Des idées pour enseigner l'alphabet en français

Hi everyone!

I was reading a post on the awesome Facebook group Primary French Immersion Teachers this morning asking about how people teach letter names and sounds to their kindergarten students. I started to share some things that I do, and when my answer turned into a novel, I decided I should just write a blog post about it! :)

As mentioned in a previous post, I assess my students using ESGI Software. It is quick and easy (max 2 mins per student), and no, they are not paying me to say that, haha! I did a quick assessment during the first week of school to see if my students already knew their letters. And... nope! No one did. A few knew a bunch in English, which is lovely, but not overly helpful. One or two knew most of them, but most knew less than half.

But that is no problem! As a kindergarten teacher, it's my job to teach them that! And honestly, it is even easier when you don't have a handful of kids who already know them all, because then everyone can start at the same place. We are so not ready for small groups at the beginning of the year, so I like for my whole group instruction to be able reach as many students as possible.

Before I jump into the activities we do, I feel like I should mention that routine is KEY in my classroom. We have the same routine every day. We do the same general activities (with different letters of course) at the same time, Monday through Friday. It may sound boring to you or me, but the kids LOVE it. They love knowing what to expect, they love feeling like little pros, and I love how efficient and competent they become by the end of our alphabet unit compared to when they are just starting out!

Looking for ways to amp up your alphabet routine? This blog post is full of all kinds of different ideas for helping your French kindergarten students learn their letters and sounds!

First of all, I introduce one letter per day (four per week, and then a review game on Friday to practice all the letters we have seen so far). I start with long consonants first (like m, l, s, r, etc.), because they are the easiest to hear. It is SO important to me that my students are able to hear letter sounds. Especially if French is not their first language (despite teaching at a francophone school, we are in an English community). It takes a LOT of practice for them to be able to hear, produce, and identify sounds, and it is an essential skill for reading, writing, and speaking.

When I introduce each letter to my students, I also teach them a gesture to go with each sound. We use the same structure each time: ""a" fait /a/ comme dans avion." When we make the letter sound, we do the gesture (moving our arms like an airplane, for example). After I introduce the letter, I give each child a flashcard to add to their letter ring that they review nightly for homework.

I only send letters home that we have already practiced - to me, homework should be about reviewing and consolidating what they have seen at school, and not a time to learn new things.

Our flashcards look like this:

I use the ones with the images, but the pack includes uppercase and lowercase letters alone as well. My students open the rings and add their cards themselves each morning during our morning meeting. If they can't do it, they ask a friend for help. Their cards stay in their reading bags and they can also review them during read-to-self if they so choose.

At the end of the first week, they only had four letters, but now we are finishing up week five and will be up to 20! These cards are available HERE in my TPT store, and also come with posters and personal word wall sheets, all with the same images.

Consistency is key! :)

After sorting out our agendas and our flashcards, we start each day with a morning alphabet message.

Depending on how organized I am, sometimes (ideally) it looks like this:

We read together, they fill in the blanks to make it make sense, and then they came up with some things that start with Mm to go into our circle map. This was one of our first days, so they drew and I wrote. I also add clues to the outside in case they are stumped for ideas.

Sometimes they have so many ideas that we don't have time to draw them all and I write frantically as their ideas just explode out of them ;)

Also, sometimes life happens, and our morning message looks like this:

Ignore the bottom part for now, that's coming!

It should be noted that I am not an artist, haha.

After we have talked about what things start with our letter of the day, we play a sorting game. We play this game every day, and every morning, I have kids arriving saying "do you think you are going to win today, Mme?! You aren't!"

They seriously love it.

I have six images in a baggie - three that start with the target letter and three that don't. Since my students are all over the map as far as vocabulary goes, I pick a mix of simple words for my French newbies, and words that will probably be new to everyone. We review them all together before we get started. I structure this game as "Mme Andrea vs. the students."

After we have reviewed the words together, they don't make a sound ;) Every time someone shouts out the answer, is silly, talks to their neighbour, etc. - I get a point! Every time someone comes up and correctly sorts a card, they get a point. They get unlimited tries to get it right and I am right there beside them saying "nnnnnnnnnn, nnnnnnoix... does that sound like nnnnnnnn?" and making the gestures for each word's beginning sound so... they are pretty successful. To be honest, I have never won, ha! We are into some pretty tricky letters now (we did Y yesterday), so I keep telling them that I am going to win, but... it hasn't happened yet!

They have a lot more stamina for sitting at the carpet and know a lot more letter sounds now than they did in the beginning, so I have added another level to the game where I also ask them to come up and write the actual beginning sound for the pictures that don't start with our letter of the day. Here is a closer look at what the whole group sort looks like:

After the whole group sort, they do their own! I cover up our sort to encourage them to say the word and think about the beginning sound on their own. They can then go self-check their answers against our sort after. When we are finished, they glue their page into their notebook.

I don't require them to colour, but they can if they want to when they are finished gluing - if there is still time left. What I am really looking to get out of the activity is for them to practice listening for beginning sounds. I am not all that concerned about the colouring at the moment. We have a lot to get done in a day, so usually I give 7-10 mins to finish their sorts, and they have no problem getting them done in that time :) Some are so efficient now that it only takes them 3 minutes - crazy!

To grab the whole group and individual sorts, as well as the list of gestures I use, just click HERE to be taken to my TPT store. There are over five weeks worth of sorts if you do a letter a day!

On Fridays, we learn a new review game that practices all the letters we have learned. So far, we have learned EEK!, Pomme, pomme, petite et ronde, and Roule et couvre - which is our favourite so far! I like partner games best for our review time, because every child gets the chance to talk, but I LOVE "Pomme, pomme" for transition times - when some of my students are finished an activity and we are waiting for others to clean up and get to the carpet, for example.

Next week, we will be playing EEK - Sorcière! I am so ready for Halloween haha, and to them, new clipart makes it like a whole new game! A whole new game that I don't have to teach them, because they already know how to play ;)

We have learned 6 new sight words as well, so I can toss those cards in there too.

Please note that I only put in cards for letters and words that we have already learned :)

Soon, all of our review games will become choices for independent centres. Some of them already are.

I always have our laminated Play Doh mats (with Play Doh, beans, white board markers, etc.) as an early-finisher option to review letter formation throughout the day as well. In the afternoons, when our brains are pretty tired or fried, we do our directed draws and letter formation practice.

I photocopy the directed draw for the letter on one side, and a tracing sheet for the letter on the other. I give them markers for tracing and they are as happy as clams! Before I show them how to do the directed draw and the correct letter formation, we review our letter sounds and gestures one more time.

The tracing sheets I use I got HERE, from La classe de Madame Angel. They are a good size for those kindergarten fine motor abilities! You can click on the pictures below to find my Play Doh mats and directed drawing resources.

Click here to see my Play Doh mats

And here for my directed draws
That's about it! Once we get all the way through the alphabet, we'll get into the real nitty gritty of rhyming, syllables, blending, segmenting, ending sounds, vowel sounds, etc. I find that by concentrating so much on listening for sounds from the very beginning of the year, it REALLY helps them know how to listen for more complex sounds later, and to be able to play with sounds in words.

Once we wrap up our first run through the alphabet in two weeks, I will re-evaluate who knows which letter sounds, and be able to create my first small groups based on who needs more time and practice, and who is ready to start putting sounds together.

So exciting!!

I am definitely still learning as I go along, but I hope that my post about alphabet instruction was helpful to you!

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions :)

PS - Are you a member of my FREE French Resource Library yet?? There are a bunch of alphabet freebies in there, along with lots of other free stuff! If not, just enter your name & email below and hit the button. I'll send you the exclusive password and instructions for getting your hands on every freebie I have ever made - and will ever make!

All about writing!


Today marks an exciting time for us - we have officially been writing for a month! As mentioned in a previous post, I use Deedee Wills and Deanna Jump's Writer's Workshop units. I take a sample of their writing on the second day of school, but start our first real lesson on the first Monday of the year. I wanted to share with you some of the (in my opinion) AMAZING progress that my little writers have made over the past month!

Please note, we do Writer's Workshop Every. Day. No matter what, we write! And I never tell them what to write during this time. All of these stories were their own choice. Very early on, we made a chart to look at if we need an idea, and I haven't had a single child tell me they didn't know what to write since then. Our writing time consists of some of my favourite minutes of the whole day, and my students' as well. My class is SO excited about writing this year, and I really believe that it is because we do it every day. And I celebrate them every step of the way! They feel successful. And, guess what?! We write for TWENTY MINUTES. Every day. In a row. In kindergarten! And you could hear a pin drop, they are so focused. It IS possible, guys.

Teaching kindergarteners to write can be such a challenge - especially in their second language! Learn how to avoid teaching your students to only write from a model, and instead tell their OWN stories, at their own pace, from this blog post. Great ideas for keeping your students engaged and progressing, as well as how to increase their stamina!

Our writing block has three parts:

1. The mini lesson. At this time, everyone is at the carpet and I model something new that I want them to try in their writing. It could be making sure my people have clothing. It could be remembering to start with a picture. It could be how to walk quietly to the word wall, pick a word that MAKES SENSE, and how to put it back when I am done. It could be how to hear sounds in words, how to use our alphabet to help us, how to add details when I think I am done, etc, etc, etc! We spend MAX 10 mins here, but it is usually more like 7. I have become a very quick drawer! I make sure that they know that I am not looking for perfection, here - I just want them to try their best :)

2. Practice. I let my students choose their paper (currently blank paper or paper with a couple lines) and they find a quiet spot and get to work. I let them work anywhere, as long as they have their own space and aren't bothering their neighbour. Some choose to work at the table, some on the carpet, and some take bath mats (I have 6-7 in a bucket) and clip boards and work somewhere else on the floor. I put on relaxing music and the timer for 20 mins, and we work. I encourage them to try out what I showed them in the mini lesson if it works with their story.

3. Share. While my students practice, I walk around and make sure everyone is on the right path. I provide support as needed, but it is not much support (maybe a reminder to put back a word wall word, to start with a picture, or try adding some words or a label). I DO NOT spell words for my students. Not even on Day 1. And they have honestly not ever asked me to. As I walk around, I check for three students who are trying out something that I taught them. After the practice time, we all go to the carpet and sit on our work. The three students I chose plus one more (I rotate through our class list) read their stories out loud. They call on two friends for noticings or questions. Then, everyone shares their story with a partner. The share block usually takes 7-10 minutes.

On the first day, of course we didn't write for 20 minutes!!! I forgot to take a picture of our stamina chart, but we started out with 5 minutes. And it was tricky! It is hard to stay in one spot and work if you aren't used to it. It is hard to not run and show your teacher the great work you did. But I reminded those who needed it, and we worked hard to focus, and we got used to it. When you practice every day, it helps SO MUCH. Now our writing muscles are strong. Staying focused on our writing is second nature! It took us about 3 weeks to get to 20 minutes, but every group is different. And there is no sense in setting the timer for longer than they are able - if you can tell that you have lost them, just stop the timer and try again the next day. We had one slip up day where our stamina decreased and when I charted it, they didn't like it ;) They worked very hard the following day to increase it again!

Here are some samples from our first day. The samples are from three students of varying academic abilities. You can see that there is little to no detail (although one sweetie did add nipples and a belly button haha!), and the only letters/words we see are one child's name. These all show great starting points!

On the first day, I didn't have any students write any letters or words aside from what is in their name. But that is no problem! You have to start somewhere, and I tell them to start with the words and letters that they know :)

After the first week of school, most of my students are able to identify the names of their peers. This is quick, but keep in mind - almost all of my students were already together for a year during our pre kindergarten program and were exposed to their peers' names all the time! We only had 3 new names to learn this year. I showed them how we can add labels to people and things in our stories to help make them more clear. We also talked about how stories need to have characters and settings, and how to add details to your characters to help your readers identify who is who. In the following pictures, you will see examples of students starting to add labels (with letters or words), settings, and/or details to help us know who is who (for example, who is the tallest person in your story? Who is the smallest? What colour is everyone's hair?).

I love teaching writing because it is automatically differentiated. I model many of the same things every day during our mini lessons. Some "get it" right away and are able to do what I show them on their own. Others are at different stages. My school board provided us with a writing continuum, which I LOVE, because I can see where my students are and what their next step should be. Take the following example :

If you look at this picture in isolation, you may think that this little sweetie has little to no clue what writing is and she hasn't followed any of my directions or learned a thing from me. Obviously, what she has written does not make any sense (to you or me). But, you would be wrong! Check out her progress since Day 1:

Day 1 - no evidence that she understands that she is to be writing a story. She did in fact tell me that this was a kitty, but it is clear that she has some fine motor work to do (this sweetie will not be 5 until the end of December). In the second picture, we see her start to make more precise drawings, as well as a combination of the letters that she knows, and scribbles that look like they could be letters. The first picture I showed you comes next. She had discovered the word wall and copied some words (if you look closely, you can see papa, voici, as well as a few of her classmates' names and her name), and added some symbols. When I asked her to tell me her story, the words she had written had nothing to do with it, but she is still showing that she understands that letters and words are writing, which was not at all evident on Day 1. In the last picture, you can see that she has a clear(er) picture drawn, and has attempted to label it. She gets the general idea, even though there is still little to no association between the letters that she wrote and her picture (her mommy). She is displaying a link between the photo and the "words" she wrote. For me, it is a big deal that she is able to tell her story with her voice (and didn't just scribble and say "I don't know" when I asked what her story was), and that she is starting to see that stories include both pictures and words. When I start individual writing conferences during our next unit, with her, we will be working on one-word labels with letters that make sense (writing the sounds she hears).

Here is some more BIG progress. At the beginning of the year, this munchkin was NOT a risk taker. For Day 1, he traced his pencil and wrote his name. That's a great start! I make sure to congratulate everyone for trying things out, making it clear that nothing has to be perfect, as long as your try your best, and little by little, he has started taking chances. Check it out!

It is tricky to see, but in the second picture, it says "AKCL". Arc-en-ciel! Awesome labelling. He also had already understood that he can move his labels onto the provided lines. That is where I write when I model, and he picked up on that. The third picture is from today. Today is the first day that he attempted a sentence by himself! Our lesson today was about how it is more interesting to tell a story about something that happened, or explaining why we like something, rather than just naming the parts or telling what we like. He got it! He is still working on his directionality, so his sentence starts on the second line and ends on the first, but it says "DCI FADDFLI" - "Daisy fait des follies". You can see that he is even starting to think about spaces, and doing a SUPER job writing the sounds he hears! He can now hear most consonants and some vowels. With him during conference time, I will push him to hear more vowel sounds and to think about spacing between words (we have not talked about that as a class yet, as I only have 2-3 writers who are making sentences).

Here are a couple more sentence attempts:

"Je saute dans les feuilles". She didn't know the letter that makes the sound /j/ or /f/ - no problem! Just skip them and write what you know :)

This little guy is a PRO at using a combination of word wall words and sounding out to make his sentences! We only have 6 words on the word wall so far, but he does a great job using them!
"Regarde une fleur jaune" and "Mme Andrea dans un igloo". :)
With him, we will be working on spaces between words, and adding details to talk about what is happening in the story (What is Mme doing in the igloo? Why is she there?).

Here are a couple more samples of different stages along the writing continuum!

No matter what language you teach in, if you understand English, I cannot recommend Deedee Wills and Deanna Jump's Writer's Workshop units enough. They have completely transformed my teaching and have made my kids into proud writers. Their lessons are so easy to follow and take almost no prep, and are worth every single penny. Writing time is so precious to me. I firmly believe that our students are ALL storytellers. It is the highlight of my day to watch them grow and develop as writers, illustrators, and storytellers. I don't believe in limiting our students' writing by only giving them prompts to write from, or sentence shells to fill in (I like ________. Here is a ___________.). Writing from prompts is of course an important skill, but I believe that students should also be given time to write what they want - to write THEIR stories - every day. Writing should be fun! It should be exciting! It is their chance to tell me anything they want! We are limiting them when we act like they can't write yet - show them that you believe they can, and they will! Model, model, model, and practice, practice, practice. When they are ready, they will do it too! For me, what counts at this age is their THINKING. I want them to be able to think of, and then TELL me their story, with details, using their work to support what they have to say. Then, when they are developmentally ready, the foundation has been laid and they will be able to write the creative, detailed stories that are in their brains in a way that will allow everyone else to enjoy them, too!

Happy writing! :)

PS - Are you a member of my FREE French Resource Library yet?? If not, just enter your name & email below and hit the button. I'll send you the exclusive password and instructions for getting your hands on every freebie I have ever made - and will ever make!

The simplest FREE student birthday gift for French teachers!

Happy Sunday!

Tomorrow, we will be celebrating our first student birthday of the year. Thinking about it this morning, I realized that I didn't have anything ready! I always give my students a little surprise on their birthdays, and we sing to the special birthday student.

In previous years, I gave them all one of those neat pencils with four different colours of lead (rainbow pencils, I think they are called?) and a certificate. However, I first got them from a little dollar store that is now out of business, and last year from Target. Neither store is available to me now (still brokenhearted about Target's departure from Canada, *sniff*), so this year I had to think of something new. I meant to do it over the summer, but somehow forgot! One emergency trip to Dollarama later, and my birthday gifts are ready! :)

Need some last-minute birthday gifts for your French primary class? Check out these instructions for the perfect, easiest, FREE student birthday gift, en français! Includes a free printable for French teachers.

I bought these glow necklaces - two for a dollar is a pretty good deal! I have 16 students, so I bought eight packages.

You could also use pencils or crazy straws if you prefer!

I made a quick little tag to go on each glow stick. They can be found in the "Seasonal/Holidays" section of my FREE French Resource library!

(Don't have access to the library yet? No problem! Just enter your info below, click the pink button to subscribe, and I will email you the password!)

I cut them out and punched a hole in either side of the tag.

Then, I just attached the tags to the glow necklaces. I decided not to attach the connectors yet, because:

1. It was basically impossible to attach them without accidentally cracking the sticks and making them glow prematurely, and

2. Now I can make sure that none of them get lost! I am just going to keep them in a Ziploc bag.

I am currently holding them together with an elastic band. I think I am just going to put them in a vase... or a basket, or maybe even a paper towel roll, haha! My students will pick one on their birthday, write their age when we sing "Quel âge as-tu?", and then they can wear it for the day!

How do you celebrate your students' birthdays? Let me know in the comments or send me a message!

Need some last-minute birthday gifts for your French primary class? Check out these instructions for the perfect, easiest, FREE student birthday gift, en français! Includes a free printable for French teachers.

PS - Are you a member of my FREE French Resource Library yet?? If not, just enter your name & email below and hit the button. I'll send you the exclusive password and instructions for getting your hands on every freebie I have ever made - and will ever make!

Five for Friday - Oct 2

Five for Friday is a weekly teacher linky party where you post five random things from today or this past week and on your blog. Then, you come back and link your blog post up at the bottom of this post in the linky tool. 

Hi guys! I can't believe that I haven't posted in over two weeks! I also can't believe that it is October. Ummm, what?! Where did September go??? I love October. We have settled into our routines (for the most part haha), it is no longer 30 degrees and HUMID at school, and of course - Halloween and Thanksgiving! I feel like loving holidays just comes with the job description :)

Anyways, since it is Friday and I haven't posted in so long, I figured it would be fun to do a little Five for Friday tonight! My brain is a little fried right now, but I do have some big, meaty posts coming soon. Until then, here are five things from our week!

We painted today! I try to paint with them at least once a week. It usually ends up being on a Friday, but once we get starting with Modules intégrés, it could end up being any day of the week. I just find it relaxes them so much... they get so into it! We did a directed scarecrow draw today. You can definitely tell that we are still new to drawing and painting, but I love how they turned out! We followed the directions from this pin on Pinterest, and I also modelled each step at the easel. First we drew with a pencil, then traced with a blank crayon, and finally painted with disk (watercolour) paints.

I love how they all turn out so differently, even though we follow the same directions!

I also introduced the game "Roule et couvre" today for the first time. We generally learn four new letters a week (one per day Mon-Thurs), and then on Friday we play games that review all our letters. They did SO WELL! I was amazed. Everyone got right to work, and played for the whole time - no sillies, and not much noise. I loved hearing them spontaneously say the letter names that they rolled and that they were hoping to roll out loud.

I managed to not get a picture of the dice in any of the shots I took - oops! But basically, there is a die that goes with each game board with an uppercase letter on each face. Students roll the die one at a time, and cover the lowercase that corresponds with the letter they roll. If they have already covered all of that letter, zut! It is their partner's turn. The first to cover all their letters wins. We practiced how to be a good winner and a good loser, and to shake your partner's hand and say good game - and... no tears or sore losers!

This game is easy to differentiate. I have 16 students, so I printed eight game boards. Six were to practice upper- and lowercase association, but for four of my stronger students who already know their letters well, I printed out two of the game boards that practice identifying initial sounds. They had to find a picture on their board that started with the same sound of the letter they rolled. They loved it!

I LOVE seeing partners working together and learning from each other! If you are interested in this game, you can grab it in my store by clicking HERE, or on any of the pictures above. It also includes game boards for ending sounds, vowel sounds, and syllables!

We have also really started focusing on speaking FRENCH. Rather than always being like "en français, en français!", I like to focus on the positives and really praise those who put in the effort. So, I use gum balls to motivate ;) I printed out a gum ball machine for each student and hung it on the cupboards. Whenever I hear them making an effort to speak French, ESPECIALLY when they are playing with or speaking to a friend, they colour a gum ball. If I hear them using a sentence we are practicing (this week were are working hard on J'AI fini rather than je suis, and using JE instead of moi in sentences), I tell them to colour two. If I catch them speaking English, I get to say "aw, darn! I am so sad I don't get to let you colour a gum ball! I will keep my ears open for you guys speaking French!".

I like this system because it is automatically differentiated as well. I have some kids who started knowing zero French. For those three, if they toss one French word into a sentence, or say simple things like "au revoir!" or "ça va bien", I get really excited and they can colour a gum ball. For my little pros, I really focus on them speaking French with their peers. Once a student finishes a gum ball sheet, they get to play on the *gasp* computer during centre time! I don't have any ipads in my classroom and we haven't been on the computers at all yet, so this is a big deal ;) And also... free haha.

Some friends got a liiiiiiittle too excited and forgot to only colour one gum ball, so Mme had to add some extras on the sides ;)

You can snag these gum ball machines for FREE in my French Resource Library, in the "Gestion de classe" section. There is also a blank version, so you could use it for any desired behaviour :)

(Don't have access to the library yet? No problem! Just fill out your info below, click the pink button to sign up, and I will email you the password!)

One of my former students (from two years ago) brought me sunflowers on Wednesday. Made my whole day and brightened my whole week!

We are going to make these turkey crowns next week. Aren't they so adorable?! I have to admit, the last two years I have been guilty of not getting our Thanksgiving activities done before Thanksgiving. This year, we are getting them done!!!

We will also be making this Freebie from Mme Angel! Go snag it from her store!!

Have a great weekend!!! I will be back soon with a post about how I teach letter names and sounds :)

PS - Are you a member of my FREE French Resource Library yet?? If not, just enter your name & email below and hit the button. I'll send you the exclusive password and instructions for getting your hands on every freebie I have ever made - and will ever make!