French class shares stories with first graders

Emma Peters

First grade French students giggled and gasped in surprise as freshman Sophie de Morelos unfolded a large, hand-drawn Eiffel Tower in her French story about two dogs lost in Paris.

“Georgette et Gérard,” written by de Morelos, is just one of the 43 original children’s stories written by French 5-6 students and read aloud to pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade students on the class’s annual field trip to the Lycée Français La Perouse-French School in Corte Madera on Nov. 19.

Sophia de Morelos teaching a group of young french students
Sophia de Morelos teaches a group of young French students at the Lycée Français school.

The Lycée Français reading marked the end of a seven-week unit for the French 5-6 students, in which they created their own French picture books with the goal of improving their pronunciation in speaking, mastering the two past tenses, and writing with proper grammer. At the school, the French students split up into groups and read their stories to different classes.

The French 5-6 students were able to showcase their writing and speaking skills to children already fluent in French.

“The project really helps to force people to work on their pronunciation, and it was fun because we were able to create art and talk to kids,” said de Morelos.

Junior Max Gerstman also said he enjoyed the experience.

“It was one of the biggest speaking exercises we’d done over the five semesters,” Gerstman said. “It was a cool experience from an immersion perspective, speaking for two minutes solely in the language.”

While French teacher Bernadette Rattet has organized this program for over 10 years, she says that each year is different because of the diversity and creativity of each student’s book.

“It’s a very unique and very individual project,” Rattet said. “Everybody’s story is different—it varies from robot to dinosaur stories to princess and animal stories. It brings choice to the classroom.”

In the early stages of the unit, students brainstormed story ideas and the different ways of presenting the story.

“I asked them to think about what kinds of stories they liked when they were five years old, and what kinds of things a five-year-old would laugh at,” Rattet said.

Junior Diane Chacon took the presentation of her simple story to the next level by creating two frog puppets of her story’s characters out of green silicon potholders. The puppets—outfitted with googly eyes, a tongue and even a hair bow—were used for the dialogue in her tale about traveling frogs.

“The pre-k students understood the story and laughed at the parts that were supposed to be funny,” Chacon said. “They just didn’t ask as many questions as the older kids.”

Rattet said the event was still appreciated by the Lycée Français community.

“Those little kids at the Lycée wait every single year for the big kids to come,” Rattet said. “It’s a big event—they organize it, they wait for us.”

Several teachers requested to keep the stories so they could read them again, and the new Lycée Français director Frederic Faisse suggested that he would like to see more opportunities for both schools to collaborate.

“It was a great exchange between the two cultures and age groups,” Faisse said. “[Next time], we should do more exercises and workshops in our school. Students can stay longer than one hour and spend more time in other classes with older students.”