Family, Friends, and Français: Tactile and Kinesthetic Activities

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By Sarah Dodson-Knight
Photo credit: rick

Welcome to our final article in this series on immersing your children in meaningful language use when talking about friends and family! As always, our examples are for using French with young children, but most will work for any language and can be adapted for older children as well.

This article focuses on hands-on activities that will get your children up and moving around and interacting with friends and family members in ways in which using the target language will feel natural and normal, as the kids will be playing games and doing other fun tasks. (Of course, many of the activities we profiled in parts one through four of this series are very interactive as well.)

Before we get started, here is a recap of all of the posts in “Family, Friends, and Français“:


Children’s games:

  • Imaginative play: Play school, play doctor, play with dollhouses, toy kitchens, dolls, stuffed animals, cars — anything that replicates what your children experience on a routine basis with friends or family — but let them initiate the dialogue in the target language.
  • Follow My Friend: One child closes his eyes while another one leads them safely through a room, the whole home, or a backyard.
  • Family Olympics
  • Hide and Seek
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Charades about familiar books, movies, songs, and people
  • Twenty Questions about family members, friends, objects in your home, and places in the community

Board and card games:

  • Play a family memories board game that you have created with help from family members
  • Play Family Trivia by writing questions about each person’s habits, interests, hobbies, experiences, and more
  • Play the French card game Le jeu de 7 familles (printable version)
  • Use family photos as playing cards that your children can match up and categorize (older vs. younger generation, male vs. female, people who live in our home vs. our city vs. our country vs. other countries, etc.), discussing and describing all the people as you go

Other tactile and kinesthetic activities:

  • Signing: Encourage your family members to communicate with each other and with younger children by using sign language as they speak the target language as well as the majority language; by doing this, the signs serve as a bridge to reinforce the meaning of both languages without needing to provide translations.
  • Art: Any of the activities described at this link.
  • Cooking: Preparing food together provides many opportunities for conversation in the target language
  • Join a playgroup or attend storytimes in the target language

Thank you for joining us on this exploration of language activities about friends and family! We hope this series has inspired you to try some new games, activities, and books with your children. Please leave your suggestions below for other activities and materials on this topic!

Sarah Dodson-Knight has taught English in France and English composition, ESL, literature, and French in the US. She now coordinates year-round reading enrichment programs at the Lafayette Public Library (Colorado). You can find her at Bringing up Baby Bilingual where she writes about raising children with more than one language and records her efforts to teach French as a non-native speaker to her son (Griffin, age 2) and her nephew (Carl, age 4). On her blog, you will find profiles of bilingual and multilingual families, resource recommendations, book reviews, discussion prompts, descriptions of games and language learning activities, and stories about Griffin and Carl.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carla Dodd March 30, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Your web site is SAVING my life. I have a kinesthetic learner . She is 6 years old, bilingual, and drags her feet about French school. I really want to go beyond the preschool agenda with her . I also have a 12 year old , who is just too cool for any studies in French, Any suggestions ? I’ m desperate with her.
Carla Dodd


2 Carla Dodd March 31, 2014 at 11:52 am

Your website is saving my life. I have a Kinesthetic 6 year who is bilingual and drags her feet about French school. I really want to go beyond the preschool games. Both kids were in French preschool but English school. I also have a 12 year ld, who is just way too cool for French school. Any suggestions? I’m desperate with her.m


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