Monday 19 January 2015

Family topic and the 'Alien family'

My year 4 classes have a focus on family this half term.

Talking about family can be a sensitive topic so Janet has come up with the ‘Alien family’ and Ana - our in house illustrator :-) has designed some friendly looking aliens: dad, mum, the brother, the sister and the baby. Children LOVE them!

Janet has already blogged about this last week (here and here) as she’s been observing and saw the topic in action.

Here is how I’ve started this unit.
  •  Meet the aliens

Show the pictures of the aliens as flashcards, let the children discover them and anticipate who they are in the family: the dad? brother?

Repeat a second time and ask ‘ il y a combien de personnes dans la famille?’ Count the characters. Ask a child to tell you what this means?

Then introduce the nouns as you would do in any topic. After each one ask a few children ‘Qui est-ce? (make it pacey)
  •    Unpack’ the nouns:

With Janet we have been discussing how to best introduce grammar to our pupils, (especially gender) and also the need to make links with previously learnt vocabulary. We need to guide children about using their knowledge of sounds in colours and numbers (for ex.) to help them work out how to pronounce new, unfamiliar nouns. I’m calling this step ‘unpacking’ the nouns.

What does this mean? What do I do?:
1)After introducing the new vocabulary with flashcards write the nouns on the board with an article (definite or indefinite). I strongly believe children should see the written word early on as some children need to see the word to pronounce accurately.

2)Take each noun and ask children if they can think about a number or a colour that has the same letter string – you might need to identify the letter string to start with.  Ex: maman > an : blanc or orange.

3)Draw children’s attention to the article and mention feminine & masculine (NOT male/female or boy/girl) Tell them that’s all they need to know for now, let them get used to the idea of 2 words for ‘a’ and concept of gender.
  •  Let’s put our alien voice on!

That’s where the fun begin! I've used an app called Voice Plus on my Ipad -available on the App store. (I'll tell you more about this app soon!)

Here is an example of the children practising family members vocabulary as aliens!

  •  Introduce the phrase for ‘I am’ (Je suis)

Give out small cards with an (alien) character on it and ask children to tell you who they are ‘Je suis le papa’, do lots of practice, then ask the children to find the rest of their family by walking around the classroom and whispering ‘je suis le papa’ et toi? Once they found someone for their family then must together go and find the rest of the family until they are a family. At the end ask the children to introduce their family : je suis le papa, et toi? and so on.

A very effective lesson…well at least my pupils really enjoyed it!

I think for a 30 minutes lesson we’ve covered quite a few skills (listening, speaking, reading, grammar) and it does demonstrate progression (at beginner level).