A taste of great literature.Drama and mystery in the café!

Drama in the café! Poetry with Jacques Prévert

Although my example is in French, once you have found your poem in Spanish or German etc then the activities  will be  equally useful.This poem though is just so evocative and thought provoking by Jacques Prévert. We are working with the first verse only of this poem.This is because the poem's content beyond the first verse is too mature for the children . We want to zoom in too on the first verse and look at the simple café language and how it evokes a mystery.

In the new DfE KS2 POS we are encouraged to read “great literature” with our KS2 pupils ,so here is a way to do so with UKS2 as we consider café culture in Summer second half term.


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Déjeuner du matin
(Jacques Prévert)

Il a mis le café
Dans la tasse
Il a mis le lait
Dans la tasse de café
Il a mis le sucre
Dans le café au lait
Avec la petite cuiller
Il a tourné
Il a bu le café au lait
Et il a reposé la tasse
Sans me parler

At the end of KS2 we explore “café culture” with our Year 6 language learners. This poem by the French poet Jacques Prévert will enable us  to explore “great literature”on several levels.
Some of you may say but it’s in the past tense ! I don’t think this is an issue here as the messages are clear and the children will be able to understand the text once we have investigated the language.


Recently I wrote a blog post about ways to  begin to explore the simple past tense  using “ il y avait”,asking the children to become factual observers of what takes place in the café as they watch the World go by.The ideas below are about observation brought to life!



Déjeuner du matin , Let’s first put it into context for young language learners.

Café culture
Find some pictures of French cafés through the ages- both photos and paintings.
  • Ask the children to look at the people, to think about what the people might be saying to each other
  • Ask the children to explore what the people  may be thinking. 
  • Ask them to jot down on paper their thoughts as they discuss this in groups of four.

Whispering galleries

  • Ask the children to make a whispering gallery of the utterances and thoughts they have come up with in the activity above (probably at this stage of learning ranging from greetings, feelings, selecting food and drink , opinions about the food,/people and clothes , comments about the weather , third person singular simple descriptions etc) 
  • Bring children to the front of the classroom and ask them to bring their whispering galleries to life in front of the pictures.
Sound scene

Now bring your classroom to life as a café. 
  • Ask the groups to sit at tables and to perform their whispering galleries again. This time you will direct from the front. 
  • Just like singing in the round you will indicate when a table should start talking and when they should stop – so sometimes you will have one table talking and sometimes you will have all the tables talking etc.
  • You will also control the volume by raising you arm to indicate louder and lowering your arm to indicate when the tables need to be quieter or whisper. 
  • Finish the activity, by one by one stopping each table and their whispering gallery,until only one table is speaking. 
  • Explain to the children that they have just created the “Sound Scene” of a café.

An Observation



  • Discuss with the children the key objects we may find in a café.
  • Discuss this in English and elicit from the  children the key nouns you will need to bring the poem by Prévert to life. 
  • As the children offer the key words such as cup, spoon, saucer, table ,plate , knife, coffee, tea, glass , milk , sugar – set a table with the items at the front of the classroom and as you do so name the items in French.
  • Give the children picture cards to represent the items used in the poem –coffee, cup, spoon, milk, sugar. 
  • Now you have discussed the key language with the children ask them to listen to the poem and lift the correct items as they hear them said.
  • Repeat this a second time and ask the children to try and anticipate the order of the items- pausing before each item to give the children time to secede which picture card to show you.
Here is a reading on You Tube of the poem.I would suggest that you stop the clip after the first verse.The words are on the screen so you can see when to stop the clip.(The second verse continues on to talk bout lighting a cigarette etc). You may like to show the clip up to the end of the first verse now the children understand some of the key nouns in the text.





A physical performance

Now hand out this part of the poem , cut up into sentence strips . One set between two children. The cards should be in a random order.

Il a mis le café
Dans la tasse
Il a mis le lait
Dans la tasse de café
Il a mis le sucre
Dans le café au lait
Avec la petite cuiller
Il a tourné
Il a bu le café au lait.

Can the children reconstruct the lines of the poem?

Share with the children the whole first verse of the poem and add actions for “il a mis”/il a  tourney/ il a bu.

Can the children help you to understand what physically happens in the poem? Read through and ask the class to help you act out the poem?

A silent movie

But what is the customer really doing, thinking and feeling?

Ask the children in pairs to read the poem themselves again and in English discuss what the “back story” is to the customer. 
Why is he there? What has happened? What will happen? 

Can they   create a silent movie of the action in the correct order that has emotion and physicality to portray what they think the back story is to the action?

Putting life in to our poetry performances 


Using voice recorders and  filming the action each pair can now create their own short filmed sequence of the first verse of the poem?