"Madeline" by Ludwig Bemelmans provides a wonderful base for cross curricular activities for second grade students. The book will present windows into boarding school life, the country France, hospitals and an operation to take out an appendix!
To introduce your second grade class to Madeline activities you will need to share the book with the class and tell them a little about the author. The students will enjoy hearing how the book is connected with Ludwig Bemelmans' own life. His wife's name was Madeline. His mother attended a convent school similar to the one in the book. He was the smallest child in his class. When he was in hospital, as a young boy, he met a girl who pointed out the shape of a rabbit in the crack in the ceiling.
Discuss with your students the use of rhyming words throughout the book. Choose 12 words and make word families for each of them. e.g., lines--vines, wines, tines (of a fork), dines, fines, mines, nines, pines.
The little girls walked in straight lines, but there were winding vines. Can you find any other opposites in the story? Make a list of them.
Discuss the meanings of each of the following words. Ask students to use them in sentences.
- disaster: what disasters have been in the news recently?
- solemn: give an example of a subdued ceremony, e.g., a funeral
- appendix: has anyone in the class had their appendix taken out?
- crank: what other places may you have seen a crank (old-fashioned car, a music box handle)?
- dialed: an old-fashioned telephone
Parlez vous Francais?
Teach your students to count to 12 in French (un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, huit, neuf, dix, onze, douze).
Invite them to join in the songs "Alouette" and "Frère Jacques".
Introduce "hello" (bonjour) "good-bye" (au revoir) "thank you" (merci). In pairs, they could make up conversations using this limited vocabulary and miming. As each pair presents their "conversations" to the class, encourage the audience to guess what is being said.
Make a time-line showing the school day of Madeline and her classmates. Then make a time-line showing the school day of the students in second grade.
Provide manipulatives (blocks, counters, buttons and paper clips) and invite the students to take 12 objects at a time and make up as many combinations for the number 12 as possible.
What do you buy at the grocery store in 12's? (eggs) What is 1/2 of that number? What is another word for 12 (dozen)?
Make up three number problems using 12 or a dozen, e.g., Mom went to the store and bought a dozen eggs. Oh, I dropped the box on the way into the house and 3 of the eggs were broken. How many were still in good shape?
The little girls left the house at "half past nine." Show on a clock that time. Discuss what "half past" the hour is in minutes. What is another way of expressing this time?
Madeline is the main character in the story. Make a character web describing her. For a character web pattern click here.
To bring to a fine conclusion these second grade Madeline activities, consider having a French party. Push tables and chairs, or desks, into groups of 12. Festoon the classroom with red, white and blue streamers. Serve crackers with Brie or Camembert cheeses. If you are very ambitious, you may wish you make up a pot of French Onion Soup and serve with French baguettes. Drink grape juice. Sing "Alouette" with all the actions. Divide the children into two groups and sing "Frère Jacques" in a two-part harmony. Provide pictures of Madeline for coloring. Invite any students who would like to sing, play an instrument, or dance to put on a show. Play "Pin the Tail on l'ane (the donkey)." Ask the French teacher if they have a movie that you could show (The Red Balloon is a wonderful French movie).
This would be an ideal time to introduce the other Madeline books--Madeline and the Bad Hat, Madeline's Rescue, Madeline and the Gypsies, Madeline in London, and Madeline's Christmas. Many of the second grade Madeline activities from this article could be applied to these books too.