Thursday 8 January 2015

La Fête des Rois

La Fête des Rois

Epiphany is an important celebration in many European countries and so I decided to share this with my French classes today (our first French lesson of the year).
With Year 3 I shared the traditional song “J’aime la galette” and with Year 5 I shared the well-known story “Roule Galette” (if you don’t know it it’s just like the Gingerbread Man). With both year groups I told the children about La Fête des Rois in France and then everyone got to try a piece of the galette I had made.

I’m sharing the details of what I did as it might be useful to someone who has thought about covering this celebration but hasn’t yet. It is definitely not too late as, apparently, in many countries, the celebrations go on until the start of Lent!

Here is a link to the song “J’aime la galette”. Year 3 picked it up so quickly. I found the best way was for me to sing a line and for them to echo it. There are only 4 lines of words. We then sang the “tralala” bit together. This was just enough in a 30 minute lesson in addition to the explanation of La Fête des Rois, the galette and the fève and then the cutting and serving of the galette at the end.

I also wished the children Bonne Année and wrote this on the board. One child noticed the acute accent on Année and we compared this to the word café, which they already knew. I pointed out that, although it means Happy New Year, there are obviously only 2 words instead of 3 so it can’t mean that exactly. This was an opportunity to point out that things don’t always translate word for word and are said a bit differently another language. I explained that it literally means “good year” and we compared this to other expressions with “bon /bonne” such as “bonjour” and “bon anniversaire”. Once they knew that “bon” meant good I told them they could use it to describe the galette at the end of the lesson “c’est bon”.

I had made one galette per class (6 in total). I found a nut-free version on a French website and there is a link to it here. I explained to the children that it would traditionally be made with frangipane (containing almonds) but they were thrilled to discover that their version was made with chocolate instead! It was actually very simple to make. I used Jus-Roll puff pastry and used a dish as a template to cut each sheet into a circle. (I found a dish that was the same diameter as the width of each rectangular sheet). The chocolate filling is then fairly simple to make (melted butter, melted chocolate, sugar and eggs). Spreading it was trickier! I found that it was better to make the filling first and let it cool down and thicken while I did the pastry (otherwise it was too runny). Even so, I need to use a flan dish rather than a baking sheet.

As for the fève…. I hadn’t been able to buy any proper ones in time so I used a traditional dried bean. This was very small and wouldn’t be a choking hazard and would also be edible if accidentally swallowed. Having done this now with 6 classes I have to say it was only semi-successful. Only 2 classes found the fève. I suspect that it had started to cook and soften a little and was too hard to spot in the other galettes. I’ll use porcelain figures next year. Alternatively, you could use a jelly bean but remember to insert it after cooking the galette, not before (as I stupidly did with my first attempt!!).

You can decorate the top of the galette with any pattern. I did some with a lattice-work pattern but then my daughter remembered we had a crown-shaped cookie cutter, which we used to make imprints in the top.
I presented each galette with a crown on the top. Whoever found the fève got to wear the crown. I found some at Hobbycraft that were thick foam with gold glitter and which were fully adjustable. They are sturdy enough that we'll be able to use them again next year.

The story I shared with Year 5 was “Roule Galette”. It is a traditional tale, which we compared to The Gingerbread Man. A few children remembered the story as it had been read to them in Year 3 or 4 (it is part of the Catherine Cheater scheme of work for Y3). However, I wanted them to participate in the telling of the story. First of all I took the song that the galette sings in the story and gave a different line of the song to different groups of children. There were 5 groups and the lines were as follows…

Group 1 “Je suis la galette, la galette”

Group 2 “Je suis faite avec le blé…”

Group 3 “…ramassé dans le grenier”

Group 4 “On m’a mise a refroidir”

Group 5 “mais, j’ai mieux aimé courir.”

Some lines are harder than others so I differentiated it where possible. We also added actions. The actions we did were…

Je suis = point to yourself

la galette = draw circle in air

le blé = hold up imaginary piece of wheat

ramassé = mime gathering with your arms

le grenier = hands over your head in a roof shape

refroidir = shiver and rub arms

mais = wave index finger in air (one sharp movement as if saying no)

courir = running action

The last line of the song we all said together “Attrape-moi, sit u peux” but we said it with attitude (as one boy described as a ‘nah nah ne nah nah’ voice) as I thought the galette was portrayed in the story in that manner.

Once we had practised saying these various lines, with me ‘conducting’ the groups, it was time to read the story. I read it aloud, cutting out little bits here and there and translating occasionally so they followed it. I got the children to guess as many words as possible, such as ‘forêt’ and it was surprising how many words they knew from other contexts. Each time the galette met a different animal I read it out but didn’t show the picture and then got the children to tell me which animal it was. They remembered ‘lapin’ and ‘renard’ from our woodland animals theme last term.

One of the great things about this story is that it is very repetitive and each time the galette meets an animal he sings his song, at which point I got the children to say their lines and do their actions in their groups. This broke it up nicely so that they didn’t have to listen for too long before they were doing something. By the time we reached the end they knew the song / rhyme pretty well.

There are many things you can pick out of this story. For example, I pointed out that the fox managed to trick the galette by using flattery and that that happens quite often in stories. We then compared it to some of Aesop’s Fables such as the Fox and the Crow.

The funniest part (or the “ewww” moment, depending on your point of view) is at the beginning of the story when the little old woman has no flour. The little old man sends her up to the attic to sweep the floor and find some grains of wheat to make into flour…which she does!   I was quick to reassure the children that I had not used that method to make the galette they were about to try!!

I would definitely recommend this story. I would also recommend the nut-free galette recipe I used. Out of 166 children only 4 didn’t like it! Success!

My funniest moment of the day was in my first Year 5 lesson this morning when I had just told the children that I had made them a cake. One boy put up his hand and asked, “Madame Prince, is it edible?” J

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