“Believing as we do now, that children should learn a foreign language as they learn their mother tongue–they speak it long before they learn to read and write–we endeavor to give the little ones while still in the nursery a joyous and interesting oral introduction, by means of games, songs, and stories, to the future study of the language as read and written.”  Frances Epps, Nursery French, Parents’ Review 1890

Suggested Games for Any Language

Adapted from Frances Epps’ Nursery French…

  • Singing Games-though Epps speaks specifically about French nursery songs, the idea she suggests can be implemented in any language.  Mason included “singing games” in Form 1.  Find songs in your target language which lend themselves to movement and gestures coinciding with the words of the songs.  “The children will, naturally, learn the words slowly and carefully, with their meaning, as well as the actions and the music.” (Epps, Frances.  Nursery French.  The Parents’ Review, 1890.)
  • Talking Games-though Mason herself does not mention “talking games” in her programmes, I can imagine these being used during free afternoons, evenings and weekends during the first few years of study.

“I Have a Basket”-the teacher has a basket (box, bag, jar etc) and states “I have a basket.”  The teacher then asks the students, “What do you put in it?”  Each student has a turn with the basket, first stating “I have a basket.”  The teacher or other students ask, “What do you put in it?”  The student states what they put in the basket…”I put eggs in it.”  The student passes the basket to the next student (or teacher and student take turns).

BINGO-(requires teacher prep) students have counters and cards with pictures on them of the vocabulary words they have learned.  The teacher (or student) calls out vocabulary words and the students must say in their target language “I have a —!”  The first student to cover their card wins.

Counting Games-many games can be played with numbers and vocabulary words.

Using pencils, crayons, buttons, beans, etc., students have a number of them set in front of them.  Student #1 asks Student #2 (or the teacher) “How many — do you have?”  If Student #2 answers correctly, “I have — —–,” they have a turn asking the next student.

“BUZ”-at the beginning of the game, a number is chosen.  For example, 8.  The students begin counting and whenever that number comes up, they must say “buz” instead.  “Un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, BUZ, neuf, dix, onze, douze, treize, quatorze, quinze, seize, dix-sept, dix-BUZ…”