4 Heart-warming Christmas Games to Spice Up Your French Class This Holiday
Are you teaching children or children-at-heart?
Either way, it’s pretty safe to say that Christmas is a favorite holiday of most students.
So this holiday season, bring some heart-warming games to your French classroom!
These games are guaranteed to turn your lessons into highly engaging, memorable sessions.
They’ll allow you to practice all facets of French with your students, while also teaching French culture.
Here are four of our favorite French Christmas games that will be an undeniable hit with students of any age.
Why French Games Are Especially Fun During Christmas Time
- They bring the Christmas spirit to the classroom. The holidays are here and your students have it on their minds. Take advantage and use this popular topic to raise the spirits of your French language learners. It’s a great opportunity to show them how Christmas is celebrated in the French-speaking world, and to bring them closer to the French community. After all, the French, too, are avid Christmas lovers!
- They help strengthen the bond between you and your students. Bringing games to the classroom around Christmastime is more than just entertaining your students; you are creating memories. Your students will remember you for this, which will highly benefit how well they’ll participate in and outside of class. Students who like their teachers are more likely to be motivated and to invest in that teacher’s class. Rest assured that this bond will outlast the holiday.
- They are a playful way to teach about the French Christmas culture. Students love learning about the cultural side of France during lessons, but it may be challenging to go beyond the routine, pedantic format. Games are a great way to make sure that your students participate and appropriate knowledge in action. Through Christmas games, you’re not just talking about Christmas in France, you’re actually living it. And that’s quite the efficient way to learn!
4 Heart-warming Christmas Games That’ll Bring Holiday Magic to Your French Class
1. Que suis-je? (What Am I?)
This is a great game to practice speaking and listening skills, strengthen communication ability, entertain your students and spread the holiday cheer!
In this game, students will hold mystery Christmas words and images up against their forehead, which their partner will then describe. So before playing, you’ll need to prepare the mystery cards.
Cards should include an easily recognizable Christmas image, a handwritten word or both. These should be words that you’ve already viewed in class. For example:
- Père Noël (Santa Claus)
- Guirlandes (garlands)
- Cheminée (chimney)
- Cadeaux (presents)
- Festin (feast)
How to play
The rules of the game are fairly simple: Students play as a team of two, and compete against the other pairs. Each round is six minutes long. There are three rounds, followed by semi-finals with the top three teams, and lastly finals between the two remaining teams. During semi-finals and finals, other students should watch and learn.
During each round, team members have to make each other guess as many words as possible. Let’s say Alice and Al are on Team A, playing against Bob and Betty from Team B. To start, Alice takes a sticky card with a word or an image on it, and places it on her forehead without looking at the card.
If you’re not using sticky notes and prefer regular paper instead, bring bandanas so players can cover their eyes. They cannot peep at the card and should have effectively no idea what’s on the card!
Al then describes the word to her in French, and Alice tries to guess the word—no images or body language allowed! While students are playing, stroll around the class and make sure students aren’t using gestures or English. You could even disqualify students who break that rule.
When Alice correctly guesses the word, she quickly puts a new mystery card on her forehead and play continues. Alice and Al keep track of how many words Alice guesses correctly during the 6-minute round.
While Alice and Al are guessing and describing, Bob and Betty on Team B are doing the exact same thing. When the 6-minute round is up, Alice and Al total their cards and compare it to the number that Team B guessed correctly. The team that identified more cards wins that round. During the next round, Al will put the images on his forehead and Alice will describe. Partners should keep taking turns like this, alternating roles every round.
At the end of each round, ask each team to show you how many cards they correctly guessed. Each card is worth one point. Keep track of how points each team scored. If you’re able to, reward your semi-finalists and finalists with some special Christmas presents, treats or beverages!
2. Tout sur le Père Noël (Everything About Santa)
This is a fantastic game to learn about French Christmas culture in a fun way, while boosting engagement in your classroom. In this Christmas-themed quiz, students play in teams against other teams to win a prize.
Before playing, you’ll need to prepare the cards. On a thick white cards, write or print questions about French Christmas traditions, French Christmas vocabulary/expressions or general “good” Christmas behavior. Make sure you’ve studied the material together in class. Include the answer at the bottom of the card, rather than writing them on the back. Add explanations where necessary, and keep the cards French-only!
Sample questions include:
- Où vit le Père Noël ? au Pôle Nord (Where does Santa live? In the North Pole)
- Combien de desserts se trouvent sur la table de Noël en Provence ? 13 desserts (How many desserts are there on the Christmas table in Provence? 13 desserts)
- Qui fabrique les jouets du Père Noël ? Les lutins (Who makes Santa Claus’s toys? The elves).
How to play
When you’re ready to play, start by selecting two students to form the Santa Council. They will be the ones asking players questions, giving them answers and judging them—so hand over your stack of cards to the council.
Then, split the rest of your class into teams. Gather all students into one big circle, but have students sit clumped together with their team. Place a large candy cane or a custom-made Christmas bottle in the middle. You can paint it, use Christmas garlands or anything you like that symbolizes Christmas.
The game is similar to the jeu de la bouteille (bottle game): Students spin the candy cane or the bottle, and the team it points to will then be asked a question by the Santa Council. Teams will have 10 seconds to answer the question. (You can time the students, or make this another job of the Santa Council).
If the team’s answer is correct and satisfies the Santa Council, that team receives one point and gets to spin the bottle again. If their answer isn’t right, the council will ask another question. If they answer their second question correctly, they can spin the bottle again, but they don’t get any points. If the team gets their second question wrong too, they lose a point.
The team with the most points wins the game!
3. Le pendu du conte de Noël (Christmas Story Hangman)
This game is a fun way to make your Christmas storytelling activity more engaging, and is also a fantastic vocabulary enricher. The premise of the game is simple: Read a couple of paragraphs of a Christmas story, and then pause. Students will have to guess the missing word by playing Hangman.
To prepare, you’ll first need to pick a Christmas story. This book has a collection of uplifting tales that are both easy to read and well-written. It can also be purchased on Kindle, always a hit in the modern classroom! I also recommend this website for some short Christmas stories, and this site which features original stories that are appropriate for young French learners.
Then, highlight the mystery words. These can be words that you’ve viewed in class or new words that you want to introduce (Hangman is a great game to learn new words).
How to play
To start game play, begin reading a story aloud to the class. When you get to a highlighted word, say something like “hum-hum” instead of the word. For example, if your mystery word is marrons, you might say “Jean lui reconta alors sa rencontre avec le marchand de hum-hum” (Jean told him then his encounter with the -blank- merchant). Repeat the sentence again twice, and then draw 7 blanks on the board (_ _ _ _ _ _ _) to play Hangman.
Alternatively, if your students are advanced enough, you can let your students read sections of the story out loud and set up Hangman themselves. To do this, you’ll have to make copies of the story with mystery words highlighted. Cut the story into slips of paper, so that students can only read a part at a time (and thus they can’t see the next mystery word).
Split your class into teams, and give the first printout to one team (we’ll call them Team A), who will begin reading. Students in Team A should pass the story around, each taking turns reading a sentence or paragraph each (depending on length) until they get to a mystery word.
Team A should then draw the mystery word blanks on the board, and call on other teams for letters during Hangman. The team who guesses the word correctly takes over reading, continuing where the last team left off. (You’ll have to give this winning team the next paper slip(s) to continue the story.)
Keep it fun, and keep track of each team’s score. You might wish to reward the winning team with a Christmas treat, like marrons glacés (chestnut confection) or chocolate truffles!
4. Le jeu des différences (Find the Differences)
Lastly, le jeu des différences is another entertaining game that’ll keep your students completely engaged while testing their vocabulary. We all played it when we were kids, and still today we find ourselves deeply absorbed when playing it.
Why? Because it’s so challenging!
The game is based on two images presented side by side: an original to the left, and a modified image to the right. Little details have been altered, and the goal is to find all of the differences as quickly as possible.
The game is probably best adapted for beginners and young learners, and is one of the best ways for you to verify that your students have acquired the French Christmas vocabulary that you have studied in class. It demands that your students identify precisely what detail in the image has been altered, and to name it correctly to win.
To play with your class, first you’ll have to select the images. You’ll find some great Christmas image resources on the Vivenoel website, a French site dedicated to the Christmas world. Simply bring the site to the classroom and use a video projector. Your students have 20 seconds to spot the differences and shout them out to you!
Alternatively, if you prefer longer time without the pressure of the timer, take a screenshot of the images on the site. You can then either print them out for students, or put the images into a PowerPoint presentation.
Another excellent site is Assistance Maternelle, which features numerous simple find-the-difference images that are ready to print. If you’re looking for more trying images, head to Gratuit-Imprimer for some seriously head-scratching find-the-difference Christmas images.
How to play
Students have one minute to spot the differences between two images. Put students into pairs and let them play against each other. As soon as one student finds a difference, they should say it aloud (in French of course), and mark down that they found one difference.
At the end of the minute, whoever found the most differences wins the round—and gains one point. If a student finds all the differences, that’s 4 points! I recommend playing 5 rounds, at the end of which students should call out their scores. Your top 8 students can then compete against each other in quarter-finals. Other students should watch, keep scores and determine who the top 4 players are. Let them compete in semi-finals, and repeat until the finals.
Reward your winning students with a Christmas sticker, a Christmas decoration, or better yet, a homemade Christmas bredele to get them a taste of Christmas in Alsace.
Whether you’re teaching children or children-at-heart, your French students will love playing these festive Christmas games to celebrate the holidays!