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!



This year, I invested a lot of time and brain power and wrote a poem for each letter of the alphabet.

I typed them up, cut them out, laminated them, and popped a new one into my pocket chart each day throughout September and October.

(I got started the first full week of school.)

I made mini books to match for them to practice at home, and it turns out, I LOVE starting pocket chart poetry in September, and so do my students!

What our pocket chart poetry routine looked like:



As I said above, I wrote a simple, 4-line rhyming poem for each letter of the alphabet.

Each poem contains a variety of vocabulary words that begin with the target letter.

Some of the vocabulary words are easy and my students are already familiar with, but some are trickier. This ensures ALL of my students are learning some new words!

I chose to put each new vocabulary word in print AND a picture of the word, but you could choose to put only the picture, like this:

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!



In my class, we learn a letter a day.

>>> You can learn more about that right HERE.

So, each morning, I slid our new poem into the pocket chart. This was SO EASY because I had each poem already printed and laminated (I prepped them over the summer).

I didn't have to take the time to handwrite them all on chart paper.

I don't have a document camera or a smart board or anything like that.

Plus, I loved being able to leave the poem up all day long for us to revisit.

When I write it on chart paper, I am constantly flipping back and forth between pages... and it drives me crazy!





My students were so easily able to see all kinds of text features, from the beginning of the year.

We talked about how we need spaces between each word, and my students could easily see what I was talking about, because each word is printed out in isolation.

I have a bâton magique that we used while reciting each poem, so my students could notice 1:1 correspondence and directionality.

Seeing them figure out they needed to move the bâton from left to right and where they had to go as they reached the end of each line was so neat!

We could also look at punctuation, we practiced reciting with fluency, and some students even began to notice sight words that showed up in most of the poems.


We read and re-read the poem over and over, using my bâton magique for 1:1 and directionality practice.

When I said we read it over and over, I mean it!

We read it normally, read it like a rock star, read it like a witch, read it like a ghost, read it like our principal (he has a really deep voice!), like a mouse, like the music teacher, and more.

Obviously, my students were reciting what they had memorized rather than "reading" each word, but memorization is an important beginning reading strategy.

Plus, my students who didn't know any French at the beginning of the year were learning and practicing lots of new words and sentence structures.

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!



Each student would colour in their mini-book version of the poem to take home and read with their parents.

I made sure to practice the poem enough times during the day that all of my students could feel successful "reading" at home.

Remember, memorization is an important first strategy when learning to read!

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 and mini books!


My classroom parents LOVED these little books, and I saw a huge improvement in my students' letter/sound knowledge, early in the year.

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 and mini books!



We did other activities with the target letter throughout the day and filled up our alphabet interactive notebooks.

>>> You can read more about the kinds of activities we did right HERE.

You can also check out the interactive notebook activities we do via this FREE sample for the letter Aa. Enter your info below and I'll email it right to you!


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    By jumping into our alphabet routine right away, my students were able to pick up on some important concepts early on in the year.

    Not only were they learning about listening at the tapis, colouring in the lines, choosing a productive place to work, etc., my students were also being introduced to letters and sounds, 1:1, directionality, and a variety of text features.

    They were able to get started with their at-home reading routine from the beginning of the year, and parents loved seeing their kiddos "read" and bought into the whole idea of reading at home.

    Don't teach maternelle, or it's not September when you found this blog post?


    Pocket chart poetry is great for students who are already reading as well - either later in maternelle, or in grade one.

    By printing out and placing each word in your pocket chart, students can "play" with the words - putting them in and out of order and reading/re-reading what they create.

    They will also be able to use capitalization and punctuation clues to help them put each line of the poem back in the correct order.

    The best thing about pocket charts is how easily students can manipulate what's in them!

    Want to get started with pocket chart poetry in your classroom?


    I've gotten so many positive comments from other teachers about these poems!

    I am so happy to hear they are working well and making a difference in other classrooms, too.

    >>> If you want to give them a go, you can find my poems RIGHT HERE on TPT.

    If you need a pocket chart, here is an affiliate link for the one I use.

    I love that it's black, and the holes have lasted longer than any other pocket chart I have previously owned.

    We all know September and October are crazy in maternelle, so anything you can slide into your routine that will help your kiddos get started with learning skills besides how to put their cap back on their glue is a win in my books.

    Plus, you can feel confident knowing your students are starting to learn some important academic skills, while also learning your routine and expectations.

    Pocket chart poetry was definitely a game changer for me this year!

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