutes
Class Size:
Energy Level:
turn-taking risk
itai wani toy

This is probably my favourite proprietary toy for learning English. I know it as itai wani since I first came across it in Japan. It is often referred to as Crocodile Dentist elsewhere,

The toy works by pushing the crocodile's teeth. Press the wrong one and he bites. My crocodile is over ten years old and tends to bite unexpectedly. Whoever has the crocodile asks the other players who is going to push a tooth. The basic version is to ask "You or Me?" This allows the players to gang up to force the crocodile-holder (usually the teacher) to push all the teeth.

Before using the crocodile I usually review pronouns using You You Me.

Apart from introducing other pronouns other choices include asking whose turn, which tooth and how many teeth.


With large classes (I've done this withover 70 children) use a timer and have everyone standing up. After their turn a player sits down. Can all the children get seated before the timer goes? Alternatively move around the class at random.

Be wary that some children, especially young ones can be scared of the crocodile. No-one should be forced to push a tooth. Children should be allowed to pass by using an appropriate phrase, "No thank you" or "Neither" (in response to "You or me?") are reasonable.


Crocodile on the carpet