French For Fun, Lafayette, California

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ARCHIVES: CLASSROOM NOTES: September 2010


Morning Immersion

Les Poussins"Les Poussins"

La classe de Madame Catherine et Monsieur Baimba

Our 12 little chicks, les petits poussins, are two and three years old. They are all as unique as they can be, coming from all parts of the East Bay of San Francisco with parents and grandparents born and raised in many different parts of the world. Some are already bilingual in English and French, one in Chinese and English, some have been exposed to French in our Moms and Tots program and some are brand new to us and have only heard the English language up to now.

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Les PoussinsEven though we are delighted to welcome such a diverse group, our main goal from day one has been to become des petits poussins tout jaune, (yellow little chicks) learning our way around the farm speaking only French.

We use two small classrooms with direct access from one to the other. One classroom is used primarily for story telling, movement, singing and creative play. The other room is used for arts and crafts, manipulative and snack.

The French language is used exclusively and all children are encouraged to respond, to repeat, to be engaged and participate in French. After only 4 weeks of instruction, we all have broken out of our shells and are happily learning to trot along le cheval, collect eggs and ride on le tracteur de Michel.

Les Poussins Les Poussins

Our very first book was: Les Livres Fenêtres des Tipoussins de Matt Wolf, Editions Brimar Inc 2001 (ISBN 2 89 433- 639 X). The story line is absolutely perfect and easy to act out with stuffed animals, cut-outs of felt and display boards representing la maison, l'école et la ferme. To make sure we had enough petits poussins tout jaune, we bought soft yellow golf balls and drew with a permanent marker, eyes, a beak and 2 legs. The children love them and almost always handle them delicately with love and care.

Les Poussins Les Poussins

These little poussins also fit perfectly when learning to count to 10 with Dix Petits Poussins de Sandra Grimm. The children love this book and here again all the illustrations have been part of our daily lessons, our décor, our projects etc. The French edition is Hachette 2006 (ISBN 201392951 X).

Les Poussins Les Poussins

Les PoussinsChildren at this age love to count and there are so many animals around the farm to count. We could stop there, but why not extend the math lesson and learn more language and pretend play to feed the dogs and put them down for nap in their dog house. We used Mon Grand Livre de Chiffres by Scholastic Canada Ltd (ISBN 059074416X) for support and more visual illustrations. We created doghouses with construction paper and colored dots, and went to a pet store to buy dog biscuits shaped like bones of different colors.

These manipulative exercises we have made for the children are very successful and fun and so rich in vocabulary while teaching number recognition, quantity, focus and concentration.


Les Poussins

The little pigs, roll in the mud and eat corn. The children can tend to the cochons on their own or with a teacher who will be constantly talking about the story, carefully watching what the children are doing with the animals, so their actions match the words the teacher is using...voila, everyone is learning and communicating.

Sounds and letters are of course so important in learning language, so the P sound and the P letter were the first one we introduced to the children. P comme poule (hen), P comme poulallier (chicken coop), which we made with the children out of a cardboard box, P comme paille (straw), which a teacher collected on the trails and P comme pain (bread), which we made by simply mixing flour and water.

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Les PoussinsAfter 4 weeks, the children were able to read with us the P page of L'imagerie des tout petits L'alphabet Editions Fleurus (ISBN 221506344 0), laughing at seeing la poule and her poussins on the plage (the beach) eating pommes (apples) with two children under a big parasol (umbrella). Even the youngest child in the class, who just turned 2, could not resist repeating like the perroquet which is on the P page, all P P P words.

Of course, you can learn language and many P words without books and by simply singing and dancing. We have selected many wonderful songs but curiously enough some of the oldest songs and rhymes still remain some of the children's favorite tunes. Using cardboard bricks to make the wall, plastic breads imported from France, the children learned the traditional song, Une Poule Sur Un Mur, learning to walk on the wall, going all in the same direction and taking turns. Social skills are much harder to grasp than language at this age but with persistence and consistency, we will eventually get there.

Les Poussins Les Poussins

Another classic song is Quand 3 Poules Vont Au Champ. Hard for 12 petits poussins to accept that only 3 hens can go to the field (and why just go to the field?)...it will take us some time to master this one.

Off we go now to collect Pommes in our Panier and prepare for our picnic scheduled at the end of October!


Les Papillons"Les Papillons"

La classe de Madame Isabelle et Madame Ghania

Our Papillons are the oldest students in the morning programs at French For Fun this year, yet they are only between 3 and 4 1/2 years old. At this age, routine activities are still important. So, everyday we start the class in the same way: a board on the wall of our classroom lists the daily responsibilities: le chef d'appel calls the roster, le chef de calendrier performs the calendar duty, le chef de la meteo reports the weather conditions, le chef de ligne leads the line to the different parts of the school and le chef de rangement is responsible for putting things away and after snack clean up. The papillons love responsibilities and understand that it is important to perform their task seriously for the benefit of the class. It enhances their confidence, patience and trust, as well as the cohesion of the group.

Papillons, we needed first to understand where we come from. Our first unit was about the butterfly cycle. It might sound like an advanced science topic for 3 and 4 year olds, but the French for Fun multi-sensorial approach makes it easy and fun for the children to enjoy and learn in many ways. La chenille, the caterpillar, was introduced through a collective art project based on a song La chenille by Corinne Albault. We cut paper leaves, des feuilles, for the chenille to eat, and a giant flower for the butterflies to visit and get their favorite food: le nectar. Butterflies are mostly known for their beauty, their perfect and colorful wings, their intricate designs. Truly a work of art. So here again, we had an opportunity to introduce the concept of symmetry, to review shapes and let the children create their masterpiece. We have enjoyed our collective art projects which have been of course used for language review as well as decoration.

Our second project was a giant chenille made of sandwiches. The children enjoyed cutting out circles using un gobelet (plastic cup) in the slices of bread, cheese and ham. Spreading butter (tartiner) is not so easy even when you're 4, it took a lot of concentration for our papillons and dexterity which is important for writing, drawing, cutting etc...

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After all the hands on activities, The Papillons were ready to assemble their first butterfly cycle books with pictures. They colored and pasted the written sentences paying close attention to the sequence to follow. The reward of all this hard work was to take home the booklet and tell the story in English or in French using all the new language they learned. Yes, les Papillons love books and this one was their favorite.

You guessed it, our letter of the month was the letter P. Since we are a full immersion program and the English language is never used, we must provide the children with many visual aids. Flash cards are used, but also small objects which can be touched. Les Papillons enjoyed matching the cards with the objects and talking about the usage of the objects, their preference. We also played memory and some children are starting to match words with picture cards.

Les Papillons are off to Provence and more specifically le Pont d'Avignon…

À bientôt.


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Afternoon Immersion

Les Tournesols - Kindergarteners

La classe de Madame Catherine

Les Tournesols, our kindergarteners became acquainted with our painter, Vincent Van Gogh. Naturally, we learned he was born and raised in Holland. Using a gigantic puzzle of Europe we made at French For Fun, the children identified Holland and Belgium in relation to France. We then compared France and Holland, made flags, worked on numbers for the population, talked about the various ethnic groups who live in both countries, paid close attention to what a country is, its capital, and its famous landmark.

After going to the library, the children had numerous books on Holland so we could have models for our Dutch town. We especially liked making the houses, with rooftops shaped like stairs and talked about how fun it would be to use our bikes instead of our cars.

We had to sample some Dutch food, so we walked to our local Trader Joe's store and bought the best Gouda, and even found cookies shaped like windmills.

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Immersion III - "Les Dragons et les Fées"

La classe de Madame Catherine

Les Dragons et Les Fées

Our students in second grade for the most part are really concentrating on reading this year. We will use fairytales and other childrens' classic themes to work on sounds, enrich our vocabulary and work on basic French grammatical points.

We began the year with Les Fées de Charles Perrault. After becoming familiar with the tale, the children began to act out the different scenes, using simple language and just a few props. Each week the scenes became more elaborate. We used the characters to work on agreement of adjectives and the nouns to reinforce gender.

We then illustrated our own story and practiced reading one on one our first booklet. You can view some video clips of our readers here. Also, above are the beautiful pictures our children drew. Our introductory unit would not be complete without some music. We used "Quand la petite Marie va chercher de l'eau…" de Christiane Le Laure.

Here again, the students are acting out each scene of the song using mime and movement. We have a choir and various lead singers. We naturally work on phonetic and identify many words with the sound 0, using eau and au. We played charades and worked on reading and writing exercises, always trying to incorporate as much as possible many disciplines to enrich the experience and entertain the children while instructing them.

 

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Immersion IV

La classe de Monsieur Baimba

Immersion IV

Our big project of the fall is Le Tour de France.

To introduce this subject we worked on la bicyclette (the bike), we drew and wrote the name of its different parts, like la roue avant (front wheel), la selle (the seat), le guidon (handlebars), etc. The students were really creative, once the general shape was made they all took a particular pleasure to go into details and drew la pompe (the pump) or la sonnette (the ring bell).

Immersion IV
Immersion IV

Then we made sentences, using these words and action verbs. All the sentences were describing what one can do on his or her bike, so they also involved body parts (always good to revisit). Once the children identified the verbs in every sentence, we used them to work on conjugaison (conjugation) of the present temps. They remembered well how to conjugate regular verbs. It was also a good thing to show them that many French verbs are irregular and that we have to get use to use them even if they are harder to remember.

Now we know les vélos (bikes) better, we can start the race. We read a text about La Grande Boucle (this is a nickname for Le Tour de France) explaining that the race can start in an adjacent country and then go all around France. Everybody read and we discovered new words to enrich our vocabulary. It was time to be creative and make our own parcours (way) of the Tour, which is divided in étapes (steps).

Immersion IV

Each étape is an excuse to visit a region and its specialties. We decided to start from Bruxelles, to go to the west at Le Mont Saint Michel, Bordeaux, then in the south with Avignon, up to le Nord-Est to Strasbourg, to finish, of course, in Paris! As you can tell we have a lot of places to visit.

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The classroom was already decorated with roads. Children of Immersion 4 are in charge of the rest. They already made some cyclistes, road signs and a couple of cameramen. In cycling you are alone on your bike but you work with a team. We try to have the same atmosphere in our class, and that works. I am proud to say that all these activities were done in équipes (teams). We recently decided to divide the class in three teams, mixing boys and girls, which are going to have different names, sponsors, colors and jerseys.

A lot of fun ahead!

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Immersion VI - "Les Licornes"

La classe de Madame Catherine

Les Licornes

Our Middle school students in Immersion 6 were very excited to meet again and share their best summer memories. We, at French for Fun love to tell stories and as long as French is being spoken exclusively, the students are in charge of the content of the conversations.

However, especially at the middle school level, the teacher must find ways to incorporate all the language skills and be prepared to elaborate and enrich the lessons. For example, one student went to Portugal, so we talked about le fado, a popular musical genre in Portugal. Using the passé composé and verbs which need ÊTRE more specifically, the students were to choose one monument they visited over the summer.

After drawing the building using fingerprints and ink pads, the scene and the story unfolded. Here are some examples.

The unit was fun, educational and allowed the students to use properly le passé composé of the common verbs such as aller, sortir, monter, descendre, etc.


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Français I

La classe de Monsieur Baimba

Français I

Bienvenue à la ferme!

Français IIt is harvest time, so the farm seemed to be a perfect place to go this autumn. We might think of France through its big cities but France is still really rural, la campagne is a big part of our culture, and this is certainly why our cuisine is so unique and still really healthy.

Français ITherefore, for the past month, our main topic has been the farm. We read different farm stories all together, focusing on one book, Dix petits poussins, by Sandra Grimm (ISBN 201392951 X). The interesting thing about this story is its repetitive pattern. Each time we turn a page, the chicken meets new animals and one of her chicks decides to stay with them. Therefore, each time we turn a page, we lose one of the ten chicks. This countdown involves mathematics, and in a larger way this story leads us to talk about the family, with la poule (the hen), le poussin (the chick), le coq (the rooster) (papa, maman et bébé), and many farm animals, like la vache (the cow), le mouton (the sheep), le chien (the dog) and le cochon (the pig). Naturally they all speak French, the rooster says "Cocorico!", the cows says "Meuh", the chicken says "Cot cot", the duck says "Coin coin"...

Children in this class are beginners in French. For now the class is about listening. Through all our activities we use the T.P.R. (Total Physical Response) approach, in order to captivate the children's attention and yet engage them. They are not passive. T.P.R. means that they are physically participating and their different senses are involved through stories, movement, manipulative and games.

Français I

We are all participating, listening to music — Tête, épaules, genoux et pieds (a classic song for kids) — having fun and learning French.


Français IAs an artist I enjoy working on new projects. I consider that working with kids, stimulating their creativities and seeing them appropriating a subject to express themselves as a real chance. Therefore, this year we will have a lot of arts and craft projects. Over the last weeks, we also made a collage about the farm, insisting on words starting by P, with la poule, le poussin, la paille (hay), les plumes (feathers). We had a lot of fun creating it. We also had to focus to cut and glue well, reinforcing neatness, organization and cooperation, all necessary skills for meaningful learning in any language.


 

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Français II

La classe de Monsieur Baimba

Most of the students of Français II were already at French for Fun last year. Our goal is to give them a diversity of activities to help them get more comfortable with our language. At the end of the afternoon, after a day of school, it is not possible to sit and read a text book for an entire hour. We need movement! Therefore, the T.P.R. (Total Physical Response) approach seems perfectly appropriate to us. The children are never passive, we make sure that they are physically engaged and always involved during the class. For every activity, we will use our body and senses to have fun, understand and remember French.

Français I

Also, as an artist, I think that it is important for the class to frequently work on arts and craft projects. Using our mind, our hands and our creativity in a French environment is a great way to enrich our culture.

Français IWe started the school year by making our self-portraits. This involved talking about ourselves, listening to each person, and drawing what we described. This was also a good way to introduce ourselves to each other and feel included in the class.

We worked on prepositions: sur (on), sous (under), devant (in front of), derrière (behind), à coté (next to) and dedans (inside). We stood up, used chairs, and the children had to place themselves according to the selected preposition. So much fun!

Then we talked about sports and what place they hold in our lives. We made a long list of the different sports. The children drew illustrations, first on the white board all together and then on paper. After that we played les mîmes (charades). Les mimes were a superb example of creativity.

We also worked on Ce que je préfère (What I prefer) which was rich in vocabulary. The exercise asked about our favorite couleur (color), sport, animal and jeu (game). As you can imagine, it involved a lot of basic vocabulary. The children were asking many questions, and they were sharing a lot of stories about their favorite things. To conclude the exercise we had to draw these things all together in one situation. Some of the drawings are really funny.

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We just started to work on la bicyclette, with les roues (wheels), la route (the road), and the verb rouler (to roll). This is the introduction to our future unit: Le Tour de France!

Français I

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