I used to be a secondary school teacher . . . but I have had little experience teaching younger children (the fact that I became a secondary school teacher indeed suggests that I chose not to teach younger children!).
In these days of confinement, for my own sanity, I need to have a morning routine with my boys (9 and 6 years). My CM1 boy has a very well-organised teacher who sends through work every morning, and that is very welcome as he (for now) sits down and gets on with it! Little G/S maternelle brother needs more direction, so I have to be more engaged in his play and learning! I’m relying on old books belonging to his big brother and ideas that pop up on the internet too. I’m not strict about it; if the activity is too long, I change paths. Récréation comes and goes as at school and I throw in extra time out as I deign necessary! We are running a marathon here, and with no idea when the end of confinement may be, so I’m trying to keep activities FUN. In the afternoon, we cook, we bake, we clean – nothing formal!
The following idea for some morning fun came from Petit Verbier nanny service, who say they got it from the the Five Minute Mum book: alphabet & phonics lesson . . . I adapted it, and we have been having lots of fun with it, and learning too, so I thought I’d share it with you step-by-step. My son is 6, but this would work well with 4 and 5 year olds too, as long as they are beginning with phonics. I am a firm believer that making learning colourful and visual helps with memory (as well as making the activity more fun!).
Draw a grid
Find some cardboard or a large piece of paper (about width 50cm x length 42cm, you need each rectangle to measure about width 10cm x length 7cm).
You will need to draw lines, dividing your piece of card or paper into 5 wide (10cm) x 6 long (7cm) rectangular boxes (depending on your child’s ability, you can let him or her draw the lines with the ruler; I held the ruler for my son). This is simply a guideline – you can draw whatever lengths and widths you’d like for your boxes (but they’ll need to be big enough to place objects in!):
Fill in the letters on your grid
Once you have drawn your grid, then you’ll need to fill it in . . . I wrote the letters for my son faintly and he wrote over them. If your child knows how to write their letters well, then he or she can do this bit himself or herself.
Decorate your alphabet grid
It is up to you how you choose to decorate your alphabet grid – I think letting the children decide or giving them gentle nudges allows them to be proud of their creation and take ownership of it? This is what we did:
1) colour in the vowels – we decided to colour the vowels blue, to make them stand out, and we added a ch as this figures in Les Alphas series, which Mr G/S has already studied at school;
2) decorate the other letters – we also decided to decorate some of the letters with stamps that we had in the house (a bilingual bit here) : c for cœur, h for heart, s for sun and soleil . . .
3) cover in plastic – I decided that we’d get some mileage out of this creation, so we covered it in plastic (I am well aware that you might not have this item in your house a the moment; we just happened to have some lying around from La Rentrée);
Use your grid
This grid can have so many uses! And if you are a bilingual family, double the use!
So far, we have parked animals in the right letter: éléphant goes in e, crococile goes in c, requin in r, etc . . . we did this in French to start (perhaps the activity can double up for parents if they want to test out their foreigh language vocabulary?).
There are a lot of pandas chez nous (my favourite animal as a child!), so the letter p got busy!
g for giraffe, l for lion and lézard . . .
This is what our grid looked like by the end (once we were out of animals to park!) . . .
We had fun and made up stories along the way: Eek, ” le crocodile mange le pauvre cygne ! ” . . . (different c sounds):
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We made this grid last week (it took us about an hour to make and decorate, and then 20 minutes of play with it) . . . and then yesterday we used the grid with blocks of Lego, and practised spelling colours . . .
C O L O U R S !
[ rouge in R – orange in O – jaune in J – vert in V – bleu in B – violet in V ]