Lesson Plans: Grades K-2

French and Family

Created October 1, 2010

Tools

The Lesson

Introduction

French and Family

Flags of French-speaking areas: France, Quebec, Congo

Young children are fascinated, though sometimes a bit frightened, by cultures different from their own. They are also at a stage of development when it's exciting and relatively easy to acquire new vocabulary. This unit on French language and culture takes full advantage of these points; and its focus on the family — a subject to which all students can relate — keeps the lessons simple and age-appropriate. Students will learn about French families and gain a preliminary knowledge of the French language, learning the French names for various family members.

Guiding Questions

  • Where is France? Where else is the French language spoken?
  • How are French and American families alike and different?
  • What French words can we learn that look and sound almost the same as our English words?

Learning Objectives

  • Identify at least one country where the French language is spoken.
  • Describe similarities and differences between French and American families.
  • Speak the French words for some family members.

Preparation Instructions

  • Review each activity in this unit. Select any materials from the Web you'd like to use in class, and bookmark them. Download and print out these materials, if desired, and duplicate copies as necessary for student viewing.
  • These activiies are designed to be developmentally appropriate to the social studies curricula for grades K-2, which recommends that young children learn first about home, school and community — that is, their most immediate environment. However, you are the best judge of your students' skill level. You may decide that only one or two of the lessons fit in with your class curriculum. For this reason, each lesson has been written as a stand-alone activity.
  • Display a world map in the classroom for use in Activity 1. If you are unable to obtain one, you can locate and print out world maps for distribution to students using the Map Machine available on the EDSITEment-reviewed website National Geographic Society Xpeditions.
  • In Activity 3, remember to be sensitive to non-traditional family units. It is recommended as you begin the activity that you ask the students to brainstorm different family relationships. Whenever possible, try to stick with the primary relations (mother, father, sister, brother), and avoid using terms outside the students' perspective, such as father-in-law, niece, grandchild, etc.
  • Activity 3 is best used by a teacher who has successfully completed two years of high school conversational French or one year of college-level conversational French. The following vocabulary list includes French words for most principal family members and their English translations. The pronunciations provided are intended to be used as a guide only. The French language employs some phonetic sounds not used in English. If you are unfamiliar with the language, it is recommended that you consult a French/English dictionary or review the pronunciation resources available at Prononciation Francaise-French Pronunciation on French Language at About, the Human Internet, a link from the EDSITEment resource Internet Public Library. Use cognates — words similar in form and meaning, italicized below — as a tool to help students recall new vocabulary.

    Family: famille [fa-MEE]
    Parents: parents [par-AW]
    Mother: Mere [MARE or MAIR]
    Mom/Mommy: Maman [MA-mah]
    Father: Pere [PARE or PAIR]
    Dad/Daddy: Papa [PA-pa]
    Sister: soeur [SUR]
    Brother: frere [FRARE or FRAIR]
    Grandparents: grands-parents [GRAW-par-AW]
    Grandmother: grand-mere [GRAW-mare]
    Grandma: grand-maman [graw-MA-mah]
    Grandfather: grand-pere [GRAW-pare]
    Grandpa: grand-papa [graw-PA-pa]
    Aunt: tante [TAHNT]
    Uncle: oncle [AWN-kluh]
    Cousin: cousin(e) [koo-ZA or koo-ZEEN]
    Stepmother: belle-mere [bel-MARE]
    Stepfather: beau-pere [bo-PARE]
    Stepsister: demi-soeur [duh-mee-SUR]
    Stepbrother: demi-frere [duh-mee-FRARE]

Lesson Activities

Activity 1. Where Do People Speak French?

Display a large world map prominently in class. Begin the lesson by asking students to name their town or city, their state and their country. As students answer these questions, point out to students where these areas are located on the world map.

Ask students what language they speak. Have they heard of any other languages? Do they know people who speak other languages? Explain to students that in the U.S., people speak many different languages because they come to this country from other places around the world. You can point out that while the official language of the U.S. is English, it's fun to learn other languages so that we can communicate with the people who speak these languages when they come to the U.S. or when we visit other countries. You can also point out examples of English that come from the French and mention that, more recently, French uses some English words as well: "broonies" ("brownies").

Now challenge students to name other countries they have heard of. Each time a new country is named, show students where that country is located on the world map. Ask students if they know what language is spoken in each country — if they are unsure, tell them.

Inform students that they will be learning about the French language and the people who speak it. While French is the official language of some 33 nations, young students will be unfamiliar with many of these. It's best to focus on a few key places — France, of course, and Canada, because of its size and proximity to the U.S., are recommended. You can also mention that parts of Louisiana in the U.S. are French-speaking. Students may be surprised to find that large populations of French-speaking people live so close to and even within the U.S. If time allows, you can point out other areas on your world map where French is spoken, such as Algeria, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Congo, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guinea, Haiti, the Ivory Coast, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Martinique, Senegal, Switzerland, and Zaire. You can familiarize students with these Francophone countries using the following EDSITEment resources:

Note: If some students speak a second language, encourage them to tell the class what language they speak and where their family originated. Perhaps they will even be willing to speak some simple phrases in class.

Activity 2. French Families

In this lesson, students will compare and contrast different aspects of their daily lives with those of families living in France. The websites listed below, all links from the EDSITEment resource Internet Public Library, provide student-friendly information on French culture. Refer to the Other Resources section below for additional print resources, if you prefer. Begin each section with a discussion of life in America. Then refer to the suggested websites for a related picture of life in France. Challenge students to identify similarities and differences between the two nations.

Daily Life
Let students know they will compare a typical day in their lives with a typical day in the life of a student in France. Show students the images of life in France from the following links:

  • On the Line: French Virtual Journey: Daily Life
    Seventeen-year-old Dimitri Naissant talks about his family, home, community, education and more in this diary-like narrative, illustrated with photos.
  • Life in France (Click on "Societe")
    A snapshot of life in France, including the landscape, foods and leisure activities.

As you view the pictures together, help students pick out details that give some clues to what life is like in France. For example, what does Dimitri Naissant use for transportation? What does he do for fun? What does he like to eat? Keep a list of students' answers. You may wish to develop a chart with a column for life in France and another column for life in the U.S. After listing some of the information students find about France, ask them how this is similar to or different from their own lives. Do your students have the same favorite foods as Dimitri? Do their homes look similar to Dimitri's house?

Finish this lesson by reading Dimitri's narrative to students, or having students work alone or in small groups to read it on their own. During or after the reading, ask students if they picked out any additional details about daily life in France, and how those details compare to life in the U.S. Add the new information to your chart.

Mealtimes
Discuss the meals students eat each day, making a chart with students' responses. When do they eat each meal? What foods do they typically consume during each meal? With whom do they share their meals? What are some of their favorite foods? What types of foods do other members of their families enjoy?

Read aloud or have students read about a typical day's meals in France from On the Line: French Virtual Journey: Food: A Typical Day. Ask students to name some of the details they heard about meals in France, and compare them to students' typical meals in the U.S., adding the information to the chart.

Games and Sports
Ask students what games they enjoy playing. What equipment is needed for students' favorite games? Introduce students to "La Petanque," a popular French playground or gymnasium game similar to bowling, available through the EDSITEment-reviewed American Association of Teachers of French and through Internet Public Library's Culture Quest World Tour: Games of France. If possible, take students to the playground or gymnasium and have them play a game of La Petanque. Is this game similar to anything students have seen before? Have the students themselves ever played a game like this?

What sports do students watch? What sports do other members of their families like to play or watch? Make a list of sports students name. On the Line: French Virtual Journey: Sport lists the most popular sports in France as well as some of the major sporting events that take place there; work with students to compare the sports that are popular in France with some of their favorite sports.

Holidays
Talk about important national holidays in the U.S. (Note: While students are welcome to name any holiday, try to focus their attention on national, secular holidays.) What is the significance of the Fourth of July?

Share with students information about two French national holidays — Bastille Day (July 14) and Armistice Day (November 11) — from Internet Public Library's Culture Quest World Tour: Holidays of France. How are these holidays like the holidays celebrated in the U.S.? How do French people celebrate these important dates? How does the celebration compare with holiday celebrations in the U.S.? (Note: The French holiday Armistice Day is celebrated on the same date as Veterans' Day in the U.S. If you wish, point out this connection to students and discuss the similarities and differences between the two holidays.)

Activity 3. Let's Speak French!

Let students know that they will learn the French words for names of family members, including mother, father, brother, sister and so on. Begin the lesson by brainstorming in class the different family relationships of which students are aware. You may want to limit your list to the names of family members with whom students live. Write the English words on the blackboard, with their French translations next to them. (Whenever possible, focus on cognates — words similar in form and meaning, italicized below — as a tool to help students recall new vocabulary.) Pronounce each French word several times, allowing the class to repeat each time. A pronunciation key is provided in the section Preparing to Teach This Lesson.

Family: famille
Parents: parents
Mother: Mere
Mom/Mommy: Maman
Father: Pere
Dad/Daddy: Papa
Sister: soeur
Brother: frere
Grandparents: grands-parents
Grandmother: grand-mere
Grandma: grand-maman
Grandfather: grand-pere
Grandpa: grand-papa
Aunt: tante
Uncle: oncle
Cousin: cousin(e)
Stepmother: belle-mere
Stepfather: beau-pere
Stepsister: demi-soeur
Stepbrother: demi-frere

Once students have been introduced to the new words and their pronunciations, play a multi-modal learning game that will allow them to link the auditory input with a visual cue. Supply students with an array of magazines. Have students work in pairs to find and cut out pictures of people who seem to represent a specific family role (Make sure to include pictures of diverse family members and of ethnically diverse people). Paste the pictures onto individual pieces of construction paper or cardboard, flash-card style. If students are able, allow them to print the appropriate family member name on the back of each card in both French and English, using the words on the blackboard as a guide. (If students are unable to do this, the teacher should print the words on the cards for them.) Students who can read can pair off and practice with the flash cards on their own. For students not yet reading, the teacher can hold up the cards, say the words, and have students repeat the words.

As an alternate or additional activity, create a family tree on the classroom bulletin board. Use pictures from magazines, as in the flash-card activity, and have students "vote" for the picture that best represents each family member. Create the trunk and branches of your tree with a marker or construction paper. Then paste the pictures in their proper positions on the tree. Include the French and English words for each family member represented beneath the appropriate picture (or, if space permits, create two family trees—one in French, and one in English). Use the family tree as a learning tool for recalling new vocabulary. Students can also create their own family trees, using actual photos of family members, mounted on poster board.

Extending The Lesson

  • Repeat the flash-card activity in Activity 3 using pictures and names of animals the students may have as pets. The following vocabulary list includes French words for several common household pets and their English translations. The pronunciations provided are intended to be used as a guide only. The French language employs some phonetic sounds not used in English. If you are unfamiliar with the language, it is recommended that you consult a French/English dictionary or review the pronunciation resources available at Prononciation Francaise on French Language at About, a link from the EDSITEment resource Internet Public Library. Use cognates — words similar in form and meaning, italicized below — as a tool to help students recall new vocabulary. In cases where both masculine and feminine variations are included, masculine names are presented first.

    dog: chien or chienne [shee-AW or shee-EN]
    cat: chat or chatte [SHA or SHAT]
    bird: oiseau [wah-ZO]
    fish: poisson [pwah-SAW]
    hamster: hamster [AM-stare] air
    rabbit: lapin or lapine [la-PA or la-PEEN]
    snake: serpent [SER-paw]
    lizard: lezard [lay-ZARE]
    ferret: furet [FYUR-ay]

  • Some words in French are the same as those in English. A fun way to learn some of these words is through "The Hangman," a game on the Embassy of France: Just for Kids website, a link from the EDSITEment resource Internet Public Library. To play the game, click on "Jeux Games" and select "The Hangman."
  • For more advanced classes, teach students some simple phrases to form sentences. Here are a few to get you started (Note: A student-friendly worksheet is provided for this activity; click here to download the PDF):

    Je m'appelle ______. (My name is ______.)
    J'ai ______ ans. (I am ______ years old.)

    one: un

     

    six: six

    two: deux

    seven: sept

    three: trois

    eight: huit

    four: quatre

    nine: neuf

    five: cinq

    ten: dix


    Play a fill-in-the-blanks game using the incomplete phrases below. Challenge students to come up with many different possible endings to each sentence. Use a French/English dictionary to translate their English suggestions into French words. Keep in mind that French articles are gender-specific — masculine (e.g., "my brother" is "mon frere") and feminine (e.g., "my sister" is "ma soeur"). Note: It is strongly recommended that only teachers with a good working knowledge of the French language pursue this activity.

    Voici ______. (Here is ______.)
    J'ai ______. (I have ______.)
    Je suis ______. (I am ______.)
    J'aime ______. (I like ______.)

  • Children love to sing. Lyrics and sound files for two famous French folk tunes — Alouette and Frere Jacques — along with hundreds of other children's songs, may be found on KIDiddles: Mojo's Musical Mouseum, available via a link from the EDSITEment resource Internet Public Library. Play the sound files in class or sing the songs yourself (some students may already be familiar with them as well). What do these songs mean? The English translation of "Frere Jacques" is provided on the website. The translation of the chorus of "Alouette" is as follows:

    Alouette, gentille Alouette  Skylark, kind skylark
    Alouette, je te plumeraiSkylark, I will pluck you

    Each verse of the song proceeds to describe the different bird body parts from which feathers will be plucked. Have students guess which part is which. As you will see, some do not seem to make sense!

    la tete: head le nez: nose
    les yeux: eyesle cou: neck
    les ailes: wingsle dos: back
    les pattes: feetla queue: tail
  • Have students name some of their favorite fairy tales from books and/or film. Many of the most famous stories in this genre were penned by the 17th-century French author Charles Perrault. Obtain copies of Perrault's Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty and Puss in Boots. Say or write on the board the original French title of each story:

    Cendrillon (Cinderella)
    Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (Little Red Riding Hood)
    La Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty)
    Le Chat Botte (Puss in Boots)

    Can students guess what the titles are in English? Assist students by pointing out words that may already be familiar to them from the lessons in this unit or because they are cognates of their English counterparts — "petit," "rouge," "belle," "dormant," "chat," "botte." Now show students an illustration from each book that helps reveal the English titles. End this mini-lesson by reading the four tales in English and, if possible, in French.
  • Two well-known children's literature series set in France are Madeline and Babar by Ludwig Bemelmans and Jean de Brunhoff, respectively. While students are probably already familiar with these characters, they may not know the original stories that began these popular series. Make time during a read-aloud session for Madeline, originally published in 1939, and The Story of Babar, published in 1933. If you are able to obtain French-language versions of these books and are comfortable with speaking the language, read each story in both French and English. What new insights about France do they offer students? Another excellent choice is the English-language book Eloise in Paris, by Kay Thompson. This amusing story about a young New York girl's visit to Paris incorporates many French expressions into the text while providing the English translation.
  • If you and your students are technically savvy, try building a website based on "French and Family." Create a French Web Page, from the EDSITEment-reviewed American Association of Teachers of French website, provides detailed instructions on how to build a class website on France and the Francophone world.
Selected EDSITEment Websites

 

African Studies WWW
K-12 Electronic Guide for African Resources on the Internet
American Association of Teachers of French
Bibliography of Useful Resources on La Francophonie
Create a French Web Page
Discover French-Speaking Louisiana: A Brief Guide to Creating an "Acadiana Adventure Tour"
Francophone Resources
Ideas for Activities
Quebec Internet Tourist Sites
Sites About Francophony
Art and Life in Africa Online
Contemporary Malian Art
Snapshots of Daily Life in Mali and Burkina Faso
The Internet Public Library
Children's Music Web
KIDiddles: Mojo's Musical Mouseum
Embassy of France: Just for Kids
French Language at About
Prononciation Francaise
IPL Culture Quest World Tour: Europe
On the Line: Virtual Journey of France
National Geographic Society Xpeditions
Map Machine


Other Resources:

  • Fisher, Teresa. Country Insights: France. City and Village Life. Austin, Tx.: Steck-Vaughn, 1997.
  • Nardo, Don. France: Enchantment of the World. New York: Children's Press, Division of Grolier Publishing, 2000.
  • Ngcheong-Lum, Roseline. France (Countries of the World Series). Milwaukee, Wis.: Gareth Stevens Publishing, 1999.
  • Sookram, Brian. France (Major World Nations Series). Philadelphia, Pa.: Chelsea House Publishers, 1999.

The Basics

Time Required

2-3 class periods

Subject Areas
  • Foreign Language > Modern > French
Skills
  • Compare and contrast
  • Critical analysis
  • Map Skills

Resources

Activity Worksheets
Media