Friday, 30 January 2015

Un triangle, un carré et un rond

I thought I would share with you a series of lessons that I am just completing.  I have designed them to introduce the children to the dictionaries, and, just as importantly, to introduce them to the concept of nouns and gender.  All these, of course, are things specified by the new Programme of Study.

It all started when I found the book un triangle by Néjib in Montréal last summer.  I mentioned the idea that I had for it in a previous blogpost.

We began by learning the names in French of ten classroom objects, and also did some activities to highlight some of the phonemes in those words.  (You can find the resources here.)  Then we found out what gender is all about in French, and how we can spot it when we meet a new word (resources).  Next I showed them our new French dictionaries, and we did a series of short worksheets to help us to get used to using the dictionaries (resources).

Next, we read un triangle for the first time.  We talked about what the word on each page meant, and looked for the cut-out triangle in each picture.  We also worked out if each word was masculine or feminine, and the children told me how they knew the words' genders.  We also looked at the colours that Néjib uses - only blue, red, yellow and white.

I showed the children pictures of the other two books that Néjib has written in the same series. They are called un carré and un rond.  We talked about what we might expect to see inside them.

I issued the children with the challenge of making their own version of un carré.  Because we were going to use folded minibooks, they would have to think of seven things which are square or which have squares as part of them.  They would have to list the words in their exercise books and then use the dictionaries to find out how to say the words in French.  Very importantly, they would also have to make a note of whether the word was masculine or feminine.

What came next was lots of hard thinking about square things!  One of the (solid gold) Year 4 TAs said she thought it was a good activity as it was really making them think hard as well as be creative.  If somebody was really stuck, I showed them how they could open up the dictionary at a random page and look at all the words there to see if any would suit.  We found some unexpected words this way.

Once the children had their list of seven words, I checked them, and they made their minibooks.  On the front cover they wrote the title un carré.  Then on each of the seven pages they drew a picture of their "square word" and wrote the French word, preceded by un or une as appropriate.  This is why they needed to know the gender of the word.  They enjoyed colouring their pictures using only blue, red, yellow and white.  The camion at the top of this post is one of my examples, and here are some sample pages from Year 4:

Those who have finished asked if they could start a book for un rond.  And they are determined to do their own un triangle after that.  I have now purchased un carré and un rond as well, and I'll show them to the children when they have finished their own books.  I think a lot of the children have had better ideas than Néjib, so it'll be interesting to see what they think!


  1. What a fabulous teaching sequence, Claire. I love this and will certainly use it now. Thanks for explaining it clearly.