Whitslefritz, French for Kids | Review

Whistlefritz is a delightful program to teach French (or Spanish) to children from ages one to seven. It stars Marie, a little mouse who whistles, and real children speaking French. It is adorable, and I'm happy to share my review of the Educator's French Collection.

As you can see, it looks cute, colorful, and fun, and it is!

The French Educator's Collection includes:
  • Lesson Plans book 
  • 3 Videos 
  • 2 Music CDs 
  • Matching Cards game 
The thematic units taught in this collection include:
  • Who am I?
  • Colors
  • Numbers
  • Shapes
  • Places
  • Around the House
  • Clothing
  • Seasons
  • Parts of the Body
  • Positional Words
  • Food
  • Family
  • Animals
  • Descriptive Words
There are 40 lessons total with a party at the end.

How we used Whitslefritz

First, I uploaded the CDs to my iTunes so I could sync them to my iPhone for listening anywhere, including the car. I also printed out the Translation Guides for the CDs and DVDs that are available online and spiral bound them for ease of use.

Second, I looked over the French Lesson Plans for Kids curriculum guide and made a list of supplies I would need.

Materials you will need to complete the hands on activities:
  • brown paper lunch bags and supplies to make puppets (googly eyes, yarn, pictures of faces)
  • ability to photocopy 
  • small balloon stickers
  • colored Goldfish crackers
  • magazine images of rooms in a house
  • dollhouse pieces 
  • Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown
  • a simple French book about seasons (suggestions are given)
  • ingredients to make play dough (flour, salt, cooking oil, food coloring)
  • play food 
  • basket, bowls, spoons, fruit
  • magazine images of food
  • paper plate, napkin, and cup, and plastic utensils
  • beans or bingo markers
  • Goodnight Gorilla, by Peggy Rathman
  • textured objects (like sand paper, shell, or rock, stuffed animal, block, foil)
  • ingredients to make ice cream
  • colored markers, crayons, colored construction paper, cardstock, popsicle sticks, brads, hole punch, white paper, scissors, tape or glue, stapler, empty plastic bottle, glitter, glue gun, newspaper, paint, rubber band, masking tape, colored tissue paper, glitter, dry oatmeal or quinoa
(I could have just said various crafts supplies and items from around the home, but I looked through every lesson to make a shopping list, and thought it might be helpful to someone else). 

I'm planning to work through one lesson a week. I spent my first week of the review going over the materials and previewing the videos and songs, and I made a plan to complete one lesson per week for this review. I think that will be an enjoyable and doable pace for my 6 year old, who this program is designed for.

I am using this with all three of my younger kids who are ages 6, 10, and 12. I think it will be a lot of fun for them all. I only took a year of French in high school, but many of these concepts are still familiar to me, so this will be a lot of fun for me too.

Lesson 1 - Who am I? (Qui suis-je?)

Each lesson in the Lesson Plans book contains these elements:
  • Description of lesson 
  • Goal
  • Objective
  • Vocabulary
  • Materials
  • Time (to complete the lesson which is 30-40 minutes per lesson)
  • Activities 
I read these and learn that we will be learning greetings, introductions, and feelings. We will say hello, say our names, ask how others feel, and ask how they feel. All of the vocabulary and translations are included in both English and French and the lessons are scripted. You could teach a total immersion French class by only reading the French! Or you could do both, which is what I have been doing. I say the prompt in French and then follow with the English translation. This lesson should take 30-40 minutes, and it did, but it took us practicing all week (and the next!) just to get this first lesson down pat.

Each Activities section includes:
  • Focus (a scripted welcome and what we will be learning today)
    • In Lesson 1, I said, "Hello! Today we are going to talk about who we are and how we are feeling."
  • Teacher Input (a scripted lesson)
    • In Lesson 1, we learned how to say:
      • "Hello! My name in [Michelle], What is your name?"
      • "Hello. My name is [Boaz]."
      • "How are you? I am [well, very well, not well]."
      • Goodbye
  • Guided Practice (a demonstration of the lesson)
    • Lesson 1 had us make three paper bag puppets with craft items. One puppet was "tres bien" (very well), one was "bien" (well), and one was "pas bien" (not well).
  • Independent Practice (students practice on their own)
    •  Each kid had to say the phrase for how their puppet was feeling, 
  • Closure (where teacher works with each student to make sure they understand)
    • I worked one on one with each child. 
  • Extension Activities (listen to a song or watch a portion of the video)
    • We listened to the song Bonjour les amis from the CD Allons danser! and from the DVD On va jouer. 

We practiced this lesson the rest of that week and into the next before we could speak with fluency.

We also memorized the lyrics to the CD version of Bonjour les amis!

Lesson 2 - Colors (les couleurs)

This week, I told the kids that Fritzi the Mouse is having a birthday party, and we identified colors in French.

We learned the names of the colors and created secondary colors from primary colors. To prepare for the lesson, I copied the provided image onto cardstock. (The lesson called for using transparencies, so we had to modify this lesson). We just painted the balloons and talked about what primary and secondary colors are and reviewed which primary colors mixed make which secondary colors. (I was supposed to use primary colored transparencies to make a secondary color). 

There was no video or song this lesson, so we kept singing the Bonjour les amis song. 

Lesson 3 - Fritzi's Presents (Les cadeaux de Fritzi)

This week, we learned French numbers from 1 to 10. Bo counted little gift boxes with numbers on them, said the numbers in French, and placed them on one of several game boards. The older kids helped him say the numbers in French.

We also listened to the song "Les doights" and watched the song on the video.

Lesson 4 - Fritzi's Balloons (les balloons de Fritzi)

This week, we learned the mathematical concept of one-to-one correspondence. Bo placed heart shaped "balloon" stickers on each square, putting the correct number to match the number on the square while saying the number in French.

Lesson 5 - Fish Math (Poissons mathématiques) 

This week, we were to graph and sort objects by color using mats and worksheets provided, but I was sick and lost my voice, so I was not able to do a lesson this week.

We did not do any more lessons, but Boaz watched the videos and we played many matches of memory throughout the review period!

What did I like or dislike?

The videos and songs are energetic, colorful, and fun. Fritzi doesn't talk - Marie does all the talking for him, but he nods and gives a thumbs up.

Whistlefritz French

Whistlefritz French

They have happy kids singing and talking in French.

Whistlefritz French

It is very cute and appealing to my 6 year old. But, I wish there was a video for each lesson.

The lesson plans are teacher intensive and require a lot of teacher preparation and involvement. I think I would like it a lot more if there was a video for each lesson and the lesson plans followed the videos. I am doing most of the teaching and the actual work of this program. I wish that the program was easier to implement (or that I wasn't doing most of the teaching).

It is all in French (immersion approach), but the DVDs and CDs have a translation guide. It is not a transcript of the video, but rather a list of words and phrases from the videos and songs. I appreciated having this!

There are so many pages of activity sheets in the lesson plan book! I ended up using paper clips and binder clips to bind each lesson together so I could get a feel for the whole program.

I didn't like that the songs and videos are all on one tract, but since it's not, it would be nice to have the time that the song or video starts listed in the lesson plan book. I had to preview the videos to find the scenes mentioned in the lessons and then wrote the time the segment started in the Lesson Plan book so it would be easier to find it when the time came.

But, it's cute!

Will I continue to use it?

We recently popped in a DVD and watched several chapters and a few songs. Then we played a memory game with the flash cards while listening to songs on the CD.

We started with one color and worked up to a big game using all four colors. Bo beat me every time! When he found a pair and while flipping cards, we said the French vocabulary words and guessed what they mean by the picture. 

He seemed to be enjoying it, so I asked him if he wanted to do Whistlefritz French for 1st grade. He said, "Yes, because I can't use it once I'm 8. It's only for ages 1 to 7." Hahahaha! So, we're adding it to his schedule this fall. I find a lot of value in the lessons, but was thinking that if I spread the Level out over two years and use it for 1st and 2nd grade, it won't seem as teacher intensive. We will at least watch the videos and learn the lyrics to the songs. Then, if we want to learn more, I can pull out the lesson plans.

Spanish and French {Whistlefritz Reviews}
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