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ARCHIVES: CLASSROOM NOTES: October 2010


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Morning Immersion

Les Poussins"Les Poussins"

La classe de Madame Catherine et Monsieur Baimba

In anticipation of our sortie, matinée à la ferme les Poussins who had mastered their cocorico's and cot cot cot moved on to learning names, colors and shapes of vegetables while practicing parts of the body and being creative and silly.

Le légume favori was le maïs, not only because it is jaune, our color, but because it is long et rond. We have been studying the concept of long and round these last few weeks.

Husking our ears of corn was fun and it was a long pull for our little hands. Then we needed all our strength to couper (cut) le maïs in two so we could share and begin to see round ends. The work continued, now cuillère en main the children shucked the maïs with the spoon.

C'était dur (it was hard) but so good to strengthen our hand muscles.

Then using a pipe cleaner and an empty match box we hooked our wagon to the back of our mini tracteur, loaded le maïs and off we went to feed les cochons.

Since all instructions are in French, the children are constantly learning so much language, while developing manual skills as well. The next day, we got to eat maïs too. Still working on the same concepts, long et rond and the colors jaune et vert, the children were to put kernels of corn using a three finger grasp inside the long shape of the ear of corn which was made of green frosting. Miam, miam.

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That culinary delight was the kick off for taste week chez les Poussins (see http://www.legout.com/la-semaine-du-gout for more details about this celebration). Before moving on to the color orange we had to introduce l'ananas, jaune et vert, long et rond. Plus a pineapple is perfect to use for practicing parts of the body, a long face and spiky hair.

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By then, les Poussins did not really know it was taste week, but they sure enjoyed the extra treats. Making home made orange juice is always fun and so good for us. Once again, we cut, we pressed, and we poured. Santé!

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We did not celebrate Halloween, since we will have Mardi Gras at French for Fun, but we had orange pumpkins all around our classroom ready to welcome l'automne. We dressed Monsieur Citrouille with his chapeau, veste, pantalon et chaussures.

We ended the month playing à la dinette, learning more words long and rond like assiette, couteau, fourchette, bouteille...

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We invited les lapins and made for them and us des carottes rapées. It seems that our pre writing skills are developing in the kitchen… but look how well we are painting in between the lines, carefully controlling our paintbrush from en haut to en bas.

All orange it was at French for Fun and all over the Bay area. Bravo les Giants! Bravo les Poussins! You are our special champions.


Les Papillons

"Les Papillons"

La classe de Madame Isabelle et Madame Ghania


P comme Provence
Located in the South of France, La Provence is a gorgeous region rich in colors, smells and flavors. It is also where the historical city of Avignon lies, famous for the people dancing on its oldest bridge: Sur le pont d'Avignon, on y danse...

P comme Pont (bridge), P comme Pétanque
Beyond the cultural value of the song itself, Sur le pont d'Avignon was a great way to introduce geography concepts such as Nord and Sud, review the basic prepositions sur and sous, stimulate creativity through movement, dance and construction!

Playing pétanque under the olive tree gave the class another glimpse of Provence tradition and culture: it was a fun way for our 3 to 4 year-old to work on controlled movement and patience skills.

P comme Produits de Provence
If you mention Provence to any one, there's a good chance the words olive, lavander and herbs will come to their mind. Through a wide range of sensorial activities, the Papillons explored the wealth of Provençal flavor and smell. A delightful and relaxing perfume of lavander filled the classroom for weeks!

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P comme Projets et Promenade ( class projects and field trip)
There were so many things to do with the delicious food we tasted and the lavander we collected. We decided to limit ourselves to two special class projects.

The first one, les sachets de lavande, was an ambitious craft project involving a trip to a nearby fabric store, The Cotton Patch, and some help from volunteering Moms. One of the highlight moments was when the Papillons performed their danse on le Pont D'Avignon upon request from the staff at the store.

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The second one, the cooking of a famous Provençal vegetable stew, la ratatouille, took place during la semaine du goût (http://www.legout.com/), a celebration of food and taste diversity. A great opportunity for a session of role playing on les marchés de Provence.

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Afternoon Immersion

Les Tournesols - Kindergarteners

La classe de Madame Catherine


Since we knew where Monsieur Van Gogh was born and raised and had fun making our Dutch town, we talked about his family in October and made un arbre généalogique, pasting portraits of his grand parents, parents and five brothers and sisters. We especially liked his father's first name "Theodorus". Then the children brought pictures of their family members and we had to draw all the continents to place the pictures of our relatives. It was a wonderful way to practice basic vocabulary and learn about our beautiful world.

Back in Holland, we started to look at some of Van Gogh early works, emphasizing his choice of dark colors and studying the subjects of the paintings. We decided to study "Les mangeurs de pommes de terre." The children were very attentive during story time and quite touched by the poverty of the peasants.

Since it was Columbus' birthday, many children had talked about Columbus at school, but we found out at French for Fun that it was he who brought La Pomme de Terre to Europe.

We decided to devote an entire class for science, looked at potatoes, drew pictures of its roots and flowers and talked about all the dishes the French people make with potatoes, la Purée, les Frites, le Gratin, etc. We even sung, Marianne K...a wonderful song which children act out like duck goose, using a felt potato.

  

Of course many other vegetables were introduced to the Europeans after the discovery of the Nouveau Monde. We tasted cacahouettes and colored a beautiful illustration found in Bonjour magazine from Belgium.

It was time for Halloween which we do not celebrate at French for Fun, but still manage to include in our lessons. This year, les Tournesols loved the song, le potager, a great song about a sorcière made out of vegetables from Guadeloupe. Il était une fois les Antilles by Geneviève Sezille.

We would have loved to travel to the markets of Guadeloupe but a walk to our local Safeway was fun too and we did find almost all our légumes. It is always so great to hear our kids just speaking French outside of the classroom and sure enough, right in front of us, we were to meet two grandparents, native of Belgium, in the United States for over 40 years. So we engaged in some conversation and even took pictures. They were very impressed with our French and once again we realized how fun it is to be bilingual.

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Immersion III - "Les Dragons et les Fées"

La classe de Madame Catherine

Les Dragons et Les Fées

In October we always celebrate Taste Week at French for Fun and of course the kids mostly in second grade were looking forward to Halloween which we do not celebrate at the center but certainly cannot ignore. We love being involved with the lives of our students and making connections with what they are learning in their schools, the special events our community sponsors etc. This year the timing was perfect. We were beginning to study the sound in/ ein/ ain and one of our favorite exercises to master the sound is to learn the poem of Cousin Valentin qui a mal aux intestins après avoir mangé du gratin, du boudin, des meringues, du vacherin, du pain etc. This year since the class's name is Les Dragons et Les Fées, we decided that Valentin was a dragon who devoured lots of "IN" things.

While learning how to read and recite the poem, the children had to learn what our intestines do and where they are. We had a brief but interesting discussion on how French people and American people do describe their tummy aches very differently. The French seldom talk about their stomach, yet casually they will declare having une crise de foie. Americans just do not bring out liver problems after a good meal or a party. The anatomy lesson was fun but of course the children were more interested in the food.

In our kitchen, we made Un Gratin de Pommes de Terre, very common especially in the region of Dauphiné, des meringues which did not turn out so great, but the vacherin did and our crème Chantilly was delicious. While cooking, we reviewed measurements using an authentic verre gradué from France and many other common words and verbs.

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It was then time to build our Dragon Valentin. Using just a cardboard box and paper, the whole class went to work. Since we never use English, we once more had plenty of opportunities to review many common words while developing our sense of creativity and team work.

dragon
dragon
dragon

Le chapeau de Fée was fun to make as well and voilà, just in time for Halloween we had costumes too and we had learned a new poem and how to read and recognize the sound "IN".

In October, we also went to the theater to see La Belle au Bois Dormant. Please go to "special events" on our website to see pictures of the event. It is amazing how much we really do in just 3 hours a week of instruction and there is much more to come. Au mois prochain! ('til next month ).

Immersion IV

La classe de Monsieur Baimba

Immersion IV

This was another great month at French for Fun.

We were on Le Tour de France and explored some of our great regions in details. The children in the class were divided in three groups, where boys and girls were mixed together, and worked as teams all the time.

First we celebrated La semaine du goût (http://www.legout.com/ ) (taste's week). We organized this special event over two days.

Each team chose its sponsor among the French brands we know. Therefore, on the first day we used these sponsors as a theme for our dégustation (tasting). We had to be creative. For Orangina and La Vache qui rit it was easy...these companies sell drinks and food products. For the third one, Michelin (a brand of tires) known for its logo, the famous Bibendum we had to use our imagination. The children came up with the idea of using marshmallows to recreate a Bibendum.

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The second day we used our parcours. For each étape we tasted a local specialty. We started in Bruxelles and had some dark chocolate. Then we stopped in Normandie, at Le Mont Saint Michel, and drank some cidre (apple cider). In Bordeaux we had some raisin (grapes). In Avignon we had some miel à la lavande (lavender honey). Avignon was a special étape because some of our students went there last summer with French for Fun, and we are going to learn more about Provence in the following weeks. Le Tour de France moved to Strasbourg, next to the German border, and tried some Pretzels. We finished in Paris eating some warm croissants.

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These two dégustations were a good way to see a lot of vocabulary, learn more about French culinary culture, associate a region with its product and have a lot of fun! Time to race! We built a board game inspired by le jeu de l'oie. Working in teams, children wrote questions related to Le Tour de France, using their binders and all the work we did on paper since the beginning of the unit. They used a lot of imagination. They wrote their questions on colored cards, decorated the board and played against each other to see who would go all around France and win our miniature Tour de France. This game was a good way to review everything we learned and have fun with it. It also gave the children another opportunity to work as teams, compete and learn about fair-play.

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The group is dynamic and motivated. It's a great pleasure to work with this class. I cannot wait to learn more about my students during International Education week. More details to come...

À bientôt.

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Français I

La classe de Monsieur Baimba

During the past month at French for Fun, the children of Français 1 worked well and had a lot of fun together. After discovering the basic body parts with our song "Tête, épaules, genoux et pieds", the children continued to learn more vocabulary about le corps. We used plastic figurines, wood puzzles, the mannequin and even our own bodies. The children learned a lot of words that they might not remember right away, but this vocabulary will be used all year long, so this was important to have a first experience with it.

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Halloween is not really celebrated in France, but it is important for children in the American culture. Therefore we compromised and took this celebration as an excuse to introduce l'automne (the fall) and learn about les araignées (the spiders). We used our art and craft skills to make a spider out of paper. Then we played in la toile d'araignée(the spider web).

   

When we worked on fall, we had to speak about trees. Another class made a big tree. We used le tronc et les branches (the trunk and the branches) they made and added some feuilles (leaves) to it. We spoke about shapes and colors. Still on the subject of colors, we worked on l'écureuil (squirrel), made some with paper, cut them and put them on our tree. One child even put it on the ceiling! Why not? Écureuils can climb.

We continued our fall discovering with le hérisson (the hedgehog). We spoke about his life, read a story and used stuffed animals. Then we painted it, using q-tips to do the spikes. Ça pique! We also decided to give some relief to it and challenge our creativity. The children made a small sculpture of the hérisson, using clay for the body, beans for the eyes and pasta for the spikes. That was so much fun. This kind of work is also a good opportunity to describe what we are doing or what we need to do and enrich our vocabulary.

   

Les Français 1 celebrated International Education week. This was so interesting and a great opportunity to know more about each other's cultures.

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Français II

La classe de Monsieur Baimba

Ça roule!

We started the month exploring the verb rouler (to roll). The roads decorating our class inspired us to go sur la route (on the road). First we made some bicycles on paper. We had to rebuild the frame cutting and gluing the different parts mixed all together like a puzzle. This was a perfect way to introduce the topic while training our logic skills.

Then we made a long road, using a giant piece of paper, covering three tables across the classroom. We divided it in several squares and numbered them. Each child had to build a pawn representing a vehicle or an object able to roll, such as a bicycle, a car, a motorcycle, a shopping cart or a ball. Then we raced using a dice while a child was responsible of keeping the score on the white board, doing some mathematics. Children had so much fun competing in a friendly atmosphere.

   
   

The class is mostly based on T.P.R. (total physical response) approach. We used our chairs to see prepositions, like devant (in front of), derrière (behind), à gauche (on the left), à droite (on the right). The children moved around their chairs according to the teacher's direction. Then they sat down and worked on paper. We had an interesting exercise using colors and the prepositions used before. Children had to color the cars depending on their positions on the road. This was a little bit challenging for the young ones but I was happy to see the children helping each other in a really good spirit.

   

To end our rolling unit we played la pétanque, a typical French sport. Every French person must have played pétanque at least once during their childhood. The children had to bend on their knees and make the ball roll not too fast to win.

   

We don't celebrate Halloween in France, but we have a holiday called La Toussaint. Therefore Halloween was a perfect opportunity to compare our cultures and the way we celebrate. There were some similarities and a lot of differences. While we spoke about Halloween we noticed that its colors were orange and black. Therefore making orange juice and eating French dark chocolate seemed to be a good way to mix our culture and have an original celebration. Santé!

      

This tasting was a perfect transition to l'Automne (the Fall) the season of les pommes (apples). We made un pommier (an apple tree) out of paper and taped it on the door. First we had to cut le tronc (the trunk), draw l'écorce (the bark), les branches and finally les pommes. The children were really inventive and made really fun collages to color the apples. We learned a lot of vocabulary all along this project. It was also another opportunity to work as a group and inspire each other.

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We will share a lot more about our cultures, really soon, for the International Education Week. This is going to be a fantastic experience!



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