|Wouldn't his would be a fun project for French playdates?|
I do want to get back in the habit of posting about storytimes in greater detail, but first I have more urgent--but related--business to cover:
French Playdates at the Library!
French Playdates at the Library!
The Powers That Be gave me permission to offer a monthly playdate for older kids (ages 5-10) in addition to the storytime; it meets the fourth Sunday of the month from 2:00-4:00. We have a nice medium-sized room with tables, a white board, computers, and even a sink and fridge.
Ever since the Parenting Place--a nonprofit parenting support center in Boulder that offered classes, counseling, a food and diaper bank, and a lots of playgroups for various groups--closed, the French-speaking community in Boulder County has not had a regular, low-stress, drop-in playgroup that meets in a public place!
Ah, le bon vieux temps....
For nearly five years, Griffin and I (and then Gwyneth, Griffin, and I) trekked to downtown Boulder every Monday morning so the kids could play on bikes, scooters, slides, sandbox, and other equipment in the enclosed courtyard, or engage with the dollhouse, puzzles, dinosaurs, cars, and craft supplies in the playroom, while anywhere between two and ten moms (and occasionally a dad) juggled juice boxes and breastfeeding babies and puzzle pieces and sun hats while sitting in chairs designed for tiny toddler tushies and sharing stories and advice in French.
I knew I couldn't recapture exactly that with my library playdate--the space is too different, many families have moved away, and the kiddos who were learning to walk and talk then are now in elementary school and have quite different needs and interests.
|here's Griffin playing one of many games that can be conducted in any language at all--I need to bring this sort of thing to our playdates--checkers, Chinese checkers, Connect Four, Sorry….|
But kids still need to play, and parents still need to commiserate and swap success stories, and I wanted a way to make this happen, regularly, in French (without having to clean my house, plan formal activities, or figure out how to include people I've never met). Hence my new Meetup group, Boulder County Fun with French (join us!), whose calendar boasts a new playdate en français every month till the end of the year!
Our first playdate en français took place during the fifth day of a February snowstorm, and in the hours leading up to it I watched the list of oui RSVPs change to nons, so I was genuinely taken aback when three families showed up despite the weather!
I had made a pot of coffee just in case, and brought along four games in French, all of which require reading (or at least recognition of the alphabet) to play, which I thought would be okay, since the minimum age to attend was five.
|the French version of Spot It! is a great choice for encouraging kids to speak French, because it only requires saying individual words, not expressing complex ideas, and it's quick and fun|
So I was genuinely taken aback a second time when it turned out that all the attendees were five and under! (One toddler never even woke up from his car seat.) But I was thrilled to see that all of them were from Francophone families.
|this reading game has several different game boards and activities, but it feels very educational, and I think the children were glad when it was over|
Griffin and a five-year-old girl grudgingly played a French alphabet game until the little kids showed up, at which point I swept my games off the tables, fetched a tub of Legos, a tub of Duplos, and a tub of crayons, and printed a dozen French-themed coloring pages from the Internet (Petit Ours Brun, Kirikou, Babar…). The kiddos happily fell upon the toys while we parents did our best to chat in French despite the near-constant attention and redirection that the children needed. (At one point a French papa apologized for pulling someone else's toddler off a table, because he was afraid that Legos were about to be ingested.)
Ultimately, I can call it a successful event--just not quite what I was expecting (or hoping for). So now with the second one coming up this weekend, what advice or suggestions do you have on providing kids (of all ages, apparently) with activities that will encourage them to speak French??? Please help!