French story books with purpose 2015!

Last month whilst in France I had a shopping list of books that I wanted to buy and spent a brilliant hour in Cultura in Carcassonne doing just that! 

The books I had on my list are to support and extend the work we already have organised in our SOW.

Here are the books and my reason for buying thjem:

Books that are linked to festivals and are also stories based on popular French story characters.
Our young learners like the idea that they are looking at books that real French children enjoy.So Tchoupi and Petit Ours Brun cam immediately to mind!




Books that are educational books for French children that we can use to introduce or investigate a specific learning context that we cover.

The first two books I selected are for LKS2, short stories about visitrs to sepcific places.They are   inexpensive and again I chose two from the Petit Ours Brun series:

I found these three Kididoc books ( I love Kididoc) and feel that they can be used in UKS2 too as we can discuss how we can make books to help younger learners, focusing on the way the books inmtroduce language and use visuals , flaps etc.The books are also very informative and the text is accessible.With these books non specialist teachers can also  be creative aswell- I am thinking display made by the children etc.
I chose these three themes:

School for our Y5 school focus

The beach again for our Y5 focus

......and finally this Kididoc book caught my eye.We are extending our cross curricular work and here is a gift all about planet earth .Each double page spread is a different focus withon this context.Brilliant!

Our cross curricular focuses are already part of the network packages we create and whilst looking for stories within a series based on a fictional French character. I came across the character Barri and could not leave this book behind!It is beautiful .On each page it poses a question and then you need to lift the flowers or the pond or the grass flaps to see what mini beasts are hidden underneath! Fantastic.
Great for our KS1 mini beast focus and new resource for a theme we use each year plus what a great book to use with KS2  linked to DT and making lift the flap books for KS1 - or even a performance and use of questions and answers.

Last year I saw both of the following books but just didn't have room to bring them home! As I have just mentioned we are working in mofr detail on our cross curricular themes in the next couple of months I decided to hunt them out and bring them home! 

First a sophisticated look at travel to France by ferry- so UKS2 definitely!.Makes  lot of sense as so many of our children travel by ferry to France!  Several sentences per page , very detailed pictures to discuss what we can see in English and to look up key nouns in dictionaries etc and then to create our info docs!

And this wonderful book from larousse!" Le bord de mer" .It is a book to cherish I think .On some pages there are facts on others just pictures to discuss.There is a story that explains how to get to the seaide , pages on sea animals, rock pools ,under the sea, divers, keeping safe by the sea..... and  the list goes on.I love it!!

...And finally I wanted to find a book using instuctional text for Year 6 and our cafe culture theme! I found the most incredible recipe book which will be so easy to use in class because it is all about making sandwiches.
Double page spread, colour pictures and the most clear instructions and pictures! Great ideas that link to alsorts of themes too so you can use it with Y3,4,5 and down in KS1 too and not just in primary foreign language teaching either!


Countryside comparisons :location detective lists and poster presentations

Having spent some time last week in Pays Basque, visiting France and Spain, I not only found an ideal way to compare seaside between France and Spain,using the target language Simple seaside comparison with verbs, conjunctions and sentence structure , but I also visited Ainhoa!
What another gift!I realised that with UKS2 we could create a simple unit of work comparing Grasmere in the Lake district and this French/Spanish border town.

So why do I think that we can make a comparison between Grasmere and Ainhoa and why am I so specific in my choice? 
We are going to be "location detectives" and eventually create our own poster presentations.(It would work well using Book Creator too with sound clips etc)

Ask the children to keep two lists of key comparisons between Ainhoa and Grasmere.
Each list has a heading phrase "Ainhoa" or "Grasmere".These lists are called the "location detective lists"

Now let's start our comparison investigations.....

Here is the first clue! Take a look at this!

The Gingerbread shop in Ainhoa is in a very old building and is just a small counter where you can buy the flat oat- like gingerbread.If you have ever visited theSarah Nelson's Gingerbread shop in Grasmere you will know that this is a very small old building with a counter and the gingerbread is the same consistency.
So bingo! Here we have our first comparisons......

Step One :A "Gingerbread" investigation 
  • Share this video of the Ainhoa shop and making gingerbread wth the children- just to give them a sense of the produce
  • Taste some simple gingerbread biscuits
  • Can the children collect adjectives to describe the look of the gingerbread and the flavours in gingerbread?

  • Take a look at the buildings where the shops are in Grasmere and Ainhoa

Here is the Sarah Nelson's  gingerbread shop in Grasmere

And here is the building in which you find the gingerbread shop in Ainhoa.

You could also discuss the fact that we share traditional tales and listen to the shared traditional tale about the Gingerbread Man in French

Step Two
Make a comparison record on our "location detectives lists"

  • Can the children working individually or a small supprted group start their comparison lists.
  • Can they use infinitives of verbs to describe:

What you can buy (On peut acheter....) 
Where you can find this (On peut trouver le magasin dans un vieux magasin)
What you can eat and what it tastes like (On peut manger...... C'est ......)_

You may like the children to look at recipe for both gingerbreads and compare ingredients using bilingual dictionaries. 

Step Three 
Both villages are beautiful and traditional and are visited every year by many tourists.They are both situated in the heartof the countryside. So here we can make our second comparisons!

  • Share pictures of the two villages - you can google pictures of the two towns to find the schools, the churches, the rivers , the hillside and the village/town centres.

  • Ask the children to note down the names in French for the buildings- both villages have a church , hotels , a cafe, a primary school,shops
  • And the countryside features  they can see in both villages? Both villages are surrounded by hills and mountains and there is a river in each village.
  • What colours can they see? Ainhoa is red and white and Grasmere is grey stone with black and white buildings.
  • Are there any other adjectives they want to use to describe what they can see? Give the children time to find these in bilingual dictionaries.

Step Four
Make a comparison record on our "location detectives lists"

  • Can the children,working individually or a small supprted group,continue their comparison lists
  • Can they use the phrase "il y a...." and the correct use of the indefinite article to describe:

The buildings and use colours / additional descriptive adjectives
(Il y a...........C'est .....)
The countryside around the town and use colours / additional descriptive adjectives(Il y a .....C'est ......)

Step Five 
You can also describe the local sports! 
In Ainhoa you can play pelota and there is a court on the side of the church building with seating for spectators.
  • Try the game with your class.
  • You need a tennis ball (rather than  the traditional hard ball) and  bats- for the  players.Play the game against a wall.

  • Watch some of this lonely planet video , which shares the game of "pelota".(You may want to watch the video first to check you are happy to share this with your class)

  • And now take a look at the Grsmere Games ( the sports of tug of war, wrestling, tossing gthe caber, and fell runnig all come to mind!)
  • On You Tube you can find examples of "fell running" during the Grasmere Games ro show the children.Share some of the video clips of the Fell run with the class

Step Six
Make a comparison record on our "location detectives lists"
  • Can the children explain the sport of "Pelota" in Ainhoa- ask the children to write down a simple description with the verb "jouer" - Where do you play? How many people play? What do they play with?
  • Can the children explain the sport of fell running using the verb "courir"- Where do they run?(Up a hill/over a stream/ in the mud/ across fields etc) How many people run at one time?
Now it's over to your location detectives to create a poster presentation, comparing a country village in French Pays basque with a country village in the English Lake District!

Celebrating a royal baby with simple fun language learning activities

With the birth of a new royal baby to happen and all the press hype around this in the near future, I decided that it would be something that our children particularly KS1 and Y3 or Y4 would be interested in.

I have popped a couple of ideas down here on ways you might like to celebrate the birth of the baby! (I have focused on a song, a card and a baby layette - so we have listening and joining in, simple copy writing and some DT and writing simple full sentences to describe clothes for a baby).

Celebrating the addition to a family with a silly French song about the family!

Prince George is about to be the big brother.
Here is a song about a "little"  brother and his dummy.
Family nouns are also introduced into the song (maman,papa, cousin,cousine) so you could create a simple family tree too and don't forget to  add the grandma and grandad and perhaps aunts and uncles too!
Could be a great song to practise in class and then sing to the school in a class assembly and guess what ...act it out!

Click on the link above and find the lyrics .

Designing a French layette

Just a bit of fun but what should the clothes for a royal baby look like?
Can the children anticipate the hobbies and interests of the future royal baby and add these to the designs of their clothes?
Will the baby be a footballer, a dancer, a musician etc?
Why not ask the class to design some clothes for the new royal baby .We use the word "layette" too here in England. 
If the children are moving on in their language learning ,can they write simple full sentences about the items they design- noun, verb and adjective?

A card for the baby in French,German and Spanish

And don't forget to write a card to celebrate the birth of the bay.

I love these cards below as I think the balloons are fabulous plus the language is so simple that we can use this in KS1 and Year 3 to make a fabulous display celebrating the birth! 

What about a German lullaby 

Practise , sing and perform!

Clothes for the baby in German

Create a German layette for the baby too just like the French idea above!

A lullaby in Spanish

A Spanish layette

...and for Spanish clothes for your baby layette - 
Take a look at this part of el corte ingles website

ropas del bebe

Putting poetry in to French primary language learning

Today is a "clearing the decks" type of day and I have collated the blog posts I have written about using poetry in French primary language learning in to one blog post- mainly because a school recently asked me to recommend a poem and I had to scroll through my blog posts to find the one I wanted.Could be useful to others too though! (nearly all are based on authentic texts, but where i have added a poem we have created ourselves I have added an asterisk *) 
Practising a simple rhyme with actions: mon chapeau a quatre bosses

*Creating a very simple rhyme to remember numbers sunflower rhyme 1-10

School daily routine verbal phrases  A performance rhyme for daily routine

An authentic seaside song/rhyme  as part of unit of work on the seaside les petits poissons

Drama and cafe culture with UKS2 dejeuner du matin ,jacques prevert

Making our own eye in the sky poems

Addressing 4 skills and grammar with an authentic children's poem Dame Tartine

Travelling the world in a poem Sept couleurs magiques

French "poem painting" of a Summer's Day

Writing about a day at the seaside using a poem as stimulus summer french authentic poem

*Hearing and identifying prepositions of place with a nonsense rhyme positioning rhyme

KS2 leavers' poems using a text in which we explore how colours make memories through a poem

School, memories and doodle poems based on Pierre Gamara's mon cartable 

Autumn percussion and performance poem based on French poem  les feuilles mortes

*Fireworks performance poem 

House,home,prepositions,performance all based on the personification of  la nuit

Possessive pronouns mon,ma ,mes , performance too with this poem in French mon chocolat

A twist of grammar to the familiar French poem/song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Aspects of Winter in a poem for UKS2 onwards  about icicles

Colourful creative poetry using les crayons as a stimulus text and scaffold.


La chandeleur games to practise familiar language in speaking and writing

Have been looking for ideas for la chandeleur - 2 February (French pancake day) and came across this part of the "momes" site with lots of wonderful coloured and shaped pancakes.
You can access the recipes and the ideas on this part of the momes site blog momes here

This got me thinking about some very simple and easy to make activities for celebrations in schools  for la chandeleur!
I have added the new POS learning objectives that could be practised or reinforced with these activities too !

Pancake spelling collection challenge
A pancake team challenge for beginner language learners who know their numbers, colours and with children who are moving on who also know fruits,vegetables and possibly flavours) 

POS:Explore the patterns of language- link sound and spelling

  • Cut out four sets of five coloured circles( each represents a  crepe).
  • Ask the children to count the pancakes for you and to say the colour of the pancake. 
  • Make four piles of the pancakes - one from each colour in each pile.Each of the piles will ultimately belong to  one of the four teams.The teams have to win the pancakes
  • Divide your class on to four teams/
  • The aim of the game is to win the crepes.Each team nominates a "writing" chef.
  • This chef must come to the front and write what you say.You could say colours, number, fruits, flavours (language linked to the umber and colour of pancakes and fillings).
  • The aim of the game is to win for the team one of each of the five coloured pancakes that you have cut out of paper.The chef must write clearly and correctly the spelling in the target language of the word you say.
  • You could play this as a speed challenge with two team's chefs up at the front at the same time
  • Which team will have their coloured pile of pancakes first?

Spoken flip the pancake 
A challenge for language learners who have practised flavours (of ice creams) and can use the phrase "je voudrais"

POS: Speak in sentences ,using familiar vocabulary
POS: Broaden their vocabulary

  • Remind the children of the flavours of ice creams.For us this will work well with Year 5 as we learn flavours of ice creams in Year 4.
  •  Discuss with the Year 5  children other possible flavours made up of the fruits and vegetables we are practising in our healthy eating module at the moment.
  • Share these as a written record on the board.
  • Give the children chance to try to memorise the phrases you have written on the board.
  • Ask them in pairs now to play flip the pancake (just like verbal table tennis) where they take it in turns to say a flavour "e.g je voudrais une crepe au chocolat"
  • Make this a time challenge 
  • How many flavoured pancakes can they flip in 2 minutes?
  • Make it a "head to head" game and invite volunteers out to the front to  play the "Spoken flip the pancake" challenge!

Dingbat pancake flips! (Say what you can see)
A game for all stages of language learners

POS: Broaden their vocabulary
POS:Speak in full sentences
POS: Describe things in writing

  • Give each child a piece of A4 paper and ask them to  fold the paper into four and to draw four circles on the paper.
  • Each circle should be shaded on one side a different colour buy the children
  • They need to cut out their four circles.
  • The children now need to turn the circles over so the white empty side is facing them.
  • They must think of a flavour association with the colour (e.g red - tomato/ pink- strawberry etc)
  • In pencil on the white blank side they need to draw a symbol ( a Dingbat) to represent the flavour
  • On the coloured side they need to write the flavour in the target language.
  • Can other children guess and say the flavour accurately in the target language by looking at other children's "Dingbat pancake flips"? 
  • Can children ask for each pancake politely using a full  sentence target language request?
  • Once the have guessed they can flip the pancake to the coloured side and see if they were correct.

Getting language learning right in school,is a delight!

I am currently undertaking a routine series of observations of the language assistants and teachers who work alongside me in our primary schools  delivering primary language learning on a weekly basis.It is such a rewarding and pleasurable opportunity to see what is really taking place in schools.

Today I was with my colleague Janet W and her Year 5  French beginners in a local St Helens' school.Two days ago I was with Ana in a Warrington school,observing Spanish .

This series of blogs is an additional support mechanism for these colleagues,as they can't be in each others classroom and as a team  we meet once per half term for a twilight CPD,So you can hopefully see that these blogs (with a cup of tea and a biscuit back at home) offer them an insight in to each others classrooms and schools. 

A little bit of background knowledge to set the scene
If you have followed my blog posts you probably already know that I work alongside a group of really committed and enthusiastic teachers and that we work very week of the school year in 37 schools to support the delivery of French ,Spanish and German. Part of my role is to guide and support the teachers and the schools as the project in their individual settings develops.

My observations below are about what I saw and experienced in a local school today and the Year 5 French lesson.The whole school ethos to language learning and the attitude and progress of the children in the class sprang pout immediately!This is our first year of working with the school. Today I felt like the "cat who got the cream" as the learning was a delight to experience !

Why was it a delight?

The actual lesson is probably a lesson you can all recognise.It was a well planned and paced lesson ,started with a new greetings song which contained lots of familar basic  language.Interestingly the children began to join in straight away and had no problem with singing and reading the words from the screen accurately.The class enjoyed practising questions and answers about themselves and this led to practising a less familiar question and answer (about age).Today the class wre introduced to the aliens- just like Ana's year 4  yesterday The Year 5  children today  are having a combination of year 3 and 4 learning to accelerate their content knowledge but keep the skills level of early learners.The introduction of the alien pictures is always great fun and there are opportunities to look for cognates and semi cognates plus grammatical links between nouns languages.The pair games to practise the new nouns and the new  question "Qui est-ce?" are  rounded off with a simple plenary to check the children have internalised key language.

So what made this lesson so "delightful" was the whole school positive attitude and focus upon learning to communicate in another language.It makes the learning of a language an integral, regular part of the children's learning and the school day.Therefore the participation and concentration and success is in my opinion very high.

Here are some of the factors I observed today that contribute to how I think the school is "getting language learning right".
  • The school has a history of interest in international links,with an established and thriving link with China.As you walk through the school there is evidence in displays of links with China,children's work and information for parents.  
  • SLT are committed to making language learning and communication an integral part of the school learning curriculum.They plan alongside us for progress and to make sure that it's primary language learning that suits all their learners needs.
  • The children have previously learned some German and the school is committed to a quality language learning experience for all KS2 in French
  • The school has set up effective liaison between the school language coordinator and the language deliverer (Janet W).
  • Teachers and TAs are present and take an active part in the lesson, supporting Janet W, learning new language alongside the children and supporting children where necessary.The teacher and  TA participated in the pair work games  and sang the greetings song and prompted children to recall key responses to personal information questions and answers etc.
  • The teacher and TA saw and made links between the new focus the children started today on the "family and family trees" with their Science project- (growing up).
  • Janet W is an excellent deliverer of the target language and although she has only just started to work as part of our team ,she has been delivering primary languages as a teaching assistant in a local school.She has an understanding of pace,rapport with staff and children, using the primary classroom space and the understanding of working in a primary language learning context.
  • There were natural pauses and opportunities for assessment for learning and a final plenary check of learning that had taken place.
  • Children loved the alien family and delighted in creating "alien voices" for the characters as they learned the members of the family.One pair really enjoyed changing the game to make "Darlek voices" too.
  • All the children loved the pair activities -guessing games, based on the question "Qui est- ce?" with the aliens."Ooh it's like Cluedo!" was one enthusiastic comment
  • All the children participated well in the pair game and I saw the reaction from the children that you see when the children like the resource they are using, (colour laminated pictures of the aliens) holding them like precious playing cards.
  • A link  was made  between local primary schools as it was explained that the grandma and grandad alien were created by Barrowhall CP Year 4 in Warrington .Now Parish CE Year 5  want to create additional family members and this got them thinking even as they walked out to the classroom.The teachers cleverly  popped it on the agenda for circle time too- so French language will be used later in the week and new words will be looked for!
  • And the aliens ?Well this is the first of several appearances throughout the next couple of years of language learning. We have used these characters for several years now and they never fail to delight the children (and the teachers)! Today I saw what an engaging focus this  is for primary UKS2 children.Yes it's the family, yes we are learning words but this is la famille extra-terrestre ! Wow and just how did the children engage with the fact this was an extra terrestrial family! 

Colourful French creativity

Just found this rhyme 

here on nounoud56.centerblog

You can listen to and sing along with the song


 on this page too! 

Thought this would be a great way to develop reading and dictionary skills with our LKS2 Y4 French learners during Spring term. It will enable is to extend their knowledge of colours and reinforce our knowledge of nouns ....and maybe look for verbs in the text.

I love the idea that the crayons play whilst the children are outside on their playtime break and I love the fact the poem starts with a question....just what do the crayons do when there are no children in the classroom?

Step One

Highlight or underline each sentence of the poem in the correct colour.

Spot the two sentences that contain no colours.

Step Two

Make the poem a picture in a picture frame .

  • Children should use the words in the question of the first sentence as the header of the frame and the words in the final statement at the end of the poem as the footer of the frame.
  • The sides of the frame are pencil calligrams:the colouring pencils mentioned written as word calligrams of the different colours.For example I might put red ,yellow and blue on one side and the black and grey on the other side.
  • Now ask the children to investigate the sentences in the poem that explain what the different coloured pencils have drawn.Ask the children to circle the nouns in the sentences and check or find the meaning of the nouns in a bi-lingual dictionary.
  • Have they spotted the unusual colours for the objects- let them share with you what they have found out! (e.g the mouse is red....or is it?)
  • Can the look at the picture evidence around the outside the written text and spot the anomalies? For example the "green" crayon has drawn a yellow sunshine etc 
  • Now all they have to do is create the drawing as described in the text!

Step Three

Make sense of the poem...

  • Ask the children to explain the meaning of the word "dessine" - you may encourage them to think of English words that are similar (e.g design)
  • Can they explain the role this word plays in the sentences in the text?
  • Ask the children to create a more sensible set of sentences for the poem completing the sentences below: 

le rouge dessine .............

le vert dessine ...............

le bleu dessine ...............

le gris dessine ................

le noir dessine................

  • Now they can become artists themselves and draw the objects they have decided are more sensible and match the colours and describe what is happening in French to a partner using the key sentences above.

And finally here is the You tube clip of the text above!

Aspects of winter in French poems and flights of the imagination

It's getting cold outside and I am certain that when we come back to school after Christmas we will be talking with the children about wintry weather, wrapping up warm and maybe even building snowmen.

Today I found this poem on this web page and thought that this would make a great poem to use in UKS2 and Y7. 

Les glaçons

Les glaçons qui pendent du toit

Dis-moi, c'est de la glace à quoi ?

Elle n'a pas de couleur,

Elle n'a pas de goût,

Elle n'a pas d'odeur,
Elle n'a rien du tout !
Alors, c'est de la glace à quoi,
Les glaçons qui pendent du toit ?

Corinne Albaut

  • What attracted me to the poem was the idea of icicles hanging from the roof of a house and the questions it caused the poet to ask about what is ice ......
  • I like the way the poet makes statements that ask questions but he/she doesn't give answers and suggests that the readers can make up their own answers.
  • I like the way we can use the text to look at the negative form of the verb and there is potential to investigate the use of more descriptive verbs to replace "avoir"

Let's focus on colour,scent and taste of the icicles in the poem.
We will focus our imaginations on these three negative verbal sentences in the poem:

Elle n'a pas de couleur,
Elle n'a pas de goût,
Elle n'a pas d'odeur,

  1. Read the poem with the children and locate the negative forms of the verb "elle n'a pas".Can they see the cognates and semi cognates used as nouns? (couleurs/odeur)? What do they think "goût" might mean? 
  2. Now let's investigate ice.Using ice cubes is the poet correct? If we look closely can see any colour in them?Is there any scent to them? What do the ice cubes taste of? 
  3. Now ask them to help you to create a magical Winter Wonderland scene( you can link this to Frozen the film for example, Narnia or the original story of the Snow Queen ).Ask the children to create magical icicles.......
  4. Give out paper icicle shapes and ask the children working on their tables to write their ideas on their icicle shapes and create magical winter wonderland icicles

  • icicles made up of magical colours,
  • icicles containing magical scents  
  • icicles with tastes and flavours. 
(You will need to remind children of how we linked scents and taste to work on ice cream flavours for example)

Now the children can recreate the poem and with your help can change the three negative statements which use avoir to positive statements e.g "elle n'a pas de couleur" becomes "elle a de couleur"
They can now add the information about their own magical icicles to make their magical winter wonderland poems following the writing template below:

Les glaçons qui pendent du toit

Dis-moi, c'est de la glace à quoi ?

Elle a de couleur,
Elle a de goût,

Elle a d'odeur,

Les glaçons qui pendent du toit ?

You now have your poems and your icicles for a magical Winter wonderland display or story book.

"Mon ,ma ,mes" and a little poem about chocolate!

So when do you use mon,ma,mes in French? So often we are asked this question
With Year 4 and 5 we will be buying Christmas presents in French  using the JLN SOW for our family and friends - so this poem could be a great way to reinforce when you use the three little words mon,ma, mes ........

I love this poem by Maurice Carême. It's all about who this child loves and how chocolate is the mood changer in his/her life! It's also a great way to practise ",mes"

J’aime mon père
J’aime ma mère
J’aime mes soeurs
J’aime mes frères
De tout mon coeur
Et tante et oncle
Oui tout le monde
Oui tous sauf moi
Quand je n’ai pas

Mon chocolat!

How should we use the poem?!
  • Let's read the poem with the children and spot the members of the family!
  • Can the children help you to understand the punchline- how important is chocolate to the child in the poem and can they spot it's not just anybody's chocolate - it's "mon chocolat!" This will help you to talk to the children about the three little possessive pronouns in the poem "mon,ma,mes".
  • Let's go on a " mon,ma mes hunt" , maybe using our magical magnifying glass.
  • Let's colour code our " mon ,ma, mes finds"! for example blue for mon. green for ma and yellow for mes
  • Let's be dictionary detectives !Ask the class to help you find clues as to the use of mon,ma ,mes by looking up the key nouns and seeing if they are masculine, feminine singular or plural nouns.Can we make up our rules for the mon,ma,mes mixture and when to use each of the words? 
  • Let's try it ourselves! Can the children identify two more nouns ij the poem( oncle and tante) and try the mon/ma/mes mixture that we have decided upon.Ask the children in pairs to write on mini whiteboards what they think the word should be?share and compare
  • Read the poem again with the children and ask them to add the feelings and the emotions that are conveyed in the poem by the use of the three possessive pronouns "mon,ma mes" 
Now we can create our own new poems using the familiar content of personal possessions ( e.g dolls/toys/ toy cars/ ipads/clothes etc) as we learn about Christmas presents or perhaps we could use another focus such as  animals.

Use  the poem as a scaffold and encourage the children to replace the highlighted words with the new content making sure that the content matches the mon ma mes - by checking in those all important bilingual dictionaries!  

J’aime mon père
J’aime ma mère
J’aime mes soeurs
J’aime mes frères
De tout mon coeur
Et tante et oncle
Oui tout le monde
Oui tous sauf moi
Quand je n’ai pas

Mon chocolat!

La nuit .Unpacking and exploring a challenging poem with more advanced French language learners in KS2/ early KS3

This next half term with our Stage 3 or 4 language learners I wanted to find a poem that was sophisticated in message and familiar in context but that had sufficient challenge to move our more advanced language learners forwards.These young learners have a good understanding of present tense sentences made up of nouns, simple common verbs and adjectives.Most of the children can add adjectival  agreement relatively accurately and will be revisiting and practising prepositions in the context of house and home this half term

I found the appropriate challenge and context in this poem by Luce Guilbaud and what a fantastic poem too! 

La nuit
La nuit est entrée dans ma chambre
sur ses pieds de velours
elle s’est cachée derrière les rideaux
elle a cueilli des roses dans le vase
installée au fond du grand fauteuil
elle a lu tous les livres
elle s’est roulée sur le tapis
elle était si bien endormie
Quand la lumière a jailli
la nuit surprise a fui
elle a   escaladé la fenêtre
et disparu dans le jardin
derrière les sapins

Luce Guilbaud .Poèmes tout frais
La farandole. Scanédition

Why do I like this poem and why do I think that our learners care up to the challenge?
Well in ,my opinion because you can break this poem down in to component parts and because it evokes the feeling of night passing through a room like a cloak that moves from one side of the room to the other.Night comes in through the door and climbs put of the window and disappears in to the garden .The poem could act as a stimulus material to some wonderful poems in english where the children personify weather or times of the day etc.Plus on a more simple note there is the content of house ,home and prepositions in this poem and the ideas are sophisticated enough for 10,11 1,2 year olds!

Do I realise that the poem is written in the perfect tense - a past tense?
Yes but I want to challenge the children to look beyond the grammar and understand the pictures and images that are created.It's an opportunity to introduce and expose the children to the written form of the perfect tense but not to  focus on how the tense has been formed.

The activities below would form two lessons of language learning

Activities: the night's cloak
  1. Discuss with the class in english the difference between light in the daytime and the darkness of night
  2. Can they think of adjectives in english to describe the night? Give them thinking and pair talking time and take feedback
  3. Share with the class the idea that the night is like a cloak that passes over the world and moves from one area to another and as it leaves the daylight arrives.Explain that this is just like being covered by a cloak
  4. Ask the children to look up adjectives in a French/English bi-lingual dictionary that they think are powerful adjectives to describe the night
  5. Take feedback and collect the adjectives on the whiteboard and ask the children to share the french and the english meaning so that all the class can understand the adjectives.Take a class vote on the top five adjectives by using a class tally chart and a show of hands.
  6. Show the class the french word for night "la nuit" .Ask the children to tell you something important about this noun( we want the children to identify that this is a feminine singular noun because they can see "la" in front of the noun)
  7.   Share with the class your cloak to represent the night ( A4 card folded to resemble a cloak). In the centre you can see "la nuit est ...." and around the cloak are written some adjectives spelt to agree with the feminine noun "la nuit"
  8. Ask the children to help you complete the gaps next to the stars on the cloak with other favourite adjectives to describe the night- making sure they are spelt accurately to agree with the noun
  9. Now let the children create their own cloaks of the night:

I think this would work best with black A4 card and chalks for a class french display.

Activities: movements and actions in the poem

  1. Before you read the poem with the children you will need to unpack the poem so that all the children can successfully access and enjoy the poem.Explain to the class that they are first of all going to look at the ingredients and ideas that a french poet has put together to create a very evocative description of the night passing through a room in a house.
  2. Ask the children to think of verbs that might describe the way the night might move in its mysterious dark cloak through the room .Listen to their ideas
  3. Share with the children the movement cards that track the night as she moves through the room in the poem.Can they think of verbs in english that would explain the movements. I have selected  the following key past participles from the poem and drawn simple symbols to explain the movement.The blue arrows indicate the type of movement (entrée/cachée/installée/roulée/escaladé/disparu):

 4.Now give the children the key past participles as separate cards.You will see that I have highlighted in blue key clues in the words that will help the children associate the french past participle with a specific action.Can they match the words to the symbol cards above.

5.Ask the children to share their decisions with a second group to see if they have matched the same symbols with the key word cards, for example ......

6.Have the children been able to work out the meaning of all the movements? discuss woth teh children which ones were easy and which ones were more challenging and did they think that for example escaladé meant escaped? Ask the children to check the meanings in  bilingual dictionary by looking up the infinitive - you may need to write the infinitives on the whiteboard for the children.
7. Explain to the children that these actions have all taken place and the poet has recorded what has happened - so how would you say these actions in english if you wanted to explain the same idea? 
8.Now ask the children to find a space in the room - this would work best in the hall - and to become the night as she moves through the classroom. Can they stand in their space and mime carefully the night's actions as you call out the past participles from the poem.

Activities : investigating the poem
  1. Give the children picture cards of the key objects in the poem.Explain to the children that they are entering a room in a house.Can they put the picture cards in order as they find them from the beginning to the end of the poem.Do any of the pictures belong outside of the room? (chambre/les rideaux/le vase/fauteuil/ les livres/le tapis/la fenêtre/le jardin/les sapins)
  2. Now read through the poem with the children- explain first that there will be parts of the poem that they do not yet understand fully but that they are now on a mystery tour with the night through the room. 
  3. As you come across the following phrases see if the children can help you to understand what the meaning of each statement is to build up an even better picture of the night and how it behaves.Remind the children that the night is acting like a person so they need to look for the nouns they can understand.Perhaps they will need to use the bilingual dictionary to find out the meaning of words they think could be important but don't understand plus  look for familiar clues in the unfamiliar words.
sur ses pieds de velours
cueilli des roses dans le vase
lu tous les livres
bien endormie

Activities: the key to the poem

  1. Can the children help you to see what happens to the night when the daylight arrives? Give them the key to the poem: la lumière
  2. Can they locate the word in the poem and see the change in the behaviour of the night after this word is mentioned?
Activities: la nuit - making the poem your own
  1. You could use the hall space and read the poem for the children and let them act out the movement and behaviour of the night as it travels through the space of the hall.
  2. You could create chalk drawings of the night as it passes across the paper as if it's passing through a room and then on white paper show how the night behaves once daylight arrives, using pencil sketches this time

Fireworks performance poem

Below are the core phrases to the Firework Performance Poem that we have been using in schools in Warrington with our  "moving on" learners (so stage two) to explore a simple poem for grammar, to use reading comprehension skills and to develop a spoken performance and our own written poems.We can use it with beginners but then we explore less of the grammar and focus more on the performance. 

We use colours, three key present tense verbs, and the phrase "there is" or "there are" with the noun for stars.the poem has two verses and repeats the three verbs and the phrase "there are a lot of stars". 

Here is the French version of the poem.:





Zoum, zoum!

Ils glissent

Ils montent

Ils descendent .

Il y a beaucoup d' étoiles!





Zoum, zoum!

Ils glissent

Ils montent

Ils descendent .

Il y a beaucoup d' étoiles!

So as you can see it's a very simple poem, but it leads to some interesting discussion:

  • use of colours as adjectives,but written alone and not next to a noun - however you can ask the children to see what happens when they place them with a noun in the target language - especially of you introduce both a masculine and a feminine noun to describe with a colour.

  • colours that look like the english word but sound slightly different

  • colours we may already have met as nouns to (orange/argent/or)

  • silent letters

  • and final silent letter combinations on the verbs

  • meaning of the verbs because they look like an english word e.g montent- mountain/ glissent ( they often think means glisten but then they can see glide when it's explained too!)

  • using picture and colour context to determine meaning of words we aren't sure of - as this is part of a powerpoint where the stars fly in at the end , the colours are written on the correct colour etcetra

We rearrange the colours into alphabetical order or add new colours using the bilingual dictionary

We use the verb examples to look for own verbs with children who have begin to think about verbs and how to change endings and the pattern here is regular with "er" verbs so it's an achievable task for all the class! 

We change the ending and think of /look for new plural nouns for the final word- as a surprise for own listeners and readers  

And then we prepare our performance - with younger learners it's a class performance with actions and sounds and with older learners then it's a performance with a twist -an added verse of their own.It needs actions and sound of course too!

These activities lead very well in to our physical sentence prompts activities which you can read about here : 

Physical sentence prompts

And the Spanish version  .....? Well here it is :





¡fantástico! ¡ fantástico!



hay muchas estrellas





¡fantástico! ¡ fantástico! 



hay muchas estrellas


les coquelicots et les bleuets

It's 100 years since the start of the First World War and many of you will be thinking of ways to commemorate the event.
This is a real opportunity to combine target language learning and cultural understanding.Thanks to the language coordinator at St Philips CE in Warrington , Sam Snodgrass and her very simple an effective idea to generate class displays of poppies as word art (there is an example below)

I have taken this idea and created some other simple language learning opportunities.

La valse des coquelicots  is a music and picture clip of fields of poppies- just beautiful to watch and share with your classes and explain the significance of fields of poppies.An opportunity to create a dance performance too.You will be able to use this clip as a creative backdrop to some of the activities below too.......

Les coquelicots et les bleuets

In France ,people remember the 11 November with both poppies (les coquelicots) and also cornflowers (les bleuets).
Why not create both word art poppies and word art cornflowers ( blue petals and yellow centres) for a mixed display- just simple flowers likes Sam's flowers above?

And here is also an opportunity to look at the people behind the flowers and the remembrance too and to create a display that thinks about the people and what happened to the people during the first world War. How?
Well let's create a display of people represented each time by a flower either one of les coquelicots et one of les bleuets
  • Talk with your class about the families and the impact on families during the First World War.
  • Share with the children pictures of people from the period- children,women,men,soldiers.The pictures in this video below gives children the sense of life for the soldiers and the women and children of Paris during the first World War .You could use the clip and pause the clip on a specific picture from which the children can then take their inspiration and select a person to write about. Each table is responsible to create a family unot of people

  • Ask the children to work in pairs and to create the character of the person behind the picture. Can they give the person an age, a role in the family (e.g mum,dad etc), a profession if the person is an adult and can they decide if the person is a soldier.) 
  • Give each child a flower to create either a poppy or a cornflower. For each flower ask the children to generate a face of the member of the family,drawn as a free sketch from the photo of the person   from which they have created their character.This is the centre of the flower
  • Around the centre they must draw four flower petals and in each petal in the link colour (so poppies read and cornflowers blue pen) ask the children to write a fact about the face - name/ age / profession/ role in the family.  
  • Why not take the music from la valse des coquelicots and play this as gentle background music whilst the children share their flowers and the personalities they have created with other members of the class.They simply walk around and quietly share their target language information whilst the music plays in the background.
  • And now you have your display- just add the photos of the people as a background and over the top add the flowers your children have created as a mixture of the poppies and the cornflowers in a field of remembrance!