Learning French in and Around the Garden: Part Two

by Corey · 3 comments

It is that time again!  Time to have fun in the garden (physically or virtually) in French with Part 2 of Sarah Dodson-Knight’s wonderful 4-part summer activity.

Whether you are a newbie in French or a native speaker, you are sure to find some fun activities in this series to get French language flowing with your children!  French not one of your family’s languages?  No problem – just adapt it by doing activities in your language and finding children’s YouTube videos and songs in your language.  Amusez-vous bien!

Learning French in and Around the Garden

Part Two: Art and Drama

In the first part of this series, we discussed singing traditional songs like “Savez-vous planter les choux?” and reciting nursery rhymes like “La coccinelle” with your child. Now take it a step further: act them out!

For “La coccinelle,” stand up together and mime painting polka dots, feeling the length of your antennae, and flapping your wings, just like the ladybug in the rhyme.  Become spiders, rain, and waterspouts for “L’araignée Gypsy.”  If you have a vegetable garden (or even if you don’t!), play the roles of the farmer and the rabbit hiding from him in “Le fermier et le lapin or the gardeners in “Savez-vous planter les choux?

Try a puppet show, too: you or your child can draw pictures on heavyweight paper of plants, creatures, and objects found in a garden, attach them to popsicle sticks, and make a play about a garden.

It can be as simple as crouching behind a chair, holding up the drawings, and presenting them one at a time (“Voici une abeille qui visite une fleur“–here’s a bee visiting a flower), or you and your child can write a script and perform it.  Perhaps you could try re-enacting the story of “Le fermier et le lapin“!

Any garden-related artwork that you can encourage your child to do can be mined for its linguistic offerings.  When your child draws a flower, have her take it a step further by adding roots and labeling all its parts in French.  Draw the ladybug (or a bug of your child’s choice) and label its parts too!

Or how about designing comics with stock comics characters inspired by the antics of insects in your garden?  Use the templates here to illustrate a short comic strip or an entire page or two for a comic book.  You or your child can add dialogue and narration in French.

Other artsy garden-related activities could include working on crafts (such as building a model birdhouse and painting it), forming bugs and flowers out of Play-Doh or Sculpey, and illustrating bookmarks and doorhangers in a garden theme.

Remember, even if your child is simply coloring pictures of flowers, you can still make this a language-rich activity by asking your child what he or she is doing, making suggestions, providing descriptions, and prompting him or her to talk in French during and afterwards.  Since the focus will be on his artwork, using French in this context should feel more natural and less forced.

Join us back here in August for Part 3 of Learning French In and Around the Garden, literacy activities, followed by Part 4, tactile and kinesthetic activities.

Sarah Dodson-Knight has taught English in France and English composition, ESL, literature, and French in the US. She now coordinates year-round reading enrichment programs at the Lafayette Public Library (Colorado). You can find her at Bringing up Baby Bilingual where she writes about raising children with more than one language and records her efforts to teach French as a non-native speaker to her son (Griffin, age 2) and her nephew (Carl, age 4). On her blog, you will find profiles of bilingual and multilingual families, resource recommendations, book reviews, discussion prompts, descriptions of games and language learning activities, and stories about Griffin and Carl.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sarah @ Baby Bilingual July 20, 2010 at 8:24 pm

Just last night, I took my son to a bilingual storytime at our library. Guess what: the theme was “bees” and the main attraction was a puppet show about a bee and a flower, written by one of the librarians! (The bee spoke Spanish and the flower spoke English.) I’m amused that my article suggesting we do puppet shows about bees and flowers was published right around then. See, I’m not the only one advocating this sort of thing for language learning!


2 Corey July 30, 2010 at 9:44 pm

That is fabulous, Sarah! You and the rest of the multilingual world are totally in sync. I completely enjoy your posts – the youtube videos you recommend are a hit with my kids and me and whether we use your tips for French (a language we only dabble in now and then) or in another language, it gets us motivated and my creative juices going! I love the comic book tip – my kids LOVE that! Looking forward to the next installment already.


3 Sarah @ Baby Bilingual August 1, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Thanks, Corey! I have such fun researching and writing these articles. And one day I hope to offer French classes for toddlers and preschoolers, so this is good preparation for me.

The students I work with at the library love the comics templates, too. This format seems really to appeal to today’s young people who have grown up on comic books, graphic novels, and manga and are doing less reading of “traditional” books.


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