ARCHIVES: CLASSROOM NOTES: January 2011
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La classe de Madame Catherine et Monsieur Baimba
Bonne Année! Happy New Year… a difficult concept to grasp for 2 1/2 and 3 year olds.
Since 2011 is the year of the hare according to the Chinese calendar, we welcomed our Poussins to a classroom full of lapins (rabbits). Quickly the children were hugging and kissing the stuffed lapins and the teachers were saying Bonne Année. We had balloons of many colors for the party.
We set up a picnic using la dinette: les assiettes (plates), les verres (glasses), les couverts (silverware), etc., along with les légumes (vegetables) et les fruits. Lots of fun; lots of review of basic vocabulary.
To mark the New Year, we began to manipulate letters and even articulate the sounds of many letters. As part of our morning routine each child is now finding his or her letter (the first sound of his or her name). We use large magnetic letters, felt letters and felt strips from Lakeshore Learning Center.
Les Poussins have been very interested in matching sounds with letters, so we began to play with matching nouns and sounds: Canard for C, Lapin for L, Assiette for A as well as Aleen and Ananas...
We learned a classic French song called "Vive le vent," which is about children braving the cold wind to wish a happy new year to their grandmother. We used a colorful parachute to not only make the wind but also to review colors. This was a good opportunity to physically engage the children. We organized a little scene where some children were going to see grand-mère while others were impersonating elements of the song such as les sapins (pine trees) and les boules de neige (snow balls). Again, lots of vocabulary, lots of fun!
January also includes la Fête des Rois (Kings' Day). Here again we had to choose only a few elements of this cultural celebration. We spent the first trimester making circles, like le soleil (the sun). Now we are introducing les lignes droites (straight lines) and les lignes pointues (sharp points) which are found in les étoiles (stars) and the crowns worn by les rois et les reines for la fête des rois.
We sang "les étoiles dans le ciel" to the sound of Madame Isabelle's ukulele. The children loved singing the song and reaching for the sky (a piece of cloth full of little stars).
They also loved turning the light off, putting le bébé dans son lit (the baby to bed), and pretending to sleep to the French lullaby "Do do, l'enfant do." As soon as le coq (rooster) sang, the light came on, bébé se réveille (baby wakes up), et maman chante (mom sings) "Bonjour, comment ça va?" de Christiane Lelaure.
We have begun to work on opposites such as jour (day) et nuit (night) as well as warm and cold, as we were coming in with cold hands, coats, gloves and hats. We have lots of winter clothing to dress up and many fun songs to warm our hearts.
Les Poussins love la forêt, especially since we spent all the month of December being des lutins. Now les lutins are not collecting les feuilles et les champignons but need du bois to make un feu dans la cheminée. Making these connections is crucial for the children to understand where we have been and where we are now. With a cardboard hache (axe) and a real saw, we became lumberjacks singing "scions du bois".
All props were there and each time the scene was set up with the children. La neige, les sapins, les buches de bois... Repetition is a must to acquire not only the new language but to improve on the set up of the scene. Once comfortable with the vocabulary and the actions, a series of more academic exercises were presented.
We created a box, and in the box we put objects beginning with the sound of the letter "C", comme coeur (heart), couteau (knife), cornichon (pickle), cuillère (spoon), clé (key), couverture (blanket) and of course the verbs couper et coller (cut and paste).
No matter how much we try for our scenery to be authentic, there is nothing like the real thing. We ended January dans les bois (in the nearby woods) collecting du bois, chopping and enjoying another picnic.
La classe de Madame Isabelle et Madame Ghania
What a wonderful moment for French for Fun to welcome the Papillons again after their winter break and to start off the New Year. The celebration of La Fête des Rois (Epiphany) is a French tradition that takes place every year in January. Besides the usual pre-writing activities, and before tasting the wonderful galette made this year by a French for Fun mom, we introduced the galette with a game: one child, hidden under the table, decides who will get each piece of galette. Only one of them has a picture of une feve (a favor), glued to the other side. The child who gets the feve is the king, and then gets to choose his queen. The set up and attention to details is very important: the tablecloth lined with gold, the silver tray, the crystal bottle, etc...
More Fête des Rois Photos...
Our main theme for the next two months is l'hiver (winter), and it is not easy to show snow and talk about cold weather when you live in the San Francisco Bay Area. To differentiate froid et chaud (cold and hot) but also the passing of the seasons, we collected clothes that could be worn either in hiver or été, and asked the children to put them appropriately in front of a poster board depicting each season. To better understand the change in Nature we took a walk outside the building to observe the trees, especially those that shed their leaves. We also asked the children to bring pictures from their gardens to make a poster of what winter looks like in California. Most of them showed citrus trees, which lead us to emphasize the difference between summer fruit and winter fruit. We used oranges and citrons to make fresh juice and tasted them both, experiencing the difference between amer (bitter), and sucré (sweet).
More Photos de L'Hiver...
At French for Fun, we believe that children should learn science and do experiments at an early age because that's how they learn cause and effect. Pouring water from the pitcher to the plate, then transferring it to the freezer (le congélateur) helped the Papillons understand that under very cold temperature water turns into ice (la glace), and that ice melts once it is removed from the freezer. The Papillons experimented the effect of heat on ice by blowing through a straw (une paille) into ice, and some chemistry too by putting salt (du sel) on the ice cubes, les glaçons. It did not take them long to understand that heat and salt melt ice.
More Science Experiment Photos...
The story book Les Bons Amis by Paul François (Fang Yi- Kiun ISBN 2081600064) is a perfect way to introduce the idea that winter not only affects Nature but can be harsh on animals too. The Papillons act out the characters from the book, and built their self esteem and confidence in the process.
The winter unit is still on going. Stay tuned for more ...
Les Tournesols - Kindergarteners
La classe de Madame Catherine
While in Arles, Van Gogh painted many local people, especially the Roulins. The postman, Monsieur Roulin, served us well this January, since we needed un facteur (postman) to deliver all our cards for la nouvelle année. Indeed it is the busiest month à la poste in France since the French do not write for Christmas but for the New Year.
Les Tournesols illustrated a card, sent it to their parents, making sure the envelope was addressed the French way (return address on the back and ZIP code before the city name for example). We also learned that each country has its own symbols and colors to represent la poste: yellow and blue in France; red in Belgium; red, white and blue in the US.
We had to become familiar with new vocabulary words, une sacoche, le courrier, un timbre... The song "le facteur" d'Henri Dès, despite its quick tempo, is really fun to mime.
You guessed it, we had to learn "Pirouette Cacahuète", the famous song telling all about the problems le facteur encountered when he climbed those escaliers en papier (paper stairs). There again, Dorothée's version is upbeat and to keep up, our second language learners have to use gestures. It is amazing how beneficial movement is.
Speaking of movement, we choreographed "derrière chez moi, devinez ce qu'il y a." Here again the results were truly remarkable.
Many articles have been written on the importance of movement. You might find this one interesting as parents and/or teachers of kindergarteners: Linking literacy and Movement by Rae Pica.
Exercising the mind is also important and our facteurs needed to be good with numbers to find the correct address. We practiced numbers from 0 to 50. To review the concept of counting by 100, we use plastic straws attached by a rubber band. Each bundle has 10 straws.
The numbers were written out in large color coded papers. (14, 24, 34, and 44 on blue paper for example).
We also practiced delivering mail to even numbered houses and odd numbered houses.
We drew on large pieces of construction paper un quartier (a neighborhood), with houses, shops and buildings (l'église, le cinéma, l'école). Each student had an original picture of a French building, as a model.
Les Tournesols built a mini quartier with the props we have made at FFF using tri-fold display boards (un chateau, l'église, la boulangerie) happily saying "je vais à l'école, je vais au chateau", and of course saying their address.
We often like to end a unit with a special sortie (fieldtrip), so we did go out to visit our local post office depot for a special tour.
January has ended, but inspired by Vincent's own words: "There is nothing in the world as interesting as people. One can never study them enough." We are now meeting many more people since we are beginning a unit on jobs and professions. Wonder how many ballerinas and firemen we will have? Log in next month…
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