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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Tom Sawyer Speaks French!

Week of April 29 - May 5:  Ideas to help us all promote French language learning this week, including Washington, D.C. area French-language and cultural events for kids and families.  Please share any other ideas by commenting below or posting to Bonjour Mama's Facebook page!  Bonne semaine! 

In our house most weekend nights are "family movie night" where we all camp out on the sofa bed in the living room and watch something together.  This is fun in principle, but I have had such bad luck choosing movies that are truly family-friendly that often we wind up defaulting to Zach’s choice of TV shows (involving a superhero). Then the grown-ups lose interest fast and end up on a laptop or asleep in bed.

So last night I enlisted my husband’s help in finding something we could all enjoy. He grew up in Morocco where most kids TV shows were in French (bingo! family movie night en français!)  He nostalgically browsed on youtube for the videos of his childhood in the 70s and 80s which included many American shows like Inspector Gadget, Little House on the Prairie, and Tom Sawyer.  

Wait a second. Tom Sawyer? I don’t ever remember seeing that. All those years of the Smurfs and I could have been watching an American classic? (in addition to Little House, of course). I decided to watch the credits at the end of the video and saw that the production company was Nippon Entertainment.

So there you have it. My Moroccan husband has introduced his American wife and American-Moroccan son to Tom Sawyer in French created in Japan.  Vive YouTube!

As for events, I am getting a bit stumped for kids' activities beyond the weekly storytimes. I promise to organize something soon (or if you are so inclined, please feel free to organize one and share to the Bonjour Mama FB page!!). In the meantime, I am thinking of adding some French cultural events for the grown-ups, which between the French embassy and the Alliance Française are more plentiful than for les petits. And après tout, we deserve to play, too!  So this week consider Saturday's "Alors on dance?" dance party at the Maison Française for date night!

Out and About
Please confirm dates and times directly with event host. ($) indicates there is a cost for the event.  

Tuesday 4/30
4pm: Storytime at the Alliance Française

Wednesday, 5/1
10:30am: French Storytime at PB& Jack (included in admission fee)

Saturday 5/4
10:30am – French Circle Time / Petites Chansons at the Takoma Park Library

10:50am - Storytime at the Alliance Française

7:30pm - 1:00am - "Alors on danse?" party at the Maison Francaise($)

At Home

Watch Tom Sawyer in French on youtube. The dialogue is simple and easy to understand, no violence (unless you are offended at the 19th century schoolteacher's threatening to use the switch!).

Read (at bedtime) Petites Histoires pour s'Endormir. This is one of the sweetest little bedtime storybooks we've read. Very short (takes less than 2 minutes to read) stories with animal characters doing cute things to fall asleep. Zach's favorite is the one about the elephant and the monkey. Monkey is having trouble sleeping and his good friend Elephant suggests (je connais une façon!) first, flapping his ears (rabattre les oreilles). No luck; next, rolling up his trunk and counting to ten (enrouler la trompe en comptant jusqu'à dix); again, not an option. Finally, cuddle up to a friend: ça y est!   Bonne Nuit!

Plan a playdate with other French-speaking parents and kids!  If you are in the DC Metro area, join or suggest an event on Bonjour Mama’s facebook pageLe Petit Groupe Français, or Les Mamans Autour de DC!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Recharging with French Dinosaurs

April 22-28, 2013: Ideas to help us all promote French language learning this week, including Washington, D.C. area French-language and cultural events for kids and families. Please share any other ideas by commenting below or posting to Bonjour Mama's Facebook page!

In coming up with activities for the week I've been tending to follow the seasons, piggybacking on whatever is happening at the moment.  

This includes whatever the theme happens to be at Zach's preschool, which, this month is dinosaurs.  He is très into triceratopses and t-rexes at the moment. So last week we tried a new show I saw on CanalJ (the French version of Nickelodeon) called "Dinosaur King" (not "rois") which follows a band of adventurous kids who can make dinosaurs jump to life out of magic cards.  It has quickly become a favorite (his--my imagination is not that good). More on this in a minute.  

First, a little musing about my using videos as a way to relax and practice French at the same time. I know that passive watching of TV is not the best way to teach foreign languages (or anything) to children and that they - especially the little ones -  learn much better through human interaction.  But sometimes if we are at home at 3pm when my internal siesta mechanism kicks in, it's either a screen or a power nap (confession: sometimes both).  And while I am most definitely not immune to turning on the TV with the admonishment that it must be in French in order to enjoy some me-time (like unload the dishwasher while listening to NPR: seriously, what else is there unless it's girl's night out), I generally try to watch with Zach. 

Also, honestly, videos are a great way to promote French and for both of us to learn. Especially when you can pause at any moment during the viewing to comment/ask questions, I find I can create interaction where it would otherwise not happen. Today (back to the dinosaurs) this took the form of commenting on the weird hairstyles of the characters on this quirky show. It went something like this:

Me: Pause video. "Attends, il y a quelque chose de bizarre. As-tu vu les cheveux de ces personnages? Tu ne les trouves pas bizarres?"
Zach cracks up laughing and says: "Oui - regarde-lui. Ses cheveux c'est comme ca, lui comme ca"
Me: "Oui, ça ressemble un escalier!"
Zach laughs.
Pause video. "Attends. Qu'est-ce qu'il a dit? Je ne comprends rien quand il crie comme ça, et toi?"
Zach. Moi non plus.... (opportunity to discuss what happened and clarify, teach words...)

And so on.  

Forget bubble bath and Norah Jones.  I am fully recharged after 20 minutes with a Tyrannausaure.

Bonne Semaine!

Out and About

($) indicates there is a cost for the event. 

Thursday, 4/25

Friday, 4/26

Saturday, 4/27
10:50am- Storytime at the Alliance Française  

At Home

In honor of Earth Day: 

Build an eco-friendly city on Ecoville (for older kids)

Recycle with Boowa and Kwala - a great game that includes French audio feedback and teaches recycling terms (metal, paper, cans...)

Read J'aime la Terre by Todd Parr- available at multiple DC libraries

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Au Marché, Au Marché!

April 15-21, 2013: Ideas to help us all promote French language learning this week, including Washington, D.C. area French-language and cultural events for kids and families. Please share any other ideas by commenting below or posting to Bonjour Mama's Facebook page!

Georgetown's annual French Market is this Friday and Saturday April 19th and 20th from 10am-5pm (along Wisconsin Avenue between Reservoir Rd. and P St.)

The "market" is mainly a sidewalk sale for all the trendy boutiques and galleries and other neighborhood establishments, but it definitely has a French flavor with the likes of Café Bonaparte and Patisserie Poupon and the Macaron Bee offering yummy deals. On Saturday there will be strolling street musicians and mimes (one musician is from Martinique, but I am not sure which language he sings in), and the Alliance Française will host arts and crafts for kids from 11am to 4pm at the TD Bank parking lot (1611 Wisconsin Ave).

In the spirit of the "marché", I thought it might be fun to think of all the different places we go to the real market (i.e. grocery store) and the words some things we typically buy. I am humbled by how many of these I did not know how to say before this post, and emboldened to try out with Zach this new vocabulary for things we buy on at least  a weekly basis.  Do you know what "lait écrémé biologique" means? 

Happy Grocery Shopping, and Bonne Semaine!

Out and About

Please confirm dates and times directly with event host. ($) indicates there is a cost for the event.  
Note: Tuesday Storytime at the Alliance Française is cancelled on April 16th and 23rd, but will resume the following week. 


10am-5pm -Georgetown French Market (sidewalk sale / discounts only, no entertainment)

10:50am - French Storytime at the Alliance Française 

10am-5pm -Georgetown French Market (including entertainment)

1pm-4pm - Bonjour! Books French-language children's book sale at the Kensington Day of the Book Festival (plus Usborne books from

At Home

Make a grocery list and then go shopping at the marché or supermarché!  Below is a list of all the different types of stores to be found in France (list courtesy of many of these either don't exist or are seldom found here, but I highlighted some that do, and listed some typical things we buy at our supermarché. Tip when coming up with your list: use to look up anything you don't know (look at the bottom of the page for the discussions which 99% of the time give me exactly the term I'm looking or), and/or browse this Montreal supermarket's weekly special for ideas and vocab (in French and English!)

le supermarché   supermarket 
  • bananas - bananes
  • green beans - haricots verts
  • romaine lettuce - laitue romaine / salade romaine
  • fuji apples - pommes "fuji"
  • vine tomatoes - tomates sur vigne
  • zucchini - courgettes
  • organic milk - le lait bio
  • whole milk / low-fat milk / fat-free milk- lait entier / demi-écrémé / écrémé soy milk - lait de soja
  • greek yogurt - yaourt grec
  • free-range chicken - poulet élevé en plein air 
  • whole grain pasta - påtes completes
  • sliced whole grain bread - pain complet tranché
  • chicken thighs - cuisses de poulet
  • wild-caught salmon - saumon sauvage
  • lamb shoulder -épaule d'agneau / lamb shank - jarret d'agneau
  • cereal - céréales
  • lean ground beef - viande hachée maigre
  • frozen french fries - frites surgelées
la boulangerie   bakery 
le marché   farmer's market 
la boucherie   butcher shop
la confiserie   candy store
la crémerie, la laiterie   dairy
la fromagerie   cheese shop
le magasin de fruits et légumes   greengrocer
lmarchand de vins   wine shop
la pâtisserie   pastry shop / bakery
la poissonnerie   fish store
la banque   bank
le grand magasin   department store
le kiosque   newsstand
le magasin de confection, de vêtements   clothing store
la pharmacie   pharmacy
la poste   post office
le pressing / nettoyage à sec  dry cleaner
le tabac   tobacco shop
la laverie - laundromat
le tabac   tobacco shop
une épicerie   small grocery store
la quincaillerie   hardware store

Create an Arbre Genealogique (family tree) following instructions in "Mes premiers pas d'artiste" (available via Bonjour! Books!). This book is filled with wonderful projects inspired by original works, such as the 15th century tapestry preceding the tree project. Take a peek at some of the pages here. What a wonderful way to introduce children to both history of art and artists and the joy of creating something new at the same time!

Look for a favorite character and watch a video on the kids' Canal J channel's web site. Many of the videos can actually be viewed from the U.S., unlike most media sites where I've tried to view kids' shows only to be shown the "this content cannot be viewed from your country"  message (so frustrating!). If you find an episode you want to watch that is not viewable, try doing a video search on youtube. For example, we've had fun watching Jackie Chan by searching for "Jackie Chan saison 1" which brings up multiple episodes.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Don't Step on the Coccinelle! (Ladybug)

April 8-15, 2013: Ideas to help us all promote French language learning this week, including Washington, D.C. area French-language and cultural events for kids and families. Please share any other ideas by commenting below or posting to Bonjour Mama's Facebook page!

Below are the French-language events I am aware of this week, including a rescheduled "Cherry Blossom Gouter" so  I hope we still have some trees blooming!   Also -- I didn't include it in the "official" list as there is no guarantee French will be spoken-- but I noticed Washington International School is having their Spring Bazaar on Saturday the 13th. I imagine as French is one of the official languages of the school it is likely to be heard, and even if not, it looks like a fun multicultural event. More info can be found here.  And for anyone as anxious as I am to get into nature, I made a list of petites bêtes to equip us for a bug hunt en français!

As I put together the coming week's activities, I remembered that Friday the 12th is the deadline for Montgomery County immersion lottery program. I am planning to apply, but would love to hear anyone who has decided--either to immerse or not-- what influenced your decision?  How does a formal language immersion program fit into your overall language strategy with your child?  

Bonne Semaine à Tous!


Out and About

($) indicates there is a cost for the event. 


(to reserve, contact



At Home

Read "Ours dans la Ville / Bear about town" (for sale on Bonjour! Books!) one of Zach's favorites (I don't read English part of bilingual books out loud, but I like them because it really does help to have the translation right there in case I come across a word I don't know). We follow Bear's route around town to the boulangerie, park, magasin de jouets, etc cetera, naturally introduced to vocabulary with vibrant, colorful illustrations. There is even a map at the back of the book so you can plan other routes he might take on other days (et si on habitait à coté du magazin de jouets, ca serait trop cool! Je pense que demain Ourson va aller au parc avant d'acheter ses croissants à la boulangerie!)  

Make a cherry blossom (cerisier en fleur) following instructions on

Look for Bugs in your back yard or local park.  To find the names of common garden insects, I looked at a few sites specializing in home gardening and even pest control. This is not the type of reading material I would normally consume willingly, but I thought for the sake of a curious five-year old and my desire to get out into nature, I could stand to familiarize myself with some of our native species. Then I looked them up in French, a much more pleasant activity. I hope we never spot most of the bugs on this list, but just in case we do, I will be prepared with the right warning: "Regarde, un _______ !"  Or other likely exclamations: 

Let's go on a bug hunt / on fait une chasse aux insectes!
Grab your butterfly net  / Prends ton filet à papillons!

It stings! ca pique!
it tickles! / ca chatouille!
don't squish it!" / ne l'ecrase pas! /
isn't it beautiful? qu'elle est belle!
does it have wings? / at-il des ailes?
what a beautiful color / quelle belle couleur!
Ew gross! / Oh beurk!

Bugs / Petites Bêtes
ladybug - coccinelle (f)  
ant - fourmi (f)
praying mantis - mante religeuse (f)
butterfly - papillon (m)
cricket / cicada - grillon (m)
honeybee - abeille (f)
beetle - scarabée (m)
dragonfly - libellule (f)
lightning bug - luciole (f)
tick - tique (f)
stink bug - punaise (f)
wasp - guêpe (f)
bumblebee - bourdon (m)
hornet - frelon (m)
earthworm - ver de terre  / lombric (m)
gnat - moucheron (m)
japanese beetle - scarabée japonais (m)
inchworm - chenille arpenteuse (f)
caterpillar - chenille (f)
aphid - puceron (m)
earwig - perce-oreille (m)
gypsy moth - papillon de nuit (m)
grasshopper - sauterelle (f)
slug - limace (f)