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Murray Journal

Trip to Paris: Grant fourth-graders prepare for year-end flight

Aug 29, 2019 10:27AM ● By Julie Slama

Ginger Shaw’s fourth-grade class at Grant Elementary spent a day learning about France from learning vocabulary to tasting French foods. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

What this year’s students in Ginger Shaw’s fourth-grade class at Grant Elementary can count on is boarding a plane for France where they will sample French cuisine, learn a little about the country’s architecture, history, art, music and experience a typical French school day. 

The cost? Free.

That’s because after incorporating French vocabulary and geography in their schoolwork all year, Shaw creates a “My Day in Paris,” in her classroom. Students, many who dress for the special occasion, have mock passports complete with their school photos, turn desks and chairs into a jet plane, invite former students back to be flight attendants, and land for a day of French fun — and a few faces from tasting escargot.

“By learning some words in other languages and learning a little about the French culture, it encourages students to be more curious and accepting of people from other countries,” Shaw said. “It started with just teaching a few words during the year and it has just evolved to introducing French cuisine, having luggage claim tickets they need to read, and learning traditional French songs.”

During the day, students have a packet to complete. There are French verb conjunctions, vocabulary, from colors to school terms, songs, notable people, geography and more. In addition, students have several activities, such as drawing the Eiffel Tower to scale, use French school-related words they had learned in a crossword puzzle and creating the French flag with colored popsicle sticks while the national anthem played in the background. The class also watched the French short film, “The Red Balloon” and learned about neighboring countries through postcards and other items displayed. 

Shaw also holds the France day at the end of the school year, after mandatory tests, encouraging students to continue learning, but have fun at the same time.

“It’s considered a free day, but instead of just turning on a movie, we’re still exploring and engaging in learning. We learn about geography with map assignments, art and math with drawing the Eiffel Tower, science as we learn about snail habitats before tasting escargot, history, languages and so many ways, it ties into curriculum,” she said about the activity she has done every year in her more than 30 years of teaching. 

While the day was devoted to French, Shaw said that isn’t all they study.

“During the year, we learn different words in several languages—French, Farsi, German, Spanish, Somali, Portuguese, Mongolian—so they have a connection and can take the time to greet someone in their native language. We learn more French as it is one that is taught in secondary schools and this opens a door which may allow some to explore the language and culture more. Plus, it helps them understand other Latin-based languages and more about English,” she said, adding she has lived in the country.

For fourth-grader Lilly Wilson, she appreciated the vocabulary lessons.

“We learned about occupations, colors, numbers, school terms and found a lot of the words are similar to English so it isn’t hard,” she said. “We played bingo with French terms and used words we’ve learned all year long today.”

Her classmate, Savannah Benson, appreciated the flight to Paris, complete with sound effects and popcorn and soft drinks.

“She told us about the day at the beginning of the year, but it’s even more fun today,” she said, adding that she wants to study French in high school. “I want to go to Paris for real and see the Eifel Tower and Notre Dame.”

Fourth-grader Elin Duncan agreed: “I want to go to Paris and see all the beauty and hear the language. I’ll even try the snails.”

Classmate Spencer Somerville also was willing to try escargot, but said it would be hard to beat the chocolate he sampled.

“It is really good,” he said.

Close by Alivia Wyatt was using a ruler and protractor to draw her Eiffel Tower.

“It’s been fun to learn about the country, learn about their customers and even get a ticket with a seat assignment on the flight,” she said. “It’s all been really fun.”