A simple story at first thought, it would seem. A more complex one, linguistically as ; 'eating, sitting, sleeping, more than, bigger, smaller, who has' are all concepts requiring comprehension. Then finally, there is the social dimension of a young girl lost in the forest, breaking into a house, causing wilful damage and finally falling asleep in a strangers bed...now that's all a little bizarre.
Ok visual props i.e. 3 bears, class chanting, a story peg line and even a little drama...I finally got the story going. But you're never certain that the children have fully grasped the language or if you've totally developed all the spoken opportunities. But this time I got an unexpected check; a living recount of a lesson well learned.
You see on the last day of the school year, in our small village, the children all walk the boundaries. Akin to the old English ways of walking the parish boundaries, these lively 7 to 10 year olds walk the 'bourg' boundaries. They follow the traditional footpaths around the locality bordering the two villages which feed into the small school.
Knowing this was happening and ,that their walk would go up the 'randonnee' beside our land, and directly in front of our house, I decided on a small surprise. I made a name plate for the farmhouse, 'The Cottage of the Three Bears' and sat said , three bears, proudly outside to await the children's arrival.
Their response to such a small action was wonderful, squeals of surprise and a torrent of English; phrases, words and sentences. This was a lessen review like no other. Better than any Ofsted comment or peer assessed note. If I'd had any doubts as to their understanding it was vanquished by their vocal outpouring. Munching away on their 'bear sweets' (Gummy Bears) and clasping the small gifts (Winnie the Pooh notepads of course), they left in a hail of, "Goodbye Madame, see you next year".
It seems that this story, like all of its genre, had its own happy ending. This time I was the, 'Goldilocks' and their English language skills, will live, 'happily ever after'.