Why You Should Sing With Your Maternelle Students

Rhyming is fun, and knowing how to rhyme is very important for anyone wanting to learn to read.

Last week, I shared with you how much little Andrea loved to rhyme, and how crazy she drove her parents with The Name Song (along with begging for 100 bedtime stories per night, most of which rhymed).

(If you missed it, you can read more about that HERE.)

I also explain how (according to a quick Google search - I did not personally do any research/check the validity/sources of this statement), fewer and fewer kids are starting school adept at rhyming, likely because fewer and fewer parents are teaching their children nursery rhymes and reading them lots of rhyme-y bedtime stories.

This is a problem for us maternelle teachers!

There is a correlation between rhyming mastery and reading readiness, so if we want our students to learn to read (and read well), we have got to make sure that they have rhyming down pat.

And, if they aren't learning nursery rhymes at home with their parents at the same rate we did when we were growing up, I think that we teachers should step in and provide them with that opportunity.

EVEN IF YOU THINK YOU "AREN'T A GOOD SINGER"!!

Sooo many teachers tell me that they "can't sing".

I'm sorry, but SO?!??!

Your kinders don't care, no one else can hear you, and comptines, chansons, and rhyming are WAY TOO IMPORTANT for your students to be missing out on.

So sing!!

If you still need convincing, read on for all of the reasons why you've got to be singing and chanting with your maternelle students (whether you think you're a good singer or not!) 😉

Think that you don't *really* need to sing with your maternelle students? Are you shy to sing with them or avoid it because you think you're not a good enough singer? Don't!! Songs and chants are SO IMPORTANT for our maternelle students if we want them to become strong readers - check out this blog post for all the reasons why!


(This post is specifically about teaching and practising rhymes via songs and poems - if you want to know more about why teaching our students to rhyme is so important in the first place, check out my first blog post in this mini rhyming series RIGHT HERE.)

We can teach SO MANY SKILLS via chansons and comptines and the rhythm and rhyme found within them.

Here are just some of the amazing benefits your students will receive:

6 Tips for Teaching Rhyming in Maternelle

When I was a little girl, I went through lots of weird phases.

I don't remember learning to rhyme per say, but I DO remember being obsessed with "The Name Song".

I think it was from a TV show, or possibly sung by Sharon, Lois, & Bram, but either way, it went like this:

Andrea, Andrea Bo-Bandrea
Banana Fana Fo-Fandrea
Me Mi Mo Mandrea
Andrea!

(Substitute any name of your choosing for Andrea, and rhyme accordingly).

I remember singing it over and over and over in the car, putting in everyone's name that I could think of.

I'm sure my parents LOVED it 😉

I don't know if that song was how I first learned to rhyme, or if it just provided me with (ample) practice, but my love of rhyming continued throughout my childhood.

One of my few memories from elementary school is actually writing a poem of which my second-grade teacher was so proud, she had the principal read it over the PA system.

(Pretty sure it wasn't that great - I remember the opening line being "The wind is blowing through the trees / honey is being made by bees"... passive verbs = gross! haha).

So yes, I loved rhyming as a kid, and had lots of fun playing with sounds in words and figuring out rhymes.

But, sources (aka Google haha) have informed me that kids these days aren't singing annoying rhyme-producing songs with their parents as often, and lots of kids are starting school barely having been read to.

This means that some (or many, depending on your clientele) of your students may start maternelle not knowing what rhymes are, how to identify them, how to anticipate them, and/or how to produce them.

But, if you've read my last blog post, you know that rhyming is mega important, and is a skill that our students need to master if we want them to become successful readers.

How can we help??

Read on for six tips you can use to help you teach and practice rhymes in your maternelle classroom!

Unsure how to introduce rhyming to your maternelle students? Or maybe you're looking for some more quick ways to sneak in some valuable practice time? These 6 tips for teaching rhyming in maternelle are sure to help you get started on the right foot!

Why You Need to Teach Rhyming in Maternelle

Teachers are busy.

We are busy inside of school, and outside of school.

During the school day, we are teaching lessons, wiping noses, tying shoes (jk, I don't tie shoes haha), tracking down lunches, writing notes in agendas, mediating conflicts, and loving our students as if they are our own.

After school (and often before school), we are planning, prepping, answering emails, attending meetings, and you know, trying to live our lives.

We have lots to teach!

In maternelle especially, we have so many things to teach that don't even necessarily fall under curriculum... but we know that our students won't be really ready for learning until these things are addressed.

Sometimes, we spend all of September and October just helping our students learn how to follow a routine and open their lunch containers... and then, suddenly it's Christmas and we feel like we haven't taught anything at all.

At this time, if you're anything like me, you might start to feel some pressure.

You might start to want to rush.

These kiddos need to learn to read! They need to write! They need to count and speak and listen! They need to be ready for grade one, and time is running out!!!

This blog post is a reminder (for you, but also for me - I have a habit of looking back on old blog posts to see what I was doing in previous years when I start to feel lost) that it's okay to go slow.

Some skills (especially pre-reading skills) might seem really obvious and like every student should know them.

We can probably skip those, right?

We can work on them in small groups later, but students who are "ready" to read need to start reading!

Like rhyming - surely every 5-year-old can rhyme??

We can put up a quick anchor chart and talk about it for five minutes, and they'll get it.

Right?

WRONG!

Rhyming is mega important, and a crucial skill to develop in your maternelle students.

Luckily, it doesn't take a lot of time to practice, but you've gotta do it. Over and over!

I didn't always realize how important it was, and I must admit that I didn't always spend as much time on it as I should have.

But, I am always trying to grow and improve as a teacher, so I figured I should look more into it.

Everyone kept saying that rhyming was important, but no one was really saying why.

But, I did some research, and now I can share that info with you!

We all know that rhyming is something that you need to teach your maternelle students... but do you know WHY it is such a crucial skill for them to learn? If you teach maternelle or première année, be sure to check out this blog post to find out just how much being adept at rhyming can help your pre-reading students! #maternelle #lesrimes #consciencephonologique


The first interesting piece of information that I found had to do with the correlation between rhyming and reading readiness.

Did you know that knowing their nursery rhymes is a predictor to how well your students will learn to read??

How to Quickly Warm Your Students up for Guided Reading

If you've been following my blog a bit, you may have already seen my post about My Favourite Ways to Warm up my Students for Guided Reading.

But let's be honest for a second, here...

Some days are less than ideal in maternelle, and you won't always have time for an elaborate warm-up activity!

Take Tuesday, February 19th for example.

How do I remember the exact date?

Well, that was the day of the February full moon!

Enough said, I'm guessing, haha - if you teach kids (of any age!), I'm sure you know EXACTLY what kind of day it was!

My students were literally and figuratively Bouncing. Off. The. WALLS. 

There was NO WAY they could do their literacy centres for 20 minutes straight, affording me all the time I would need to work with my groups. 

But, I had to see my groups, so I tried anyway, and WOW. 

By the end of Round 1, I had one student covered head to toe in marker, and another who apparently ate an entire crayon.

Yup!!!
That day, I decided I needed to add a quick-but-effective guided reading warm-up alternative to my repertoire; something that would help me get through my groups as quickly as humanly possible.

Just for full moon days and classroom party days ;) 

Read on for my new favourite 2 minute guided reading warm-up activity!

How to Use Nonsense Words to Practice Decoding

Teaching five-year-olds to read is super fun, and one of my favourite parts of the job.

But, it isn't always easy!

Most students catch on to the idea of looking at the picture to help them figure out an unknown word, and many grasp looking at the first letter pretty quickly, too.

BUT, struggles can ensue when you ask your students to look at the rest of the letters, and blend the sounds together.

My maternelle students can feel really overwhelmed and stressed out when I ask them to "read" a new word.

And, finding engaging ways to get my students to practice decoding/blending in French without discouraging them used to be challenging.

SO MANY FRENCH WORDS in their books have sons composés or letters that don't even talk!

My kiddos would be so excited to come across a short word that they felt they could blend... like auto, for example.

They would take a deep breath, look at the word, and say "aaa...uuu...ttttt...ooo... ah-u-to!"

And, of course, I had to tell them that no, actually, ah-u-to isn't actually a word, and even though they did correctly blend all of the letters, two of the letters work together to make a magic sound, etc. etc.

Frustrating for them, and frustrating for me!

I wanted to find a collection of short words where every letter says its sound, that would be easy for them to blend - there are piles of lists like that in English.

You know, like cat, hat, pig, pen, etc. etc.

But, there aren't actually that many in French.

So, my solution?

4 Rules for Teaching Syllables en français

Confession time!

As you probably know, I am anglophone. I grew up speaking English, in an English household, in an English community.

I fell in love with the French language in the sixth grade and never looked back, but I was taught completely in English up until grade seven.

(In grade six, I had the most amazing Core French teacher who completely opened my eyes to the French language and got me so excited to give learning a second language a go!)

Everything I was taught about reading, grammar, etc. as a child was in English.

Now that I am teaching 5-year-olds en français, I have to be sure I am teaching them the right things.

Most things are pretty evident, but not all!

For example... syllables!

English and French have different rules about syllables and when to divide a word into parts/how many parts are in a word.

Most of my students come from English-speaking homes as well, so I wanted to be sure I understood the rules correctly before trying to teach them.

And, it seems like not everyone is exactly clear on the rules for dividing words into syllables - even different resources/blog posts/etc say different things!

But guys, I LOVE rules, so I had to figure out exactly what French syllable rules are.

I did quite a bit of investigating on syllable rules and figured I might as well share them with you on my blog, so you maybe won't have to spend as much time as I did trying to figure it all out!

Are you an anglophone teacher teaching in a French early elementary classroom? Or, do you just need to brush up on the official rules of dividing words into syllables en français before you begin teaching them? Check out this blog post for four easy to understand rules for teaching syllables to French students!



How to Start the Year with Pocket Chart Poetry in your French Primary Classroom

Has this ever happened to you in maternelle?

It's September, and your kindergarten students know pretty much nothing about being in school.

You're bustling about trying to teach them how to properly use scissors and open their lunch boxes... forget about learning to read and write!

At the beginning of the year in maternelle, it can feel like you are putting out fires and running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

Our main goal is to keep everyone happy, alive, and in one piece!

I've always struggled with letting go of the idea of jumping right into learning.

We have so much to cover, and so little time!

Plus, what in the world do you even DO with these 20 five-year-olds if you don't start teaching right away?!

I don't like wasting time.

Spending all of September and October learning how to walk in a line and use a glue sponge can feel like a waste of time sometimes, even though I *know* it's an important and crucial investment.

But man, sometimes, I just want to TEACH!!

This year, I snuck something new into our September/October routine, and it helped us out a lot.

This new activity helped my students pick up on some important academic skills while also learning about our routine and my expectations, so I felt like I was doing my job... and my students were building the foundation they needed for the rest of the year (behaviour-wise AND academically).

Curious about what I did differently this September?

Read on to find out!

Looking for a perfect activity to add to your alphabet routine in your French primary classroom? Pocket chart poems are perfect for la rentrée in maternelle and/or in première année. Check out this blog post for some tips and ideas for helping your students start the year with French pocket chart poetry!