T3: Trésors de Trucs pour Tous!
An IFLTA presentation by Gary Spurgin (Cathedral H.S.) and Steve Ohlhaut (West Lafayette H.S.)

In the interest of full disclosure, a number of these ideas originated from other colleagues at IFLTA presentations many years ago!

None of these is a totally original idea, as is often the case in education. But, they have been tried and true and can be adapted to any level.

I.  Board games and projects

A.  Culture/Country Board Game

Students choose a francophone country on which they will do research in regards to the culture, history, and people of the country. Students will then choose to model their own board game after a well-known board game such as
Monopoly, Clue, Life, etc. There are many variations of this activity and the students will discuss the project details with the teacher before beginning.


Students create puzzles that reinforce vocabulary or grammar concepts.

Examples: Object pronouns, verb tenses, articles with nouns

C. Movie Posters

Students create movie posters (full size poster board) for a francophone movie that has been shown in class. Examples of movies have been La Gloire de Mon Père, Indochine, Les Aventures de Rabbin Jacob.

D.  Xtranormal.com student made animation movies

Students can make free animated movies in the target language. The free account is limited, but students show great interest and creativity while writing and creating their movies. The website is www.xtranormal.com

E.  Le Petit Prince Board Game

This board game idea can be adapted to any level and any topic !

Objectives :

Procedure :

What a good game looks like...

A good game will :


You will be assessed on all six of these elements. The game earning an A will meet all six requirements. Make sure during brainstorming that you are meeting all six !

Citations  To be successful at this game, students must be able to remember who said what in the book. EX : Qui a dit, « On n’est jamais content là où l’on est. » --L’aiguilleur.

Intrigue  To be successful at this game, students must be able to recall information about the plot. EX : Quelle et une des raisons pour leesquelles le géographe mène une enquête sur la moralité des explorateurs ? ANS : S’ils sont ivrognes, ils peuvent voir double et cela abîmerait les cares. Do not use quotes for your questions.

La vie de Saint-Ex Students will review the life of Saint-Exupéry and will have to recall details to win this game. See the information we discussed at the beginning of Le Petit Prince and that you completed in your biography study guide.

La grammaire This game will test knowedge of the following grammatical concepts reviewed or learned during Le Petit Prince :

Les pronoms démonstratifs

Le conditionnel

Le plus-que-parfait

Le passé du conditionnel

Grading rubric

Neatness and design

Instructions provided in French

Game has appropriate pieces and an element of chance

Questions are accurate and comprehensive

Group cooperation and EQUAL participation

25 points

10 points

15 points

35 points

15 points

II.  Student-driven lessons

A.  Object Pronouns

Students prepare a mini lesson in which they teach, review, and practice the object pronouns to the class. After the lesson, the student teachers present an original activity (game usually)
in which the other students of the class participate and compete to show that they have learned the lesson and have mastered the use of object pronouns.

B.  Subjunctive

Students write and perform original songs which they perform to the others of the class to reinforce their understanding of the subjunctive. The song could be to the tune of a children’s song,
but many students prefer to do an original sung to the tune of a current popular song.

C.  Les chansons et les poèmes

This simple idea has worked well for me in French II and up. To force students to think more deeply about the words of a poem or a song, I asked them to draw the images that the song evokes in their mind.
One I do each year in French IV is
Octobre, by Francis Cabrel, because it is full of powerful images that are easily illustrated. Students are assessed both on neatness and creativity, but also how thoroughly
they illustrate the images in the song.

Here are the words to the song and a couple of good examples of student work.


Francis Cabrel

Le vent fera craquer les branches
La brume viendra dans sa robe blanche
Y'aura des feuilles partout
Couchées sur les cailloux
Octobre tiendra sa revanche

Le soleil sortira à peine
Nos corps se cacheront sous des bouts de laine
Perdue dans tes foulards
Tu croiseras le soir
Octobre endormi aux fontaines

Il y aura certainement,
Sur les tables en fer blanc
Quelques vases vides qui traînent
Et des nuages pris aux antennes
Je t'offrirai des fleurs
Et des nappes en couleurs
Pour ne pas qu'octobre nous prenne

On ira tout en haut des collines
Regarder tout ce qu'octobre illumine
Mes mains sur tes cheveux
Des écharpes pour deux
Devant le monde qui s'incline

Certainement appuyés sur des bancs
Il y aura quelques hommes qui se souviennent
Et des nuages pris aux antennes
Je t'offrirai des fleurs
Et des nappes en couleurs
Pour ne pas qu'octobre nous prenne

Et sans doute on verra apparaître
Quelques dessins sur la buée des fenêtres
Vous, vous jouerez dehors
Comme les enfants du nord
Octobre restera peut-être.

Vous, vous jouerez dehors
Comme les enfants du nord
Octobre restera peut-être.

III.  Variations of quick games

A.  Number war—Great for beginners to advanced students who continue to stumble over numbers no matter what! Can be adapted for two – four digit numbers.

1. Decide how many teams you want. Two – four teams works best. More than that, and it becomes difficult to judge who won. Divide the students as equally as possible among the teams.

2. If you want to work with two-digit numbers, for each team, create two sets of flashcards 0 – 9, one for the tens position and one for the ones position. Adapt as needed for higher numbers. I use a different color marker for each team, so I will call the team that color when the win: “Équipe orange a gagné!”

3.  Have each team line up so that one student is responsible for the “ones” position and another is responsible for the “tens” position. Call out a number: “Soixante-quinze!” The first team in which the tens position holds up the “7” and the ones position holds up the “5” and holds it for two seconds wins the point. Give each pair of students three numbers, then have them rotate out for two new students per team

This fast-paced game is great to fill 10 – 15 minutes.

B.  Dictée wars

Materials: Small markerboards, markers, erasers

A number of pre-determined sentences covering vocabulary and grammar topics of your choosing.

  1. Create as many sentences as you want, preferably on a SmartBoard or other display so that the whole class can see them. Or, alternately, you can write the sentences as you go along on your own markerboard to display to the class at the end of the round.

  2. Divide the class into two – four equally-sized teams.

  3. Assign each student a number within the team. For example, if you have three teams, A, B, and C, each team will also have a student 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.

  4. Read your sentence out loud three times. Once fast, once again slowly, including punctuation, and once again fast. All students copy it.

  5. Call out a number: “5”. Each team's student #5 holds up the marker board.

  6. The point goes to the student closest to the correct answer in spelling and punctuation.

This game can be adapted to a variety of tasks, including translation.

C.  Face à Face

This quick game is a variation of “Last Man/Woman Standing.” The class is divided into two teams that stand across from each other. At student from each team will compete to see who can say the correct French vocabulary word, French verb conjugation, etc. the quickest. The teacher will ask “Comment dit-on….?”, and the first student to answer it correctly will move to the end of the line and the student who is second or does not get it correctly, must sit down. The last person standing is crowned the champion. The champion will receive some type of reward, a bonus point, button, etc.

D.  Pronunciation Wars

This game is very similar to Face à Face, but students are shown a card that they must read with good pronunciation. The first student to buzz in will be given the opportunity to pronounce what they see. The second person will then also have a turn. The student with the best pronunciation wins the round and goes to the end of the line. The student who does not win must sit down. The last student standing is crowned champion and will receive some type of reward.

E.  Translation Wars

Students are divided into teams of two or three. The teacher then reads a sentence in English that the students must translate and then run to the teacher to have it graded. The first team to have the correct translation wins a point. The first team to reach 5 points wins the war. Again, the winning team will receive some type of reward.

F.  Le Prix est juste

Students are able to practice their numbers in French with this easy game that uses the numbers 0-9. The game is based on the idea that a student is trying to guess the highest price in Euros. The teacher draws 5 cards out of a pile and the student must use 4 of those numbers to complete the price. The student must write the number in one of the place holdings as it is drawn. The student may choose which number he/she will not use. After each number is drawn, the teacher puts that number back in the pile and there is a chance that it could be drawn again. After all 5 numbers have been drawn, the teacher asks the students who has the highest price. The student who has the highest price will then say it in French to earn the point. Use the template that is attached.

G.  L’échelle

The ladder game. It is played either individually or as a team using whiteboards. Each student or team will have a ladder drawn with a total of 7 rungs or steps. The teacher will then ask different questions and the students will have 8 seconds in which to write their answer.
If the answer is correct, he/she will move up the ladder. If the answer is wrong, the student will then fall down the ladder and have to begin all over again. The first student/group to reach the top of their ladder wins and will receive an award. See the drawing.

H.  Pyramide des champions (PowerPoint template available at www.infrenchteachers.org/trucs/pyramide template.ppt)

Materials Projector / SmartBoard


Alternately, you can re-create a Pyramide on the board in which you write the word or phrase as you go along in each round.

  1. Ahead of time, decide on your target vocabulary and phrases, six per round. Rank them based relative difficulty. Assign the easiest word to the 100 value and up, doubling the value each time: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200.

  1. Divide the class into two teams. Each team will designate one student to come to the front of the room, back to the projected Pyramide board. Start a timer with three minutes. Members of the team will attempt to get their teammate to guess the word or phrase without using forms of it in their clues.

  2. As the student guesses words correctly, advance to the next word. If a student gets hung up, s/he can say “Passez” to move to the next word.

  3. At the end of three minutes, the team gets the sum total of the words their representative guessed correctly.

I.  Verb basketball

Another staple acquired at IFLTA!


  1. A small basketball and goal. I use a nerf set available at Wal-Mart or any toy store for $5.

  2. Chalkboard


  1. Divide the class into two teams. Team A starts out at the basketball goal. Be sure to designate a free-throw line from which they shoot. Once you assign the task to Team B at the board, Team A starts shooting free-throws, one at a time. You or a designated helper will keep tally of the free throws made.

  2. Team B starts at the board. Give them a task. For Level 1, this might be to conjugate a certain verb in a certain tense in all six forms. In upper levels, the task may be to write six sentences of at least six words each that tell a coherent story using the grammar structure being studied.

Rules: Only one student may be writing at the board at a time. As each student comes to the board, s/he may either write a new sentence or correct an error in an exisiting sentence.

  1. The round ends when the team at the board successfully completes its task. At that point, Team A and Team B switch roles. After round 2, the team with the most points wins.

     4.  To extend the game, play several rounds.

IV.  Culture

A.  Critique de Musique

Students are introduced to a variety of francophone music genres and complete the music critic activity which is attached. Class discussion follows and the students are to work with a partner in deciding upon their “Hit Parade” or top 5 list. Students will give their reasons as to why they liked the songs they chose. A variety of extension activities could follow afterwards.

(See attachments.)

B.   Living wax museum

This idea comes from Ann Barry, my Spanish colleague and we have used it very successfully as part of our One Community, Many Cultures fair each February. Adapt to fit your situation!

  1. Generate a list of important historical, artistic, and/or cultural figures for the target culture.

  2. Students choose one of these characters.

  3. Students research the life and importance of the person and prepare to role-play this person. During your culture day or designated class time, each student will dress in character and be prepared to answer relevant questions from the public or classmates about their life. If you are doing this as a class activity, the students could be required to speak in French. Otherwise, they can speak in English.

  4. For our One Community Many Cultures fair, students speak in English, but must prepare ahead of time twenty business cards in French to hand to each person that speaks to them. We grade students by interviewing them ourselves and assessing their business cards.