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ARCHIVES: CLASSROOM NOTES: November/December 2010

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Morning Immersion

Les Poussins"Les Poussins"

La classe de Madame Catherine et Monsieur Baimba

In California, we really do have to wait until November to welcome "l'automne" (the fall).


Since we had compared "long et rond" we built with the children "un arbre" with long branches and rounded leaves as well as some "feuilles pointues" using finger paints.

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Then came the wind "le vent" so we became "les arbres" using our bodies, shaking our branches. It was so much fun to exercise body and mind.


Of course we are starting to color within the lines holding our crayon properly and following specific directions "les grandes feuilles en orange, les petites en vert." So exciting to see how proud the children are of their work.

We also try to provide opportunity for individual attention, using quiet time to concentrate and review vocabulary using manipulatives we often hand-made at the center.


Then International Education Week came. For more pictures and details, please read our November Newsletter.

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We talked about "le monde" using a giant Atlas and then created our own planet; painting, cutting, pasting.

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We had it all — tall sharp mountains (grandes montagnes pointues) like the French Alps, our California waves (les vagues) and of course us (nous).


In December les Poussins went to la forêt and became des petits lutins (elves).


We created our very own props: les sapins verts, les champignons rouges et blancs et les petits lutins.


Then we also started working on our very first counting book from 1 to 5, which will become le cadeau pour les mamans.

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Les petits lutins learned three songs: le petit lutin et les champignons, la danse des lutins and la branche du sapin qui pique le nez, our favorite.


We decorated our sapin de Noël and finally we were ready for la fête de Noël avec les mamans, les papas, les grand-mères et les petites soeurs.

Afternoon Immersion

Les Tournesols - Kindergarteners

La classe de Madame Catherine

November in Northern California is of course not as cold as in Holland, but still it can be pretty foggy and Like Monsieur Van Gogh, we went south. Using various books of Van Gogh's paintings, the bright colors of Provence were literally swirling in front of us. We named Provence, Le Pays des Couleurs (the land of colors). To better describe les paysages (the landscapes) we had to learn the geography of Provence - what grows there, the shape of the mountains, and the climate - to paint the perfect champ de lavande, the tallest cypress and the opaque sky.

The children were totally inspired and their paintings were masterpieces, each reflecting the child's unique personality.

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Following the story Pour l'amour de Vincent (isbn: 274040570-7) we arrived in Arles. Building upon what we had learned last year, the children were now introduced to another Fleuve, le Rhône. They were already familiar with la Seine. They were also familiar with the Romans, so it was a great review to draw les arènes d'Arles and talked about what the Romans enjoyed for entertainment and what we are enjoying now in these very well preserved Roman buildings.

While in Arles, Van Gogh lived in la Maison Jaune. What a perfect art lesson and language lesson, trying to draw the yellow house. Once again, the children were very attentive and did a remarkable job representing the various buildings and illustrating important details: les volets (the shutters), les toits (the roofs), etc.


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La Maison Jaune was of course the perfect excuse for reviewing basic vocabulary and introducing more formally gender of nouns. Using Montessori grammar symbols, our kindergarteners were able to recognize articles and nouns and identify whether they were masculine or feminine.

While in La Maison Jaune, we had to visit Vincent's bedroom. Here again we used art books and let the children draw what they saw. The vocabulary list was extensive, prepositions were absolutely necessary to describe the room in detail and once again we were so impressed by the work of our 5 and 6 year olds.

Now, we wanted to describe our own bedrooms, learning along the way new words like une commode (a dresser), or une table de nuit (a night stand)

Just for fun we also played a jeu de l'oie, allowing us to move from room to room, visit le jardin, hide in le grenier or going back to le garage.

Incorporating basic language lessons and culture through the visual arts is so extremely enriching for the mind and the soul. These children are now experiencing the work of Vincent Van Gogh and discovering the natural beauty of Provence, in the same ways they fell in love with Monet and his garden in Giverny when they were Coquelicots (our pre-k total immersion program).

Noël of course is very special in Provence and our Tournesols saw first-hand how the holiday is celebrated there.

Tournesols celebrated the last day of class au centre ville. Taking children to the city to marvel at the beautifully decorated shops for the holidays is a very French thing to do and it works just as well in our very own town of Lafayette, CA.

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We then walked down to La Boulange along the boulevard and enjoyed un chocolat chaud dans un vrai bol avec un croissant ou un pain au chocolat. A great outing and a perfect living language experience.

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Immersion III, IV, and VI

Students in Immersion III, IV, and VI spent the beginning of the month of November celebrating and taking part in International Education week. Thanks to the overwhelming participation of the childrens' parents and grandparents, we traveled the world in less than 80 days and all left for Thanksgiving vacation more than ever convinced of the importance of our role as a people and how we can all make a difference through goodwill and education. For pictures of the event please go to November's newsletter on our website.

Despite the fact that December is a short month at French for Fun, lots of learning and fun went on as usual. Monsieur Baimba and Madame Catherine prepared the students for the end of the trimester's presentations, which were very well attended and showcased the progress that afternoon immersion students are making.


Immersion III - "Les Dragons et les Fées"

La classe de Madame Catherine

Les Dragons et Les Fées

Immersion III children read Le Petit Chaperon Rouge de Charles Perrault, each playing different roles. They also sang and acted out their favorite song of the year so far, the very jazzy and upbeat, Chaperon Rouge des Editions Musicales Lugdivine. Costumes and all the children were darling. Take a look.


Immersion IV

La classe de Monsieur Baimba

Immersion IV

Immersion IVImmersion IV students wrote their own skit on the arrival of Le Tour de France in Paris. Enjoying un café à la terrasse humming to the tune of Douce France (cher pays de mon enfance) de Charles Trenet, the customer is soon to be told by the agent de police that le Tour de France is making its arrival on les Champs-Elysées. Of course we couldn't resist singing along les Champs-Elysées de Joe Dassin. Then, the first two cyclists came, chatting and bragging that one of them will be wearing le maillot jaune. Meanwhile a young child on a tricycle rides past both of them and claims le maillot jaune, un jamais vu in the history of the Tour.

Immersion IV   Immersion IV   Immersion IV

Immersion VI - "Les Licornes"

La classe de Madame Catherine

Les Licornes
Immersion VI

Immersion VI students studied Noël en Provence this year.

They learned that the traditions abound and that they begin early in December for la Sainte Barbe. On December 4th, families in Provence will place wheat grains and sometimes lentils on a small plate covered with cotton balls. If the wheat germinates and grows well by Christmas, the family will enjoy a good year. Our middle-school students had fun watering their grains each day and seeing them grow...Lots of promised wealth for 2011.

Once the students were familiar with the legend of Sainte Barbe, we wrote a short play to present at the end of the trimester family party. Barbe had been locked up by her father because she did not want to marry and instead wanted to serve God. When thunder strikes the chateau, everything and everyone burned, expect Barbe. Miracle, miracle, Barbe had been saved by God. To celebrate, our students became troubadours and sung la complainte de Sainte Barbe, an original song written by our very own, Madame Isabelle. To enjoy the ballad, please click here.

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Joyeux Noël et à l'année prochaine.

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