I wish I could say that all of my leçons begin with a theme – after all, it makes the material so much easier for students to remember (and so much more fun)! But, there are some grammatical points that you just can’t pair up with a theme (that’s why I use songs and games!). I suppose for this reason, I overcompensate when a theme pops up…I totally endorse jumping all over EVERY U.S. (and any English speaking country) “HOLIDAY” when appropriate.
Last month was Valentine’s Day. So, what did we do during English time? We learned that Valentine’s Day is not only for lovers but also a day to say, “Thank you for being my friend.” A concept that every single French student laughed at (I had to calm about 200 laughing children within a matter of 3 days…I deserve a bonus 😉 ). Their laughter turned into happy faces when it came time to make Valentine’s Day cards. After all, who doesn’t like coloring?
This year, I discovered that Valentine’s Day leçons are a great way to: 1. Introduce or review colors (if already covered). 2. Introduce or review numbers. 3. Introduce or review “what’s your name?” My leçons focused on reviewing the colors, which was needed for some of my classes (FYI the French have a hard time with Green and Gray – no matter how many times we work with pronouncing, understanding, seeing, and feeling the differences). I paired the color review with numbers. In some classes, numbers were review; in other classes numbers were a new topic. Due to the lack of time I have with the students, I printed out already made Valentine’s Day cards. I made a key using numbers and colors. After reviewing the directions as well as the colors and numbers, the students got to work on coloring their cards. Who knew that students would need 2 class periods to finish coloring 8 cards? Once the cards were finished, students walked around asking for each others’ names and how they’re spelled. The next step was filling in the “To” & the “From” & then passing them out to each other. It felt just like a U.S. elementary school as the students walked around saying, “Happy Valentine’s Day! Thank you for being my friend!”
Now that Winter break is coming to an end, I’m stuck with the burden of making St. Patrick’s Day top Valentine’s Day. Somehow, I think the idea of the “Pot o’ gold” will interest students more than coloring. This holiday might be trickier as I explain the differences in how it’s celebrated (or not celebrated) among the English speaking countries, but it’ll be fun!
Holidays to touch on at the primary level during TAPIF (as TAPIF starts in October) include (this is by no means a definitive list; it’s a list that I’ve been able to follow given the time):
- Halloween (great to pair with leçons on the seasons, colors, animals, and disguises)
- Thanksgiving (great to pair with leçons on food, drink, and animals)
- Christmas/St. Nicolas (great to pair with leçons on colors, numbers, seasons, weather, time, religious and mythical differences/similarities between France and the U.S., and food and drink)
- New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day (great to pair with leçons on time and seasons)
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day (great to pair with leçons on history, important people, colors, and numbers)
- Valentine’s Day/St. Valentine’s Day (great to pair with leçons on colors, numbers, and ‘what’s your name?’)
- Birthday (great to pair with leçons on numbers and age)
- St. Patrick’s Day (great to pair with leçons on food and drink, colors, numbers, counting money, seasons, time, weather, and religious differences/similarities between English speaking countries and France)
- Easter (great to pair with leçons on animals, colors, food, and religious/mythical differences between France and the US)
- May Day (a dying tradition in the U.S., but great to pair with leçons on shapes, colors, numbers, and tradition)
- Independence Day (will have to be taught near the end of April, but every student should know about it. It’s great to pair with leçons on colors, time, dates in history, numbers, and food and drink)
This list comes with what I’ve already done with my various elementary English levels, what we will do (with the coming holidays), and what I see that we could’ve done (but haven’t yet). The “could’ve” will be more beneficial as I renew my contract for next year. It would be nice to add other holidays from English speaking countries other than the U.S., but with the amount of time I have per class plus the material that needs to be covered, there’s just not enough time to include topics I’m no expert about. It’s quite interesting trying to pair famous traditional holidays with topics that are required to cover at the primary level. What I wouldn’t give to teach in a high school, where I imagine most holiday and tradition leçons focus more on discussion and debate. But, I love my primary students as they make teaching so much fun…I wouldn’t change it for the world! Especially when they give me cute little drawings of n’importe quoi (aka things I can’t make out) and are excited to see me. Oh, and when they talk in English…IT’S SO CUTE! ♦