Post Office Play Centre (Part 1)
Learners speaking in French while they play is the DREAM. This is our end game in kindergarten in the biggest way. Oral language is not only the foundation to literacy; it is crucial to belonging, being, and becoming. That sounds important! Yet, immersion teachers consistently identify a need for additional strategies to better teach oral language. Recent Canadian studies (Stagg Petersen et al, 2016) reveal that immersion teachers feel like they have ample resources to support the teaching of reading and writing, but very few resources which support the teaching of oral language.
Recent Canadian studies reveal that immersion teachers feel like they have ample resources to support the teaching of reading and writing, but very few resources which support the teaching of oral language.
I strive to create a classroom environment where children are playing and speaking French; year after year I have very good results with my learners. This doesn’t happen all at once. When the classroom is feeling French-full, and I know many of my learners are ready for the push to speak in French while they play, I open a French play zone. Right now, I have two French play zones open – the dramatic play zone and the writing zone. The dramatic play zone is a Post Office (our school has a lovely tradition where the kindergarten learners mail Valentine’s cards to their families at home as an integrated part of our learning about families).
I set up a Post-Office invitation in my dramatic play zone after school. Key elements: laminated envelopes (these envelopes are going on 5 years old and they are as good as new), and laminated « stamp » stickers (I adhered a velcro dot to the back of each stamp and the corner of each envelope), and a cash register. The advantage to laminating the envelopes and the stamps is that they can be used repeatedly (write on with marker, and wipe off with a damp paper towel). I did the work to build this centre once and now it is ready to go anytime. You will also need a mailbox. I prefer realistic toys, but any kind will work. This one pictured here was co-created with a couple of interested learners 3 years ago and it is still going strong.