Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to start thinking of some French holiday ideas for December. For most of us, there are only a few weeks until final exams and the kids are excited about the upcoming winter break. It can be hard to keep their attention, and 2022 is likely to be extra-challenging with the World Cup competing for your students’ attention. Here are some ideas for ways I’ve kept my students engaged in the weeks leading up to the semester break.
Draw a story
One fun thing I do is tell a French holiday story and let students draw the illustrations. You can do this on paper, or use an online service such as Nearpod or Peardeck. When using paper, I have my students pre-fold their papers to that they have the correct number of spaces for images. I either tell a story in 6 or 8 images, depending on the level of the students and the amount of detail.
You’ll need to have your story pre-written. Come up with a simple story that can be divided into 6 or 8 parts. Each section should have a bit of action (not too much, since it needs to be shown in one image) and make sure to include some details. I’ll include descriptions of the people or what they are wearing, but I also leave some details up to the kids. I tell them – if I say it, it needs to be in the drawing. Otherwise, they decide.
Tell the story to the kids, slowly and with lots of reputation. I generally read each section 5-6 times, but you might need more if you have a lot of details or information in a section. The students draw what they hear and at the end, you’ll have an illustrated story.
French holiday videos
There are quite a few good French holiday videos you can share with your students. Since some of them involve religion, be sure that you are allowed to share them with students. I’ve had students in the past who were not allowed to participate in any holiday-related lessons, so make sure you have a back-up plan for them.
One of the most fun videos I show them is the animated story of Saint Nicolas. It’s very creepy and my students always LOVE the scream of the 3rd little boy. It’s only in French, no subtitles – so I would spend a little bit of time going over the vocabulary they will need to understand it before you watch the video.
I also like to share a cooking video for making a buche de Noël. There isn’t any spoken French in the video, so it’s simple enough for even beginning students to understand. You might even give students extra credit if they try making the cake.
If you’d like to share some music with your students, there is a nice selection of French holiday music out there. You can start with the classic Tino Rossi Petit Papa Noël, but if you want something a bit more modern and less likely to put everyone to sleep, Keen’V did a fun duet that’s very easy to learn. He also did a sad Christmas song, Le plus beau des cadeaux. For a traditional song, a group of priests made a video of Il est né. This one is definitely more on the religious side.
French holiday movies
One of my favorite movies that I share with my second year students is Joyeux Noël. It is set in World War 1 and despite being a war movie, there is not nearly as much gore as you’d expect. It’s in three different languages, so students will need to watch AND listen – because there are no subtitles for the English parts! It is a movie that can lead to some great discussions and history lessons.
French holiday readings
If you need a lesson to practice reading comprehension, or even a sub plan for your students you might want to have them work on a French holiday reading. Frenchified has a few stories and readings that are enjoyable and perfect for the holiday season!
For beginning students, I have a Noël comprehensible input lesson. It includes a PowerPoint of the reading as well as a printable copy for students.
For students of all levels, I have a Christmas in France “magazine” with articles about how the holiday season is spent in France. It includes gift ideas, traditions, recipes and more.
For a fun short story, Les Aventures du Père Fouettard tells the story of friends who decide to trade jobs – Père Noël and Père Fouettard. Things don’t work out the way they hope, but just HOW wrong do they go?