I spent three years teaching core French at the elementary level. I taught classes in grades 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.
One grade five story influenced me forever.
Over three weeks we had been doing all the things the "program" asked, in order to learn the vocabulary and the "interesting little patterns" that grammar seemed to be to the author of the program. It was now time to write a short paragraph about what we had learned. I repeated all the instructions and let the class write. When I collected the treasures and tried to mark them, I could have used an 11.5 inch roller of red paint to cover all the errors.
But of course, I was only to mark certain things wrong, so that is what I did.
The second time we did a paragraph, little Susie came to me and asked: "How come this is right on the first paragraph, but wrong on the second paragraph?" When I explained that it was wrong both times, she was devastated. She thought she had been doing everything (not marked in red) right, and was working on that basis. Her next paragraph might have been better, had I not "misled" her.
The kids think that if it is not marked with a red line, it is right!
I was determined never to do that to a kid again!
Creativity making do with what you know and have at hand, not trying to express yourself with anything you can think of in your own language.
It is very important to show elementary kids the patterns and rules for regular verbs and nouns. They must get used to paying attention to grammar and learn how to learn grammar. Without solidification of this knowledge they live in a fog and are never sure whether they know something or not.
I may have a different definition of creativity than some people. To me creativity means doing what you can with the materials at hand. This is why I encourage students to go back into past lessons of their own text to seek vocabulary for their paragraphs. If it isn't there and they don't know it from previous years, they can't use it.
Although dictionary skills are important, a lot of kids have no idea how much trouble (irregular verbs, multiple definitions) a foreign language dictionary can give at this level.
Verbs - like anything else - are easy if you know the rules!
If you are interested in seeing more of my illustrated elementary materials, click on Tralco Educational Services
The elementary verb charts now include
Cost: $25.00 Canadian for the package.
If you wish to download a sample verb chart, click here: sample