Dry erase boards and markers for use in the classroom are well worth the money. It’s no secret that I love to make games for my French classes, and I am so glad I decided to invest in both dry erase boards and dry erase pockets.
You can actually buy sheets rather than boards so they weigh less and take up less space. I bought a pack of 30 sheets that are .5 cm thick here in Australia for $40 AUD (including shipping) but I’m sure they are cheaper in the US. For comparison, individual dry erase boards tend to average at least $5 each in both countries – and when you have 20 students, that’s a bit too much.
For beginning French classes, Hangman is an obvious choice for a game to practice the alphabet. Drawing activities (such as drawing a floorplan of a house from oral descriptions of locations) are a little easier to do on dry erase boards. Trivia games are fun to do if every student or team has a dry erase board, as well as Scattergories or Pictionary.
Dry erase pockets, or shop ticket holders, are also useful for playing games in class. I recently bought a set of 25 dry erase pockets for less than $20 USD from Amazon and a bunch of ReWritables Mini Dry Erase Markers – with the not so correct French translation of sec-effacez – since they come in many colors and have erasers on the caps.
The dry erase pockets waste less paper since students can easily erase and start a new game. They are also handy for preventing students from quickly writing down translations when you want them to try to work from memory and speak spontaneously instead of reading their written notes. Here are some of the games you can use them for:
Guess Who/What – I’ve used the traditional Guess Who set of people for describing physical characteristics, but I also created a Guess What version for fruits and vegetables (and colors, shapes, etc.)
Connect 4 – I’ve mostly been using this game to review verb conjugations; students must say the translation in French in order to color in that spot
Tic Tac Toe – again I’ve used this mostly for verb conjugations with the tic tac toe grid including the subjects and verbs student must use, but I change which verb tense they must use every few minutes
Bingo – obvious choice for practicing letters and numbers, but could also do vocabulary with words written in English but students will hear and have to say the words in French
Battleship – can be used for letters & numbers, subjects & verbs, or even prepositional contractions (je vais, je viens, tu vas, tu viens, etc. in top row and places/cities/countries in left column so students must say complete sentence with correct preposition or contraction)
Scrabble – this can work as a smaller version of Scrabble (don’t make the squares too small to write letters in), but since my classrooms have large tables, I am able to print out this Scrabble board on size A3 paper instead
Any other games you can recommend? I am always looking for more ways to get my students speaking in every class.
Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.