A great opportunity for fun French lessons is hoppity-hopping your way.
Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day are but memories.
But guess what?
Easter is just around the corner. Prepare your Easter bonnets and get out your baskets—the egg hunt is almost here!
Easter (Pâques) is a great occasion to teach your students, especially the younger ones, new things. So let’s start by telling them about Easter traditions that go on in France.
How to Bring Easter to French Class
There are many quaint traditions that you can explain to them, such as the fact that les cloches volantes (the flying bells) bring the chocolate eggs and not the bunnies.
This is because the church bells are silent between Vendredi saint (Good Friday) and le dimanche de Pâques (Easter Sunday), so children are told that the bells fly away and go to Rome to visit the Pope who blesses them and lets them collect chocolate goodies to give to the children on the way back.
French people give each other chocolate eggs, bunnies and fish for Easter. Why fish you may ask? Well, usually Easter is close to Poisson d’Avril (April Fool’s Day) which is a day on which fishes are pinned on people’s backs as a joke, so the fish has become one of the symbols for Easter as well. Another Easter tradition is to eat agneau pascal (lamb) on Easter Sunday.
And let’s not forget Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday), which is the day before the start of Lent (Le Carême) and the day when carnivals are held and crêpes (flat pancakes) are eaten.
So, what are we waiting for? Let’s dive into our scrumptious Easter activities.
6 Scrumptious Easter Activities for French Class
1. Vocabulary Activities
A good way to start off the Easter activities is to prepare a slideshow presentation with all the relevant vocabulary. For example, you might include:
le lapin — bunny
le chocolat — chocolate
le chocolat au lait — milk chocolate
le chocolat noir — dark chocolate
le chocolat blanc — white chocolate
le chocolatier — chocolate maker
la cloche — bell
célébrer — to celebrate
le panier — basket
un défilé pascal — an Easter procession
mardi gras — Shrove Tuesday/Fat Tuesday
le Carême — Lent
Joyeuses Pâques ! — Happy Easter
un œuf — an egg
un œuf de Pâques — an Easter egg
un œuf teint — a colored egg
un agneau — a lamb
un poussin — a chick
une poule — a hen
les vacances de Pâques — Easter break/vacation
la chasse aux œufs de Pâques — Easter egg hunt
le vendredi saint — Good Friday
le dimanche de Pâques — Easter Sunday
This exercise will either teach new vocabulary or review known vocabulary. Whichever it is, it’s an excellent opportunity to insert themed vocabulary such as animal names and, even better, food vocabulary.
You can use things like food vocabulary to test comprehension, so give them a text and let them answer questions about it. You can add your questions and you can even create your own text.
Additionally, you can get them to discuss their food preferences, such as:
Quel est ton plat pascal préféré ?
(What is your favorite Easter dish?)
Préfères-tu recevoir un œuf de chocolat ou un poisson de chocolat ?
(Do you prefer to get a chocolate egg or a chocolate fish?).
Another activity is to get the more advanced students to create a menu for Easter or to explain a recipe in French. This will get them to use the food vocabulary and to practice the imperative. This is also ideal for adding cooking vocabulary. To get them talking, you could ask questions like:
Quels chocolats choisir ?
(Which chocolates should you choose?)
Préfères-tu le chocolat au lait ou le chocolat noir ?
(Do you prefer milk chocolate or dark chocolate?).
Another way to practice vocabulary is to ask the students to write sentences using the Easter vocabulary you have just introduced, such as:
Les cloches volantes vont à Rome voir le Pape.
(The flying bells go to Rome to see the Pope.)
À Pâques on mange beaucoup de chocolat.
(At Easter we eat a lot of chocolate.)
This gets them to reinforce the vocabulary and practice their writing skills. You may, of course, do the same with the animal and food vocabulary.
For the younger students, it’s always fun to get them to match the French word to a picture, so give them cut-outs of eggs, bunnies, baskets, etc. and ask them what the French name for each is. I also like to get them to create an Easter card which must include Joyeuses Pâques (Happy Easter) on it, as well as à (to) and bisous (kisses).
2. A Comparison of Global Easter Traditions
Easter is also an opportunity to talk about feasts (les fêtes) in general, so you can ask the students what feasts they celebrate and what the different traditions are. The Cortland.edu site is excellent for a comprehension exercise with fill in the blanks activities. You can also introduce vocabulary about feasts in general.
A discussion about traditions is a good speaking exercise and you can get them to compare feasts (in the United States and France for example), starting with Easter (Pâques). Older students should be encouraged to say things like:
À Pâques, en France on mange de l’agneau. Qu’est-ce qu’on mange aux Etats-Unis ?
(On Easter, in France they eat lamb. What do they eat in the United States?)
Another comparison that can get them talking is to ask (in French) who brings Easter eggs in the different countries.
Qui apporte les œufs de chocolat en Australie ?
(Who brings chocolate eggs in Australia?)
En France, les cloches volantes apportent les œufs de chocolat tandis qu’en Australie le marsupial Bilby les apporte.
(In France, the flying bells bring the chocolate eggs while in Australia the marsupial bilby brings them.)
This is also a great way to review the names of countries and the rules pertaining to the prepositions used.
For more advanced students (B1), give them a text to translate or summarize. This will help them with vocabulary and comprehension. Or let them listen to a video clip and ask them to answer questions on it—a great way to test comprehension.
3. Quick and Easy Easter Games
Games are always a good way to reinforce or introduce information since the students have fun while they learn.
One nice Easter game option is to create a word search with all the new vocabulary words. Discovery Education’s Puzzlemaker is good for this as you can create your own word search for free. You can create a word search containing up to 40 words down and 40 across but the optimum amount is 15 by 15.
Turn your Easter goodies into props for learning, adding a little Easter theme to every new lesson! Review prepositions in class by using a bunny (lapin) or an egg (œuf) and placing it on top of something, below something or beside something while asking the question “Où est le lapin ?” (Where is the bunny?) or “Où est l’œuf ?” (Where is the egg?).
Depending on where the bunny or egg has been placed, this should elicit responses such as:
Le lapin est sur la table.
(The bunny is on the table.)
Le lapin est entre la fenêtre et la cheminée.
(The bunny is between the window and the fireplace.)
L’œuf est dans le panier.
(The egg is in the basket.)
Of course, with the younger students, you can take the opportunity to review colors. Firstly explain that eggs are usually colored and decorated for Easter, then hold up a picture of different colored eggs. Ask the question “De quelle couleur est l’œuf ?” (What color is the egg?).
Another popular game is Bingo and, once again, you can go online to make the magic happen. Create your own bingo cards using an online generator like this one. You can insert whichever vocabulary you need to review for Easter and then either call out the French or the English or show a picture. Students are usually very competitive with this game, especially if you reward the winners with Easter candy.
4. Holiday Grammar Review
Easter is a perfect occasion for a review of grammar, especially difficult concepts. The holiday theme is a friendly, fuzzy, sugar-coated way to ease students into learning, practicing and reinforcing their grammar knowledge.
You can review the conditional tense by asking imaginative questions like:
Si tu étais en France, que mangerais-tu à Pâques ?
(If you were in France, what would you eat at Easter?)
Si tu voyais des cloches volantes, que ferais-tu ?
(If you saw flying bells, what would you do?)
The review of colors has already been mentioned, but you could also use more advanced options and explain what happens with compound colors—rouge cerise (cherry red), vert bouteille (bottle green), bleu clair (light blue), bleu foncé (dark blue)—or adjectives in general. You could ask students to complete the agreement of the adjectives with different nouns, such as:
des oeufs (bleu clair) — (light blue) eggs
des oeufs (bleu) — (blue) eggs
des paniers (jaune paille) — (straw yellow) baskets
des paniers (jaune) — (yellow) baskets
This exercise shows that compound adjectives of color do not agree while the single color adjective does (with a few exceptions).
The review of the passé composé (past perfect) can also find its place in the Easter activities as you ask “Qu’as-tu fait à Pâques l’année dernière ?” (What did you do at Easter last year?). You could then continue the conversation by using the future tense: “Que feras-tu cette année ?” (What will you do this year?).
Of course, the review of the passé compose (past perfect) will include the review of the agreement of the past participle as in les œufs que j’ai trouvés (the eggs which I found). Ask them to respond to questions by omitting the nouns and only using the correct articles.
Tu as entendu les cloches volantes ?
(Have you heard the flying bells?)
Oui, je les ai entendues.
(Yes, I heard them.)
Ask the students why there’s agreement or not so that they can review the rules at every turn. It’s a good idea to draw up a few of these kinds of sentences on the blackboard and ask them whether the past participle agrees or not.
5. Comprehension and Writing Activities
The excellent TV5 site has a short video clip entitled “À la découverte du chocolat” (discovering chocolate).
This can be used as a comprehension exercise firstly or the transcription can be handed out and the students asked to translate the text. There is also a memo with explanations about the different types of chocolate. This can tie in with a debate on chocolate where the students debate on the merits of the three main types of chocolates: le chocolat au lait (milk chocolate), le chocolat noir (dark chocolate) or le chocolat blanc (white chocolate). There are also online exercises if you wish to use them, or you can draw up your own customized exercises for your class.
Another resource for getting the students to talk is a video on YouTube such as La Légende des Cloches de Pâques (The Legend of the Easter Bells). This is a good listening exercise for beginners and can be used to review the days of the week and the construction ne …..plus (no longer).
Another good way to test comprehension is to let your students listen to a song about Easter: Chanson pour les Fêtes de Pâques (Song for Easter Celebrations). Ask them to discuss about what they heard, then hand out the transcription. This is an excellent way to talk about winter (l’hiver) and the other seasons and it gives you another opportunity to review the passé compose (past perfect) with phrases such as:
Le jour de Pâques est arrivé
(The Easter day has arrived)
et le printemps s’est réveillé.
(and spring has awoken.)
Pendant l’hiver la neige a souri.
(During winter the snow smiled.)
You can ask questions about the descriptions you just heard, and students can fill in the missing information with their answers.
Quel jour est arrivé ?
(Which day has arrived?)
Qu’est-ce qui s’est réveillé ?
(What has awoken?)
It’s a good idea to give the students a writing assignment so that they may demonstrate (1) what they’ve learned about French Easter and its traditions and (2) how good they are at summarizing what they’ve learned in their own words.
6. Proverbs with œuf and poule
Easter is a good time to introduce proverbs into the students’ language universe. Proverbs and idioms are colorful expressions which will help them enrich their writing and which are part of the French language and culture.
There are quite a few with œuf (egg) and poule (hen) in French:
Qui vole un œuf vole un bœuf.
(He who will steal a small thing, will eventually steal a better thing.)
Mettre tous ses œufs dans le même panier.
(To put all one’s eggs in one basket.)
Tuer la poule aux œufs d’or.
(To kill the golden goose.)
There are many of these proverbs which can be used as a point of discussion. What proverbs or idioms do the students know with the word “egg” or “hen” in their native language? Do they have the same meanings as the French ones? You could give them other related proverbs and ask them to guess the meanings.
Another route is to give them a proverb and ask them to create a simple story which illustrates its meaning. They will have to start with il était une fois (once upon a time) or un jour (one day) and use adverbs such as d’abord (firstly/at first), puis (then), ensuite (and then) and enfin (finally). They would then end the story with the proverb, saying ce qui prouve bien que… (which proves that…).
Thus Easter can be a great opportunity to both review grammar constructions and vocabulary and introduce new things.
Joyeux Pâques ! (Happy Easter!).
Hilda Thomas has a PhD in French from the University of Port Elizabeth in South Africa. She has been teaching French (both language and literature) at all levels for many years but her specialization is in teaching French to beginners.
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