My Top 5 Blog Posts of 2018

2018 was a year for the books - and for the blog!

Despite going back to work with a five-month-old baby, said baby turning one in August, AND planning a wedding (jk... wedding planning is not my strength and I totally hired a wedding planner haha), I still managed to publish more blog posts than ever before in 2018.

In January 2018, my aim was to survive heading back to work, and I didn't set any other goals for myself at the time.

But, I do love me some accomplishments, so once I got my feet back under myself, I did set a few.

Knowing full well I would likely fail (but not caring!), in spring 2018, I set an ambitious goal of blogging every week from April-December.

I am super proud to say I mostly stuck to that, only missing a week in July and a week in November - not too shabby!

In fact, this is my 43rd blog post this year, smashing my previous record of 25, and more than doubling how many I posted last year (I blame the newborn for that slow year hehe).

Side note: That's the beauty of setting an "impossible" goal... even if you "fail", as long as you show up as much and as often as you can, you are likely to end up MUCH more successful than if you had never set t in the first place ;)

Since I managed to post so often, I was curious to look back on my stats for the year and see which blog posts from 2018 were the most popular.

In case you missed some good reading, I figured I would share my top 5 here with you!



How to Print as Much as You Want in Full Colour (on a teacher budget)

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

I remember when I FIRST discovered TPT.

My boyfriend at the time had won a home lottery, and we were living in a million dollar mansion.

(Turns out million dollar mansions aren't for me, but that's not the point!)

I was halfway through my second year teaching, right before Christmas, and I was struggling so much for so many reasons - at school and in my personal life.

I was the only maternelle teacher at my school, and I had no one to mentor me or help me figure out what I was doing.

Then, I found out Pinterest (only used for adorable quotes and home décor up to this point) had teaching ideas, too.

Then I found kindergarten teacher blogs.

And then... TPT!

I was magical and life-changing. It turned me into a better teacher and human and I started learning, creating, trying new things with my students, and hitting my groove as a teacher.

BUT, I still had one problem.

I can remember sitting upstairs in the million dollar mansion (because every house needs an upstairs living room too, right?), printing page after page after page, using my old awful printer that wasn't built for card stock OR the amount of work I was putting it through.

I'm pretty sure I went through at LEAST five ink cartridges in the FIRST MONTH.

That's a lot of ink and a LOT of money, even if you aren't paying on a mortgage!!!

Struggling with printer ink expenses on a teacher budget? Check out the blog post and learn my secret to being able to print as many full colour resources as I need WITHOUT breaking the bank, month after month!
This was me haha

In hindsight, I could have bought shares in Staples!

Then, we broke up a month or so later, and I did have to start paying rent. Along with all of the other expenses that had previously been split two ways.

I couldn't really afford to print things from TPT anymore (my school doesn't have a colour printer), but I also knew there had to be a solution to my problem.

And there was!!!

Due to some tenacious digging, I discovered a way to now print evvvvverything I need (and usually more) from home, in full colour, for less than 14$ a month!

Struggling with printer ink expenses on a teacher budget? Check out the blog post and learn my secret to being able to print as many full colour resources as I need WITHOUT breaking the bank, month after month!

5 Reasons You Should Make More Time for Syllables

Not sure why syllables are SO important for your primary French second-language students to learn? Check out this blog post for 5 reasons why you NEED to be making more time for syllables in your teaching day! Your students will become stronger readers AND writers with this important info.


Real talk!

If you're a teacher, too, I'm sure that I don't have to tell you this... but, sometimes we have so much going on that we can't remember to cover #allofthethings.

I blink and then it's March and I haven't even covered HALF of the things that I planned to cover by now!

It can be so easy to be tempted to skip over or rush some of the simpler things that probably everyone knows anyway.

Like syllables!

My first year of teaching, I thought that syllables were easy and obvious and that I didn't need to spend much time on them.

Of course, if you've read my other blog post about syllables, you already know that that was a mistake!

When it came time for my students to read words in chunks and "fusionne" them together, they hadn't had enough practice with syllables, and we had to backtrack in order to continue moving forward.

Now, there are a bunch of reasons why I LOVE teaching and practicing syllables with my students.

Read on for my top 5 reasons I think that you need to make more time for syllables in your teaching day!

Not sure why syllables are SO important for your primary French second-language students to learn? Check out this blog post for 5 reasons why you NEED to be making more time for syllables in your teaching day!


5 Festive Activities for Your French Kindergarteners

You know it, I know it, we ALL know it.

December = Christmas = crazy!

You're tired, your students are wired, and elves on shelves are popping up all over the place (provided you can remember to move them around, of course).

Did I mention we are all tired??

In my blog post last week, I mentioned that you should try to give in and embrace the Christmas crazies throughout the month of December.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

In my classroom, we celebrate all month long!

I try to choose activities to help us cover some of our outcomes, and I find when I incorporate some holiday spirit, my students stay pretty engaged.

(Plus you can always *gently remind* them Santa is watching if they get off task, haha!)

Read on for five of my favourite December activities I do year after year!

5 Festive French Songs your Maternelle Students will LOVE

WELCOME TO DECEMBER!

December is a wonderful month (hello, Christmas), but it can also be INSANE! 
As in, scraping-children-from-the-ceiling-on-repeat insane.
Between Christmas concerts, Christmas concert practices, special Christmas dinners, sleepy students due to community events, an abundance of SUGAR and chocolate, rogue elves on the shelves, and general excitement and anticipation, it is no wonder our students are bouncing off the walls.
In my opinion, the best way to get through the December/Christmas crazies is just to embrace them, and accept that this month is probably going to be a bit more chaotic than the others.
(Except maybe September, haha)
In my classroom, I happily accept my students' joy and immense love of everything Christmas-y, and use it to keep their engagement as high as humanly possible. 
We do Christmas literacy centres, we do Christmas math activities, we read about Christmas, we write about Christmas, and we SING about Christmas! 
Les chansons et les comptines are so, so important in maternelle, especially in a second-language classroom. 
We try to sing all year long, but I really kick it up a notch in December!
My students are definitely more excited for Christmas songs and poems than any other kind of song or poem. 
Read on for my top 5 French Christmas songs to learn in maternelle!

How to Warm your Students up for Guided Reading

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases you make via links on this site, at no additional cost to you.

Confession time: 

My guided reading lessons used to be a HOT MESS.

I knew how to use literacy centres to give the rest of my students meaningful time to independently practice the skills that I had previously taught.

I had grouped my students more or less based on what they needed to learn.

And I had a nice little table to bring them all to.

A nice little table where we would all sit together and they would stare at me expectantly, waiting for me to teach them to read.

"Umm, what?!" thought first-year-teacher-Andrea.

"How the heck do you teach someone to read??"

Honestly, I never really learned that in university. And my practicums were all with students who already knew how to read (grades two, three, and four)

I had no idea how to start teaching someone to read, from the very beginning, when they know pretty much nothing!

Luckily, I discovered Pinterest and teacher blogs and it was like a whole world opened up to me.

I could learn about what other teachers were doing (mostly in English), try and find a way to make it work en français, and build a routine and lesson plans that were inspired by someone who knew what they were doing, rather than being pulled out of what felt like thin air. 

And if you teach maternelle, I am sure you are familiar with the wonderful beauty that is routine

A guided reading routine helps me and it helps my students. When we all know what is coming next, we are more efficient and we can get a lot more done. 

We don't have an abundance of time for our guided reading lessons, but we have a lot of skills to learn and practice, so this efficiency is crucial for my students' success.

Explaining our entire routine in one blog post would be way too much, but today I would like to talk about the beginning of our guided reading lessons - our warm up. I will come back in future posts to talk about other pieces of our guided reading routine puzzle.

Curious about how to warm up your maternelle students at the beginning of your guided reading lessons? Check out these NO PREP games and ideas that will help your students practice four essential pre-reading skills! | Lecture guidée


Just like when you play a sport and need to warm up your muscles, our students need to warm up their brains before diving into the huge work that is guided reading.

To help my students warm up, I like to do a quick game that targets a pre-reading or reading skill they need to work on.

We may play a game to work on breaking sentences into words, words into syllables, or syllables into sounds. 

We may work on rhyming, or we may play a game that helps us practice sight words. 

Or, we may play a game that helps us with our 1:1 correspondence, or one of our animal reading strategies.

Some of the games we play do involve some prep ahead of time, but today I want to share some warm-up games that you can play with your students that don't require any prep ahead of time.

Even though they require no prep ahead of time, these activities will still help you work on four key pre-reading skills.

How to make a word wall that will ACTUALLY get used

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases you make via links on this site, at no additional cost to you.


I have always had a word wall in my classroom, ever since my very first year of teaching.

That first year, my word wall was a tiny, dusty mess of too many words stuck up with thumbtacks, squeezed into not enough space on a bulletin board high up in the back corner of my room.

Guess how often it was used?

Yup - NEVER!

Can you relate?

I quickly realized that it wasn't worth the upkeep. What's the point of adding new words to a place my students would forget was even there?

My students couldn't see the words, they couldn't reach the words, they couldn't use the words... I'm not even convinced they actually knew the words were even there.

Well, I am a problem solver, and I realized after that first year that my word wall situation was a problem I had to solve.

I needed a word wall that my students could actually USE - one that was interactive, central, big enough that I could easily fit all the words we needed, and attractive enough that my students would be inspired to go and check it out. 

I decided to take the plunge and try converting my big whiteboard at the front of the room to a word wall.

It was risky because I felt a bit panicky about losing all that "teaching" space. 

But, since I took that plunge, I have never looked back. My word wall has remained on my whiteboard, even after moving classrooms this year.

Interested in seeing what it looks like? 

Read on to see how I set up my word wall now!

Looking for step by step instructions for turning your white board into a word wall (mur de mots) in your French primary classroom? Check out this blog post!


PREPPING YOUR SPACE


I use almost my entire whiteboard for my word wall now, but in the past, I would leave a chart paper-sized rectangle in case I needed to stick up a poster or do a little bit of teaching up front. 

This year, I moved classrooms and the front of my room where the whiteboard is located isn't ideal for teaching, so I just went ahead and used the whole thing as my word wall.

Once you decide how much space your word wall will need, use masking tape to make a large rectangle. Inside the rectangle will be your new word wall!

Here is an affiliate link for the kind of tape that I use. 
I need two rolls to get my whole word wall done.

I divide the big rectangle into two long sections by putting another strip of tape horizontally along the middle.


Looking for step by step instructions for turning your white board into a word wall (mur de mots) in your French primary classroom? Check out this blog post!


I add vertical strips of tape to create boxes. I make one box for each letter, but I vary the sizes of the boxes depending on how many words we will typically learn for each.

(For example, we learn about 0 sight words for w, x, and z each year, so their boxes are small. But, we learn a ton of words that begin with a and l, so those boxes are bigger.)

Looking for step by step instructions for turning your white board into a word wall (mur de mots) in your French primary classroom? Check out this blog post!

ADDING LETTERS


I write the letter for each box right on my whiteboard using a black Sharpie*. 

Yes - a Sharpie!

Looking for step by step instructions for turning your white board into a word wall (mur de mots) in your French primary classroom? Check out this blog post!


It actually comes off easy peasy. Just colour over each letter with a whiteboard marker at the end of the year and erase (or have your students do it!).

Students always end up anonymously erasing letters written with a whiteboard marker, and in my humble opinion, taking the time to print out pretty letters and stick them on just isn't worth the time or the headache when they all start to fall down and/or get lost.

(Been there, done that!)

Just write them up there once with a Sharpie and you are set for the whole year!

Looking for step by step instructions for turning your white board into a word wall (mur de mots) in your French primary classroom? Check out this blog post!


ADDING YOUR WORDS


With the exception of student names, I only add words to our class word wall as we learn them

In September (and most of October), my students' names and my own name are the only words on our word wall.

Then, when I teach a word to the whole class, we add it to the word wall.

I print my words on cardstock from Michael's and laminate them using these laminating pouches*.

My words all have magnetic tape* on the backs, so they are easy to put on and pull off.

During our writing block, I model how to go and find the word on the wall, take it back to our spots, write it, and then return it. 

Sometimes I have to model it approximately 100 times before it sticks for everyone 😉 

Here is what our word wall looks like all set up:

Looking for step by step instructions for turning your white board into a word wall (mur de mots) in your French primary classroom? Check out this blog post!
My word wall words are from For French Immersion on TPT!


IF YOUR WHITEBOARD IS UP TOO HIGH...


This year, I moved classrooms. 

Before I moved rooms, I was told that the whiteboard could be moved down to a low enough level that my students would be able to reach it (it was a high school classroom previously).

Well, someone made a promise they couldn't keep because apparently, the whole wall will have to be demolished in order to move the whiteboard down, as the tracks are in the cement!

(which is probably not gonna happen anytime soon 😉)

I firmly believe that there is no problem that can't be solved, so I asked for a stage to be built instead. 


It still isn't ready, so for now, we are just using a step stool to help us reach our words, but it should be ready pretty soon.

Functioning, interactive word walls are SO VALUABLE and can make a huge difference for our students.


Even if you can't use your whole whiteboard as your word wall, or have someone build you a stage, do whatever you can to make sure that you aren't left with a dusty and forgotten word wall hiding in a corner somewhere, like mine was.

I would love to see what your word wall looks like, and how you are making it work in your classroom!

Snap a pic of your word wall and post it on Instagram. Don't forget to give me a tag (@mme.andrea). I am always looking for new ideas and ways to improve, and LOVE peeking inside of other teachers' classrooms! 

PS - Are you a member of my Free French Resource Library yet? There are TONS of valuable freebies in there for you to use in your French primary classroom. All you have to do to become a member is enter your name & email below and click the pink button. I will send you an email right away with the password to get into the library!
* Affiliate link



4 Tricks for Boosting Math Vocabulary... en français!

Bonjour!

As I am sure you've noticed (if you teach math en français), math is a special kind of challenge in the second language classroom.

In order for students to learn and understand the concepts that you are teaching, they need to have enough of a grasp of the language to know what you are talking about.

Adding lots of visuals while you are teaching helps, of course, but it isn't always enough.

It can be exhausting for our students to understand even basic instructions in their second language, leaving little energy left over to solve the actual problem you are asking, or follow the directions to a hands-on activity.

Students might also feel too overwhelmed or intimidated to participate actively in their second language, and/or to ask questions when something is unclear.

For these reasons, I think that it is really important to start focusing on math vocabulary and "math talk" en français, right from maternelle.

Even if la communication orale isn't something that we often think about in regards to math, I really believe that it has a very important place in our math blocks, and we should be working hard to incorporate it as much as possible!

In this blog post, I will share with you some of my favourite activities for teaching and practicing math vocabulary words both in isolation and in context, and my favourite trick to get my students speaking more often (en français!) during math time.

It is my hope that these tips will help you get your students speaking and understanding more math words than ever before!

It can be a special challenge to teach math in your students' second language. Read this blog post and learn 4 tricks that you can start using right away to get your students speaking and understanding more during your math block. Perfect for the French primary classroom!

Des devoirs en maternelle?

Bonjour!

I am popping in today to discuss *another* somewhat controversial topic. ;)

(If you missed it, I wrote a potentially controversial post this past summer about whether it is better to teach a letter a week or a letter a day in maternelle.)

I want to talk today about homework in the primary grades!

Throughout my teaching career. I have heard lots of different opinions on homework in maternelle, and I have also had the chance to form some of my own, which I will share with you in this blog post.

First of all, I want to discuss a little bit about whether or not I think homework is even necessary or appropriate, and if there is a place for it in maternelle.

Then, I will explain what it should/should not look like to be most effective, what exactly I send home, and what are our homework "routines" that help things run smoothly.

My hope is that by the end of this blog post, you will come away with some new thoughts and ideas around homework, and maybe some ways to help make the homework that you do send home (if you send any) more meaningful and relevant.


SHOULD YOU EVEN BE SENDING HOMEWORK?


First of all, I feel I should mention that I do believe there is a place for some homework, even in maternelle.

But, it's not very much!

Des idées pour enseigner les mots d'ancrage

Bonjour!

Do you teach anchor words to your students when you are teaching them the alphabet?

Anchor words are super important.

But, it can be a challenge to find fun, engaging, and effective ways to teach them.

In this blog post, I will share with you what exactly anchor words are, why they are important, give you some ideas to maximize the chances that your students will learn them, and share some of my favourite resources!

Do you teach your French maternelle students les mots d'ancrage (anchor words) when you are teaching them the alphabet? Check out this blog post to learn what anchor words are, why they are important, and some favourite ideas & resources for teaching them!

You may already know what anchor words are and why they are important, but just in case...

WHAT ARE ANCHOR WORDS?

An anchor word is basically a special, easy-to-remember word that you teach to your students to help them remember each letter sound.

Every letter should have its own anchor word, and every time you refer to that letter, you should use the same anchor word.

Consistency is REALLY important!

When you are always using the same anchor word for each letter, your students will be more likely to remember a word that begins with each letter.

Why is this helpful?

La MEILLEURE façon d'afficher les billets de fierté dans votre salle de classe

 Bonjour!

If you've been reading my blog for awhile now, you likely know that I LOVE brag tags.

(If you aren't sure exactly what brag tags are yet, check out this post or this post for more details! Or, scroll to the bottom of this post for info on how you can get a set of brag tags for FREE)

In my first post about brag tags a couple of years ago, I wrote about how I use the ball and chain necklaces from Amazon to display my tags.

But...

Since that year, I have not been able to find the right size necklaces on Amazon!!!

The only ones I have found are so tiny that they would pretty much have to be brag tag bracelets or rings.

So, the past two years, I have just been displaying my brag tags on a bulletin board using shower rings.

But, it's just not the same when my students can't get super excited about wearing their tags and showing them off.

This year, I found a solution that I like even BETTER than the ball & chain necklaces!

I actually plan to continue doing this for the rest of the forseeable future, even if Amazon ever gets the right size chains back in stock.

Read on to find out about my new favourite way to display our tags, and how you can do the exact same thing in your classroom!

I'll share exactly what you'll need to make an even BETTER kind of necklace, how to do it, and how I keep them organized.

Do you want to try brag tags in your French classroom, but aren't sure where to start, or how to display them? Check out this blog post for tips on how to get your students to make brag tag necklaces, and download a FREE set of French brag tags to try!


By making brag tag necklaces with your students, they will take even more pride in their tags and be even more excited for the days they can wear them.

Plus, they are inexpensive to make, and your students will get to do an awesome fine-motor activity the first week of school.

They also look AMAZING on a bulletin board!

5 façons de faciliter les cahiers interactifs

Bonjour!

I can't believe we are already into October. Crazy!

We have been working on our interactive alphabet notebooks since the first full week of school.

(If you aren't sure what I'm talking about, check out this blog post before you read any farther!)

As I'm sure you can imagine, interactive notebooks can be (in my opinion) more challenging in maternelle than in other grades.

Especially in September!

However, things have been going really smoothly so far this year, so I thought I would pop in and offer a few tips & suggestions that might help in your classroom, too.

It is my hope that, by reading this post, you will be better able to make the most out of your interactive notebooks, have the preparation go more smoothly/efficiently, and experience less mess overall!

Been wanting to give interactif notebooks (les cahiers interactifs) a go in your French primary classroom, but not sure where to begin? Check out this blog post for 5 ways to make it easier! After reading, you will be better able to make the most out of your interactive notebooks, have the preparation go more smoothly/efficiently, and experience less mess!

Here are my best interactive notebook tips for maternelle:

6 Ways To Use Math Journals In Your French Primary Classroom

Bonjour!

If you have been kicking around my blog for awhile, you know that I am a BIG fan of using math journals for spiral review.

If you are brand new to the party, you can read more about why math journals are so great and how I fit them into my math block here and here.

I use math journals in two ways - as a spiral review activity during our whole group math block, and as "exit tickets" to cap off our small group math lessons.

But, there are LOTS of other ways that you can use math journals, too!

Here are six of my favourite ways to incorporate math journals into your daily routine:

Looking for ways to add math journals to your daily routine in your French primary class, but don't have a lot of extra time? Check out this blog post for six ways you can add math journals to your day, en français!


Préparer plus de « Brag Tags » en moins de temps

Bonjour!

Do you use brag tags in your classroom?

I do!

I love how I can use them to reward and reinforce sooo many amazing things my students do, from being great friends, to speaking French, to showing integrity, and persevering.

(If you aren't sure exactly what brag tags are, check out this blog post before continuing on with this one!)

Brag tags are hands down my FAVOURITE classroom management strategy so far.

Buuuuuut, they have one major drawback.

They take a lot of prep and can be pretty expensive to make!

In my experience, a lot of teachers want to try brag tags, but feel discouraged by all of the printing and laminating that is involved.

I print and prep mine over the summer, so that I am ready for the whole school year, but it can still be a pretty daunting task!

Today, I will be sharing a few tips with you that will hopefully make your brag tag prep quicker, easier, and more cost-effective.

Do you want to try brag tags in your French classroom, but are feeling overwhelmed by the cost and the prep time? Check out this blog post for tips on how to minimize the cost and preparation, and download a FREE set of French brag tags to try!


TIP #1: INSTANT INK

One Simple Routine that will make a BIG Difference During your Math Block

Bonjour!


Well, la rentrée has passed, and we are getting settled into our new routines.


One thing that we started this past week is our math journal routine!


I have written about math journals before, in this blog post, where I explain the top five reasons why I think every French primary teacher should give them a go.


A few years ago, I would struggle with my students remembering what I had taught in previous math units. I would spend so much time creating fun, hands-on lessons, and my students would do really well and seem to have mastered whichever concept I was teaching at the time.


But then, time would pass, and a few months later, it was as if I had never taught them about that topic at all!


My students weren't retaining everything I was teaching them, because they were no longer using the information.


Our brains are wired for this - they will drop information that it deems "unimportant", in order to make room for new information.


Which can often be great and super helpful (there is really no need to remember what you ate for breakfast three weeks ago!). However, it's not helpful at ALL when we want our students to remember things like how to correctly identify and continue patterns, or name 3D shapes!


I like solving problems, so I did a bit of research, and discovered something called "spiral review" -which is basically a fancy term for reviewing what you have previously taught over and over, all throughout the year.


Math journals are an AMAZING tool for spiral review! You can read all the reasons why I think they are so great in my previous post.


But today, I want to focus on something that was key for me - they are QUICK!


I needed to build spiral review into my existing math block in a way that was simple, efficient, and effective. And our math journal routine is the perfect way for me to do it!


Even this past week (our first week of math journals), we got all the way through our routine in 10 minutes or less each day. We haven't really learned much yet, so we weren't actually doing a lot of reviewing, BUT we were setting ourselves up for future spiral review success :)


I wanted to take a few minutes to share our math journal routine with you, step by step, in case you are looking for a quick and effective way to add some spiral review to your day.



7 ressources GRATUITES pour l'automne

Bonjour!

I don't know about you, but I have spent a bit more money than I wanted to on my classroom this back-to-school season. It's so hard to resist all of the cute stuff and quality resources!

I figured that now would be a great time to share some FREE resources with you, to help get you through until that credit card is all paid off ;)

Here are five of my favourite fall-themed French freebies!

Looking for some French freebies for fall in maternelle? Check out this blog post! Includes links to FREE math and literacy activities en français

Quick & Easy Bathroom "Passes"

Hi guys!

As you may have seen on Instagram this week, I have been hard at work setting up my classroom. Things are finally starting to come together, and I am feeling like I will be pretty much ready for la rentrée by Wednesday, when my new kiddos will arrive!

I have been sharing pieces of my prep in my Instagram stories. I have gotten a lot of questions and comments about my new bathroom "passes", so I thought I would share them with you guys today.

I found this idea on Pinterest when I was looking for bathroom pass ideas. I don't like giving real passes that my students have to take with them into the bathroom (ew haha), and they are not required at my school.

Also, we are most often not working at our desks, so I don't find that the kind of pass where your students leave something at their desks to show that they are gone works well for us, either.

The general rule of thumb is that one student can go to the boys' bathroom and one to the girls' bathroom at a time (to reduce the potential for "bathroom play time" haha).

Most of the time, my students have to ask permission to go, so that I can make sure that someone isn't already out of the room. But sometimes, like when I am working with a small group, I just don't want to be interrupted for bathroom requests every 10 seconds!

In the past, I just added a picture of a toilet to our centre board (yes, true story haha - don't judge me), and students would move their picture to the toilet picture while they were gone and replace it when they got back. It worked okay, except that often students would forget to replace their picture, so other students would be waiting a long time for no real reason.

During my Pinterest research, I found a much more fun way to have my students let me know they are at the washroom - push lights!!

I bought two push lights from Amazon (affiliate link - the white ones I got are discontinued, but these black ones seem to be the same!) and drew one of each washroom symbol on them using a regular black Sharpie marker.

I hung them up by the door using hook and loop fasteners (aka Velcro) (I bought the strips from Amazon, too - affiliate link).

A quick, easy, and fun way to make "bathroom passes" for your students! Instead of giving them something to take with them (and most likely forget in the bathroom!), have them flick on a light on their way out and turn it off when they return. You and the other students will easily know when someone is at the washroom!
Ignore the words - I forgot to save the picture before I wrote my Instastory explanation!


When my students need the washroom, they will just click on the light with the symbol that matches the washroom they will be using. When they come back, they will turn it off.

I think that turning the light on and off will be fun/cool/exciting enough that they will be pretty likely to remember to actually do it!

Now I am just hoping they will also remember to wash their hands before they come back ;)

Bonne rentrée!

A quick, easy, and fun way to make "bathroom passes" for your students! Instead of giving them something to take with them (and most likely forget in the bathroom!), have them flick on a light on their way out and turn it off when they return. You and the other students will easily know when someone is at the washroom!


Affiliate links for products I used to make the bathroom passes:

- Push lights

- Velcro strips (I use these for hanging up my visual schedule, too!)

- Black sharpie

How to Help Your Maternelle Students Learn Their Letters

Bonjour!

La rentrée is almost here, and teachers have been thinking about how to get started on the right foot. I have been getting tons of questions about what exactly I do with my students throughout the day to teach them the alphabet in the beginning of the year.

If you read my post a couple weeks ago, you know that I teach my students one letter per day, NOT one letter per week. This doesn't leave much time to do a massive variety of activities for each letter, so our first 8 weeks of school are pretty much an alphabet bootcamp!

In the beginning of the year, it is SO IMPORTANT to teach routines and procedures. You may want to jump in with outcomes right away, but let me tell you - in maternelle, that can be a HUGE waste of time.

You might think that not teaching right away would be the waste of time... but when you have to reteach everything a month later because no one knew what was going on, you will probably realize that investing the time to run a tight ship in the beginning of the year is mega worth it.

That being said, you still have to do something with your students while you teach all of those important routines and procedures. I am absolutely not saying that you should just spend your days letting your students do whatever they please and hang from the ceilings :)

I personally use the alphabet to help me do this. Yes, learning letter names and sounds is an outcome, but, my students have the whole year to learn their letters, so I give it to them. I assess throughout the year and will let parents know once their child knows them all, but I still give them the whole year to learn their ABCs.

That means that it's no big deal if my students don't grasp their letters this first time around. I use alphabet activities to introduce them to letters, yes... but more so, at this point of the year, I am teaching them how to cut, glue, hold a pencil, colour in the lines, clean up, work together, listen and participate at the carpet, work independently, do their best work, make mistakes, and stay on task. If they also learn their letters, awesome! But if not, it's no biggie. I will work with them all throughout the year, as a class, in small groups, and one on one.

But by using the alphabet to teach my students all those other important skills in the first 8ish weeks of school, my students are then really ready to dive into the rest of the curriculum during the rest of the year.

MORE of my favourite mainstream French music to play in the classroom

Bonjour!

If you have been following my blog for awhile, you may have already read my previous post about playing mainstream music in the classroom. If you have, you may want to skip this little intro and scroll right to the videos! :)

Mainstream French music is great to play during class time in primary immersion or francophone classrooms in minority communities. Expose your students to authentic French culture and get them excited about French celebrities and music with these 10 great songs!

If not, I just want to start my post by explaining why I think it's so important to play mainstream French music in your immersion and/or French first language classroom.

It is of course also important to play French nursery rhymes and children's songs if you teach in the primary grades, but I do truly feel that mainstream French music is an incredible way to expose your students to some French culture and help them feel proud that they speak French.

As you probably already know, I teach kindergarten at a francophone school in a minority community in rural Nova Scotia. French is rarely spoken in our community, and (despite all of our encouragement to speak and live in French at home), many students only experience French at school and during school activities.

Une lettre par jour... ou une lettre par semaine?

Bonjour!

I am here today to discuss kind of a controversial topic! I get asked all the time how I teach the alphabet to my students, so I thought that I would share with you my number one alphabet teaching tip today.

But...

It is not something that everyone agrees with, and many maternelle teachers do it differently.

And that's okay! This blog is all about me sharing what works for me in my classroom - I absolutely do not think that I am an expert about what works for anybody else. I once heard a teacher blogger say to think about her like Walmart (or Target, if you're lucky enough to have one of those nearby), and you can think about me the same way.

Stop by, browse around, and pick up one or two things to take with you on your way.

You don't have to try evvvvvverything that I suggest, or ever feel badly if you do things in a different way.

I don't judge other teachers - we are all just doing our best!

And this blog post is all about what I have found works best for me and my students when teaching the alphabet!

4 tips for trying directed drawing in maternelle

Bonjour!

If you were here last week, when I wrote about 5 reasons you should try directed drawing this year, then you will remember that this week, I will be offering you some tips to help make sure directed drawing runs smoothly for you.

We all know that maternelle can be hectic! Directed drawing is an amazing activity if it is done well, but it doesn't always give the best results if it isn't modelled correctly first. I have been doing directed drawing for years, so I figured sharing some of my best tips wouldn't hurt!


Directed drawing is an excellent activity to try in your French primary class, but (as with anything in maternelle), it has the potential to go downhill fast if you don't start off on the right foot. Here are 4 tips to read before you start dessin dirigé in  your French immersion or francophone classroom!


1. DO IT WHOLE GROUP FIRST

Model, model, model!

I have a lot of people tell me that they use directed drawing in centres. I do think that could work, but I am going to offer you a different idea to try first.

We might think that directed drawing is easy and obvious (I mean, the instructions are right there at the top of the page!), but what is evident and easy for us is not evident and easy for someone who has never been taught.

5 raisons pour lesquelles vous devrez essayer le dessin dirigé en maternelle

Bonjour! Today I am popping in to talk about one of my FAVOURITE activities to get started with right away in maternelle - directed drawing!

I start with directed drawing pretty much from the first full week of maternelle. I LOVE routine (and so do my students!), and this is one of the first academic activities I start building into our day each year.

I have another blog post coming next week with my best tips for directed drawing, but I wanted to take some time to first go over why I think you should give it a try in your classroom. There are many benefits that come from directed drawing - it is not "fluff" or a filler activity.

Here are my top five reasons why you should give directed drawing a go in your French primary classroom:

Have you tried directed drawing in your French kindergarten or first grade class yet? Directed drawing is fun and teaches your students a lot of drawing skills AND life skills. Here are five reasons why you should give directed drawing a go this year!


1. IT BUILDS CONFIDENCE

Every single year that I do directed drawing, my students are AMAZED at what they can create when they try thoughtful, multi-step drawings. Almost every student ends up being much better at drawing than they thought, simply because no one has ever showed them how to take their time, think about each part of what they want to draw, and add details. I get so excited to show my students what they are capable of!

2. IT HELPS ANCHOR LETTER SOUNDS TO LETTERS

I build directed drawing into our alphabet routine. I use these directed drawing sheets, where we draw one thing for each letter. What we draw is also the exact same anchor word that we have on our alphabet posters. Consistency is key to help your students anchor letter sounds to letters!

Also, we all know that students learn in different ways - drawing something that begins with the target letter of the day or week may help some of your students really remember their letter names and sounds.

Here is an example of the alphabet sheets we do:

The best-kept classroom décor secret

Bonjour! Today, I am here to share with you what I believe to be the best-kept classroom decor secret in elementary.

So, we all have posters and référentiels on display in our classrooms, right? We use them for evvvvverything in maternelle - colours, letters, numbers, sight words, routines and procedures, vocabulary, reading strategies, writing strategies, etc. etc!

In just about every classroom, you can find store-bought posters, teacher-made posters, and student-made posters (yes - I believe there is a place for all three types).

We know that posters and référentiels are valuable - essential, even!

BUT... we all have one little problem (or, at least we all do at my school).

Lack. Of. Space!!!

How many of you have strict fire marshals who don't allow more than 20% of the walls to be covered (and 20% of the walls are pretty much already covered by bulletin boards, white boards, and coat hooks)?

I do!

Plus, I love using my big white board as a word wall. So, I am always scrambling for space to display my référentiels and the posters that we create together.

Today, I am going to share with you one little change I have made in my classroom that has resulted in a few extra inches of space all around (and those inches do make a difference!).

Drum roll please...

10 ressources GRATUITES pour la rentrée

Back to school is sneaking up on us - EEK!

I can't believe that two weeks of summer have already flown by. I personally still think it's too early for you to start getting ready, but I did want to put a little list together for you of five of my favourite French back to school freebies, so that it's ready for you when you are ;)

Looking for FREE back to school resources in French? Check out this blog post and find 10 ressources gratuites pour la rentrée! Parfait pour la maternelle ou la première année.


All of these resources can be found on TPT (except one), and all of the ones that I made are in my Free French Resource Library (which is a special place for my newsletter subscribers - if you want to get on the list, just enter your info and click that pink button below!):

1. FOCUS WALL HEADERS

I made these focus wall headers as a special request for one of my favourite customers, and I love how they turned out! They are chalkboard-themed and look very nice up on the wall. A focus wall is a great way for you to display what you are working on each week.

FREE French Daily Focus Wall labels - Chalkboard

If you need more labels to match, I also made a set of editable labels in the same theme. They are not free, but they are in my TPT store if you need them! :)

Click here to see them in my store.

2. FRENCH ART EASEL ROUTINE - Mme Émilie

I will definitely be using this freebie this year! Displaying posters of the art routine is very helpful for keeping your students on track, and will help them develop independence.

3. MONTHS OF THE YEAR FREEBIE - Mme Émilie

I love this freebie from Mme Émilie! I hang the months on my wall as our birthday chart every year. I get my students to each colour a cupcake and we display them under our birthday months.

4. EDITABLE CLASS LIST TEMPLATE

This class list template is EDITABLE, so you can type in your name, the year, and your students' names! You will just need to open it in PowerPoint or Keynote.

FREE Editable student checklist template

5 & 6. FRENCH DESK TAGS (x2!)

Les coccinelles - If you are limited on space and are looking for a simple design, I made these ladybug-themed desk plates a few years ago. They have a space for your students' names and feature the alphabet and numbers 1-20. They also come in two sizes.

Signets/affichettes de nom - thème coccinelle

If you have more space available or are looking for more content on your desk plates, check out these ones by For French Immersion!

7. FRENCH STUDENT BIRTHDAY GIFT

(This freebie is EXCLUSIVE to my newsletter subscribers. You can find it in the Free Resource Library in the "Holidays" section)

Read all about how to use these glow necklace gift tags in this blog post!

Looking for FREE back to school resources in French? Check out this blog post and find 10 ressources gratuites pour la rentrée! Parfait pour la maternelle ou la première année.


8. FRENCH BACK TO SCHOOL CROWN - La classe de Madame Angel

I always do crowns on the first day! I put them out on the tables and my students start colouring as they arrive. It helps our day to start nice and smoothly, as everyone knows how to get started right away!

9. FRENCH BACK TO SCHOOL BOOKMARKS - French Buzz

These bookmarks would make such a cute first day of school gift! There are book marks for a wide variety of grades.

10. MINI COLOUR POSTERS

These are a brand new freebie that I just added to my store and to the library. I LOVE using square posters because they save so much space! The free set is mini-sized, so you can use them for all kinds of things.

Les couleurs - MINI affiches (FRENCH Mini Colour Posters)

Again, if you need the full-sized set (there are also more spelling/masculin/féminin options in the full set), just click here to see it in my TPT store.


BONUS - Just in case you didn't find everything you need, or if you don't teach maternelle and some of these aren't as relevant to you, you can still download the FREE Back to School French E-Book that 15 different French Teacher-Authors put together just for French teachers in 2016!

Looking for FREE back to school resources in French? Check out this blog post and find 10 ressources gratuites pour la rentrée! Parfait pour la maternelle ou la première année.