Le Carnaval dans le monde francophone – A cultural Breakout activity for Novice learners

This school year, I have been teaching a variety of small groups at the Chattanooga School of Language (CSL). After 7+ years of a very demanding full-time+travelling+5-prep teaching job, teaching part-time has allowed me to 1) spend a ton more time with my own children 2) create and publish resources with a focus on comprehensible and compelling reading materials for Novice learners 3) completely free myself from any curriculum and explore different ways of delivering Comprehensible Input (CI).

So, when I read a post by Martina Bex about Breakout EDU last November, I knew I wanted to try it with my Elementary Novice group. But I had to wait until my students had enough language so that I could actually make the activity 1) cultural and 2) focused on comprehensible reading/listening. I had to resist being carried away by how exciting breaking something out of a box is, and stay focused on immersing my students in comprehensible and compelling French!

The opportunity finally presented itself during Carnival. I had just published a mini reading unit about Le Carnaval dans le monde francophone and was able to successfully use it with my adult group, but I knew it would be out of reach for my mixed 1st-3rd grade group. So, I decided to use a Breakout activity instead! My students LOVED it (they call it a “Mardi Gras treasure hunt”), we were able to stay in French the entire time, and they learned different cultural practices around Carnival in the francophone world.

This Carnaval Breakout EDU activity is for Novice learners who don’t have the stamina or the skills to read longer texts (yet), and can be used with all grade levels. I have prepared detailed instructions for teachers but please feel free to modify it to meet the needs of your students. In the meantime, here are some pictures to wet your appetite!

Placing Mardi Gras masks and decorations (and waffles if you have no food allergies) in a box and locking it with 3 different locks.
After counting different items on a picture of the “Carnaval de Québec”, my students work together to enter the numbers they collected and open the first lock!
After reading a short description of how French kids celebrate Mardi Gras, my students choose the picture that best corresponds to this description and get access to the word that will unlock the third and final lock.
They did it! Now they get to decorate masks while I continue providing input in French about the masks/decorations, using simple questions, comments, and commands.
During our wrap-up, the students help me complete statements about “Carnaval”, using what they have learned.

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