I have posted earlier about using songs to teach children French. Kids are natural hams and absolutely love to express themselves in song. Since the vocabulary is set to music children learn it quickly and remember it well.
Adding accompanying motions, or creating and holding up drawings that represent the words of the song as you initially sing it to and with the children will allow you to teach them songs without having to resort to English. If motions are created to accompany the vocabulary children have an easier time remembering and recreating the target vocabulary outside the context of the song.
Young children, particularly children under eight, learn best through immersion. In order to teach through total immersion, however, lessons must be active, engaging and the material must be presented in an extremely concrete way.
“Tête, Épaules, Genoux, Pieds” is a kindergarten classic both in the U.S. and France. As such it is a perfect song to use in introducing children to parts of the body. The fact that children already know this song in English makes it easier for them to master it in French. You can introduce it fully in French and children will immediately know exactly what they are singing.
When you teach children any song in French, or in any foreign language, be sure to vary the ways you perform it; sing the song at normal speed, then very slowly, quickly, while whispering, in a loud voice…Finally, direct the children using the motions or holding up the drawings you have associated with the song but do not sing it yourself. See how much the children can remember on their own. Fill in the words they are missing as necessary, but only if they do not find them on their own.
By the way, my adult students also enjoy learning this song, as well as others they remember (in English) from their youth. And like my young students they master the vocabulary quickly while having a great time.
I found this terrific video clip of “Tête, Épaules, Genoux, Pieds” on youtube. It was created by Madoiselle Torbert in March of 2011. She sings clearly and presents the song both with and without the words presented onscreen, respectively.