Select Page
I totally fell in love with this book in the first bookshop I visited this summer in France. So simple and yet so effective and with a lot of potential! I have been using it since.
Language of text: French
Type of text: picture book
Author or source: Jeanne Ashbé, published by Pastel
Intended age of students: Key Stage 1/2
Source reference: 9782211239059

This is a book telling a story around the French nursery rhyme “un petit canard au bord de l’eau”.
The text is short and the illustrations very clear, so you can read the story all the way through in French and watch the children get drawn into it.
On second reading, you can say the writing on each page and the children can repeat it after you, including the onomatopoeia which are great fun (cric cric, plouf, coin coin). On third reading, encourage the children to join in with actions as well to represent what happens in the story (you can agree those with them beforehand). If you have puppets of ducks, you can re-enact the story… If not, the children could cut out outlines of ducks on cardboard and stick them on lollipop sticks so they have their own puppets!
You can then focus on teaching the rhyme part of the story so that your children memorise and internalise it.
This book is so simple and easy… but you can do so much with it!
There is so little writing that the children can easily pick it up and learn it… however the sounds in the story are harder than they look!
To practise a certain sound, for instance “on”, you could ask the children to write it on their mini white boards and hold them up when they hear it, but let them see the writing at first, then remove it to see if they can still spot it. This is a very good exercise. This can be repeated with easier or harder sounds.
on/om: bon, bonjour, tombe, vont, sont
ou: bonjour, pouf
eau/eaux/au: eau, beau(x), au, haut
oin: coin coin
With this book, the children will be able to join in with a popular French rhyme, possibly even recite it off by heart and write it if your focus is on reading and writing the story.
They will be able to hear, say and write certain French sounds with increased accuracy (some are difficult!).
Topics or themes:
introduction to French and “bonjour”; introduction to the sounds “on, ou, eau and oin” (can focus on one only or several of them).
singular and plural of nouns and verbs (il est/ils sont; il tombe/ils s’envolent)
How much time required:
1-2 lessons

I have put together a document summing up ideas on how to exploit this story: click on exploiting a picture book eg Bon .

Click here to watch a video of the rhyme and its tune.

You can also adapt it, and after singing it all the way through once add a duck and sing “deux petits canards au bord de l’eau”, then add another one… I would go up to 5 to help learn the first 5 numbers in French, but you may want to carry on beyond 5 depending on your own pupils.
I came across this very fascinating interview with the author, Jeanne Ashbé, talking about reading to young children. It is in French but worth a listen if you are interested in children’s books and sharing stories. Click here to watch it. Get it touch if you would like to know in english what she is saying, because it is so interesting I have made notes on it! I actually got to listen to Jeanne live in Montreuil in December 2018: below is a photo with her to the right of the lady speaking.

You can buy this book itself here on
What is your favourite book based on a nursery rhyme? Please tell me in the comments! Thank you!
N.B. Would you like to read about books, ideas, resources and opportunities for the primary languages classroom? Then click here to receive a monthly round up of my blog (and more!) straight in your mail box!