Sunday, 29 March 2009

Poissons d'avril (April Fool)

It is at this time of the year that my teachers all over the country start to trawl the TES resources website looking for April Fool’s resources. This, although not a bad thing, is very time consuming, so I decided to create a one stop poisson d’avril shop to help any of you struggling to find ideas for this week. There is no point reinventing the wheel now, is there? Below you will find a collection of ideas and resources which I have brought together to save you any work. If you do use any of the resources, please drop the authors a note to say “thank you” and tell your colleagues about them, too. Sharing resources is the keystone of a good department.
As you probably know, in France and parts of Canada (French speaking ones, I guess!) it is the custom for children to pin paper fish on people’s backs and call them “poisson d’avril”.
The history behind it is all explained here:
Or here if you want it in French:
Both give differing histories, so choose your favourite!
The poisson d’avril is, apparently, a mackerel. I found this quote explaining: The mackerel is called the poisson d'avril, “parce que les macquereaux se prennent et se mangent environ ce mois-la.” So now you know.
If you have a KS1 or 2 group of learners there are some excellent colouring fish here:,poisson-d_avril.html
Or even here:
If you do teach les petits there are lots of resources at not just fish related things.
Last year Jo Rhys-Jones (one of my teaching idols!) created this page for primary teachers
It’s great and has lots of links to excellent resources, which I haven’t replicated here. Just take a look.
For older learners I found a great lesson plan with resource links from a US site identifying the differences between the French and American April 1st traditions: It may not all be relevant to UK teachers but you could adapt it in minutes. I’m not sure who authored it, but the website editor is Susan Murphy and she can be found here:
If you have a very good GCSE class or an A-Level group you might want to use this article:
For those of you who just want to play a joke on your francofriends you can send e-cartes from these 2 sites, some of them come with animations and sounds.
Have fun and be careful, you may end up with a fish on your back!

Friday, 27 March 2009

British summer time?

Aah, the end of another week and almost the end of winter. Although you wouldn't know it to look outside at what the good old British weather is up to. As I sit in my warm, cosy kitchen, with a steaming mug of Sainsbury's gold blend in hand, a large slice of fruit cake (with marzipan!) at my elbow and 2 tiny terriers at my feet, the wind is howling outside and occasionally the sky darkens and big fat drops of rain bounce off the window panes. I raise my tea and thank the chaps (or chapesses!) who invented double glazing and central heating.

Oh and by the way, I hope you like my new kitchen clock. Wherever you are in the world, you can now read my blog and see what time it is in Dom’s kitchen. You lucky people!

Monday, 23 March 2009

What's the best thing to come out of Sunderland?

Now, most people would probably say "The A19" and the really clever ones would say "Thekla", but they couldn't be more wrong.

A wise person, or a teacher of MFL, would say, "Why, the MFL Sunderland website of course!" and then they would probably give you this link:
and you would say "Thank you very much. That's absolutely amazing!"

The site not only contains excellent resources, but links to other useful sites, advice on finding partner schools abroad, links to CILT and Comenius pages, information about, and how to apply for, the International School Award, advice and information about and for Foreign Language Assistants, and "Estrellas", a section with language games for students of all ages and abilities.

As a student or teacher of languages you could do much worse that making this your home page!
MFL Sunderland is one of my favourite MFL websites, not only because it is free, easy to use, and is made by teachers, but because I can almost always find something that is "just right" for my groups.

It is the responsibility of Clare Seccombe, an AST based in Sunderland, and was set up for the benefit of teachers and students within the local authority. Luckily for us, the LA has chosen to make the site available to the general public and teachers from all over the world are now huge fans and are reaping the benefits of what must have taken an awful lot of time and effort. The site is constantly being updated and improved.

It has resources in French, Spanish, German and Italian, and caters for all Key Stages from primary to post 16. Many of the resources are Word or Powerpoint files, so even if you have a really high flying class or a low ability class, you could always adapt them to suit your needs. As with many educational websites, teachers are invited to send in resources to be included on the site. However, unlike many other sites, the layout is fantastic. Clear and comprehensive, it usually takes me only a few seconds to find what I am looking for.

If you have seen and used the site already, you will probably agree with me, if you haven't, then what are you waiting for?

Friday, 20 March 2009

the man from delmonte

I drove myself to work today! Woohoo! I usually get a lift (very environmentally friendly!), but today I took myself. Why am I telling you this? Well, my car means my music. This morning's aural delight was "the man from delmonte"'s live album "big noise" well worth listening to, in my humble opinion. Unfortunately it is no longer available. If you get lucky you might find some of their stuff on ebay, but singles tend to sell for mega bucks! £40 and upwards! You can always check out some of their stuff on youtube.
A lot of their videos have Yorkshire terriers in them, too, which is no bad thing in my book!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

telling the time

One of the best resources I have found for teaching telling the time is the sandfields clock.

Sandfields is a secondary school in Port Talbot, Wales. The website is the responsibility of Mr Stewart Davies and contains some excellent resources and games.

It can be used for teaching the time in MFL or in English to primary pupils.

It is easy to use and read and fun for the students.
By clicking on the yellow buttons, you can change the times and the display can be 12 hour or 24 hour clock. There are different levels from very easy to "mega" so it is suitable for learners of all levels.
It will also save you hours of preparation. You won't have to make time worksheets anymore, and it gives a random time every time.
The main screen looks like this:

Wednesday, 18 March 2009


Why does Wednesday always feel like Tuesday? What? Of course it does.
A busy day today. Attended an ICT seminar where the equipment didn't work!
I also learned something very valuable today...before you teach a class to tell the time in German, make sure that they can do it in English! It will save a lot of time in the future.