So here's how I pulled it all together....
|the Pinterest board that I used to collect resources and ideas|
The students heard the story a different way each of the five days: first with me relating it in very simple French using pictures of the main characters and main ideas and lots of gestures and movements;
|8.5 x 11" print-outs of the salient ideas, slipped into plastic sheet protectors|
by working together to arrange sentences in English telling the tale into chronological order;
|I used a total of about ten sentences; the older students read them to the non-readers.|
by assigning homework to create a very short comic strip based on the story;
|I wrote the narration in each box in French, figuring that the kids knew the story and had heard the key words repeated often enough; their job was to illustrate each panel|
By organizing the class around the story, that meant that I could really exploit its themes: other songs that take place in the forest ("Dans la foret lointaine" and "Promenons-nous dans les bois," for example), simple description words (grand, petit, chaud, froid, vieux, jeune, beau, delicieux), numbers 1-10, and greetings, introductions, and leave-takings.
Oh, I do like contextualized language learning--who wants to memorize vocabulary lists and flip through flashcards when they can play with puppets that threaten to eat each other when they meet?! (Each kid held a puppet during the class, since that tends to cut down on feeling self-conscious when speaking another language.)
But then being told--after the camp had started--that the students' performance on the fifth and final day of the camp had to incorporate songs that they were learning to play on their violins during the rest of the camp, well, that made me start pulling my cheveux out!
(And in the meantime, the music teachers were panicking too, because almost all the campers were brand new students as young as four who couldn't play much of anything!)
How did we do it? I decided that there was a river with a bridge over it in the forest that the galette flees through and taught the kids to sing and dance "Sur le pont d'Avignon." This classic folk song has a familiar, easy melody, plus verses that are easily adaptable to the characters from the story. (Instead of "Les belles dames font comme ca," the lovely ladies curtsy like this, for example, we had "Les ours font comme ca," giving the campers the opportunity to get in touch with their inner bears, roaring and striking each other with their paws, and so on.)
The violin teachers then picked an easy-to-play phrase that became the galette's theme.
Putting it all together meant pulling the two very cool older boys to the side to play all the theme music and the dancing song (they were too cool to act in a play with little kids, anyway), keeping the narrator and the characters, and then having the galette cross the bridge in the middle of the woods so that the children could join together to sing and dance while the boys played "Sur le pont d'Avignon."
We could have used several more days of rehearsal.
(And that is an understatement.)
But the class was finally over, I had learned what not to do when organizing (and teaching) a French immersion class for kids (especially on the first day), I had developed a nice little set of lesson plans and materials that I was able to use within a couple of months with some private tutoring clients, and I had the chance to see my children (because they came to class with me) dance and do some very cute wolf impressions.
And that's what I learned when immersion didn't mean immersion.