Halloween: Incorporating one theme across three proficiency levels


Every year my students look forward to spending a few days on communicative activities related to the theme of Halloween.  This is what I have planned for them this year:

French 1

Day 1: I’ll introduce some vocabulary associated with Halloween by showing them this video.  As we are watching, I’ll pause and ask questions—mostly about colors since their vocabulary is so limited at this point. After the video, I’ll pass out this vocabulary handout that the students will use as a resource throughout the mini-unit.  Next, I pass out a baggie of picture cards to each student for a Bingo game.  I created these cards by printing the 30 copies of this document on tagboard and then cutting the squares apart.  I strongly recommend using as many different colors as possible—This really helps when you find that one spare card on the floor! Once each student has a baggie of cards, I’ll instruct them to choose 25 of the cards and organize them on their desks in 5 columns of 5 rows.  (There are 30 cards, so 5 won’t be used). I then call one word at a time, and the students turn over that card if they have it. The first student who turns over 5 cards in a row is the winner and must say the words s/he used for the bingo before receiving a prize.  Although this game only practices vocabulary in isolation, it does allow the students to hear the pronunciation several times and begin to create meaning between the picture and sound of the word.  After several rounds of Bingo, I’ll have the students play “Go Fish” with a partner using their combined sets of cards (I make sure that each partner has a different color so that the sets can be separated at the end of the game.)  At the end of the period, I’ll play this video  as a closing activity.

Day 2: I’ll begin this lesson with this song and then review the vocabulary by asking questions about these slides.  (C’est une sorcière ou un vampire? La sorcière a un balai ou un os? La sorcière porte un chapeau pointu ou un masque ?) After a couple of quick rounds of Bingo and a quick introduction to prepositions using this video  the students are ready to begin communicating with the new words in this matching activity. For this activity, students are paired up and one is given a Partner A paper, while the other is given a Partner B paper.  Both papers have the same pictures but in a different order.  The students take turns describing a picture to their partner who will tell them the number/letter of the corresponding picture on their own papers. Both partners will then write their partner’s letter/number on the corresponding picture on their paper.  I like to follow up these matching activities with a short formative assessment in which I describe a picture orally, and the students write the number/letter of the picture I’m describing.

Day 3: I’ll start this lesson by reviewing the vocabulary using these slides of Halloween scenes.  I ask questions about the first few slides and then have the students describe the next few. (I give them a minute to describe a slide to their partner, and then choose one student to describe the picture to the class as a formative assessment). Next, the students will complete this Same/Different pair activity. As a final activity for this lesson, I’ll project one of the Halloween slides and have the students describe it in writing.

Day 4 – 8: Now that the students have practiced the vocabulary for a few days, I’ll divide them into groups for these learning stations, each of which will take one class period.

Speaking: The students will complete this matching activity (following the same directions as the Day 2 activity) and then a “Sticker Game.” For this activity, each student has the same set of stickers and a simple numbered grid.  Students face each other, with a notebook between them so that they can’t see each other’s grid. Partner A places her pictures on the grid, and then describes each sticker to Partner B, who places her corresponding picture on the same square on her grid. After Partner A has described all of her stickers, the students remove the notebook so that they can see whether their grids match.  Then the students repeat the activity, switching roles.  Here’s what it looks like:


Reading: The students will complete comprehension guides for three Halloween-themed stories. Two of the books, Le Couloir and Le Chapeau can be downloaded for a reasonable fee (which includes the additional books in each series) from this site: https://www.envolee.com/en/du_plaisir_a_lire .  L’Halloween de Maria is found here: https://www.readinga-z.com/book.php?id=827 . A video of the story being read aloud is also available.

Writing: The students will describe a series of Halloween stickers (or pictures) that are found at their station.

Computer : The students will watch a video and answer comprehension questions.

French 2

I’ll begin this unit with the same vocabulary-building activities that I use with the French 1 students.  Because two-thirds of my French 2 students took French 1 at the middle school, they may not have been exposed to this vocabulary in the past.  Since most of these activities are games and pair activities, even those students that I taught last year don’t mind repeating them.  Here’s what the unit looks like for these students:

Day 1-3: Same as French 1.

Day 4: I’ll read the story, “Histoire Terrifiante” (p. 1, p.2,p. 21/2 p.3, p.4) aloud to the students, who then complete the comprehension questions in their packet.  Next, the students  will work in small groups on this manipulative activity, in which they put sentences about the story in order.  (I print the document on tagboard and cut apart each sentence.) The students will then complete a series of activities in the packet designed to introduce them to the use of direct object pronouns.  Although I do little direct grammar instruction, I have found that this particular structure is not easily acquired so I like to have the students work with it enough that they can recognize these pronouns when they see them.

Day 5: The students will practice summarizing the “Histoire Terrifiante” story using only pictures.  I’ll then choose a few students to present for a formative assessment.  They will then finish the direct object pronoun activities and complete this pair activity to reinforce these structures.

Day 6-9: Learning Stations (Stations)

Listening: Students will watch a series of Halloween-themed videos and answer comprehension questions.  (I’ve included the questions here, but have created multiple-choice “quizzes” on Canvas that I will use with my students.

Reading: Students will read a story called “Six Petites Citrouilles” (p. 1, p. 2, p. 3, p. 4, p. 5, p. 6, p. 7, p.8 )from a book called “L’Halloween de Napoleon.”  Some of the students read books about Napoleon (a dragon) as young children, so they love reading this story!  Because the print is hard to read on some of the pages, due to the background color, I typed the story in this document, which I will also pass out to students.

Writing: Students write a note to a French penpal explaining how Halloween is celebrated in the U.S.

Speaking: Students complete the same Matching and Sticker activities as the French 1 students, but also two additional activities (#1-a, #1-b, #2-a, #2-b) in which they discuss pictures in order to find the differences.

French 3

Because each of these students was in my French 2 class last year, they are familiar with the Halloween vocabulary.  Therefore, they’ll only need a quick review before beginning their learning stations.

Day 1: Students review vocabulary with a partner crossword activity. For this activity each partner receives a crossword puzzle (A, B) in which half of the answers are filled in.  The students must use circumlocution to help their partner fill in his/her missing words. When finished the read this article about Halloween and complete a comprehension guide.

Learning Stations

Reading Students read a story about a witch named Grasseboudine (p. 1, p. 2, p. 3, p. 4 ) and/an article about bats (p. 1 p.2) .

Speaking: The students complete three different activities in which they discuss pictures in order to find the differences. Here are files to the pictures: (#1-a, #1-b, #2a, #2b, #3a, #3b)

Listening: Students will watch a series of Halloween-themed videos and answer comprehension questions.  (As with the French 2 students, I’ve included the questions here, but have created multiple-choice “quizzes” on Canvas that I will use with my students.

If you decide to try any of these activities, I hope your students enjoy them as much as mine do!

Picture Credit: http://magiedelumiere.centerblog.net/2784634-joyeuse-fete-d-halloween

35 thoughts on “Halloween: Incorporating one theme across three proficiency levels

  1. Megan

    Sounds interesting! I, too, like to use the same theme across multiple proficiency levels. It makes my life so much easier! I’m wondering if you plan on addressing Toussaint with them afterward?

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Yes, I’d like to do something. I have a few videos pinned, do you have any resource suggestions?

      1. Kathy Z.

        I’ll try to post a link, but if it doesn’t work, go to youtube and search for “Martinique “La Toussaint a Fort-de-France” Midi en France” and that should bring you to it. Shows people singing in a church, then a procession to a cemetery, people talking about what they do and why. You can use the “Closed Captions” but I seem to recall a few errors in them.

        Here (I hope) is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kCIRKkAxBQ

        You may have to copy and paste into your web browser. Hope it works and that you can use it!

  2. Shauna Amiot

    Your ideas and your work have absolutely saved my teaching career. Thank you for sharing, I have been using the stations and it has breathed new life into my classes. All of the research you did, the sites you find, the questions you create… I was hanging on by a string and you have been so helpful.

  3. Alicia

    Love this! I plan to incorporate the vocab and the prepositions for my grade 4 class. We plan to do the little grid game and they are very excited!

    I’d like to ask permission though to save your vocab page on my google drive for my students and is it possible to share it on my google french website please? merci!! 🙂

    You have such great ideas!

  4. Isabelle

    Hi Lisa,

    Another wonderful unit! Are you using the learning stations for the final assessments or did you decide to forgo a summative assessment since this is more of a “fun” unit? I’m just wondering. You did say that you have some questions on Canvas but I wasn’t sure if they are meant to be formative or summative. I’m looking to do this unit with my 1s as we get closer to Halloween. I’ve never done a unit like this and this is a lot of fun.
    I also love the vertical alignment. This is what we should all do 🙂


    1. madameshepard Post author

      Thanks, Isabelle. Yep, I’m just giving formative grades with this. I have 2 summative assessments/IPA’s for the quarter already, which is consistent with my syllabus. I didn’t really see a need to add another one. Like you said, though, I think the stations could be used for a summative, if someone wanted to.

  5. Isabelle Menke

    I like not having to give grades for everything. It’s nice to be able to learn just for the sake of learning. Thanks for your response 🙂

  6. Kristina Rogers

    Curious of where the article on Halloween you have for French 2 came from. And thank you. I must have gotten some of my Halloween stuff from you last year because I recognize the vocab images.

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Yeah, I posted just a few things last year. I didn’t own a scanner yet, so I could only post the Word documents that didn’t go with readings. If you mean the Halloween article for French 3, it’s from a Julie magazine.I bought several years ago.

  7. Stephanie T.

    Merci beaucoup, encore! I started looking up images to make a Kahoot game, but when I searched for “feu follet,” all I got were images for “will o’ the wisp,” not jack o’lanterns. Is this maybe a Quebecois term? Merci.

    1. madameshepard Post author

      What a great question. I’ve always used feu follet, but your comment prompted me to do some research and I can’t find feu follet used in any authentic contexts–I’m not sure where I got it in the first place, but I’ll do some more research when I get a chance. It looks like most native speakers use citrouille–I’ll change my vocabulary sheet in the future. Thanks so much for the information!

      1. Kathy Z.

        Lisa, I was going to post about this or email you directly, because I also got “will-o-the-wisp” (from wordreference.com, I think) which I had to look up in English. (I’d heard it but couldn’t remember/didn’t know what it was.) I got stuff about “marsh light”, “spontaneous combustion of gas” (methane, maybe?) and that will-o-the-wisps have been mentioned in folklore of various countries. Oddly enough, they did occaisonally use the word jack-o-lantern, but it does not seem like what we know as a jack-o-lantern. So I had my students add “un potiron lumineux”, which we found in Amsco’s “The New College French and English Dictionary”, 1972 edition (yep, that is what is in the classroom, plus another French-English dictionary that is not as good as the Amsco).

        1. madameshepard Post author

          I spent some time researching this last night and found feu-follet in several activities made by other teachers, so I didn’t make it up. I also found it in these two sites: http://www.boitearecettes.com/celebrations/halloween/halloween124.htm
          http://www.zazzle.fr/le_feu_follet_orange_de_citrouille_de_halloween_assiettesenpapiershindigz-256941753892703777. One is for a recipe and the other for a decorative item, so the term seems to exist but certainly isn’t used very often. I’ll definitely avoid it in the future and would love to hear back from any readers who’d like to chime in!

  8. MlleT

    Wow! These are great activities! Thanks again for sharing your hard work! 🙂
    You mention in the Level 3 plans that for the listening station the students watch a series of Halloween-themed videos. Do you have a particular list of ones you use or do you let the students find some?

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Sure, if you click on the words Learning Stations under French 3 you’ll find the packet with the URL’s for the videos and the questions I wrote for each one. The link to the Franklin video may not work, but the others seem to be working well. Lisa

  9. sylvie escande

    Please le me know how you play bingo, the picture cards are all the same. I’m a little confused.
    Thank you for an other extraordinary project.

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi, Sylvie. Thanks for your kind words! I cut out a set of cards for each student (you could have them do this, too) and had them arrange 25 of the 30 cards in a grid on their desks. I then called out the words and they turned over the ones they had until somebody got a Bingo. Since the students are each making an individual grid by putting their cards in any order, they will not get a Bingo at the same time. It’s important to check and make sure that each student only places 25 cards in the grid, or it won’t be a 5 x 5 square. Let me know if I need to clarify this more! Lisa

  10. Carolyn

    I am doing a long-term sub position (after retirement) & at the request of the teacher, am about to begin your Halloween unit in levels 1,2 & 3. I’m writing you because I think I’ve found all the different pieces of the puzzle, so to speak, except for your digital copy of a French 2 Speaking Station–Activity #1, Partners A & B. It looks to me in the materials she left me that these were the colored vocabulary pics she cut up to use in the “sticker” activities—-most of them are different from the vocabulary pics and matching activities of French 1. If you could send me the link, I would be able to make color copies of these for sticker activities & I think I’ll have all the materials run off and prepared. Merci beaucoup!!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi. I wish I could help but I used actual stickers for the sticker actuvity, so I don’t have a digital file.

  11. Carolyn

    Hi again Lisa,

    I FINALLY found the file I was looking for–don’t know how I missed it. Sorry to bother you. LOVE your lessons!! This should be a fun wee for both students and prof.

  12. Heather

    Lisa, thank you so much! I used your Halloween bingo & Go fish, slideshow, and C’est le même ou c’est différent with my French 1s today and it really helped them hammer home avoir in the present and il y a! (Also, they felt they were getting a bit of a treat.) I also showed “C’est ça Halloween” from the Nightmare before Christmas and this document from Real Language Right Away ( http://www.reallanguagerightaway.com/free-halloween-activities-in-french-spanish-and-mandarin ) Bonne fête d’Halloween!

  13. Kathryn Zetts


    I like the bat article for French 3, were there some comprehension questions for it? Sorry if I missed them. Thank you!

  14. Kathryn Zetts

    Hi Lisa,

    Apologies if you have answered this question elsewhere…
    With so many partner activities, what do you recommend for students who are absent for long stretches due to illness, vacation, suspension, etc? It is hard for them to get the practice that the students at school are getting.
    I have someone who will be out for 2 weeks and I have been asked to provide work. I can say “Study your vocab, practice describing these pictures…check out this link on google classroom to the video the class watched,,, etc” …any other suggestions?
    Thank you!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Yes, it’s impossible to recreate the classroom environment outside of class. I think all you can do is exactly those things you suggested.


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