Looking for fun ways to practice French? Here are some of my favorite activities to keep it fun and engaging.
My favorite student of all time has never been in my class, but he is the student in my mind when I create so many of my resources. He is my why in everything I do. My son is a wonderfully sweet, smart, and quiet boy who struggles a LOT with focus. Medicine helps a little. Eating the right food also helps a little. Getting enough sleep, limiting screen time, playing outdoors a lot, and all the other recommendations also help. A little.
The truth of it is, for kids with attention issues, there just isn’t one easy thing that will fix everything for them. There are often many combined efforts that help, but they certainly don’t just fix the problem. He still needs much longer than other kids. He gets really frustrated when the writing assignments are long. Even being in a quiet classroom with other kids can be a struggle on some days.
What I’ve learned from him
I have to admit, when I started teaching, I never understood why some kids took much longer to complete assignments. It can be really hard when we know a student can do the work, but they still seem to just sit there or take forever to get started. It wasn’t until it was my own child taking longer or not finishing that I really understood just how challenging and frustrating school could be for these students.
So, as I create all my activities, I use them at home with him. He tells me right away if it helps him learn. I can see where he struggles. I see the results as we practice together, and I can see exactly what activities really work well for him. I keep him in mind as I create all of my units, because I know there are a lot of other students out there just like him, hoping for something different so they can learn and grow to the best of their abilities.
Here are a few ways he loves to practice French.
Spelling words are just not fun for him. If the assignment is to recopy the words over and over, he’s not going to get anything out of it at all. Since he is in immersion, he often gets a French and and English spelling list for the week. That is a lot of words to recopy over and over to get no benefit out of it.
Here are a few ways we like to practice French spelling instead:
Grab a small ball we can bounce. He bounces a ball as he spells the words out loud.
Print the words in a large font and space them to cut out each letter. Build the words rather than write them. We have done this for years, and finally only stopped when he was in 5th grade, because he now actually wants to write them down.
Build a hopscotch and have him spell the words out loud as he jumped through it.
Writing them outside with sidewalk chalk. We do this a lot for verb conjugation, because although it is writing, it’s a lot more fun for him.
We make games out of everything!
You can do make a quick written or oral activity that takes seconds to prepare. It’s a great way to practice French verbs.
In a classroom, just write the subjects up on your board like shown below. You can use any variation of pronouns, names, etc, but just cover all the different conjugations possible. Pick 6 verbs to work on – any tense you want! My kiddo is doing the futur simple at school right now and I picked the stems that he is having trouble with.
Roll the dice and conjugate! You can assign the dice as die 1 & die 2 or do like I do and just make different colored columns.
You can also play with with vocabulary and have students create sentences with the vocabulary that they roll. It’s a fun way to use what they already know, but even better, it takes such little preparation on your part that you can do this anytime you have a few extra minutes!
I know I talk about these a lot, but it’s for a good reason! They are really amazing!
Some kids just hate to write. My own kiddo still is a really slow writer. It’s the actual physical movement of writing that slows him down. Every spelling test, he is the student asking the teacher to repeat the words. It’s simply because he writes each and every individual letter slowly. It has nothing to do with his actual ability to correctly write the words.
For kids with ADHD, they often struggle with handwriting, and if they are the type of student who really wants it to be neat (mine is!) then this is just a slow process.
Boom Cards let kids type, click, or drag letters, so this makes the physical writing part go away. For some kids, that is one less thing between them and successfully completing an assignment. This is by far my son’s favorite way to practice French vocabulary and verbs!
Here are some other things you can do for students who are struggling.
Provide stressballs or fidgets
I always kept a big basket of these in my room, and kids knew they could use one at any time during class. In a class of 20, I would regularly have half of them being used – and not always by kids who had attention issues. Unfortunately for kids, they are sitting almost the entire day. Attention issues or not, this is not ideal. Giving them something to hold helps get out that energy a bit, and even my middle schoolers and high schoolers asked for them.
I made a huge bunch of my own a few years back by grabbing some thick balloons and filling them with flour. I’d put a basket of them out on my tables and let kids use them as they needed. It was a huge help for longer tests, and it cost me less than five dollars.
Reduce written work
This has been on just about every IEP or 504 I’ve ever read, but it is often vaguely written. That was always really hard for me to gauge as a teacher, because what does it mean? Reduce it by how much? See if you can get more specific guidance from the person who oversees the IEP or 504 so you’re not left guessing.
If it’s up to you, decide how much a student needs to do to show mastery. If you can determine mastery with 5 problems instead of 10, can that be enough? A lot of kids who are struggling to finish go home and work for hours on assignments that might be taking their classmates much less time complete. Is it always necessary to do ALL the questions?
He is my why. In everything I do, he is my motivation. With every resource I create, I think of him and all the students just like him. Chances are, you have many of these kids in your class who just need a different way to practice French.