Tuesday, September 18, 2007

preschool textbooks in Morocco

My friends Mary and Mohammed spent a year in Morocco recently. She had a Fulbright to do research and most of his family still lives there, so they rented an apartment with their two children and dove into life in Morocco. Their four-year-old daughter, who already spoke French and understood some Arabic, was enrolled in a bilingual preschool (école maternelle, or la maternelle).

Mary showed me Latifah's textbooks (workbooks, really), and they're different enough from American materials for similarly-aged children that I thought some of my readers might enjoy taking a look!

The publisher is Bordas and the series includes three levels for the maternelle: petite section, moyenne section, and grande section. (Latifah was in the moyenne.) Here's what they consist of:

Maths: lots of counting and identifying shapes and patterns

Graphisme: like a pre-handwriting workbook to teach the child how to hold a pencil, draw lines and loops, etc. (The child doesn't actually write any letters yet.) No wonder French handwriting is so flawless and elaborate, if they start working on graphisme in preschool!

Lecture-écriture (reading and writing): This one does involve recognizing and writing letters, then recognizing words in a list and circling them (not contextualized, other than a picture of the word they're supposed to find).

Toute mon année de maternelle, published by Magnard, available in nine levels from age 2 to CM2 (elementary school): A much longer workbook that covers "lecture, écriture, logique, numération, découverte du monde" (reading, writing, logic, numbers, "discovery of the world") (Imagine, teaching logic to four-year-olds! Only the French....) In this text, the kids circle what doesn't belong, cut and paste pictures, match pictures, put pictures in order, color, do mazes, and complete a very few pages for recognizing letters and words.

The kids had a homemade book as well: It was a spiral-bound notebook that they pasted a comptine (nursery rhyme) into and then illustrated on the facing page. Based on the number of them, I'm guessing that they did one comptine a week.

Latifah also had one handwriting book for Arabic script, similar to the Graphisme workbook.

Amy, who is homeschooling her children and also teaching them French, was thinking about using texts like these with her kids. The books are definitely designed for native speakers of French, but I think her kids could handle them. (The younger children who can't read yet would need to have Amy read them the directions regardless.) On the other hand, the books don't really address how to use the French language or how to start reading, so maybe they're not ideal. On the other hand, they're fun and cute and cultural and do look a bit different from American workbooks for kids.
Any comments, questions, or workbook suggestions for kids learning French outside of French-speaking countries?


  1. Thanks for sharing, Sarah. It's very interesting to see different style of teaching young kids. I'm planning to teach my kids reading and writing in Indonesian later, I guess I have to start looking for some homeschool materials.