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French Immersion Preschool, PreK, & Kindergarten

La Maternelle

At The French Académie of Minnetonka, La Maternelle classroom includes preschool, prek, and kindergarten students ages 3-6 years old. La Maternelle is broken out into two classrooms: one classroom for preschool students and one classroom for prek and kindergarten students. Our classrooms often combine for group projects and activities.

 

In France, public school begins at 2 1/2 years old, with a structured curriculum providing the foundations to prepare students for elementary school.

The French School System & The Concept of Cycles:

The French Académie follows the educational structure of the French Ministry of Education, which divides each class from preschool to grade 5 into 3 cycles.

 

La Maternelle is Cycle 1 and includes the following ages:

​​

3

Preschool

Petite Section

PS

4

Pre-K

Moyenne Section

MS

5

Kindergarten

Grande Section

GS

How do the French cycles benefit students? We do not enclose the students in one class level with specific objectives to reach at the end of their grade level, but rather gather all the objectives of each Maternelle level and expect the skills to be mastered by the end of the Grande Section (Kindergarten).

In other words, this cycle system allows us to respect the different rhythms of each child, giving them the time needed to learn and also challenging them to the next steps when they are ready. Children are challenged based on their needs rather than on the grade level they belong. This means that we could tackle Kindergarten level with some students through the school year, or even higher grades!

The 5 Learning Domains of Our Accredited French Curriculum:

Accredited by the French Ministry of Education, our Maternelle classroom adheres to the world-renowned French curriculum. The French curriculum is recognized by schools world-wide. France is the only country to maintain a national teaching system abroad maintained by a school network, Agence pour l'Enseignement Francais a l'Etranger (AEFE). The following are the five domains covered in the Cycle 1 French international curriculum.

Language ACQUISITION

Students discover oral and written language. They acquire the knowledge and richness of the French spoken language, as well as the gradual familiarization with the written language.

Early Mathematics

Students develop number sense as they discover the concept of quantity, its verbal and written representation, and navigate the oral numerical sequence, and counting with purpose.

Artistic Activities

In fine and visual art, the domain of sound, and dramatic arts, students cultivate an appreciation for artistic activities, exploring diverse forms of artistic expression, encountering and conveying emotions and preferences.

Explore the world

Students discover concepts of time and space, different environments, the living world, matter, parts of the body, and how to utilize tools and manipulate objects.

Physical ActivitIes

Students act, express, and develop understanding through physical activity, contributing to motor, sensory, emotional, and relational development.

Goals & Expectations for Children at the end of 3 years in La Maternelle

Language Acquisition:

Language development objectives in the early years are broken out into oral and written language.

Oral Language

  • Willing to take part in communication

  • Understanding and learning

  • Exchanging ideas and reflecting with others

  • Reflecting on language and developing of phonological awareness

Written Language

  • Listening and comprehension

  • Discovering the purpose of text

  • Beginning to write and discovering its function

  • Discover the alphabetic principle

  • Begin writing independently

  • Effectively communicate with adults and peers by employing language to convey thoughts and ideas clearly.

  • Demonstrate the ability to express oneself using syntactically correct and precise language, and make adjustments for better comprehension.

  • Engage in diverse uses of oral language, such as storytelling, describing, evoking, explaining, questioning, proposing solutions, and discussing viewpoints.

  • Recite and expressively present various nursery rhymes and poems from memory.

  • Comprehend written texts independently, relying solely on the language heard.

  • Display curiosity and interest in written language and literacy.

  • Verbally contribute to the creation of written content, understanding the distinction between spoken and written language.

  • Recognize patterns in spoken French and potentially other languages.

  • Manipulate syllables and discern different sounds, including syllables, vowel sounds, and certain consonant sounds.

  • Recognizing the letters of the alphabet, understanding their representations in cursive, script, and capital print.

  • Practice independently write one's first name in cursive script without a template.

  • Construct words using letters or letter groups derived from familiar words.

Early Mathematics:

  • Use numbers to express quantities

  • Develop confidence in small numbers

  • Use numbers to designate a rank or position

  • Count using rote memorization

  • Write numbers with digits

  • Count with one-to-one correspondence

Using Numbers:

  • Assess and compare sets of objects using numeric or non-numeric methods.

  • Form a set with a given cardinal number. Employ counting to compare two quantities, create a set of a specified size, or replicate a set equal to the provided one.

  • Use numbers to express an object's or person's position in a game, organized scenario, row, or for position comparison.

  • Employ analogic symbols (verbal, or written symbols, conventional or unconventional) to convey oral and written information about a quantity.

Studying Numbers:

  • Understand that the cardinal number remains unchanged when altering the spatial arrangement of elements.

  • Grasp that any number results from adding one to the preceding number, representing the addition of a unit to the previous quantity.

  • Quantify collections up to at least ten, compose and break them apart through hands-on manipulations and then mentally. Express how much to add or subtract to obtain quantities not exceeding ten.

  • Breaking down numbers in order to explain them.

  • Recite the sequence of numbers up to thirty.

  • Read numbers up to ten, written in digits.

  • Categorize objects based on shape characteristics. Name some flat shapes (square, triangle, circle or disc, rectangle) and recognize certain solids (cube, pyramid, ball, cylinder).

  • Classify or arrange objects according to criteria related to length, mass, or capacity.

  • Replicate an assembly from a model (puzzle, paving, assembly of solids).

  • Reproduce and draw flat shapes.

  • Identify the principle of organizing a pattern and continue it.

Artistic Activities:

  • Develop a taste for artistic pursuits

  • Discover different forms of artistic expression

  • Express emotions, formulating choices

Fine and visual art:​

  • Drawing

  • Practice drawing and decorating styles

  • Produce 2D and 3D creations

  • Observe, understand, and transform images

Sound:​

  • Play with voice and acquire a repertoire of rhymes and songs.

  • Explore instruments and use the sounds of the body

  • Refine listening skills

Dramatic Arts:​

  • Practice theatric activities

  • Select various tools, mediums, and supports based on a project or set, adapting gestures accordingly.

  • Engage in drawing to represent or illustrate real-life subjects, models, or imaginative concepts.

  • Create a personal composition by replication and creating new elements.

  • Produce compositions independently or in small groups, selecting and combining materials while incorporating various techniques and processes.

  • Memorize a variety of rhymes and songs, performing them expressively.

  • Experiment with voice modulation to explore variations in timbre, intensity, pitch, and nuance.

  • Identify and reproduce simple rhythmic formulas through body movement or with instruments.

  • Describe a picture, discuss a musical excerpt, and articulate feelings or opinions using appropriate vocabulary.

  • Propose solutions in project, creative, or problem-solving situations using body movement, voice, or noise-making objects.

Explore The World:

Concepts of Time & Space

  • Stabilizing time markers

  • Introducing social markers

  • Consolidating the idea of chronology

  • Stabilizing the notion of duration​

  • Experiencing space

  • Representing space

  • Discovering the environment

Exploring the Living World, Objects and Matter

  • Discover the living world

  • Explore matter

  • Use, make, and manipulate objects

  • Ue technology

Situating oneself in time and space

  • Relate events in chronological order, placing them within the context of the day, week, month, or season.

  • Sequence photographs or images to narrate a personal experience or a fictional story with precision in marking succession and simultaneity.

  • Employ appropriate time markers (then, during, before, after...) when crafting stories, descriptions, or explanations.

  • Position objects in relation to oneself and in relation to other reference objects.

  • Navigate in space, making a journey in a familiar environment based on its representation (drawing or coding).

  • Create initial attempts at two-dimensional representation that can be communicated (constructing a shared code).

  • Handle and use a sheet of paper, a book, or other writing medium correctly, following instructions, goals, or specific projects.

  • Utilize spatial markers (front, back, right, left, top, bottom...) in stories, descriptions, or explanations.

Exploring the living world, objects, and matter

  • Identify the main stages of the development of animals or plants through observation of the real or images.

  • Understand the basic needs of certain animals and plants.

  • Identify and name different parts of the human body, either on oneself or in a representation.

  • Implement some rules of personal hygiene and healthy living.

  • Select, use, and identify tools and materials appropriate to a situation and specific technical actions (bending, cutting, sticking, assembling, activating...).

  • Construct simple models based on plans or assembly instructions.

  • Use digital tools such as a camera, tablet, or computer.

  • Be aware of the risks in the immediate familiar environment, including dangerous objects, behaviors, and toxic products.

Physical Activities:

  • Act in space, over time and on objects

  • Adapting balance and movement within different environments or constraints

  • Communicate with others with expressive or artistic purpose

  • Collaborate, cooperate, and face one's opponent

  • Engage in running, jumping, and throwing activities using diverse techniques, within different spaces and with various materials, with a specific goal in mind.

  • Adapt and string together actions and movements based on obstacles to overcome or the trajectory of objects to interact with.

  • Navigate through diverse environments, whether natural or arranged, with ease.

  • Develop and maintain a sequence of actions and movements in coordination with other participants, with or without musical accompaniment.

  • Coordinate personal movements and gestures with those of others during rounds and singing games.

  • Collaborate, assume various complementary roles, engage in opposition, and strategize to achieve a shared goal or outcome.

Tracking Your Child's Progress

 We evaluate the students skills using the benchmarks of the French educational system along witht he ECIP's (Early Childhood Indicators of Progress).

Project 1: Welcome to Spring | Bienvenue au Printemps

Description

This project was inspired by a piece of art exhibited at the Walker Center for the Arts.

 

Full color pictures of these four different representations of nature and Spring and their black and white version were first presented to the students.

 

Focusing on the overall images and also on the details, students gained the understanding of the different components of a picture: the shapes, the colors, the emotions brought up by the images.

 

Instructions given:

Choisis des gommettes de 2 couleurs différentes, et de 2 tailles différentes. Colle les gommettes sur les bourgeons, les branches, les fleurs et les tiges.

Choose dots of two different colors and two different sizes. Place the dots onto the buds, the branches, the flowers and the stems.

 

The students were very quiet during this activity, giving their full attention to their artwork, following the directions given and using their fine motor skills to place the tiny dots in the places of their liking.

Project 2: Discovering Bees | Les Abeilles

Description

As part of our theme about spring, the children learned about bees. Together, we looked at books and discovered that bees collect nectar from flowers and make honey inside their beehive. We also learned lots of new words to talk about bees and the work of beekeepers. As we were all very interested, we got to look at real pollen during circle time, and we were so impressed to see some real pollen! We all took a turn to smell it and look at it. We shared our impressions about what it looked and smelled like. The children said that it looked like little yellow and orange pebbles. They also said that it smelled like pumpkin, popcorn, mango, butter and even ice cream!

 

As the interest about bees did not fade, the children joined together to print bubble wrap onto the outline of a beehive. Then, they painted the background such as some flowers and some trees. And finally, they drew some bees with felt tips. As they were participating to this project, the children were commenting and were saying things such as: “look, I made a carrot, now I’m going to made some blueberries!”, “ I made two suns”, “I made a tree”, “ça, c’est la reine”, “ça, c’est le miel”. The children were very engaged and showed that they really understood what the bees needed to be happy! 

 

Finally, after having spent a few weeks talking about bees, we decided to create a beehive for our wooden bees. First of all, we painted all the loo rolls with yellow paint, then, once they were dry we stuck them together and finally we stuck the honeycomb inside a large box. When the beehive was ready, the children were eager to decorate it so the bees would enjoy it! The children said: “moi fait une abeille”, “un arc-en-ciel”, “ un bouquet de tulipes”, “des fruits”, “ pour Les Abeilles, du pollen”. The children really thought about what the bees would enjoy and use! They also used the real pollen to feed the bees!

 

Objectives:

  • Develop understanding of bees: what they are, what they do and why they are important

  • Develop language

  • Name body parts of the bees

  • Develop fine motor skills

  • Work as part of a group

  • Develop artistic skills

  • Develop understanding of the world

  • Develop hand-eye coordination

  • Develop spatial awareness

  • Develop one to one correspondence

Project 3: Snails | Les Escargot

Description

After a few group discussions with the children about a class mascot, we decided that getting a couple of snails would be a great idea! Together, we discussed what our future snails might need to be happy and stay healthy. After writing a list together, we asked Madame Liebmann to place an order for us. We were so excited for our snails to arrive through the post! Everyday, we were looking out the window to see whether the postman would bring us our little friends. Every morning, we counted the days until we would finally get them!

 

After 29 days, they arrived, at last! Before meeting our snails, we got their home ready but putting some soil and some moss inside the tank. Then, we all gathered up and opened our precious parcel….

What did we discovered inside? Three escargots!! They were hibernating so we had to wake them up gently with warm water. Then, we put them in their new home and gave them some banana to eat (after their long journey, they were hungry!) We spent the day observing them and learning how to handle them. Of course, we made sure to thoroughly wash our hands afterwards. We had a wonderful day discovering them, looking at their shells and reading stories about snails!

 

After a week of having fun with our snails, we cleaned our snails' house and it made us realize that our snails depend on us for their health and well-being, so we have to take care of them properly! We took time to empty the old soil to replace it with clean soil. Then, we added some fresh moss and finally we sprayed our snails with water to make them happy. After all this, we decided to take the game “Snail race” out to work on our math skills and the game took on a whole new meaning! Two of our snails started climbing up the windows of their house and seemed to be racing up! We had lots of fun looking at them and debating who would be first to arrive to the top!

 

Objectives:

  • Develop language

  • Caring for a being other than ourselves

  • Develop awareness of different types of lives

  • Name body parts of the snail

  • Understand the physiology of the snail

  • Develop counting skills

  • Become responsible

  • Understand different types of habitat

  • Understand the concept of hibernation and seasons

As part of our school's Reggio Emilia inspiration, our teachers keep documentation of the different classrooms explorations they discover with their students. This documentation, which is shared daily with our parent community on our private school "Bloomz" app, allows our students, parents, and teachers alike to see the beauty in the children's learning, through natural exploration and discovery. Below are just a few examples of how our students learn and explore.

Preschool, PreK, & Kindergarten Project Gallery

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