Updated: Apr 14, 2021
This year, the holidays are going to look a little different. A little less crowded, a little less busy, and, unfortunately, seeing a little less of our extended families. But that doesn’t mean the holidays have to be any less enjoyable! In between Zoom calls with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and everyone in between, we’ll be spending some quality time with the people we love the most right in our own homes. It’s been a long, difficult lockdown, but with a little imagination – and the help of these French family games for kids – you can have fun and make sure your children are still practicing all the French they learned this year!
Don’t worry if you’re not bilingual. This can be one of the largest drawbacks to parents with children learning French. Fortunately, however, with some of these games, you can keep up, stay in touch with their learning, and maybe even learn a bit yourself! Between these French family games and the shows we recommended last month, you may be surprised by how much you pick up.
Grandma’s Favourite – BINGO!
Bingo’s back with a big twist! This is one of those French family games for kids that keeps its ‘Classic’ status. Everyone loves it, and it’s a fantastic way to practice! This game is especially good for beginners. It’s also easy to adjust as your kids improve their French to make it more challenging, and therefore more fun.
You’ll need blank Bingo cards to start. These can often be found at your local craft store, dollar store, or online at Amazon. Once you’ve got these, sit down with a pack of multi-coloured markers and choose words to fill up the card. You may want to look at your child’s notes to help out with spelling, but get your child to help. Ask them words they know. This will increase practice time and is the perfect way to keep them involved in their learning.
Each Bingo card should have 25 squares on it, so you’ll want about 30-50 words to keep each card unique. Start with words that your child would easily recognise – items around your house, greetings, domestic animals, and numbers, for instance. We’d recommend writing the French word in a large font and bright colour and the English translation in smaller letters underneath. Then, write up all of the words on their own individual slips of paper for the draw. Update the cards every few months to keep your child learning!
The Hangman Speaks French!
Who doesn’t love to play Hangman? This is another of the classic French family games for kids, and can be adjusted and made more challenging as they improve their French. You can look up basic French words to make sure you’re all on the same page! If you want the whole family to get involved, use a chalkboard or large sheets of chart paper.
As their French improves, ask them to start using phrases, rather than just words. For instance, instead of ‘Bonjour’, try ‘Bonjour, comment ça va?’ or ‘Je m’appelle ____’. Slowly building up phrases can help your child work on sentence structure alongside their vocabulary.
Traditional French Family Games for Kids
As we’ve said before, one of the big benefits of learning French is learning about other cultures. So what would French family games for kids be without a bit of French family fun? A classic is jeu de la barbichette. This game is very simple, and it doesn’t require any tools at all.
In short, two opponents sit across from one another and grab the other’s chin. Then they sing the song, while still holding each other’s chin. Once the song is over – still holding chins! – the winner is the one who can go the longest without laughing or smiling or reacting at all. This is a goofy, light-hearted game that’s easy to play and great for learning French. Of course, though, you’ll need to learn the song! You’ll find the original French lyrics and the English translation here.
You’ll notice the last lines: “Qui rira / Aura une tapette.” Translation? “Who will laugh / Will get a wee slap!” The original prize was getting to slap your opponent. Of course, this has changed to sweeter prizes these days and we certainly wouldn’t recommend slapping each other!
It’s a thrill of a game, though, and a great way to stay entertained while the snow falls outside.
Light French Family Games for Kids
Finding time to dedicate to French family games for kids isn’t always easy with our busy schedules. It can also be intimidating for those who aren’t learning alongside. One great way to get around this is to allow French in English games. For instance, allow your child to use a French word in Scrabble. Or, ask them to count their spaces in French in Monopoly. Perhaps some French words can interject into their questioning in Guess Who? These small instances of language blending can go a long way in helping your child become more comfortable with the language.
Make it more fun for the kids with prizes! With all the holiday candy in the house, this shouldn’t be difficult! But maybe you want to get more inventive? A day off chores for the big prize? Or a chance to pick what’s for dinner that night? Getting to choose the tree, or what colours you’ll decorate this year? Or for the adults, breakfast in bed the next day and extra long lie-in! The options are endless, and they certainly don’t need to cost anything!
Keeping the kids entertained while the snow blusters outside and you’re trapped in the house can feel a bit of a let down at Christmas. But don’t get discouraged, get out some snacks, and have a fun night of French family games for kids! Check in with your child’s tutor for their level of French to help you plan.