Wednesday, February 21, 2007

valentine's day: the icing on the cake

As a one-year-old, my nephew Carl is too young to understand what happens on holidays, and his arts and crafts activities are limited to scribbling under supervision and smearing banana in his hair, so we didn't celebrate Valentine's Day last week. I considered not doing so with the little girls I tutor in French--especially since in France, Valentine's Day is generally celebrated only between lovers--but I figured they'd be so hyped up on candy from a day spent gorging on it in school that it would be hard to do a French lesson with them that evening. So instead of trying to get them to listen to a story and play a quiet game of Memory, I gave in.

We started with a song, "J'aime Papa," a sweet ditty about loving the members of your family:

J'aime Papa, j'aime Maman,
Mon petit chat, petit chien, grand frère
[I changed this from the original "petit frère" since the girls do have an older brother],
J'aime Papa, j'aime Maman,
J'aime ma grand-mère et mon gros éléphant.
[This last line about loving both their grandma and their fat elephant sent the girls into gales of giggles.]

Then, having established how to say "I love" in French, we did an arts and crafts project. I had cut out six hearts in decreasing size from colored paper. On the smallest heart, I wrote "J'aime." Then their mom and I helped them write words in French for what they love on the top of the other larger hearts. When placed one behind the other and stapled at the bottom, the hearts displayed all that is dear to a four-year-old and a six-year-old: Noël, bon-bons, Superman, etc.

We concluded our Valentine's Day lesson by decorating individual-sized cakes with icing from tubes. What started out as "Happy Valentine's Day!" in French quickly deteriorated into half-inch high splotches of color seeping into one another over the white frosting--but while channeling her inner Pollock, the four-year-old sang "J'aime Papa, j'aime Papa, j'aime Papa" over and over to herself.

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