ARCHIVES: CLASSROOM NOTES: February 2012
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"Les Petits Minous"
La classe de Monsieur Baimba et Madame Isabelle
We had such a nice winter in Petite Section. We started 2012 celebrating "La fête des rois." It is an important holiday in France. This tradition comes with a story and a little ceremony, where you eat a special cake, called la galette. Most of the families in France celebrate it, and at French for Fun we celebrate it every year.
Chez les petits minous, we decided to focus on a few elements. The principal one was l'étoile (the star). We extended l'étoile to the whole sky (le ciel). We sat in circle, holding des étoiles (stars) and la Lune (the Moon), and sang along in a calm atmosphere. To illustrate the song, we used a felt board and felt pieces such as les étoiles, la lune et les nuages (clouds). It was also a nice way to do some academic activities, counting the stars, sorting the clouds by size or putting the moon en haut, au milieu ou en bas (on the top, in the middle or at the bottom of the board). It is essential for the children to see that we value their work by displaying it. We decided to decorate the classroom with the star shape and used potatoe stamps, to create posters. The students also worked on their fine motor and pre-writing skills by coloring the inside of a star using a stencil. They had a lot of fun experimenting with these different techniques.
The weather was cold and it was a perfect time to play with la neige(snow) and build un bonhomme de neige (a snowman) while reviewing body parts such as la tête, le ventre, les jambes (head, stomach and legs), and describing the face using words like le nez, les yeux, la bouche (the nose, the eyes, the mouth). We also used le bonhomme de neige to work on numbers and to count, using buttons and small stones.
We had fun developing gross motor skills, throwing snow balls in a basket. Of course we had to dress accordingly.
The snow progressively left the classroom but it was still cold. We replaced our star poster by a grey sky and represented the wind by painting dark lines on it, using a tooth brush and dark ink.
We had to put on some warm vêtements (clothes) to keep from getting too cold. We learned new words like le bonnet (the ski-hat), le pull (the pull-over), le pantalon (a pair of pants), une écharpe (a scarf). We had some wonderful cut-out pieces of fabric representing different vêtements, and we used them for a collage.
Our next song was "Trois petits moutons". The lyrics tell the story of three little sheep running in the snow. One of them melts and disappears. Then the two sheep run again and another one disappears. It goes like this until none remain. From a mathematics perspective, the children got the chance to review un (1), deux (2) et trois (3) in a new way. They loved to listen to the song while using stuffed sheep, and hid them one by one following the lyrics.
Then we became more artistic and prepared our very own costumes trying to reproduce the texture of the wool. It was important to hold the brush correctly while gluing. Once the costumes were ready, it was even more fun to run around wearing them and to hide one by one, counting backward.
After that, we thought it could be interesting to have a science project and explore the concept of melting (fondre) heard in the song. One day, we mixed white paint with water and put it in three small buckets that we placed in the freezer. The next day we opened the freezer to discover our three moutons. With a few straws, we blew on them and observed how we could make them melt. Some of the children ended up taking the ice in their hands and rubbing it on the tables. It melted even faster.
Finally, children of Petite Section trained their fine and gross motor skills and worked on holding a pencil correctly. First we used butcher paper and our finger to paint some lines. Once they were familiar with drawing on a big scale we used crayons and more butcher paper to color a few big sheep to decorate our classroom.
Stay tuned to see how we transition to the spring!
"Les Gros Matous"
La classe de Madame Catherine
Our long journey through Russia was so enriching. Many mornings we began our routine with stretching, emphasizing the importance of exercise, gymnastics and dance in the Russian culture. While learning new skills, like doing a cartwheel, we introduced new vocabulary in French. Faire la roue, faire le poirier, une galipette etc. More practice is needed and once again it is evident that it is a lot easier to learn French than to learn gymnastics when you are four years old.
We spent some time decorating our classroom and gathering all of the props we would need for story telling as well as for our Russian dances.
The Ukranian folktale, The Mittens (La Moufle) is perfect to use in class. There are plenty of characters to choose from and nearly all were familiar words to the children. We took the opportunity to build on more vocabulary, stressing verbs of actions and descriptive adjectives.
Devinez qui était la grandmère, Nikolaï, le renard, le hibou, la souris. Find your child and guess the part he/she played.
Then came, la fête au village — everyone danced and sang. Madame Isabelle, our music director, found a great winter song, Atchoum, which was perfect with its tzigane tunes to incorporate in the unit. We all had a lot of fun. Take a look!
We could not end our trip to Russia without trying some real Russian food. Luckily, our nearby town of Walnut Creek has a wonderful Russian restaurant, so we made reservations and treated ourselves to a family luncheon. We had borscht and many other delicacies at Babuskha.
It was still winter, so Madame took us to Le Pôle Nord while we read another story, Le voyage de Plume. It was beautiful there too and very cold. We studied about pingouins and Madame Isabelle taught us another great song, Au Pays des Pingouins.
We had to pay close attention to the many sounds the different instruments make. It was especially fun when we could touch the real thing.