In this series on teaching French writing skills, we’ve already discussed using templates to model good writing, as well as the importance of French transition words to decrease choppiness. This post will continue the writing discussion with 25 ideas for great French writing projects and French writing activities to use all year long for your middle school and high school students.
Without further ado, here are some ideas:
French 1 Writing Projects:
For level 1, I focus primarily on speaking and communication skills for at least the first half of the year before adding in a whole lot of writing. Sentences or short paragraphs are fine, but avoid long compositions until they are more confident and competent with their communication skills.
That said, here are a few shorter projects:
Postcard project (Level 1): Students pretend they are on vacation in a Francophone country. Pass out an index card and have students draw/print and paste photos of the scenery on one side and describe their vacation on the other.
Teach them a little bit of passé composé to help them talk about where they went and what they saw. (Je suis allé . . ., Nous sommes allés, J’ai vu, Nous avons vu, C’était amusant, intéressant, un voyage fantastique). Don’t teach them the whole verb conjugation – only teach that “Je suis allé/e” means “I went”, “Nous sommes allés” means we went, “J’ai vu” means “I saw”, “Nous avons vu” means “We saw” and “C’était” means “It was “. Ex. I’m in Switzerland. There are so many beautiful mountains hers. The weather is cold and today it’s snowing. Yesterday we went to the Alps to go skiing. Etc.
Social Media Profile: Have students write their own Facebook profile or other social media profile. They can answer questions such as: Where do you live, what do you like to do, what is your profession, etc.
Secret Valentines: Select another student’s name for each student (boys to boys, girls to boys, girls to girls) and have them write super cheesy valentines to their secret valentine. Tell them that the whole point is to write the cheesiest valentine. Students give you the valentines when they are done and you pass them out. They try to guess who their secret valentine is.
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All about Me Writing Project: This one is great for an end of year project. Students describe themselves, their families, their likes and dislikes, etc. Get this free template in the Free Resource Library.
French 2 Writing Projects:
Instagram Posts: Students take photos and write Instagram posts describing what they did over the summer, winter break, spring break, etc.
Personal Narrative: All about Me Project (with or without the template). See above.
Describe a Typical Day: Students describe their daily routine (great for reflexive verbs and time). If you want to add an extra fun element to this, offer extra credit if they act their days out in front of the class as funny people. Student A is behind the Student B and is the arms and does all the actions while Student A talks. This is really funny as they try to brush teeth, hair, etc. Students love this activity.
Collage People: Students cut out pictures of different activities and paste them (or they can draw them) onto an outline of a person. They then write about the person that they have created, describing their likes and dislikes.
French Commands Writing Projects:
How to Project: Write instructions explaining how to make or do something (could be a recipe or a simple craft).
Create a Pamphlet: Make a pamphlet or brochure for a gym/weight loss program.
French Passé Composé Writing Projects:
One Crazy Family: Write about a crazy family and all the crazy things that they did all week long. Have them act out the actions in front of the class with props.
Ex. The Cartier family is really crazy. On Tuesday, Marta ate worms and crickets for dinner. On Friday night, Louise and Rose rode elephants and parked them in the supermarket parking lot. What a mess!
Postcard project (Level 2): Students pretend they are on vacation in a Francophone country. Pass out an index card and have students draw/print and paste photos of the scenery on one side and describe their vacation on the other. Can be used with just passé composé or passé composé and imparfait.
French Imperfect Writing Projects:
Your Life As a Kid: Write about what your life was like when you were a kid. Students leave the name off and attach a photo from when they were little. Post them around the class with a number by each essay. Students try to guess who each person is.
Famous Person’s Life: Write about the life of a famous person.
Penpal Letters: Connect with another class in a Francophone country and have your students correspond with other students throughout the year. Collect the letter and mail them in one big envelope to save on postage (or even better, correspond via email).
Letter for Next Year: Write a letter to next year’s students telling them about your teacher and what they should expect from French class.
French 3, 4, 5 Writing Projects:
French Passé Composé vs. Imparfait Writing Projects:
Class Story: Write a class story. Begin with a starter sentence like: It was a dark and stormy night. Students in class take turns adding on sentences. To get more touches with the language, divide the class into groups and let them brainstorm their own stories and then write on the board as they go. Share and correct the stories as a class afterwards.
Life in the Past: Compare and contrast life today with life 50 years ago.
Photo Prompt: Use a funny photo as a writing prompt. Ex. What happened to cause this event?
Photo Writing: Show a picture with lots of things happening in it. Have students write as much as they can about the picture for 2-5 minutes.
Retell a Fairy Tale: Students write out a traditional fairy tale, but change some of the details to give it a funny twist.
Change the Ending: Write the ending to a story that the class is reading before you read it.
Famous People: Students research a famous Francophone and write a resume based on that person’s life. I like to have them add an audio-visual element to the presentation (showcasing their art, music, etc.).
Movie/Book Review: Students write a review critiquing a movie or book.
Blog Post: Students write a blog post about a topic of their choosing: exercise, sports, fashion, healthy eating, etc. Have them use info. that you are studying (specific verb tenses or grammar points, transition words) in their posts.
Journal Writing: Have students write once a week in Spanish journals (either in class or at home). Be sure to tell them not to write stuff that is super personal because you will be reading it.
Journal Writing with Prompts: Give students a new prompt for each writing session. Base the prompts on the season or specific grammar points that you’re studying. Ex. (For Halloween) Describe the best Halloween costume that you ever wore. Ex. (For imperfect subjunctive) If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be.
Controversial Opinion Piece: Students present one side of a debate for a controversial topic. As the teacher, you may wish to select certain topics to choose from or you may decide to give students permission to choose (just have them check with you first before they start to write).
Future Plans: Describe what your life will be like in 10, 20, or 30 years.
Conditional: Have students answer any of the following writing prompts: 1. What would you do if you won $1,000,000? 2. What changes would you make if you were the principal of your school? 3. If you could have any special power, what would it be and why?
End of Year Projects for Upper Level Students:
French Fairy Tales: Students write and illustrate fairy tales using complex verb tenses and transition words. Give them a specific amount of transition words to use (10-15), and specific verbs (must use at least 3 conditional, 5 preterite, 5 imperfect, 3 subjunctive, etc.). Get the instructions, rubrics, and samples to show your students here.
Write a Chapter: Write an additional chapter from a book that you’ve read this year. Include elements in the style of that particular author. My favorite book is “Le Petit Nico”. In each chapter Nico gets into some sort of problem, but manages to find a way out of it. This also works well for “Le Petit Prince”.
Hope you found these ideas helpful and inspiring! Have a great writing project that we should all know about – let me know in the comments so I can add it to this post.
Want more? Check out the other posts in this series about writing: Teaching French Writing Using Templates and How to Use French Transition Words to Improve Student Writing.