Friday, 31 October 2014

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

Using our magical magnifying glasses (read about this here), 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! 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

"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!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

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

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Beginning with languages blog 3

Across our network we work with schools who are all at different stages of setting up and delivering primary language learning and each year we welcome new schools who want to set off on their own individual school's language learning journey.

This year these specific "Beginning with languages " blogs will try to offer "bite size chunks" of indirect help and support to schools, who are doing exactly that .... just setting off and implementing  a language learning curriculum .

In September this year I wrote : beginning with languages blog 1 and in October beginning with languages blog 2

Your checklists so far have been:

Sept - Oct (first half term) Checklist
  • It's all about establishing a whole school support system for all your staff
  • It's about small steps and simple language learning
  • It's about children and staff beginning to enjoy language learning
Mid October an additional new checklist bullet point!
  • So how are you all getting on? How do you know that primary languages are being implemented in all the classes and are the teachers and children having fun in their learning? 
And now your new checklist bullet points for November are.........
  • How can you build in "revisiting" opportunities to build the children and staff's confidence with the language you introduced last half term - probably greetings, numbers 0-11, simple questions and answers about names and feelings and perhaps some colours will be in this list from last half term? What about a game like Bingo or Splat or maybe a game of Quiz Quiz Swap (Quiz Quiz Trade) around the classroom where children ask questions and swap cards with someone else as they move around the room and greet/ ask names and feelings and say farewells.Or why not try out a simple colours and firework song and activity like this one Colours and rockets particularly with the younger learners in KS1 and Y3/4

  • This half term you can focus on celebrations too .There is Saint Nicolas Day at the start of December on the 6th December (here is some wikipedia information ) and then there is Christmas of course!Why not select a simple Christmas song now and start to practise in your classes ready for a whole school target language performance in the school Christmas assembly?
Continuing to make progress and to upskill staff and children in the target language 
  • Make sure that teachers and children continue to make progress.
  • Introduce a new focus for example n the month of November practise and develop their language learning skills.Take a look at months and days and practise with the children ways to remember the new words, looking for cognates and semi- cognates (words that look similar)
  • Possible songs to support you are below :
French monthsles mois de l'annee 
Spanish months:       los meses del ano
German months :       Monate

  • Begin to look for ways to link language learning to another area of the curriculum to embed language learning as an integral part of learning for instance why not try out a "physical bar chart" based on months and birthdays. Take a look here Physical primary target languages maths

Looking for a Christmas song for all the school?
Here are three target language examples with sound files and words on the screen to support all staff to familiar tunes and which are international Christmas songs/carols 

Here is Jingle Bells in French: 

and in spanish

or what about Stille Nacht (Silent Night) in German

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


Monday, 27 October 2014

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!


Thursday, 23 October 2014

Physical sentence prompts and fantastical fireworks

This evening at a Cheshire West twilight CPD we created physical sentences as we considered how we can help children progress with writing in a target language.
This idea can be used across a wide range of language and contexts but it really made me think about how we can help children to improve their target language with physical prompts.
We were focusing upon nouns ( and definite articles) simple present tense common verbs ( in this instance "to be" ) and adjectives ( colours in this case) and how they need to agree with the nouns they describe in French and Spanish.

The sentences we were forming followed this simple sentence structure:

noun verb adjective 

As it is nearly Bonfire Night our focus was upon writing fantastical colour firework sentences!

All you need is 

  • a clear sleeve dice with images in the sleeves to represent the adjectives,
  • a magic bag 
  • drawn outlines of the key nouns
  • mini whiteboards and pens for the children or rough paper

Your clear sleeve dice needs to have pictures of the adjectives - one in each sleeve (in this instance adjectives)

You need a magic bag!This is a bag in which you can place the pictures of your objects that you want to describe.Here it's descriptions of fireworks and we have chosen in French three nouns that are either masculine or feminine definite article singular nouns (you could add plural nouns too)

Pop the pictures in the bag.
Ask for a magician's assistant to hold the bag and  to select volunteers to select a card from the bag. 
Check  with the  class the target language noun and its definite article. Invite someone to roll the dice - the clear sleeve that is face up when it lands is the adjective you have to use as a class to create your physical sentence. 

Invite two volunteers up to the front to mime either the  meaning of the noun or the adjective. 
Ask the class to help you spot what is missing to make this a sentence ( you are looking for the suggestion that a verb is missing).
For our activity we need to elicit from the class how they might say "it is..." in the target language. 
Now you need a volunteer to be your verb.The job of the verb will be to bond the noun and the adjective together to make sense and a sentence and pass on a message- so ask the verb to link arms with the noun on their right hand side and the adjective on the left hand side.

Now you have a physical sentence ......however what if the noun taken from the bag has a feminine definite article?
Does the adjective need an extra letter or a change in spelling to agree? 
Discuss this with the class and if you need an extra letter , then you need a volunteer to stand with a cautionary exclamation mark like finger on the left of the adjective! This will be to remind the class to add to or alter the spelling of the adjective!

Can the rest of the class on whiteboards now try to write a correct sentence - using the physical sentence as prompts? 
Ask the children to reveal their sentences, compare their sentences to the physical sentence, write it up on a flipchart and ask the children to cross reference sentences ....then you are ready for a second physical sentence routine!      

Monday, 20 October 2014

Sound in the French word for numbers and colours : ladders and scaffold games

These activities are  quick to create and simple to develop and involve key sounds in numbers and colours for teachers just starting to work with French (or any language- but it really works well in French)  with their primary school children.The games  can easily be used as a revisiting activity at any time in a language learner's career.They can lead to puzzles and performance opportunities 

The games in the first instance involve numbers 1-11 and  simple colours (bleu,jaune,orange,vert,noir,blanc )

  • As  the teacher think about the numbers and colours you have taught. 
  • Practise with the children key sounds in the words 
  • Create a chart of key sounds as letter combinations for sounds that are in both colours and numbers or just in the colours or just in the numbers.
  • Take a look here: 

Can you see the key sounds and letter combinations in the numbers 1-11 and the colours:  bleu,jaune,orange,vert,marron,noir,blanc?
Take  quick look some of the sounds and letter combinations are in both the colours and the numbers.

Sound in the word ladders and scafffolds
  • Ask your class first of all to create a "sound in the word ladder or scaffold " of the words they think that the key sounds come from- they may think of both a number and a colour for some of the boxes in the table
  • Can they add performance (mime,actions and volume)  to their sound in the word  ladders and scaffolds. They can decide to work across the table in horizontal lines or run down one column and then the other column of the table. Maybe they want to start from the bottom and work upwards etc .They can decide!
  • Can they perform their "sound in the word ladder or scaffold "for another group of children and can thwy trace the path that has been followed on the table of sounds?
Step Two !All shook up!

  • Cut up the table in to individual sound cards and put them out on the table.One set per four children works best.

The groups of children  can now play several different games:
  • Take it in turns to select a sound and say a number or colour
  • Take it in turns and collect number cards only - who has the most when the sounds' cards  the children can use run out?
  • Take it in turns to create a run of cards of all the colours or all the numbers 
  • Take it in turns to create a run of cards of all the colours but in French alphabetical order/ try this with numbers but in numerical order or in reverse order 

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The mysterious world of grammar and magnifying glass magic!

Yesterday I introduced a group of colleagues to my magical magnifying glass.It's the simplest of language learning tools but it works so well.It's so easy to make - just a magnifying glass template printed out,with the middle cut out so that you can see through as if the middle was glass, laminated  and cut out into the magnifying glass shape.

Here it is!

Why is it so magical?
Well like so many of us I have always encouraged children to be language detectives ...just like Sherlock  Holmes and what does he carry? Yes a magnifying glass to uhelp your class begin to solve the  great mysteries of grammar and step with excitement in to the world of grammar.

This magnifying glass can allow the children and you as well to step into text and to drill down and find out more magical knowledge about the text you have in front of you!

  • You can ask a child to come to the whiteboard and with the magnifying glass identify and hover over nouns in the text,or hover over adjectives in the text or hover over verbs in the text.Can they identify these structures in the text?
  • A child can challenge a child- so one child has the magnifying glass and finds one adjective , can another child be challenged to find a second adjective etcetra.

  • As a class you can hover over one specific noun and find out more... step deeper in to the magical world of grammar! What might the noun mean? Is it a noun the class already know? Can the children decide from context or similarity to English? Can the class step even deeper in to the noun- what is to the left and right of the noun? Can the children tell you if it is a masculine or feminine noun and what proof can they see to left and right of the noun with the magical magnifying glass to prove this (definite or indefinite article clues/adjectival agreement clues)? Is it singular or plural and what does the evidence to left and right show us? Can the class use bi-lingual dictionaries to explore the noun further and verify their magnifying glass findings?

  • Can you capture the verbs in the text with the magical magnifying glass and again dig deeper over each individual verb used,looking for personal pronouns to the left and the spelling at the end of the verb to the right? Can the children use the evidence they find with their magical magnifying glass to change the meaning of the text and  generate the same person and tense with new regular verbs that replace the verbs in the text? I think that you could make some amazing magical and sometimes nonsense but fun texts this way! 

  • Can the children use the magnifying glass to hunt the footprints of a specific common verb in the text e.g select a text using several present forms of the verb to have  or to be and then ask the children to create their own verb footprints diagram (literally footprints with the verb written inside the footprints that put the verb in to the correct order in a footprint path)
And there you have it...... the beginnings of a magical language learning and investigating tool to help children step in to the exciting World of grammar in a target language! 

Monday, 13 October 2014

Using drama and grammar to go on an Autumn walk through a French poem

L’automne au coin du bois,
Joue de l’harmonica.
Quelle joie chez les feuilles !
Elles valsent au bras
Du vent qui les emporte.
On dit qu’elles sont mortes,
Mais personne n’y croit.
L’automne au coin du bois,
Joue de l’harmonica.

Maurice Carême

This beautiful poem I find is lyrical and there is a hidden thread within the words of the music of Autumn.It's a piece of poetry that we can use in target language learning to explore nouns and the imagery of dance and music to create a magical picture of  Autumn.  

Walk through the nouns
  1. Share with the children the fact that you are on an Autumn walk and the wind is blowing and the leaves are blowing around.
  2. Ask the children to read through the poem and find the nouns in the poem and write them down on a rough piece of paper (just like they were collecting Autumn leaves)
  3. Which nouns in the target language have the children found? How did they do this? What helped them to find the nouns (e.g definite articles or words that looked very similar to english nouns)?
  4. Are there any hidden nouns that we need to look ? Use the clues of "du" and "au" to find the hidden nouns.(With more advanced learners explain the use of "du" and "au" and how it has been formed and how it conceals the definite article).
  5. Engage the children in an imaginary Autumn walk.Explain that you are going to say each of the nouns they have found in the target language and you want the children to close their eyes and listen to the sound of the words and see a visual image of the word and the object or item or scene it describes
  6. Now ask them to create a visual image of their own of each noun- they need to stand up find a space and create a movement and a facial expression to portray the nouns as you say them. Ask the children to repeat this and say the nouns with you and give the nouns "life" like the poet does in the poem.

Step into the Poet's World
Read the poem with the children and ask the children to listen for the key nouns and  “step” into the poem through their physical reactions to the nouns.

  • Talk with the children about the types of weather they expect in Autumn. Ask them to help you find the sounds in the text where they can hear the  wind as it blows through the wood?
  • Focus now on the use of the noun “l’harmonica”. Discuss with the children the sort of the sound a harmonica makes. If possible access the sound of the harmonica. Can they hear the squeal and sound of the wind as it plays? What type of wind do you think is chasing the leaves in the poem? 
  • Look at this key sentence in the poem: “Quelle joie chez les feuilles, elles valsent au bras du vent!”  Explore the magic of the image in this line..........

  1. Ask the children in pairs or on their tables to investigate the language they can see in the sentence when they read the sentence. 
  2. First they must locate the cognates, the nouns and verb.
  3. Then they must look up the key language they are not certain about. 
  4. Finally can they create a visual translation of the sentence- a picture, a cartoon or a physical performance? Give the children a time limit of 15 minutes to unpack the sentence, understand the sentence and to create their visual translation. Watch or view some of the visual translations and practise the spoken form of the sentence with the children each time volunteers share their work.

Adding music, dance and movement to the poet's world 

Read in French and then explain to the class the meaning of the sentence : On dit qu’elles sont mortes, Mais personne n’y croit”.Ask the children to help you find the magic that brings the leaves to life in the poem. Allow the children time to realise that the wind is music to the leaves.

Can the children explore the rhythm and the beat of the sentence “Quelle joie chez les feuilles, elles valsent au bras du vent!”  and create the "drum beat of the dancing leaves"?

  Share the world of the poet with others!
I selected this poem because of the magic of the wind and the music and dance themes that run through the poem. The poet wants us to understand that the wind is bringing what appear to be dead leaves to life. Can the children help you to create these visual images and bring the music and the dance to the poem? 

  • As a class read the poem and look for repeated lines and words
  • Read the poem and stress the repeated lines and words
  • Look and listen for the rhyme
  • Give all the children the music magic and suggest that they all have imaginary musical instruments. They must help you now to read the poem with stress and intonation that brings the music of the poem to life and add the drum beat of the sentence where the leaves come to life and dance “Quelle joie chez les feuilles, elles valsent au bras du vent!” .
  • As a class now re-read and stress the repeated lines ,words and rhythm
  • Ask for volunteers to perform the poem as a mime whilst the rest of the class create the music of the poem by reading it aloud with the stress, intonation and rhythm you have already explore.