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ARCHIVES: CLASSROOM NOTES: April/May 2011


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Morning Immersion - Poussins

Les Poussins"Les Poussins"

La classe de Madame Catherine et Madame Isabelle

Like nature itself, it seems that by spring, our 2.5 & 3 year olds are blossoming. These children are no longer content with just listening and babbling. They are able to make short comprehensive sentences in French and many are expressing the desire to write. What tremendous growth!

In order to satisfy their budding literacy interest, we have been slowly incorporating work with letters and the sounds they produce in French. We reviewed familiar words, and we introduced new vocabulary using a variety of items to keep the children engaged and interested. We stimulate their memory through many engaging, sensory activities.

Poussins

At French for Fun, our curriculum is well planned. What the children are experiencing in the classroom is relevant to the season and the holidays we celebrate.

Our literacy unit centered around spring. Voici notre Abécédaire du Printemps. "A" comme arbre, "B", comme branche et bourgeon, "C", comme caillou. Totally absorbed and involved hearing and speaking only in French, Les Poussins were immersed in learning while having fun.

Of course les Cloches, the Easter bells came. Les Lapins (rabbits) were hopping, and some of our children celebrated Passover. We even had an egg hunt in the park and we read a good book to give us ideas about where the eggs might be hidden...

Poussins

We took a big step forward in our Abécédaire and worked on the sound M, "m" comme maison. With our help, the children put together our 2 grandes maisons jaunes, tuiles rouges pour le toit, rideaux aux fenêtres, etc. We used these houses to play with and to work on prepositions and listening comprehension exercises. We asked the children to place certain animals and/or objects, next to, under the houses, etc. It was delightful to listen to them express themselves in French while creating their own scene.

PoussinsAt French for Fun, even our youngest students learn geography and history by being invited to look at and carefully touch some authentic collectibles - some very old. The impact these unusual objects have on the children is remarkable, and they show a deep appreciation and respect for them. The children were encouraged to associate various figurines with the regional houses, le marin et la maison bretonne avec son bateau par example.

Poussins

Our curriculum is always enriched with songs and comptines which, here again, are carefully selected to illustrate the unit we are presenting to the children. The children loved singing the words, "Pour construire une maison, il faut empiler des briques" (In order to build a house, you must use bricks.) while building the tallest house. This project gave the children a wonderful opportunity to learn some principles of physics. "Boumbadaboum" (crash!) is a word our Poussins just love. Pauvre Madame Isabelle!

Our big event was, La Fête Des Mamans (Mother's Day). In keeping with our unit, Les Poussins memorized and/or mimed a traditional song, "Je fais le tour de la maison" which after a few practices some actually performed in front of a fairly large audience. Performing arts is an important part of the curriculum at French For Fun; we were so proud of these little actors!

The children sang "Qu'il y ait toujours du soleil" in French and in English while Madame Isabelle (a professional musician and teacher) accompanied them on guitar. Afterwards the poussins honored their mothers with their maison cadeau which they had constructed in class. Many of us will treasure that happy moment for years.


    

We are ending the year "dans la cuisine" (in the kitchen). Before we begin cooking, we will make sure les Poussins know how to use the utensils, and they will learn the utensils' French names.

Poussins

Les Papillons

"Les Papillons"

La classe de Monsieur Baimba et Madame Ghania

  

What a spring!

Les Papillons spent the spring exploring the natural environment that they are surrounded by in daily life. We used elements that they might see in their backyard, in their garden, in the park or during a nature walk. We grouped these elements as "Le printemps au jardin" (spring in the garden). Week after week, we successively learned about les fleurs, les escargots, les libellules, les grenouilles et l'étang. Each time we studied something new we would represent it and use it to decorate our class. It was so much fun to see our garden growing on our walls, and so wonderful for the children to see their work being more and more present in the classroom.

  
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We thought of this unit on the garden as a long story - every week we would experience a new chapter. The narrative aspect of this approach helped the children to see every element connected to each other. As usual we made sure to integrate as many learning areas as possible in our French immersion program - natural science, mathematics, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, pre-writing exercises, and arts and crafts.

For example, when we looked at the life cycle of the frog, we compared it to the cycle of the chickpea (that we had just studied) and the cycle of the butterfly (that we learned about at the beginning of the year). We illustrated every step in a notebook: de l'oeuf, au têtard, à la grenouille writing the important words.


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After talking about the pond water, we decided to do some science and see ce qui flotte et ce qui coule (what sinks and what floats). We chose random objects around the school, asked the children to predict if they would float or sink, and then wrote the result on the board.


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We also used the white board to work on symmetry, first with basic geometrical shapes, then with more elaborate drawings such as a dragonfly.


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A fun way to reinforce the vocabulary was to draw partial flowers or dragonflies on the board, and let the children find what was missing, say it aloud and draw it.

  

We made un escargot out of paper. Les Papillons had to be careful and use their fine motor skills to cut the paper parts. To make la coquille , they had to glue a string of wool all along a line drawn on the paper. To improve these skills, they also traced shells on paper and on the white board - good training for the hands! These activities are preparation for writing. Most of these activities included the writing of a few words, related to the topic.

  
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It is essential to include physical activities in our curriculum, so we organized different games focused on la grenouille jumping around the pond, from un nénuphar to another. The children worked on their gross motor skills, while they socialized and learned how to wait their turn. Seeing how high some of them were able to jump, we wondered if we should not have called the class les grenouilles!

  
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To stimulate their creativity, we tried all year long to show them that they can create beautiful things out of recycled objects. We made several painting and drawing projects, and to finish out the year, we worked on a sculpture. We made une libellule with a cardboard tube, two sticks of wood and some paper.


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After all the hard work and the fun we had, imagining the garden and the pond, we thought that it would be a good thing to take a walk out in nature. We went to the Lafayette reservoir for a spy hunt. With a check list on a clipboard in their hands, les Papillons walked around the reservoir trying to see les libellules, les roseaux, les oiseaux, etc. Nowadays, it is essential for children to be sensitive to the importance of keeping nature clean, therefore we added les déchets on our list, and talked about the plastic bags we spotted in the water. We had a wonderful day all together!



Les Tournesols - Kindergarteners

La classe de Madame Catherine

As promised, the premiere, "Ballade en Bateau" was a huge success. In less than two weeks, les Tournesols ( pre-k/ k children ) had memorized their lines, knew where to stand, tried on their costumes -- many French originals -- and they totally believed they were part of the new troupe de la Comedia dell Arte.

French children wrote the story as a class project and we adapted l'histoire into a performing art production. This the very first Pièce de Théâtre (play) the Tournesols performed in front of an audience.

Tournesols  Tournesols  Tournesols

Following our Italian curriculum study, rich in performing and visual arts, we "traveled" to Spain -- Pablo Picasso's homeland. Picasso, probably the most prolific artist of the 20th century, loved the circus and painted a number of Polichinelle and Arlequin, which instantly interested the children since they were experts in the topic.

Tournesols
Tournesols  Tournesols

Using many books published in the US and in France, the children studied the life of Pablo Picasso through some of his most famous paintings. We loved, of course, "le Cubisme". In order to give the children the opportunity to experiment and explore the cubist style, we provided many pieces of paper cut out of various shapes. With creativity and imagination unleashed, the children created true "Chef d'oeuvres". (masterpieces)

We used from France Les tableaux de Picasso (Seuil Jeunesse isbn # 2-02-020080-5, Regards sur la peinture des Editions Fabri) and an incredible magazine, Le Petit Léonard, redaction@lepetitleonard.com .

Tournesols  Tournesols  Tournesols
Tournesols

Besides his talent as an artist, Picasso was in many ways larger than life. He enjoyed food, music, dancing, the theater...

Since at French For Fun we live up to our name, we believe in fun. Using all our senses on a daily basis to inspire this Joie de Vivre, we prepared a quick Paella and enjoyed Churros for dessert, and of course we sang and danced.

Suzanne Pinel's version of dans mon Pays d 'Espagne is great and the children loved to illustrate the song and then to perform it, learning the moves...OLE!

Tournesols
Tournesols  Tournesols  Tournesols

From Spain, we visited Vallauris, in the South of France using the story, Picasso and the Girl with a Pony Tail, by Laurence Anholt from Barron's.

We used the illustrations describing Picasso's workshop as a reading exercise. The children who had not yet seen that page received a list of words, (tête de taureau, cage, colombe) (bull's head, cage, dove)-- 12 words total. After drawing shelves, a stool, a coat hanger, a table, words all our students were familiar with, they were instructed to try to read each label, illustrate the word, and cut out l'étiquette (the label). Some students struggled, some did pretty well, and those who read in French found the challenging exercise vraiment facile (very easy). Given this variety in language ability, I am already anticipating what needs to be covered in the fall in Immersion 1.

Tournesols

Just like Pablo Picasso did when he lived in Vallauris, les Tournesols needed to experience working with clay. We also wanted to provide the opportunity to see pottery sculptures. In order to provide this opportunity, we visited the local atelier (studio), the Art Room, and we attended a workshop here. We loved it!

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Les Tournesols only have two weeks left with Monsieur Picasso, but I am sure he will lead us to more adventures. Stay tuned!


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