Two and a half years ago we tried out Whistlefritz‘s Spanish Educator’s Collection (you can read our review here) so when the change to review the French Educator’s Collection came up, my children really wanted to do it. Here is how it has been working for us.
Things have changed since our last Whistlefritz review; the children are a little older and their education takes more time each day, Phil’s hours at work have changed, and I’m working nights so I don’t have nearly as much time for prep as I used to have. This meant that as much as my children wanted this program, I had to think twice about it because I knew that it wasn’t going to be an open-the-book-and-go class, it was going to take some work on my part, too. But I do love my children being enthusiastic about learning, and so here we are.
What was included:
The French Educator’s Collection is very similar to the Spanish version, but with fewer DVDs and CDs.
- 3 DVDs
- Inside and Out – Dedans et dehors
- Let’s Play – On va jouer
- The Seasons- Les saisons
- 2 CDs
- Cha, cha, cha – French Learning Songs
- Let’s Dance! – Allons danser !
- Teacher’s Book – French Lesson Plans For Kids (40 lesson plans)
- Memory matching cards
These lessons are meant to be used for children from 1 – 7. My children are currently 7 & 9, and the lessons worked well. I think the reason for the lower ages is the use of the cartoon mouse, Fritzi, and the songs and antics of the DVD characters. However, if your children still love to have fun, then they shouldn’t find this a problem. In fact, the content of the lessons themselves (without the CDs and DVDs) would work well for just about any age as it is based on everyday items and usage.
How We Used Whistlefritz French Lessons
I wasn’t able to find out how often the lessons were meant to be taught; so since there were 40, I assumed these would be weekly lessons. Each lesson states that it will take 30-40 minutes, but I often found that they did take longer (and this time doesn’t include prep time).
We have been using these lessons at about 3 every 2 weeks for the lessons in the book. During the in-between times, the kids watch the DVDs (Kallista specifically requested and did a binge-watch of all of the videos in one go when she was unwell; but generally the kids just watch a few segments at a time). And they listen to the CDs every morning during breakfast and our morning chores.
The flashcards, being conveniently playing-card-sized, were good for taking with us to the library and practicing some verbs there. Verbs can be fun to learn when actions are added to them! Who’s up for some memory match or go fish?!
Each lesson plan starts off with:
- A brief description of the lesson
- The goad
- Materials needed
- The time needed to teach the lesson
Then moves on to the activities/lesson:
- Focus and review
- Teacher input
- Guided practice (the lesson itself)
- Independent practice
- Extension activities
- The printables for each lesson are included here, too
The lessons themselves work in a logical order with each one building on the one before. For example; when learning about My House/ma maison, first the rooms of the house are learned, then there is a lesson for each room (la cuisine, le grenier, la chambre, etc.) and the furniture vocabulary is introduced, bringing in the colours from earlier lessons as well. To help reinforce the vocabulary, children colour their own furniture from the printables and glue them into a booklet they create to represent their house. This brings a little bit of craftiness to the lesson and leaves the children with something tangible they can keep and look back at to refresh their memories.
Games such as Bingo are played a couple of times in the book (with the game cards provided in the printables). Kids always love this game!
Other activities are graphing, making a collage from different coloured shapes (Tristan made a representation of Fritzi and Kallista a scene from Star Wars), paper dolls (for learning about clothes), a movable person (for learning body parts), making play dough, and many others. The kids haven’t seen these future activities yet, but I’m looking forward to them!
Two things that I would love to see:
- Perforated pages to make them easier to tear out and use or copy when needed.
- A full-colour digital version of the lesson plans would be amazing so that the activities could be printed in colour without having to spend the time colouring all the flashcards, etc. myself.
- And as a bonus, an audio download of the key phrases from the lesson plans for parents who are not familiar with French pronunciation.
Whistlefritz is well put together and has lots of fun activities for kids to do. If your child likes crafts and games, they will enjoy this. There’s lots of useful everyday vocabulary, and my kids love watching the DVDs and listening to the CDs. If you have time for prepping classes (or you have an older child who loves to colour for you) then I would suggest this program, especially for preschool-grade 1 children, in particular.
Now that the review period is complete, we will continue to learn French with Whistlefritz. However, I think I will break each lesson down into 2 or 3 parts and do shorter lessons throughout the week so that there isn’t as much target vocabulary to remember for each lesson. I think this may help the children retain it better and become less frustrated with not remembering it all during the lessons.
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