Traditional grammar would teach and practise regular verb forms in the present tense before introducing past tenses, then future and then conditional. For these lessons, I'm trying a different approach, using the idea of time zones rather than tenses, and drawing analogies between the way English and French operate. So, we took the first two paragraphs of Le Petit Prince, and studied them closely, looking at the verb forms and the ending, ait, that kept appearing. We looked at the composed and simple past tenses, and continuous past tenses, in English and French, and agreed that the pupils would return to these paragraphs over the week, and make sure they understood them fully. As always, we looked at shared or mostly shared words in the text, and were grateful for them (serpent, magnifique, histoire, image, forêt, copie, boa, représentait, entière, digestion). I thought mâchait might be the origin of mashed potato, but the OED tells me it's more likely to be German. Still, the shared words gave us ten out of a total of 84 words in the two paragraphs, and many of them are key words.
Parent asked about accents and how they were used, so I took words from the book that had an accent, read them out, and had the pupils in turn say whether they thought the accent was grave or acute. We noticed that nearly all accents were on e, that the acute tended to stretch the sound différent, and the grave to cut it short planète. One pupil noticed that there were a lot more acute accents than grave, which is consistent with the accentuation of vowel sounds in French, and with preserving flow rather than cutting things short. I pointed out that graves were usually found near the end of words rather than at the beginning. The atmosphere was more like a seminar than a lesson, with everyone free to offer observations and thoughts. Parent's email that afternoon - I love the way you're teaching tenses. Never mind the kids, I'm learning so much!