Linda Owen, Primary Languages Advisory Teacher & International Education Officer at Gloucestershire LA has generously shared this work from her Ants in Your Pants workshop at the Primary Languages Show.
It is a spiralling scheme of work, where the topic of ‘mini-beasts’ is revisited repeatedly from Reception to Year 6, each time progressing in both language skills & cross-curricular content, keeping age-appropriate and fun.
Foundation stage: We begin with cartoon-style flashcards, actions, and lots of little songs to introduce une Araignée (spider), une Coccinelle
(ladybird), un Escargot
(snail), un Fourmi (ant), un Ver (worm), un Papillon (butterfly), un Scarabée (beetle). Try the La Maternelle
website for some great cutting & making activities and display ideas, including the links above. Make up little mimes and play charades. Linda refers to songs from La Jolie Ronde but if you were teaching in Spanish you could try songs like ‘Dos Elefantes’
(because they are on spider’s web!). Play ‘rapido’ by dividing the class into groups and giving them a tub of play-do each. One child from each group comes to the teacher who gives them one of the words to go and model for their group to guess (no calling out now – or the other groups will hear your guess and cheat!) At this level you are concentrating on hearing/saying the noun and possibly some simple counting in French.
KS1: children should now recognise the key vocabulary, but jog their memory with a flashcard routine and play bingo, snap and memory games, possibly adding some new words; une abeille (a bee). Ask the children to sort the words according to gender. Pass around a bag of insect toys and another of coloured multi-cubes. Stop music and children take out a mini-beast and a colour. Class say it in French ‘un escargot bleu’. You decide if your children are ready for gender agreement of colour yet and if not use ones that sound the same when said aloud. Try playing Early Start’s
Snail game. Consider the position of the colour adjective. Introduce prepositions (sur, sous, devant, derrière) and attach a mini-beast to a flower
. Consider adding the words for petal and leaf. Hide the mini-beast and ask the class where it is? Then relax watch and enjoy this beautiful YouTube clip
Lower KS2: Maybe it’s time the flashcards became more sophisticated so perhaps move away from cartoon to photos. This is an opportunity to introduce some observational art too. Watch this beautiful film of the birth of a butterfly from YouTube
. Use the same vocabulary but start to move towards sentence level work. Perhaps opinions: J’aime les araignées. Je n’aime pas les escargots. Extend work by adding some connectives; ‘mais’, ‘et’. Done parts of the body? Play ‘beetle’ or try the nature jeudeloie boardgame from La Maternelle (see link to resources below). Start to make more explicit cross-curricular links by introducing ‘habiter’ in the theme of habitat (see the ppt) Qui habite ici? Design an experiment with the children to see if a minibeast ‘aime habiter’ ‘sous/sur/derrière’ a rock (for example). Perhaps you have already introduced the weather and can reinforce this as you look at climate and animal habitats (see ppt example). Make a Literacy link by creating non-fiction mini-books about your mini-beasts, (or ICT using PowerPoint) or maybe read stories such as ‘La Chenille qui fait des trous’.
Upper KS2: Now it’s time to start stringing those sentences together for real purpose. Linda has given us a fantastic differentiated food-chain hand-out for children to start creating sentences and then order them to create a scientific food-chain, which even addresses the passive voice (see links at bottom). Use the same simple sentence construction to follow the ‘key’ to identify and classify the mini-beasts. Can your class create one together or even divide into groups and make their own? Ever tried stop-motion animation? It really is very easy – be inspired by this example from class CM2 at l'école Emile Gallé d'Heillecourt
. Or maybe take your gifted & talented a step further and get them to script and film their own French-version of a David Attenburgh style mini-beast program, re-using those ‘aime’ and ‘habite’ sentences.
I hope to create some Smart notebook files to attach as well as to Linda’s original flashcards, keys, food-chains etc. so click this link to access the files
. Once I’d heard Linda’s presentation it set me off on a whole load of ideas and I’m sure it will inspire you too, so do please feel free to add them.