Family, Friends, and Français: Music, Rhythm and Rhyme

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By Sarah Dodson-Knight
Photo credit: rick

With this being the month of Valentine’s Day, it makes it the perfect time to teach our children how to talk in another language about the people they love!

I’m an American raising my three-year-old son bilingually (English and French), so the examples in this series will have to do with our second language, French. However, the activities and ideas are applicable to any language and will focus on the younger learners (those not yet literate in the second language).

In “Family, Friends, and Français,” we’ll explore the following:

  • Relevant Vocabulary (Introduction);
  • Music, Rhythm, and Rhyme (Part One – this post);
  • Art and Drama (Part Two);
  • Literacy Activities (Part Three);
  • and Tactile and Kinesthetic Activities (Part Four).

Join us on this romp through the French family tree! A new article will appear on Multilingual Living every two weeks.

Part One: Music, Rhythm and Rhyme

What better way to celebrate our affection for our family and friends than to sing songs about who they are and how much we love them?  Share these songs and comptines (nursery rhymes) with your children, whether they’re just now learning French or are already fluent speakers!

Songs about family:

  • Fais dodo, ‘Colas mon p’tit frère: a lullaby about what the members of Colas’ family are doing around the house as he falls asleep
  • J’aime papa, j’aime maman: a short and sweet song from a child’s point of view about the family members he loves (as well as the ones he doesn’t, like a cousin who stole his marbles); in this video clip, the song begins at 2:15 and includes instruction for repeating the words after the singer; in this clip, two children sing the song and make accompanying gestures
  • Ma petite maman chérie: another short and sweet song about how much a child loves his mother
  • Bonne fête maman: an anthem for Mother’s Day, with a video featuring still photos of mothers with their children around the world
  • Bonjour ma cousine: two cousins (a boy and a girl) greet each other in passing
  • Lundi matin: a song about the days of the week featuring a king, his wife, and their son
  • Ah! Vous dirai-je maman: to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” in this song a child explains to his mother why he doesn’t want to behave the way his father wants him to
  • Pain d’épice, ma nourrice: a comptine about the jobs of the people in the speaker’s family
  • Ma tante Huberte: a comptine about an unusual aunt
  • C’est demain dimanche: another comptine about an aunt, this one who does her housekeeping in strange ways
  • Ma tante vend des pommes: one final comptine about an aunt, this one an apple-seller
  • Bisous: an original children’s song by Muriel Vergnaud about giving kisses
  • Petit Français: an original pop song by Polo (2005) about his happy childhood memories at his grandparents’ home and how they would spend their days together
  • Ma famille: an original children’s song by Alain Le Lait introducing family members
  • Several fingerplays also exist in French where each finger is assigned a role as a family member–the pinky finger is “le petit frère,” for example


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Calvin Stone May 23, 2013 at 6:06 pm

I heard children sing Dans le Pre at a school in Haiti this past week.

Where can I find the lyrics? Preferably in French.

Thank you.


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