Parts of the body can be a difficult topic to make contextual. With the right activities, though, it can be a lot of fun to teach and learn. These are some of the activities I use year after year.
Although many of the body parts mentioned are bird-specific (les ailes, le bec, les pattes), I still like to teach this song because of its cultural significance. I show the video below, which is a little goofy, and thus perfect for middle school.
Jacques a dit
There isn't a topic better suited to the French version of Simon Says than body parts. When the terms are still new, I act them out as I say them, so the game doesn't rely as much on knowing the vocabulary. Later on, I mix things up by touching the wrong body part (e.g. I say "Touchez la bouche" but I touch my foot) to test them.
Frankenstein Body Parts
I was first introduced to this idea by The Creative Language Class. It's basically a fun twist on the traditional label-the-body-parts assignment. Instead of taking a picture and labeling it, you make a creature from multiple sources. The results can be fun and a little bit scary!
Igor le Gorille
This fun video reinforces some parts of the body vocabulary while introducing some new terms like "Peux-tu," "comme," and "bouge."
Before watching the video, I throw this Wordle up on the board to go over the vocabulary.
A colleague of mine gave me the idea for this hilarious activity. A student comes up to the board, puts one hand over his eyes, and proceeds to draw various body parts that the class calls out in French, one by one. The result is this extremely abstract version of a person that's sure to elicit a few laughs, especially from the person who drew it.
Dessinez un monstre
Another drawing activity, this time the teacher announces body parts for students to draw. Since it's a monster, you can say things like "dessinez trois têtes" or "dessinez une bouche sur le cou" to make it more interesting. Although everyone is following the same directions, the monsters all come out unique. By the way, the two examples below are from two separate activities, hence the many differences.
Avec les ____, je peux...
Shortly after teaching parts of the body, I introduce likes and dislikes with various activities (ER verbs). To reinforce both old and new vocabulary, I have students brainstorm what activities they can do with each of the body parts they have learned how to say in French. Example: Avec les yeux, je peux regarder la télé, étudier, jouer aux jeux vidéo, etc.
Logique ou pas logique ?
Building on the previous activity, I have two Smart Board spinners that have activities and parts of the body on them, respectively. I spin each of them (or a student does), and we decide if the activity/body part combo is logical or illogical (e.g.: chanter avec la bouche = logique, danser avec les oreilles = pas logique).
When I introduce vocabulary for making and responding to invitations, I spend a lot of time on excuses (i.e. "Je ne peux pas," "Je dois...," etc.). This provides a great opportunity to revisit parts of the body by providing "J'ai mal à..." as a potential excuse.
Les monstres coloriés
This is an activity that I tried once and never repeated because it proved too difficult for the level of students I teach. I think this would be a great activity for an intermediate class. Have students draw a monster in various colors, then write a sentence describing the color of each body part. It reinforces "est," "sont," and adjective/noun agreement.
Those are my favorite activities for teaching parts of the body. What are yours?