Learning French in and Around the Garden: Part Four

by Corey · 1 comment

It is that time again! Time to have fun in the garden (physically or virtually) in French with Sarah Dodson-Knight.  This is the final part of this 4-part series.

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 Four: Kinesthetic Activities

Of course, children learn best when they can be hands-on, which with this theme may mean that you both end up with dirt under your fingernails and sunburned cheeks (so put on a chapeau before you head out to the jardin)!

Just play with your child in the yard, the garden, or the park (or a box of dirt on the kitchen table with fake flowers and plastic fruit).  As you play, bombard your child with language: describe what you’re doing, ask questions, make predictions, label objects, and so forth.

Take a nature walk, talking all the time.  Go on a scavenger hunt outside, looking for a rock of a certain size, a leaf of a certain shape, something yellow, something with more legs than you.  (For that matter, go on a nature scavenger hunt inside your home or a garden store!)   Maybe even prepare a treasure hunt map directing your child in French to different plants, rocks, and trees in the backyard or the neighborhood.

While you’re outside, play Jacques a dit (Simon Says) with props: Jacques a dit “touche la pierre!” (Jacques said to touch the rock.)  Jacques a dit “sens la fleur!”  (Jacques said to smell the flower.)  Mange le ver de terre!  (Eat the worm!)  “Uh-oh! Je n’ai pas dit ‘Jacques a dit!‘” (“Uh-oh! I didn’t say “Jaques said!”)

But what about when it’s raining, or when the sky is grey and a fierce wind whips through the winter days, yet you still want to review French garden vocabulary and ideas with your child?

Here are a few websites with interactive games and activities in French, all within the context of playing outside and learning about plants and animals.

  • Count the Ducks at Hello-World.com provides a simple picture of a pond on which your child can click to make ducks appear as the narrator counts them aloud. (This page is one of the free sample activities from a subscription site; they offer their materials in many languages besides French.)
  • Investigate interactive vocabulary lists from Chillola.com: click on les animaux (animals), les legumes (vegetables), le météo (weather), and les fruits to see a picture illustrating each concept and hear a native speaker pronounce it. (These lists–along with many others–are available in five languages.)


  • Find short stories, fables, poems, and nursery rhymes, both classic and contemporary, at Lire et Récréer, where the text is presented on the screen, often with simple animation and background music, but the reader is (usually) invited to pronounce it aloud (note that music will start when the site is opened).The tales are divided by genre and also by age; the texts related to this month’s theme include a very short tale about chickens called Les poulettes; a poem about lilies of the valley, Le muguet; the 15th century poem Le printemps by Charles d’Orléans; the comptines (nursery rhymes) Gentil Coquelicot (about picking flowers and herbs in a garden) and Coccinelle, bête à bon Dieu (about a ladybug – note music will start when site is opened), along with many of the other rhymes presented in part I of this series; and the fable by Jean de la Fontaine La cigale et la fourmi (the fables are read aloud dramatically by a native speaker).
  • Over at Boowa and Kwala, you and your kids can “cook” online! Follow their simple recipes for foods made with strawberries by clicking on the necessary ingredients (which are added to the onscreen bowl with enthusiastic sound effects), then find out if you read the recipe correctly.  (The characters Boowa and Kwala will let you know!)
  • Finally, the beloved tales by Beatrix Potter about Peter Rabbit and his friends and family have been transformed into French games and activities at L’univers de Beatrix Potter (a site also available in five other languages).Click on “Rencontre les personages” for an introduction to each character; “Confectionner et faire” for directions for crafts activities; and “Jeux” (games), including one where the reader has to correctly answer questions about the stories in order to help Pierre Lapin escape from Monsieur MacGregor’s garden.In the game “La cueillette des légumes” (picking vegetables), you must help him find oignons (onions), radis (radishes), and choux (cabbages). The site is charmingly illustrated to resemble a pop-up book.

And don’t forget to pull out your recipes in French–cooking what you find in the garden (or the grocery store) is very hands-on and kid-friendly!

Of course, if your kid is anything like my two-year-old, once he sees a worm wiggling in the dirt, he’ll want to drop everything else and play with it for the rest of the afternoon–but hey, then that’s one expression, ver de terre, that he’ll remember for the rest of his life.

Here’s wishing you fun in French outside in the summer sun (and all year round in front of your books and your computer)!

CLICK HERE to read ALL FOUR of the Learning French in and Around the Garden posts.

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.

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