It’s me, Deanna, the teacher with 20+ years experience who, like you, is practicing social distancing at home with my child. I have decided to use my training and experience to develop a daily list of activities for you to do at home with your kids.
Before we get going, don’t forget to make a silly face out of paper to put in your front window for families that are out for a walk can spot them.
Today is the UN French Language Day and also the 50th anniversary of La Francophonie, the international organization of French speaking nations. So I wanted to provide families with some sites and activities to not only celebrate the day, but also give your kids a chance to work on their French Language skills.
Cook a French meal – Food is a tremendously important part of French culture. You can bring some of this into your home. This can be as simple as putting cheese curds and beef gravy on your fries to make a homemade poutine or you could try making a tourtiere and feves au lard or even a coq au vin. Most importantly, make sure there is bread. The French are renowned for their breadmaking. If you can make bread, look up a recipe and try one at home. And when I say cook, I mean with your kids. Cooking has a lot of math and reading embedded in it and it helps children develop skills they need to become a functioning adult.
Set up a French cafe – Take a TV tray or small round table, drape it with a tablecloth (red checked if you have it). Use your favourite music service to play French music, or choose this selection from YouTube. You and your kids can take turns being the waiters and customers. Use whatever French you remember to communicate. The food and beverage can be make believe, but you could try making a cafe au lait for them to try as part of the activity.
Put on a Fashion Show – France is still the world center for fashion. Have your kids put together a collection and then put on a fashion show. This could be a series of drawings that they put together in a lookbook or they could pull actual clothing from their closets and put on a fashion show.
Learn How to Mime – Show your kids this video of a mime. Ask them how they think the artist made it seem like he was climbing a rope. Then show them this video with some instructions. Have them try to mime a scene. There are plenty of videos on YouTube for inspiration.
Play a board or card game in French – Most of the classic board games we have at home can be played in French. For example, the game Guess Who would be easy to play while speaking French, as would Uno or crazy eights. If you don’t know a word in French for something like the suit of clubs, look it up using Google Translate. You will not only learn new vocabulary but be modelling lifelong learning. Plus, by linking learning to fun, the knowledge tends to stick better in our brains. We really are wired to play to learn. (Clubs are trèfles by the way.)
First thing you need to do if you have a library card is check to see what on-line book services your library offers. In many cases there are audiobooks and ebooks, in French that you can borrow through the library website. They are free and you can tailor the books to your child’s interest.
TFO is a French-Language television station in Ontario that is partially funded by the Government of Ontario. They have lots of videos and interactive games for kids. Same thing for the Zone Jeunesse from Radio-Canada. Have your kids spend some of their online time today playing games to practice their French.
1Jour1Actu – This is a website from France that produces news articles written at a child’s reading level. One of their best bits is the animated 1Jour1Question where kids’ questions are answered. Read one of these a day with your kids and discuss them. Not only will you be helping to build their comprehension of French, but you will also be helping them to build their understanding of the world around them.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s list, the Granby Zoo in Quebec is doing an educational video in French on their Facebook page every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This would be a great thing to watch with your kids and then discuss what they watch to reinforce the vocabulary covered and make sure they understood what was discussed.
If you have a Netflix subscription, watch the French version of Nailed it! We watch it as a family and in addition to laughing at the bad cakes, we have learned new slang, like “C’est Du Gâteau!” This would be a great activity for a more advanced French Learner. But many movies and shows on streaming services come in other languages. Fiddle with your settings and see what you can do to switch the language for your kids.
And let’s not downplay humour. There is the classic Têtes à claques. But warning, this is not for your younger children, but teens might appreciate the humour in this favourite webseries. And don’t be surprised if they pick up some slang.
Other places you can explore with your kids:
- Brain Pop Français – Lots of videos and readings about academic subjects
- Duolingo – Language learning website
- French Experiment – Language learning website, includes children’s books
- Boukili – Ap with french books for children
- Lindsay Allison
- Stéphane et Tanya Beaulieu
- Derrick Bulley
- Lorie Hamilton
- Kay Kolenko
Who all made suggestions of websites and apps to help me build this list.