Activities for Practicing Time Day, and Date

Time, day, and date are all incredibly useful concepts to know in any language, but they don't really lend themselves to conversation the way other topics do.  So how do we make these topics accessible and engaging for students?  Below I have compiled a list of some of the ways I present and review time, day and date.  Feel free to add your own in the comments!


Virtual Clock  - I love this virtual clock.  It shows the current time, or you can adjust it to any time you want.  It's great to show on the SMART Board and have kids come up and manipulate when introducing time.

Fun Games - The Australian State of Victoria has created some fun games on a variety of topics.  If I have a few minutes at the end of class, I'll throw one of these up on the SMART Board and have the kids take turns playing.  I then post them on my Edmodo page and encourage kids to play at home.  Another fun game is Quizlet's scatter.  It's fun to do with time and date (match the written form to the numbers).

Horloges App - Stephanie Bass of Bonne idée! shared the wonderful idea to use the native clock app on the iPad to reinforce time (click here to read her presentation on using smart phones and iPads in the FSL classroom).  I took this idea and had my students complete a Socrative quiz about time in different francophone cities.  First, they switched the language and the keyboard to French to make it more authentic, then they opened up the Socrative quiz (I blogged about Socrative here, by the way).  As questions popped up about various cities, they added those cities to the app.  Then, they could swipe from the right, and the clocks appear at the side of the screen.  The questions asked things like "Il est huit heures à New York.  Quelle heure est-il à Paris ?"  Since the question and answers were written as words, and the clock app provided numbers, they needed to know how to say the numbers in French.  In addition to reinforcing the vocabulary for time, it also reinforced the idea of time zones and geographic awareness.

Télérama - Télérama is a French television guide that has program listings on its website.  I put this up on the board and ask students when different shows are on.  They enjoy seeing what their favorite shows are called in France.  I like to use this to reinforce the "à" in "at what time."

  Emploi du Temps - I show my students French school schedules and ask them questions about them.  I use these on homework assignments and quizzes.  I also have my students make up their own schedule similar to a French one.  They enjoy learning about Wednesday afternoons being free!

By Tototomy7614 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Ecole Poudlard - Students enjoy seeing what schedules from Hogwarts look like in French.  This site and others have schedules from all 7 years.  I go through the names of the courses with the students, then I have them play a game.  Everyone gets a sheet of paper.  On one side is a blank schedule.  On the other side are the schedules for the first three years.  Students get a sticker on their forehead with the number 1-3 (for first through third year).  Then, they go around the room asking when they have their various classes.  As they tell each other, they fill in the schedule.  At the end, they compare the schedules and figure out which year they are in.


What Day Is It? - It's hard to review the days of the week.  We say the day everyday in class, but even still, it needs reinforcement.  One activity I do is describe various holidays and events (such as Thanksgiving, the Super Bowl, etc.) and have students say what day of the week it is.


Celebrity Birthdays - For homework, I give students a calendar for a month and put some celebrity birthdays on it.  Students have to write the day of the week and the date for each celebrity's birthday, as well as how old they are.

More Fun Games - Just as with the time, there are more great games on the Languages Online site for practicing the date.

Télérama - When introducing the date, I go back to the Télérama site and show students the links for the days later that week (for example "jeudi 12/1," "vendredi 13/1"), and have them figure out that the numbers are actually the dates.  From here they realize that the date is stated opposite (day, month) to how it is in the United States.

Birthday Line Up - This is an old classic that you may have heard of before.  I have the students (sometimes in two separate groups) line themselves up by birthday speaking only French.

Other Activities

These activities work for time or date, as well as numbers in general.

Number/Word Match Up - Students get a slip of card stock with a date or time in word form or in number form.  They must find their partner with the corresponding date or time.  For dates, I include dates with inversed numbers such as "le premier juin" and "le six janvier" to encourage students to think about the order of the numbers in French.

LOTO - LOTO, or French bingo, is easy to play with dates and times.  To make the game move along faster, I have students make their own board, but they only pick from a set of dates or times I have up on the board.

Whiteboards - Whiteboards are a fun way to practice dates and times.  Students have so much more fun when they get to write on a whiteboard!

Puzzles - For review day, I give students puzzles made up of squares.  On each edge of each square (except the outside pieces), there is a date or time in number or word form.  On the edge that touches it, is the same date or time in the opposite form (number or word).  I don't have a file of the date and time puzzle, but below is a photo of a similar puzzle in progress that reviews numbers and other vocabulary.  When it it is done, it forms a 4x4 square.

Picture Grid - I got the idea to do a picture grid from the blog Confesiones y Realidades.  On the blog, Anne talks about grids with the numbers 1-100.  The teacher calls out a number, and the students color it in.  When the teacher is done, it forms a picture (that the teacher has pre-planned).  I did this activity to reinforce numbers, and then I did it again with dates.  It could also be done with times.

Virtual Trip - Back in 2014, I blogged about the virtual trip to Paris activity I do with my students.  They visit a series of websites and plan an imaginary trip, noting down times, days, dates and prices.  This year the students completed the activity using iPads, and used QR codes to access the websites.

iPad Diaries Volume 12

This is the 12th post in a series on using iPads in the language classroom.  Click here to view an index of previous posts.  In this post, I will be talking about how I have used MakeBeliefsComix in class and the benefits of the iPad's keyboard.

For several years now I have offered students the chance to use MakeBeliefsComix to practice their vocabulary outside of class.  It wasn't until this year, however, that I had them try it in class using the iPads.  Having the students work together on a comic strip using the French keyboard has a number of benefits.

Online comic strip generators are nothing new and there are quite a few to choose from, but I like MakeBeliefsComix best because it's free and it's kid-friendly.  It's also easy to use.  A decent looking comic strip can be made in a matter of minutes, giving students time to focus on the language.

I gave students a word bank to focus their language and let them work for the period, with the understanding that they could only add characters and backgrounds AFTER they finished writing.  By the way, if you want to use MakeBeliefsComix on an iPad, you have to download the free app.  The website will not work.  All the iPads were set to French and used the French keyboard.  This has a number of benefits for students that aren't available on a computer.  First, it exposes them to the layout of the French keyboard.  More importantly, though is that the iPad will both predict words for students and autocorrect them when they are spelled wrong.  I suppose this could be seen as either a helpful feature or a form of cheating.  I consider it a useful support that helps my novice students create a more polished writing task.  In fact, I often wished for such a feature before using the iPads.

Here are some of the results.  While at this stage of the game, it's hard to have a lot of variety, each group put their own twist on it and used different characters to make it their own.

I published these and others on my classroom blog, then I incorporated them into a homework assignment. I whited out some of the words, and students had to fill in the blank. My goal was to give the students some purpose and ownership to creating the comic beyond just creating it for the teacher to look at.

Originally I had planned to grade this activity, but it became apparent while the students were working on it that it might better serve as a practice activity.  Through reading through the results, it became apparent to me which terms needed more reinforcement.  Thus, it made an excellent formative assessment.  Because there are comics involved, student engagement was immediately heightened.

Have you ever used comic strip generators in class?  If so, how?  Have you ever used the iPad's predictive word or autocorrect features using the target language keyboard?

My Favorite Blog Posts of 2015

I like to start out the year by rounding up some of my favorite blog posts from the previous year.  From posts about francophone culture to activities and assessments in the foreign language classroom, you'll find quite a range of articles to choose from.  Here's to a prosperous 2016!

Francophone Culture
Architecture : revivez 750 ans d’Histoire de Paris en 60 façades by Le Figaro
20 Paris Instagram Accounts to Follow by Bonjour Paris
Following Claude Monet's Footsteps in Paris by Bonjour Paris
Les devoirs à la maison sont-ils vraiments interdits ? by 1jour1actu
Comment était Paris avant 1900 ? by Paris ZigZag

Language Teacher Specific
What Can I DO {-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do} with a Song? by The Comprehensible Classroom
Sra. Spanglish Tech Tips:  Vibby by PBL in the TL
What to Do When They Miss Class? by The Comprehensible Classroom
Why do our L1-English learners of French/Spanish find it hard to acquire agreement rules? by The Language Gym
Yes, They CAN Understand Native Speakers by 3 Rs 4 Teachers
Confession Time by Language Sensei
10 Ways to Use Photography In Your Classroom by Musings from the Island
Reflection: World Congress of Modern Languages, 2015 by Bonne idée
Teaching Students Conversation Skills from Throw Away Your Textbook
8 Reasons Technology is Crucial in the #MFL Classroom by Mme Mallette
7 Steps to Creating an Integrated Performance Assessment (IPA) by Madame Shepard
Emotional Intelligence Doesn't Translate Across Borders by Harvard Business Review

French Teacher Specific
Integrating Culture - Step 1:  Essential Questions by Madame Shepard
Authres:  Hobbies by En français, SVP!

General Teaching
Class Quiz Games with Quizizz (an Alternative to Kahoot) by Learning in Hand
Good Ideas from Twitter:  iPad Rules Lock Screens by Bonne idée !
50 of the Best Free Apps for Teachers by TeachThought
A Teacher's Guide to Wikipedia by Edudemic
33 Graphic Design Tools to Publish Visual Content by TeachThought
Spruce Up Your Centers with Technology by Learning in Hand

Language Advocacy
The Brain Benefits of Learning Multiple Languages by Lifehacker
Infographic:  Next-Gen World Language Learning by Getting Smart

Bonus:  My Most Viewed Posts of 2015
Food & Meal-Taking:  Activities Round-Up
Finding & Using #Authres
Greatest Hits:  My Favorite Songs for Learning French
My Favorite #Authres (And More!) for Mardi Gras and Carnaval
iPad Diaries:  Volume 2

The Year in Review: My Favorite Apps, Lessons & Activities from 2015

As 2015 comes to a close, I'd like to share some of my favorite lessons and activities that I tried for the first time this year, just as I did in this post last year.   I attempted to choose a hybrid of high-tech and low-tech activities, but with the exciting acquisition of iPads this year, a lot of the new things I tried were very high-tech.  As always, some of these activities are my own ideas, but many of them are adapted from other teachers' ideas.

1.  iPad Review Stations - I blogged about iPad review stations here, here, and here.  The stations have been a great way to give students one on one time with the iPads, as well as a way for me to incorporate more activities into a review day and easily monitor students as they review independently.

2.  Kahoot! - I blogged about Kahoot! here and here.  I don't know of any teacher who's tried Kahoot! and didn't like it.  It's a highly engaging way to review material with students.

3.  French Club Students Become the Teachers - I blogged about this here.  Seeing my students teach and encourage younger students was incredibly rewarding.  I can't wait to repeat this project!

4.  Adobe Voice - I blogged about this app here and here.  Adobe Voice is a really easy way for students to create presentational content that actually looks cool.  I also like the way it is easy for students to find images to use legally.

5.  Nearpod - I blogged about this app here.  Nearpod is a great way to introduce content, keep students engaged, and check for understanding.

6.  Student Surveys After Food Tasting - I blogged about this here.  After getting the idea for this at a conference, I put it into practice during National French Week.  Having the students actually sit down and fill out a short survey ensured they actually knew what foods they were eating, and promoted some target language conversation in class that day.

What were your favorite new activities that you tried this year?

iPad Diaries: Volume 11

This is the 11th post in a series on using iPads in the language classroom.  Click here to view an index of previous posts.  In this post, I will be talking about how I have used the TinyTap app in class.

TinyTap is an app that allows teachers to create games for students to play, with a variety of options.  There are a LOT of sites like this, but I haven't found one that suits my needs as well as TinyTap.  I first discovered this app when I asked on the World Languages group on Edmodo if anyone knew of an app or site where teachers could provide words for students to drag and drop into sentences.  A teacher suggested TinyTap.  While it is really geared towards the younger crowd (pre-school through mid elementary), since you can pick and choose which designs you use, it's easy enough to make your games visually appealing to middle and high school students.

Based on my experience with other quiz and game apps, allowing students to input a short answer is sometimes too difficult and too time consuming, and doesn't provide immediate feedback.  On the other hand, multiple choice is often too easy.  The word bank option is often just what I'm looking for, and in TinyTap I've found that and much more.

What I've done in the above screen is write a series of sentences with clip art cues (lots of clip art is provided in the app).  I then digitally "cut out" the words I wanted the students to drag and drop and moved them to the bottom of the screen.  As soon as a student drags a word into a black space, it either bounces back if it's incorrect, or stays put and shows confetti if it is correct.

Another feature you can incorporate into your game is listen and tap.  You record a command of something to tap, and the student taps it.  As you can see, I did this below with prices.  Once again, immediate feedback is given as to whether it is right or wrong.

The other features you can incorporate are tap and listen (to introduce vocabulary), and short response.  I tried the short response on my most recent game, but since I was asking for sentences, it proved rather difficult.  Punctuation counts towards whether the answer is right or wrong, so next time I will only use it for eliciting single words.

Below you can see the two games I've used so far.  I used one of the games as quiz review in stations, and the other as supervised in class practice.  I put a QR code on the smart board (copy the URL of the game, and paste it into a QR code generator site, such as and have the students use the QR reader app to scan the code and access the game.

Here is a breakdown of pros and cons of TinyTap:

-Variety of features allows for lots of teacher control
-Can be played on desktop or mobile devices
-Game-like features make it fun for students
-Can browse already made games to have your students play
-Built-in graphics to choose from

-Must use app on iOS or Android to create (can't create on desktop)
-Time-consuming to create (but you can use it over and over)

DISCLAIMER:  This is NOT a sponsored post.  I genuinely like TinyTap and wanted to share it with my readers.

The iPad Diaries Volume 10

This is the 10th post in a series on using iPads in the language classroom.  Click here to view an index of previous posts.  In this post, I will be talking about how I have used the Socrative app and a little bit about how I have used stations for review with the iPads.

When we first got the iPads last year, I realized the best way to give students one-on-one time with them was to do stations.  Since then, I have incorporated stations into quiz review and I really like it.  They keep students moving frequently, and allow them to work independently while I observe and help out where needed.

Since we have 40 minute periods and I have around 30 students per class, I design 3 stations that last about 10 minutes each.  I try to incorporate different functions into each one (listening, reading, writing, speaking), but my my main goal is immediate feedback.  The stations that are able to give immediate feedback through the use of an app or an answer sheet are more useful for students.

Usually one of the stations involves the use of Socrative, an app that allows the teacher to give a quiz, while collecting the results.  I don't grade the quiz, but I can see how the students did when their results come in (I let them answer anonymously).

You can allow short answers or multiple choice, but I have only used multiple choice, because I like how you can provide immediate feedback for it.  Once the student answers a question, a dialog box pops up telling the student if their answer was correct or not, followed by an explanation.

At the end of class, if time allots, I go over some of the questions that were missed the most.  Socrative also allows you to see a breakdown of how many students chose each response.

I usually have 2 iPad stations, the other station having either some sort of listening exercise or a quick Kahoot game, with a student acting as the teacher.  I'll then have a 3rd, non-tech station, which might involve a speaking exercise in partners or a puzzle to put together (see below).

I'm always reworking my stations, but I have found them to be a great way to incorporate multiple methods of review into one day, while also giving students one-on-one access to iPads.

How do you use stations in your class, if at all?

How We Celebrated National French Week

From November 4-10, French Teachers around the US celebrated La Semaine du Français with their students and schools.  I originally planned to post this earlier, but with the events in Paris, I felt my previous post was more timely.  I figured it was still worth sharing with you what we did at our school, as this is an annual event.

Students in French club drew flags of French speaking countries with sidewalk chalk on the front entryway to the school.  I got the idea from a teacher at this year's NYSAFLT Conference who said she took her elementary students outside with sidewalk chalk.  Well, middle schoolers like sidewalk chalk too!

My students brought in dishes from francophone countries to eat in class, such as tarte tatin, clafoutis, meringues, and madeleines.  I give students recipes the week before, and I have them sign up to bring in the food.  I also invite parent volunteers to help serve the food.  It's a great way to get parents into the classroom, which they love.

This year, students had to circle what foods they ate, jot down which one was their favorite, and then turn to a neighbor and share verbally as well.  Another great idea I picked up at the NYSAFLT conference!

I collected a random sampling of sheets that the students filled out and made a pie chart that I showed them the next day, illustrating which foods were the most popular (since this was based on all my classes and not one particular class, students didn't have to feel badly if their dish wasn't popular).

Sample pie chart from (I misplaced the file with the actual pie chart I showed my students).

Students had the option of making a poster showcasing why they are learning French.  The 8th grade French teacher picks a winner (below is this year's winner).

So, those are a few things we did in my classes this year for National French Week.  How do you celebrate National French Week?  Or, more importantly, what do you do in your class or your school to reinforce the importance of learning French? 

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