Let's open the window on the target language World

I love buildings and I love doors and windows.I like to imagine who may be behind the door etc.

With our more advanced learners at the start of the academic year it is a great opportunity to get them talking again! 

Let's give them a picture stimulus for this!

Here are  some photos I have taken this year in France and Spain that we are going to use to get our children using prior knowledge in the target language in a creative way!

All the pictures involve the children pretending to open a window or a door to reveal the person behind the door and create the character.

Just who is behind the door or the window?

This activity and the picture stimulus is a great device to focus on grammar from the previous year.

We can ask the children to use adjectives to describe the person behind a specific window or door.

We can ask the children to use verbs to allow the person behind the window or the door to explain what he/she is doing or whet he/she likes to do

We can use questions and answres to find out more in the first and secind person singular about the person behind the window or door.

All the children need to do is open the door or window of their choice and create the imaginary character behind the door or window! 

Let them stick the picture in their record books and ask them to cut round three sides of their chosen window or the frame of the door and add a drawn sketch of their imaginary person or creature behind the closed window or door.

This can be a spoken activity or it could be a written text ........

Great fun and creative use of language at the same time and an opportunity to revisit and re-use language and structure from prior learning.

Daisy Chain Clauses and Conjunctions

This idea has been on my list to write for quite a while now! 
I have selected a daisy chain because it reminds me of Summer.It's now that we have the opportunity to assess what our moving on learners can  say and write.

They are going to write about their likes and dislikes with nouns and adjectives and use conjunctions to join their sentences together.

Take a handful of conjunctions in the target language:in French let's use "mais,et, car, pourtant,"

  • First let's physically feel and make the sentences.
  • Ask the children to make a list of favourite things - using nouns thye know for foods,clothes,animals or finding new nouns in the bilingual dictioanry 
  • Now ask them to list adjectives ,two per nun thjat they would use to describe the nouns they have sleected.
  • Ask them to think about the adjectival agreement with these nouns.Are the nouns masculine, feminine and in German neuter? 
  • Do they need to use each of the nouns in the plural or singular?
  • Ask then to check their adjectival agreement against the criteria above.

A physical daisy chain
Now it's palm of your hand time.
You make daisy chains with your hands so we are using our hands as the physical planner for the daisy chains we will make later.

  • Ask the children to open up the palm of their left hand and wiggle their fingers.
  • The index finger on the right hand is their pen with invisible ink!

  • Each finger and the palm of  the left hand represents a key part of the sentence

Thumb- personal pronoun 
Index finger verb
Middle finger noun
Ring finger first adjective
Little finger second adjective
Palm of your hand conjunction

  • Ask the children with the index finger on the right hand to touch each finger on the left hand as they say their physical sentence to themselves quietly.
  • Now they need to add the conjunction in the centre of their sentence by drawing a circle in the plan of their left hand with their imaginary pen and the index finger of the right hand.
  • Can they now add the next part of their setnece - using their fingers again as the prompts for the parts of the sentence?
  • They may need to reorder their finger roles if they use in French adjectives that precede the noun.
  • Once again they add their conjunction and move on to make their next physical clause in the long sentence.
  • If they can they should make five  clauses using the four conunctions.

A visual daisy chain!
And now they can make their daisy chains.

The centre of the daisy is the picture of the item- the noun they like.

There will be 5 petals on each daisy .One for the each a part of the sentence and the green stem of each daisy is the conjunction leading to the next daisy .
Now you have your daisy chain!    

Tea bags full of adjectives and flavour!

Today,whilst training teachers,we explored creative ways to expand my blog post ideas on holding a cafe conversation based on a 

Mad Hatter's Tea Party


One of the ways we explored ,was based on the work we did earlier in the CPD session on adjectives and looking for adjectives in the bilingual dictionary and thinking about the agreement of adjectives.

There are two levels to this creative activity.....

  • First of all each child needs a tea bag- made of paper, folded like a tea bag with an opening at the top- wide enough to pop a  small strip of card through
  • The children also need access to bilingual dictionaries.

Level One

Each child has to create an original "fantastic" tasting tea!

In French and Spanish the noun is masculine - so this makes it ideal for  level one activities,as there is no agreement required.

All our children need to do is to think of persuasive and exciting adjectives in English e.g. refreshing, sizzling, tingling, sharp, spicy

They  need to look up these adjectives in the english section of the bilingual dictionary.

Cross reference the adjectives in the target language section of the dictionary to check meaning.

Write each adjective on a small strip of card - one per adjective ,making the written adjectives look the meaning of the word.

Now they have their words to describe their  fantastic tea! 

Adjective by adjective they need to squeeze out the tea bag ( take out each word and create a fantastical sentence about the tea in whichever target language you teach:

" the tea is sizzling, spicy and fruity"  

Now they can create their own drawing of their tea bag with symbols on the bag to explain each fantastical part of their drink of tea and the sentence written under the tea bag itself!

Level Two

In French and Spanish , a cup of tea has  a feminine noun! 

So now each child can follow the activity described in the stages for Level One ,collecting adjectives and writing them on cards and putting them in their paper tea bag containers.

The children then hand their tea bags and adjectives to  a second child in the class.

This child has a template of a cup of tea:

The second child empties the tea bag of its card strips and must write the adjectives on the tea cup with correct adjectival agreements to match a feminine noun in the target language!

Now can they use  the adjectives to create a complete sentence in the target language? e.g "the cup of tea is fruity,sparkling,warm and refreshing!"

They can now make a poster to advertise their cup of tea with a complete sentence.

And finally can they remember their sentence and act it out for the class to try and sell this fantastical cup of tea top the class?

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.


Conjugating a verb : A Verb Artist Talk Walk

So we are now moving on with quite a few of our young learners in UKS2, particularly in Year 6.It's Summer term when we get back and it's time to explore verbs in more detail and consolidate the knowledge we have been gathering and see how the big picture fits together- conjugation of a verb! The DFE POS for KS2 asks us to work with our young learners on the "conjugation of high frequency verbs".

It is in my opinion really important that we strengthen children's own perception of "moving on" and "getting better" at language learning and that we help them develop positive self efficacy that will carry them on in to KS3 language learning . Below hopefully is an opportunity to support our children to do this.

My intention in the activities below is to  revisit pockets of prior learning, to unpack processes with the children and  to get them (not me!) practise the whole present tense conjugation of some high frequency verbs. It is in my opinion important that we make sure that UKS2 children can access identify and use infinitives in a target language,can create the stem of the verb and then are able to add appropriate  present tense verb endings which match if required (depending on target language) the correct personal pronoun.
When you think about this ,it is a process that has to be identified,explored,unpacked, practised and children have to be allowed to then manipulate and produce their own (not always accurate of course) versions.The production needs to be memorable and valuable and part of a creative whole activity.

I love using Art to bring language learning to life.If you have read my previous blog posts on 3D Art and a Renoir picture, you will know that we can use a painting to good effect to explore grammar and link this to purposeful creative communication and performance:

I have been looking around for a painting linked to lifestyle,history and culture  to do this and have decided to use this painting by Georges Seurat - "la grande jatte".It will work so well.....

It's all about a Sunday afternoon stroll,a walk in the park and an observation of leisure activities.Take a look at the picture! What can you see?

Remember the ultimate aim of the activity is to ascertain that the children are secure in:
  1. Finding/recalling and identifying infinitives of high frequency verbs  
  2. Can change an infinitive in to a stem to which can be added appropriate verb endings which match with an appropriate personal pronoun.(I wrote a blog post on personal pronouns and a photo shoot drama activity that may be useful as a pre-cursor to this sequence of activities Getting used to personal pronouns
  3. Can create and recall the whole paradigm (pattern) of a present tense high frequency verb .What do I class as high frequency verbs? Well the suggested list of high frequency verbs proposed by the Assessment for MFL in Primary Schools  from the government's Expert Subject Advisory Group suggests these verbs amongst others "drink,look,like,,carry,make" .They fit very well in to the activities below.  
Here are the activity steps
1. Picture Exploratory Walk
2. Talk Walk
3.Verb Artist Talk Walks 
4.Verb artist sketches 
5. Live park talk walk

  1. Go on a "picture exploratory walk".Share with the children the Georges Seurat picture.Walk  with the lady and gentleman on the far right of the picture. Look around with the eyes of these two characters, what can they see? Ask the class to call out actions that they can see in English .Walk with the children from far right to far left of the picture and talk about the picture.
  2. Write these actions as they are spoken  on the white board in English (e.g swimming,watching,talking).
  3. Can the children help you to change the actions you have written in to infinitives ?Discuss with the children how we form infinitives in English.Use two of the actions you have written up on the flip chart as examples- so if you have written "swimming" ask the children to explain how we would need to change this to an infinitive by removing the ending and putting" to" at the front so it reads "to swim".Can they help you with one other action on your chart? I think that this is an important discussion process in English to go through before we assume that all children understand what an infinitive is and how to identify one in their own first spoken language.
  4. Give out bi-lingual dictionaries and ask the children in pairs to write on strips of white card.On these strips of card they are going to write down target language infinitives of the actions.Firstly ask them to select one of the actions you have listed on the white board but has not been changed to an infinitive in English.So if you have written walk or walking  ....can the children think of the infinitive in English( to walk) and then can they locate the target language  infinitive of the verb and write it down.I think that this is an important  process to go through here and to allow the children to work out that they can think of part of a verb but they are going to fond the verb they need in a bilingual dictionary as an infinitive - so they need to convert the word in their head in to the infinitive form and look for that.
  5. Now ask the children to work in pairs and to convert all the actions however they are written in English on the whiteboard in to target language infinitives. 

  1. Now share a "talk walk" with the class.Display a large version of the Georges Seurat picture.Invite volunteer pairs to the front to mime  one of the target language infinitives they have found and to show the card strip with the written out infinitive and say the infinitive in the target language.Can another volunteer come to the front,locate whereabouts on the picture we can see the action and  blu-tac the infinitive to the Georges Seurat picture in the correct place.Repeat this with all the actions you brainstormed and different volunteers from the class.
  2. Ask the children once you have completed your "talk walk" to look for spelling links between the ending of the written words they have blu-tacked to the picture.Explain that these endings are the key to making the infinitives come to life and to creating stems of the verbs we can then use.   
  3. Let's focus on one group of regular verbs in the target language and by this I mean that the infinitives all have the same "endings".I have selected to talk,to swim,to jump,to walk,to look (watch) for this picture as in German that's easy as verbs in the infinitive end in "en" , in French I have selected  "er" verbs and in Spanish these verbs end in "ar" in the infinitive.Remember the focus is on can the children go through the process and understand how to conjugate a verb and not can the children recite a verb accurately .We are therefore keeping the activity to one group in French and Spanish as this will help us to focus the practise of the process around the skill of "conjugation" and less so on memory and recall.
  4. Verb Artist Talk Walks .Share with the children a small portion of the picture.Ask them to help you to decide which of the verbs you are now focusing upon fits this portion of the  picture (for example the woman looking out on to the lake on the far left of the picture).Can the children help you to bring the action "looking" to life? To do this you are going to have to find the infinitive, create the stem of the verb- demonstrate how you can form the stem.I like to ask the children to think of the letters we need to remove from the end of the infinitive as box lid  suggest that you are opening the artist's paint box.In the paint box are 6 personal pronouns and 6 important matching endings.Now take a "verb artist talk walk" with the stem of the verb! Can they help you to sketch the character from head (infinitive , first person singular etc)to foot as the present tense verb ...? The children must talk you through the process otherwise you can not add the next part of the verb and you can not complete your artist's sketch of the character and their action.
  5. Ask the children to work in pairs and take Verb Artist Talk Walks with other characters and their actions in the picture.Add a time limit to the activity - so some groups may complete two characters and other pairs may complete more or less than this.They need to talk through the process with their partner and show their "workings out" - infinitive, create stem, add verb endings and personal pronouns on paper.
  6. Can they create an "Verb artists sketches "artist's sketch of one of their verbs as a paradigm( in the shape head to toe of the character in the painting who is performing the action ?
  7. These "Verb Artist Sketches" would make wonderful concertina characters - head and feet drawn in the style of Geroges Seurat ( notice they way he uses dots and lines) with the paradigm of the verb written as a concertina for the body.Add a QR and a recording of the children or take a photo with Chatterpix APP and record the children saying their paradigm and you have creative evidence of the children conjugating a high frequency verb.Take a photo of the "workings out" and you have evidence of the children working through the process of creating a paradigm and conjugating a high frequency verb. 

  1. You can take this one step further and probably know what is coming next - as I love performance! Make this in to a "live park talk walk" ! Each pair is responsible for a verb and must speak and perform the verb as an interpretation of the type of action associated with the verb and in the style of the artist.One child speaks for singular and both children speak for plural .You are now Georges Seurat walking around the park ,looking for the characters for his picture!Actions and verbs may be repeated but ask all the children to freeze frame in their first action positions and as you walk around the classroom.When you  the artist stands next to a pair they should come to life and start to perform their paradigm.The class are helping you the artist to step back in to the picture and create a "live park talk walk"!

"Who are you?" and scarecrow caricatures of "I am....".

A few years ago on holiday in France , we drove in to a small bastide to find a very special festival taking place! A celebration of the local jobs and shops in the village! What a gift to a teacher of foreign languages .
Every shop keeper had created a full size caricature version of him or herself and his/her role in the village! 
These pictures allow us to practise and  consolidate children's knowledge of  the first person and second person singular of the verb "to be".

Scarecrow caricatures 
Take a look here!
Can you spot the baker,hotelier, butcher (!!!),pharmacist and doctor?

Take the pose!

  • Share the pictures with your class.Can they decide what jobs they might do in a town or village?
  • Do they know the names of the jobs in English? Can they find the names in a bilingual dictionary in the target language.What might they notice about jobs in the target languages - is there a different word for a male or a female person with that job title? What do they think about this? Do they think this is a good idea?
  • Ask them to find some new nouns for jobs in the target language using the dictionaries- are there male and female versions here too?
  • Write up on the flip-chart all the nouns you have found.Can the children "take the role" and in a voice which reflects the job they do  e.g mixing the dough or slicing the meat ,carrying heavy suitcases or looking carefully at medicine ,can they practise full sentence spoken introductions of each of the people and their jobs. The children will be using the first singular of the verb to do this (I am .....)
Guided scarecrow caricature tour of the town
  • Now let's try adding "Who are you?" and begin to conjugate the verb "to be" 
  • Ask children to volunteer to be a character  and help create a "scarecrow caricature tour" of the town.
  • Each volunteer  must think of an action representing the job you give them (If you can get hold of  the dressing up box from KS1 then they can get in to character with an item of clothing or a prop too). 
  • Can they take the pose?
  • Can they create the voice - what do the characters sound like? 
  • Can they add an action?
  • Can they put it altogether and become the scarecrow caricature?
  • Can the rest of the class ask as a choral question of each scarecrow  caricature in turn..."Who are you?"
Scarecrow caricatures
  • Can the children design their a scarecrow sculpture of one of the people you may find working in a town.Can they add the written question "Who are you? and the full sentence response "I am ....." ?      

Six Characters in Search of an Author

At University I was a member of Theatre Group and one of my most memorable productions was Six Characters in Search of an author by Pirandello.
(Six characters arrive at a theatre - each in turn melodramatic but with a story to tell , which in turn is part of a whole story......It is theatre within theatre. They are looking for a producer to tell their story.)

In its simplest from this can allow us to explore all 4 skills of language learning, to encourage accurate use of grammar and punctuation and to develop pronunciation, intonation and emotion in spoken language.
The activities below can be used with UKS2,KS3, KS4 and KS5 language learners.the task set by the teacher can challenge the language learners at the level they can operate in the target language.

(You will need an equal number of groups - so that one group can swap work with a second group and then the two groups can come back together and share their work with each other)

  1. Share the idea of mystery characters with the class. Explain how these mystery characters want to tell their story and need a producer to help them put together their story.Can the class help you to write and perform the introductory utterances for the characters? 
  2. Share with the class a picture stimulus. This could be with a mystery picture as above or allow the class to think of characters for themselves.With younger learners maybe we could look at characters we have been  exploring in story ,history etc (pirates.Romans, Kings and Queens, a family from a different time period etc).with older learners maybe we want to link the characters to our investigations of characters we meet in target language poetry and literature. 
  3. Working in groups of six , ask each member of the group to focus on one particular character and to imagine how they might think, look and act (brave, bold, timid, angry, happy, young , old, role in the group).
  4. Depending on the language level and skills of your pupils decide what types of sentences you want the pupils to create as utterances spoken by the characters - so for example with UKS2 and Y7 learners we would want them to write spoken utterances based on : name, age,preferences and personality.With more advanced learners you may want opinions and  personal past history or future hopes.
  5. The pupils must write out their spoken utterances on a strip of paper or card. Each card from the group is gathered together and passed over to a second group.These two groups are now partner groups for the rest of the activities.
  6. The second group of six children must now read the utterances as a team and decide which character might say the utterances. 
  7. Now this second team must create a spoken dramatic performance as an introduction to the characters as if they were on set and speaking with the producer.They have to bring the utterances they have read to life.
  8. The second group should then act out their introduction performances and vice versa. What do the original authors of the characters' utterances think about the characters as they have been brought to life by the second group? 
  9. Finally can the original group that wrote the utterances , take back the characters and create a story board about each of the characters reflecting how the personality was brought to life by the second group? 

Getting ready for carnival,being creative and exploring a story based upon le carnaval des animaux

Every year we love carnival! Last year we celebrated with a theme based upon:

"carnaval des animaux-camille st saens"

The theme linked so well with our Y3 focus on animals and teachers found ways to create masks, perform dances linked to the music and to investigate Art and DT - all based on this theme.Truthfully this was a theme and a focus that whole schools took as an opportunity to use as creative shared learning across Music,Dance.Art,DT and Language Learning

We were able too to look at nouns in the singular and plural , to investigate unfamiliar animal nouns using bi-lingual dictionaries and to generate simple question and answer role-plays about animals and descriptions of animals: "What is it? What colour is it? how many can you see? Do you like.....? "
(Teachers decided upon the most appropriate questions and answers for their learners and the prior knowledge of the learners).

i knew about this book "Au carnaval des animaux" by Marianne Dubuc based upon the music by Saint saens and so as a carnival activity, mask making and fancy dress followed quite easily.The book is available in several languages.
We used the book in French and Spanish:

The blog link here gives you a flavour of the book in French Litterature de jeunesse .Simple repetitive story which allows the children to invent their own animal characters. We used  simple cut out cards such as these below, to create our own fantastical fancy dress animal costumes and the cards where ideal for simple "Guess who I am ?" games- where one child holds a card and the other children /or another child has to guess which animals are on the card the first child is holding.

Leads to the children being able to make up the most amazing animal names - combining all the names of the animals they have know in one fancy dress mixed up animal written or spoken description.

And hot off the press just found this brilliant primary unit of work guide for a whole unit of work based around la danse des animaux- useful if you are a French speaker! 
Brilliant ideas

And don't forget the possibilities of a wonderful dance to this famous song! Le livre de la jungle!

Here are some ways that we have in the past developed very simple beginners language learning based on carnival celebrations and the story of au carnaval des animaux  

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.

Paper puppets with a purpose

There have been some fascinating posts recently on Facebook and Twitter about the use of puppets in primary language teaching.Recently I bought all the associate teachers that work with me new puppets as our puppets were beginning to be not only very well loved but also some what worn out!Our younger children love the puppets, singing with them ,talking to them, watching the language assistants and teachers whispering or asking questions with the puppets etc.

The recent posts made me think about how years ago (1995 to be exact!) I created "paper puppets with purpose" for my language learners in UKS2. 

I started creating paper puppets with my Year 5 and 6 in primary,after watching a local playschool teacher using paper puppets to support a reluctant speaker.I was amazed by just how precious the children in Year 5 and Year 6  found them in their language learning.Indeed these puppets were still being made and used by my language learners in 2012- with the same effect!

As a learning tool they help with language retention and language practise.They make what might be perceived as simple or silly questions more sensible because you ask the puppet and they create opportunities to have simple dialogues between the puppets and the puppeteers. Plus every child had a learning tool that belonged to him/herself. 

They are brown paper envelopes - hand size 

and if you depress the top two corners and push the fold inwards carefully ,you can make a mouth and operate this from inside the envelope.

The children can make them into their own characters and customize them - clowns,sports stars, animals, cartoon characters etc. 
All my children's puppets had  an appropriate target language name linked to language we practised - so animals, foods, clothes, colours etc were very popular.
We kept our puppets in our class drawers and brought them out to learn with use very language lesson.
Mine were called "monsieur baguette" and "Herr Hamburger" as we used them in French and German.They even travelled to the Primary Languages Show in 2001!
  • The children could make the puppets talk of course!
  • The children could make the puppets whisper or talk in target language too by beating out the syllables in words using the mouth of the envelope opening and shutting in time with the rhythm of the words. 
  • They loved walking round the room practising dialogues and new questions- one paper puppet talking to another.
  • They used their puppets to participate in class songs 
  • They helped me to retell stories or add the repetition to stories

And finally let me introduce you to  a very old and good friend of mine ."Madame souris" She belonged to a pupil from 1997,Jennie B.Sadly you can tell that she is quite old now as the colour is fading etc .I often use her even now to share this idea with teachers and teacher trainees. 

 Simplest ideas are sometimes the best!

Nouns, the verb to be and adjectives to create our own book front covers in our own class book shop window.

Today is 31 October and  as I was looking around for ghost stories in target languages I came across this book front cover and fell upon the simplest of ideas!

Here we can see a noun , a common verb "to be" and adjectives that agree with the plural noun.In fact we also have an example of the superlative form of the adjective too! What a gift with UKS2 or children who are revisiting months and need a new slant or angle to encourage interest!

Why not create a class

book shop window "display" of target language book cover

s - one book cover for each month of the year?


our magical magnifying glasses

(read about this


), we can analyse the text on the book cover we have found or the one at the top of the blog or possibly one we have created for the class to look at - with a sentence that we can unpack (noun,verb

to be

, adjective/s possibly in superlative depending on level of understanding of the young learners)


Take learning walk along the sentence.

  • Look for signs of a singular or plural noun
  • Find the verb in the sentence and locate the verb form in the present tense of the verb "to be" 
  • Discuss with the children why they think the form in the sentence has been selected and how the noun plays an important/key role 
  • Change the noun and see what happens to the verb (alter the noun from singular to plural etc)
  • Locate the adjective and look at how it is spelt.find the adjective in the dictionary and see if it has changed its spelling and revisit and discuss why this is the case
  • Try out some different adjectives with the same book cover focus
  • Now set the class a new book cover focus for a different month ( December offers lots of opportunities) Ask the children to create a table/ group version of a book cover for the month of December.
  • Look at what they create and discuss the sentences - two stars and a wish of course- two things that are good and one thing that can be improved etc 

Now it's time to create our own bookshop window display!

Revisit the twelve months in the target language

Talk through with the children something we associate with each month of the year- preferably something visual (record the children's ideas for future reference as they work on their own book covers) 


January : the three Kings

February : a heart

March: Mothers Day

April: Easter eggs

May :blossom and flowers

June: a local festival or sunshine

July: the holidays

August : the beach

September: back to school

October: Halloween

November :fireworks

December: christmas presents

  • Divide your class in to pairs and ask each pair to create a book cover for a specific month of the year
  • Give each pair a month of the year as their focus and ask the pairs to design a book cover for their month.
  • It must have a key picture associated with the month and a target language sentence using a noun, the verb to be in the correct form, an adjective that agrees with the noun and possibly the superlative form,linked to the picture. 
  • Now you have the book cover posters for your class book shop display and you have revisited the months and practised nouns, verbs and adjectives with agreement plus possibly practised the superlative! 

"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!