Age 0-3

Activties and ideas for under 3’s

Baby Words French _Infographic

Baby Words in French

 

Baby Words French _Infographic
Baby Words French _Infographic

So what is funny is that I often have parents in class who have very decent French – some could even read ‘Le Monde’ newspaper or watch the French news… but they do not know how to speak to little kids 🙂

In this infographic series, I will provide fun and useful words for speaking to your child.

Enjoy x

French Snail Petit Escargot Craft

Craft time in French with your toddler: Autumn PlayDoh Snails

Here is a simple autumn craft you can relate back to your French classes! Make a cute snail with a conker and plasticine or PlayDoh, sing the song “Petit Escargot” and explore the meaning of the song together 🙂

Children are kinaesthetic learners so singing and making together is a fab way to learn.

Petit escargot,

Porte sur son dos,

Sa maisonette,

Aussitît qu’il pleut.

Il est tout heureux,

Il sort sa tĂȘte !

Little snail,

Carries on his back,

His wee house,

As soon as it rains,

He is all happy,

He pops out his head!

 

  1. Roulez la pĂąte Ă  modeler ! Roll the plasticine/ PlayDoh

Petit Escargot

2. Faites une fente à l’un des bouts à l’aide d’un cure-dents ou un couteau pour enfants. Split one of the ends with a toothpick or child friendly knife.        

Petit Escargot Craft

3. Modelez les antennes avec les doigts. Shape the tentacles with your fingers. 

4. Mettez le marron dessus et pressez légÚrement. Place the conker/ chestnut on top and firm down gently.    

French toddler craft

5. A l’aide d’un cure-dents, faites les yeux et la bouche! Use the toothpick to shape the eyes and the mouth.

French Snail Petit Escargot Craft

With supervision, all ages can get involved!
Bingo French counting

Step-by-step method for counting in French with your preschooler

Learning a language together is all about simple steps. Just start somewhere! When you start to see results you’ll be spurred on to achieve more 🙂

Let’s start with counting in French. Below is a manageable home lesson plan to learn to count to 20 (or 10 if that is your child’s current counting level).

1. Start with singing numbers in French together

Music is a very powerful learning medium.

Here is a video from YouTube which I quite like… be warned it gets stuck in your head but that is the point!

At Mini French, we incorporate several counting songs into our sessions. One example is “Un, Deux, Trois  nous irons au bois” (1, 2, 3 we will go to the woods!)

2. Put counting in French into daily practice

As a parent, you will already be aware that children learn through ‘doing’. Here are three simple ideas:

Snacktime: Select a snack today which is made up of small parts i.e. grapes, raisins, crackers…Count them out into a bowl together. Grab a teddy. Count out a snack for teddy. Let your child count out the snack for you. You could add in “Miam! C’est bon!” (Yum! It is tasty!)

Walking: Pass the time and encourage your little one to keep up (!) by counting in French when you climb the stairs or are walking to the car or bus. I know a good song for this but I can’t give away all my secrets in one go… 😉

Shopping: Count the food as you place them in the trolley or at the checkout. This could lead on to learning fruit names. Download my fruit poster here.

This is also something you can ask your care provider to get involved in. Most adults can manage to learn to count in a new language and will relish the challenge! My childminder was delighted to speak in French a little when she looked after my youngest.

3. Play a counting game: bingo or a ballgame

Bingo: Remember that it can be hard for young children to verbalise new words so asking to point at words is easier. Download my bingo printable. There are three levels: ‘Niveau 1 – Niveau 3′. 

COUNT IN FRENCH PRESCHOOLER BINGO

Ballgame: Keep things moving! Children are very active learners and like to have hands-on experience. Grab a ball and kick or throw to each other and try to get to 20 (cheating is allowed!)


So there you have it, adding some small activities into your busy day can be very effective in giving your child a headstart in a language.

Positivity and encouragement are the main resources in your language teacher toolkit. This will boost your child’s confidence and have a snowball effect in their language learning. I see it happen ALL the time at class. Those parents who put in a tiny bit of effort at home through music or games will result in their children having a solid grasp of the foundations of a second language in their preschool years.

Fancy another activity? Check out my Learning Through Taste home lesson!

Felicity

 

French children books in the UK

How to get French children’s books in the UK?

I am often asked how to find good quality French children’s books in the UK. I love children’s books. Our house is full of them! My children have learned a huge amount of their French vocabulary from books I purchase in France. I received great feedback on a post I wrote last year with my French book recommendations on Amazon.co.uk but the selection they have currently is not extensive.

Other than that you can pick them up in French bookshops, supermarkets and vintage markets. But what if you are not heading to France this year and have exhausted the Amazon list? Or you are looking for a special present for your little one? Or even to improve your own French (I’d highly recommend kids books for language learning).

Monthly to your door

What if I were to tell you that there is also a service where you can have brand new, professionally selected, French kid’s books delivered monthly to your door…(I should note at this point that I have no affiliation with this service).

L’Ă©cole des loisirs is a renowned French language publishing house specialising in children’s books. They created the Max Book Club (L’Ă©cole des max), offering subscribers eight books a year from November to June to reach a wider audience. Fortunately for Brits this service is available internationally.

We have been subscribed to the service since my children were pretty much newborn thanks to their French grand-parents and I would highly recommend it. I like books from a range of publishing houses but I think most of our family favourites are from L’Ă©cole des loisirs.

There are eight ‘series’ or categories within the book club. Each series is designed for a certain age group. I would recommend sticking to the early age series’ BEBEMAX or TITOUMAX as they are suitable for up to age 3 and age 2 to 4 respectively but the vocabulary will be challenging enough for non-French speakers. They have simple sentences, bright illustrations and engaging stories which will have you learning French together through age-appropriate vocabulary.

Through their website you can also peek inside the books to see the level. The website is quite comprehensive with some audio versions available. I’d encourage you to check it out.

How do you subscribe?

There are two types of subscriptions: Individual or Group. My family qualifies as a ‘Group’ as we have three children all receiving books (from different series). This qualifies us for a slightly reduced rate. ÂŁ35 – ÂŁ42 per child (depending on series). So if you can find two other willing friends, you could subscribe as a group as it is an attractive price for kids books. You will receive the books in one package to a single address.

Full pricing here

Otherwise, you can sign up as an individual. Prices start at ÂŁ48 for the BEBEMAX series. If you have any issues or questions there is a UK contact email address on the website.

To note, if you subscribe after November you receive all the previous books for that season – so you can sign up at any time – perhaps a Christmas idea from a generous relative? Or one for the Santa list?

Finding French children’s books in the UK can be tricky but reading can be a really wonderful way to improve, not only your own French but your cultural awareness. So why not check out the book club and receive a little language gift every month?

Bonne lecture! Have fun reading!

 

 

 

French for kids

Watch our new video!

It has been a very busy few months! Mini French has been signing-up a record number of children to our programmes. We are obtaining consistently high re-sign up rates from families and have started working in many new nurseries who are all giving us great feedback.

My teachers and I work hard to ensure that our programmes are highly engaging and very effective. We focus on babies to age 7 as I am passionate starting a language in the early years. It is a very specialised role to be able to entertain and engage this age group but sooooo rewarding!

But how did Mini French begin? Watch the Story of Mini French to find out!

For happy brains and bright futures, join Mini French!

starting a language with your baby

Start a language with your baby: Jack’s Story

When you start a language with your baby or young child, you are embarking on a rewarding journey. Most parents these days are keen for their child to gain the foundations of a second language. However, many parents do not know which age to start a language with their child or how to go about it!
Knowing that other parents in your area have started this journey can give you confidence in your decision. So let’s hear from one of the lovely Mums who comes to my sessions and learn from her experience! Jack’s Dad has also joined us on many occasions! Remember any parents or grandparents who would like to join are more than welcome at the sessions.

What is your background in French?

I am half French.

What were the main reasons that led you to think about starting a language with Jack?

I grew up in a multi-language household and it really encouraged me to travel and be curious about different cultures. I think it is so important to instil an awareness of different languages and cultures from an early age but in a fun way.

What age did Jack start Mini French?

He started at just over three months old.

What do you like about Mini French?

Felicity is hugely enthusiastic and is excellent at both capturing and keeping the attention of the children. She has excellent props and toys to go with the songs. It’s so imaginative.

Did you have any reservations before you started?

I wondered whether the classes would be wasted on such a young baby but I sang the songs at home and they quickly became firm favourites. He also really responds when anyone says “coucou” to him!

How does Jack react in the sessions?

When he was really young, Jack just watched and listened but seemed to really take everything in. He is now more mobile and tries to crawl to collect the toys himself. He watches and tries to learn from the older children in the class.

What is Jack’s, or your, favourite French song?

“Deux petits canards au bord de l’eau”. It’s now the one song that immediately soothes him.

What are your hopes for his language journey in the future?

I don’t want to force another language upon him but I would be thrilled if he continued to learn French – or any other language for that matter. It would also be so lovely to see him speak to his French relatives.

What would you say to parents thinking of starting a language with their children?

It is so important for it to be fun.

 


 

So there you are! Watch your baby grow and learn through a new language. I am here to help. Why not get in touch today?

Teach my child French

Three things you can do TODAY to teach your child French

We are all busy parents. So I will keep this short! There are many things you can do to expose your child to a second language regardless of your own level. How do I know this? My three children are bilingual and I am not a French native speaker. Yes, my husband is French but I am often the one initiating French at home. We live in the UK so our majority language is English. Our minority language is French and the one that needs nurturing.

Also! I am using the same blueprint to start Spanish with the children and they are learning the foundations of their third language well! Even though I would classify my Spanish as conversational at best.

So what can you do to teach your child French today? And, how do you keep it up?

Here are some quick tried and tested language learning hacks for you (in addition to watching cartoons etc which I have already blogged about)

Identify the moments you have time together

I am going to assume that you are together for some or all of the below daily events?

  1. Bathtime?
  2. Mealtimes?
  3. Getting dressed in the morning?

It is unlikely to be sustainable if you try to carry out whole French lessons at home unless you are homeschooling or VERY dedicated. If you are then WELL DONE! {virtual hat off} You will help them progress really well if you make your home lessons fun and the vocabulary meaningful.

BUT! If you do not have time to create a whole curriculum do not worry! Start with small but effective steps. Identify the moments of the day when you have one on one time (or one to two or three for busy families like mine!) – what could you do at these points?

HERE’S THE HACK: Find a song to go with each one on one time. If it matches up with the activity then even better! Let me help you out. Bathtime: Bateau sur l’eau – here is my free MP3 (I recently changed my file system so if you have issues please email me!). Mealtimes: J’aime la galette (change the word ‘galette’ to what you are eating – ask Alexa or look it up on Google translate), Getting dressed: Sing “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” in French (link is to a rather retro video but I like it!

If you do this regularly you will both learn all the words in those songs! Effortlessly.

Take it further!

  1. Talk about the weather in the morning!
  2. Do the Mini French challenge – you’ll learn so much and easily!
  3. Play restaurants together – role play can be incredibly effective – and fun! Here is the vocabulary you need.

Simple steps, when made fun will have lasting effects! Remember the goal at this age is to pique their interest and demystify languages. By the time they start formal education they will be miles ahead and you have given them a positive experience showing them that languages are part of life and fun.

As ever, email me with questions or your own ideas!

Felicity

Kids French poster les fruits

Free Kids French Poster: Les Fruits!

Another in the poster series

This time – fruit!

LINK HERE

Ideas for using:

Print and display in the house

Cut up into flashcards

Print two copies, cut up and play snap

Keep near the fruitbowl

Use as part of your shopping trip

Make up a fruit song – or find French fruit songs (hint: Pomme de Reinette…!)

 

Spotlight on Lyon with kids! 10 Tips from a Local

Hands up if you love a city break or a holiday! But isn’t it hard to know whether a destination will be good with children though?

I think Lyon is a great all-year-round destination. It has everything to make it a great break – culture, food, sunshine but also lots of parks and opportunities for summer and winter sports. It is easy to get to from most UK cities.

So here are some TOP TIPS and ideas from a local resident. Mathilde is a midwife, macaron maker & my sister-in-law! She knows Lyon!



Hey Mathilde! Thank you for sharing your knowledge of Lyon!

Let’s start with some practical information for families…

 

What are the most accessible airports for visiting Lyon?

The best way is Lyon Saint Exupery airport. After landing it’s about thirty minutes to the city centre.

Another option would be by train. The Eurostar stops at Lyon Part Dieu railway station, right in the city center.

It’s two hours from Paris by train, and two and a half hours from Edinburgh by plane!

What is the easiest way to get from the airport to Lyon centre?

From the airport, there is the RhĂŽnexpress (www.rhonexpress.fr) a tram that gets you into the city center within thirty minutes. There’s a tram every fifteen minutes. However, at 26€ for a return ticket, it’s quite expensive (discounts for advance booking).

So people in Lyon developed a less expensive way. Check out the “Blablacar” app where you can share a car. If you want to use this then just make sure to have your own booster seat.

Learn French with kids in Lyon
A view of Lyon
Which neighbourhoods would be good to stay in?

I think the best area to stay as a tourist would be Vieux Lyon because you are in the old city, which is classified as UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s down the Fourviere Hill where you have the best view of Lyon!

If you love shopping, you could stay on The PresquĂźle (French for “peninsula”) which is in the heart of Lyon.  Near Bellecour or Cordeliers.

For going out (so maybe not with kids!), stay in the new Confluence neighborhood. Here you will find many clubs and this is where the festivals tend to take place.

If you want to see the Lyon family way of life, Croix-Rousse Hill is another good area for you!

What about getting about in Lyon?

Buses, trams, a four-line metro and two funiculars linking Vieux Lyon to FourviÚre and St-Just are operated by TCL (Lyon public transport journey planner in English). There are information offices where you can obtain transport maps at major metro stations throughout Lyon.

Tickets valid on all forms of public transport cost around €2 (ask for a carnet of 10 to save a few euros) and are available from bus and tram drivers as well as machines at metro entrances.

Looking at gastronomy now! Yum!

 

What dishes is Lyon known for?

Lyon is the capital of gastronomy! It’s well known for les bouchons lyonnais – traditional, small restaurants or bistros. You can eat “quenelles”, “joues de porc”(pig’ cheeks), la rosette (best saucisson ever!) or, a local favourite, tripe! You should try “la cervelle des canuts” (literal translation: “brains of a silk worker” but it is actually a delicious local cream cheese served sprinkled with parsley) and finish with a “tarte Ă  la praline”!

But it’s well known for every kind of food from all over the world.

If you are feeling flush, you will find a huge number of Michelin star restaurants in la rue du Boeuf in Vieux Lyon, or check out one of the bistros in the  Boccuse chain.

Where else can you sample these foodie delights?

You must try the numerous markets, every morning at locations across the city.

There is also les Halles de Lyon, Cours Lafayette or the Part Dieu neighborhood where you can buy meat, oysters and all other kinds of French food. Not to mention the best bakeries in the world! If I do say so myself! Treat the kids to a delicious French pastry.

Where should you head to eat with a young family?

There are loads of outdoor terraces where you can enjoy some sunshine and play Bocce (similar to French boules) or Molky in spring and summer. Le Bistrot des Maquignons has a nice terrace in the summer.

You also just HAVE to try a “bouchon” like Notre Maison in Vieux Lyon (reservation necessary) or the bistrot Brasserie de l’Est by Boccuse in the Brotteaux neighborhood (this is situated in an old train station, there is an electric train just above your head!)

The Malting-Pot in the Sans-Soucis neighbourhood has a big terrace where children can play and run about while you enjoy a nice selection of beer!

Lyon with kids Learn French
The Malting Pot
What top cultural activity should families head to see?

Wandering in Vieux Lyon is just beautiful and the new Confluence museum is really adapted for kids. You’ll find dinosaurs’ skeletons and lots of exhibitions!

What outdoor activities are there in and around Lyon?

There is so much to do! We have the highest climbing wall in France, which is suitable for for kids too. There is also a bike rental system in Lyon making it easy to rent bikes to get about.

The Parc de la TĂȘte d’Or is the green jewel of the city with a zoological garden, boats to rent on the lake, a greenhouse and lawns where you can have a lovely picnics. Then there are the RhĂŽne docks which are all pedestrianised (plus bicycles). At night the barges open their bars and that’s where you will find most of Lyon hanging out! You can head there for a drink, a meal or just to meet friends and family!

For winter sports, Lyon is  only one and a half hours from the closest ski resorts.

Or is you are looking for some beach action For the beach, it’s one and a half hours by train from Marseille!

There are a lot of swimming pools, the most well known is the Piscine du RhĂŽne, which is situated on the RhĂŽne itself! You feel like your swimming in the river!

Are there any good festivals for families?

Well in May, you have Les Nuits Sonores which is a famous electro festival.

Then all summer from the first of June until the 31st of July is les Nuits de FourviĂšre, a culture festival with famous groups and singers from all over the world… Every show takes place in the Gallo-Roman theatre, with a breath taking view of Lyon!

If you are just strolling about, every weekend you will be sure to find a food or wine festival plus flea markets and book markets.

And what makes Lyon a great winter city break is the FĂȘte des LumiĂšres which takes place over four days. During this time a variety of different artists light up buildings, streets, squares and parks all over the city. It is truly beautiful! See last year’s here.

Any other nice cities to visit driving distance from Lyon?

About 45 minutes away by car is the medieval city of Perrouges which is really well conserved and great for a day trip!

Another amazing place to visit is Annecy with it’s old city and beautiful lake!

Why do you love Lyon?!

Because it’s a beautiful city, with lots of green spaces! You can easily cross the city by bike, or on foot. Plus, people spend a lot of time outside enjoying the terraces and you have everything you need to be happy! It’s a city for families and students! If you are fond of sports, the Alps and the Med are not far away, so you have plenty of choice! It’s not unusual to see people in their ski suits on winter’s weekend and in the summer everyone is in t-shirts! The best of both worlds.



So if you visit Lyon after reading this then let us know! Visiting France is a great way to absorb the culture and practice your French.

 

bring child up bilingually

4 Steps to bringing your child up bilingually

So you are pregnant or are already a parent and are hoping to bring your child up bilingually or with a solid knowledge of another language! Amazing! I have three bilingual children and spend lots of time with families just like yours. It is a joyful journey!

The good news is that you can do it. It is possible regardless of your situation. However, what you need to know is that the fact of having one parent who speaks one language well and another parent who speaks a different language well, is not sufficient. A child will not magically become bilingual without some effort from their carers. As you suspected, it is a skill to be nurtured. Don’t worry though! I have been there and can share my experience to give you some shortcuts.

The photo is of my first born and I eight years ago. He was three weeks old and I was a new parent with a lot on my plate but pretty damn happy and determined he would become bilingual so he could grab every opportunity presented to him in his future.

Here are the steps I wish I had known back then to successfully bring your child up bilingually:

  1. Positive Mental Attitude (PMA)

It all starts with the right attitude. Do not skip this step! It may even be the most important one.

There are two main reasons for this.

Firstly, the correct frame of mind will hold you in good stead for the journey as bilingualism is a long process. It is not like other life skills like… swimming, let’s say, where you may stop once they are safe in the water and can swim a length. Learning two languages is intertwined with life itself. It brings lots of joy but it helps to be confident in your goals and your plan. We will discuss this further in step two.

There will be bumps or occasional setbacks. Times when you can’t see progress, moments when you wonder if it is ‘working’ or when you let doubt cloud your mind when a well intentioned friend or relative questions your plan. During these times and you need to be sure in your own mind why you are choosing this route.

Secondly, children are highly sensitive to the feelings of those around them. They can sniff out anxiety or stress a mile off! You do not want to pass this on to your child. PMA all the way! Complaining to them that they have replied in the ‘wrong’ language. Or, spot testing them in front of a group of other family members will create a negative association with the language which they may carry into adulthood. Remember that in the first few years of your child’s life, the goal is to ensure they see languages as a happy part of life. A positive, normal part of their surroundings and NOT a test, challenge or worry which could lead to a ‘language rebellion’ or refusal to engage in that language. (NB: you can work round this if it happens to you but, if avoided, then it is better!)

  1. Make a Family Language Plan (FLP)

Looking back I had a pretty good attitude. I did my research and was firm in my beliefs as to the benefits of learning a second language from birth. I understood that it would be a marathon and not a sprint.

What I didn’t really have was a plan.

A Family Language Plan is the way in which you will ensure that you are nurturing both the minority and majority languages in your family. It helps to keep you on track. Your minority language is the one that your child will naturally have less exposure to and tends to need the most TLC.

Your FLP could take the form of an in-depth discussion with your partner or it could be a genuine document where you note your ideas and resources you plan on using and add to it when you see cool ideas. Pinterest can be good for this. What is important is that you are both on the same page and are clear on how you anticipate ensuring that your child is exposed to meaningful input in both languages. It can be something you refer to when you run out of ideas or the minority language needs a boost.

Areas to consider in your FLP:

  1. What is your goal for your child? Key words/ conversational/ bilingual/ bi-literate/ bi-cultured?
  2. Which languages do both parents know? Do you know the words a child will tend to use in that language?
  3. Which languages will parents speak when they have 1:1 time with their child? For bilingual families, One Parent One Language or not(this article may help)?
  4. Is it time for one or both parents to scrub up on their partners’ language?
  5. What will the family language be i.e. meal times? If your level is not very advanced in your chosen language, perhaps choose one evening when you identify the items on the table in that language instead of full conversations – French Fridays?!
  6. What other family and friends can help and have you spoken to them about your plans? Can you have a regular Skype/ Face Time session?
  7. Should there be a day or time when the minority language is encouraged? i.e. Sunday games night?
  8. How will you ensure stories in both languages are read with your child? Where can you get books? READING IS SO IMPORTANT!
  9. Do you know lots of songs and nursery rhymes in the minority language? How can you find some –Cd or download? AGAIN, SINGING IS GREAT!
  10. Are there local playgroups or language groups aimed at young children you can attend?
  11. What about babysitters and bilingual childcare?
  12. What radio stations and TV programmes could help to maximise exposure? Which cartoons are popular in the country of the minority language? Some ideas here.
  13. What “boosts” do you have up your sleeve for days or weeks when you need to increase the minority language? i.e. For younger children, a quick game using your hands? Head, shoulders, knees and toes? A favourite book, toy or song?
  14. Have you considered when you will tackle writing in the minority language, if that is one of your goals?
  15. When it comes to culture, will you try eating food from both countries? Celebrating festivals from both countries?
  16. When can you travel to a country where your minority language is spoken?

This list is intended to start a conversation and not to scare you! As you will see later on, your plan can, and should be, flexed as your child develops. It also gives you a strong foundation to answer questions from friends and family giving you confidence in your approach.

A Family Language Plan as unique as your family is. I will share mine over the coming months and you may find inspiration.

  1. Put the plan into place

Now you have the best attitude and an awesome plan you are ready to rock!

Stand-by your plan. If you expose your child to a new language regularly, you and your child will see results but enjoy the journey! Remember to make sure that you add your own personality and, crucially, keep it as fun as possible.

Watch your growing child and get to know what is working and what is not. As they develop, note their learning style – do they prefer active games, particular games or toys? Is there a class they enjoy a lot where you can get further advice?

Keep it up but do not beat yourself up when the plan changes from time to time and if you are finding that there are certain parts that are just not feasible then you may want to make some changes. Which leads us to the final step.

  1. Review your plan periodically

The best plans are flexible and are reviewed from time to time to keep them fresh.

This is something I now do frequently with my partner. We think about each of our three children and discuss what each of them may need to advance their spoken or written French, which is our minority language.

For example, we were previously doing joint evening stories with our two older boys but we realised it is time for our younger boy to begin reading in French now that he is reading well in English and understands the concept of phonics. So he now has a story with Daddy separately and they choose a book with more basic French words to build his confidence.

Another example – we realised at the end of the school-term that the spoken French in the house had reduced. We made a conscious decision that on our two week holiday we would only speak French between us as adults… lo and behold the children followed.

Regardless of your level – monolingual parents or bilingual parents – the principles of having a plan, putting it into place and reviewing it still apply.

So what now to start bringing my child up bilingually? Take time to go through step one and two, grab a cuppa and look for local resources. Put your plan into action with support from friends and family. Then review it from time to time. Keep it fresh and fun.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch. I love a chat and would welcome your experiences.

Good luck!