J’aime les glaces

A unit of work, perfect for summer

With the weather warming up, and the second half of the summer term just around the corner, I’m really looking forward to delivering this brand-new sequence of lessons, which I added to my French scheme for Year 4 when I did some curriculum refreshing last academic year. This is the result of a collaborative planning effort with the wonderful Angela Smith, an incredible specialist French teacher with many years of experience, working at Stafford Leys Primary School in Leicester. Over some joint PPA sessions, we planned this unit of work, which teaches the children a range of ice cream flavours; gives opportunities for food tasting (always a winner); teaches vocabulary for expressing opinions; and ends with some minibook writing. Although all the resources provided here are in French, this could easily be adapted for Spanish too.

Food tasting is always a hit with children in the classroom (and any adults that might be in there too).
Photo by Calebe Miranda on Pexels.com

Starting from a basis of phonics, using Sue Cave’sPhysical French Phonics‘, the children learn the names of various ice cream flavours and use their understanding of cognates to pick out words which they recognise. To embed the new vocabulary, children could play a range of whole-class listening games, such as loto en ligne or paired speaking games like le jeu du mémory or morpion, all of which involve lots of repetition, to perfect their understanding and pronunciation of the new vocabulary. Games, such as Qu’est-ce qu’il manque (Kim’s Game), where I show a set of vocabulary on one slide and switch to the next, removing a chunk which the children then have to say aloud or write down on mini whiteboards, is another favourite.

This is also an excellent time to discuss why some flavours start with à la where others start with au. My Year 4 classes have been learning about masculine and feminine nouns since Year 3, so this is a great opportunity to revisit and use it in a slightly different context. I find Word Wall a really handy tool for creating sorting activities like this one, which work well as starters and keep the grammatical terminology fresh in the children’s minds.

After learning the different ice cream flavours, children move on to learning opinions and exploring positive and negative sentences. I find flashcards, signing and lots of discussion about the position of the apostrophes within the phrases is really helpful at this point. Then, it’s time to try the different flavours of ice cream that we’ve spent the last few weeks talking about. I will be doing this as a simple taste-test with the children recording their opinions using this tick sheet, but you might want to be more adventurous and run it as an ice-cream parlour role-play session with the children ordering different flavours of ice cream (and toppings, if you want to take it one step further) from waiters in French.

I finish every unit of work with some sort of extended writing opportunity, but before we do that there is lots of work to do getting children confident in expressing their ideas verbally. Games like La trappe (Trapdoor) work really well for getting children creating, and extending, their sentences and the element of competition involved in trying to guess your partner’s sentence is a big motivator for many learners. There is a great explanation of the rules of the game here, on Clare Seccombe’s Changing Phase Blogspot. This Trapdoor grid includes all the key vocabulary learned so far in the unit and encourages children to begin to extend their sentences with conjunctions too. Games such as La bataille navale (Battleships) are also perfect for repetition of the key vocabulary in a variety of different ways.

This Trapdoor grid starts life as a speaking frame but could also be used as a writing frame for less confident writers.

After spending so much time on speaking, listening and reading activities, I try to make moving on to writing in French as unintimidating as possible. Often, I use minibooks for this. Clare Seccombe has an incredible number of ideas for these on her blog but this idea I saw on Pintrest and used as inspiration for creating my own template. I like how every scoop of ice cream – each with a sentence written on it – can be built on top of another to create a sort of lift-the-flap book and I think they would look really nice as part of a wall display. You might, however, not want to have everyone in the class doing one as it does involve rather a lot of paper. A simple outline of an ice cream cone, cut out, written on and coloured in would look great too.

To wrap up this sequence of lessons, there is also a lovely (if rather tiny) Barbapapa book, which explores the theme of ice cream and would make a great read-aloud to end the unit, adding a cultural dimension to the lessons too.

Bon appétit !

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