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22nd July 17
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Starters and plenaries




Starters and plenaries


Starters can have many purposes. They can be a quick activity to recap on what was learned last lesson, they can introduce the main topic of the lesson, they can engage the class early on, they can help to motivate the pupils, they can help get the class on task as soon as possible and they can be a nice challenge!

Plenaries tend to be used at the end of the lesson but they can also be used at any stage during the lesson.

Why use plenaries? Here are some points to consider:

**to help pupils reflect on what they have learned during the lesson or to link the learning to previous lessons.

**to refer back to the lesson ocjectives.

**to consolidate what pupils havelearned during the lesson.

**to help pupils develop a habit of reflecting on their ways of learning.

Here are examples of 5-10 minute activities that can be used whether as starters or plenaries. They can be used for any language.





«         Le morpion (noughts and crosses): stick nine flashcards on the board. Ask two pupils / teams to play against one another and in turn, they must call out one of the numbers of the flashcards. If correct, you replace the card with a nought card or a cross card. The object of the game is obviously to get three in a row!


«         Continuez!: You count aloud, stopping at intervals and pointing to someone, who must say the next number immediately or he / she is out of the game.


«         Dice game: pupils throw the dice / die and then say aloud the

            number thrown.


«         Pouces (thumbs): distribute four or five flashcards to pupils. The pupils with the cards then come to the front of the room where they hold up the cards for the rest of the class to see. On the instructions 'Baissez la tête, levez les pouces', the rest of the class puts their heads down, put their thumb up and close their eyes. The pupils with the flashcards move silently around the room and tap just one class member each gently on the thumb to indicate that they have been chosen. This pupil then puts his thumbs down. Pupils with cards resume position at the front of class before the rest of the class are told 'Levez la tête'. Pupils who have been 'selected' make themselves known by raising their hands and then in turn have one guess at who 'selected' them. They must call out the number on the flashcard, not the pupil's name. If they guess correctly, they swap places with the person at the front.


«         Qu'est-ce que c'est?: The pile of flashcards is shuffled and a blank card or piece of paper is placed on top to hide the picture. You look under the paper to see what the top card is and ask Qu'est-ce que c'est? Pupils ask c'est un/ une ...? The pupil who guesses correctly comes out and take your place, and so on.


«         Circle game: pupils sit in a circle, each holding a flashcard, with the card facing outwards. A member of the class says their item and then someone else's name. When a pupil hears their own name, they must say their own item within five seconds and then name the next 'victim'.


«         Memory game: Show an object to the class and while putting it in a box say dans la boîte, il y a  (the object). Ask the class qu'est-ce qu'il y a dans la boîte?. Encourage the pupils to answer in a full sentence: Dans la boîte, il y a un  / une... Then add a second object, and say dans la boîte il y a (first object and a second object) and so on until all the objects are in the box.


«         Feely bag: Put a number of objects in a bag and pupils take it in turns to try and identify what is in it by feeling the objects through the bag.


«         Qu'est-ce qu'il manque: stick flashcards to the board and tell the class to put their heads down and close their eyes. Meanwhile, remove a flashcard and on your instruction (Qu'est-ce qu'il manque?) the class have to look and work out which card is missing. Pupils should answer in a full sentence with C'est... This game can be made harder by removing more than one card at once or by removing a card at a time until no cards remain and the class has to remember a list of words.


«         Je touche: this is a cumulative game. The first pupil gets up and touches somebody’s classroom item, saying: je touche la gomme de Lisa and then choose someone else to continue. The next pupil must touch the first item and repeat what has been said and adds something else: je touche la gomme de Lisa et je touche le crayon de Ben. Then a third pupil is chosen, etc.


«         Spelling consequences: Pupils in groups spell words, one letter at a time, in turn, in French. If anyone guesses the word, they put their hand up and state their guess. If right, their group gets a point and take over, starting a new word. If wrong, the speller says which word the group was spelling, and they start a new word, gaining a point. They also gain a point if they manage to spell the entire word without any other group working out the word they were spelling.


«         Horseshoe game: pupils sit in a horseshoe – two teams – each team member is given a number – teams must be equal as each team member must have an opposite to race against. Stick the flashcards on the board/ wall, and on the floor, in the middle of the horseshoe should be strips of paper with the words relating to each flashcard written on each (there should be two copies of each word for each team). Call out a word (in English or French) followed by a number. The appropriate member of each team has to find the correct word, run to the board / wall and place it over the correct flashcard whilst at the same time repeating the word in French. A point is awarded to the first team member to reach the correct flashcard.


«         Quick write: write a word on the board. Pupils have to guess what you are writing before you finish. Award a point to the class if they do and a point to yourself if they fail to do so.


«         Sound detective: pupils must close their eyes and listen (Fermez les yeux et écoutez). You make a number of different sounds, using a variety of items taught – put a pen down / open a pencil case / close the door, etc. Pupils have to say the words for the sounds they heard, either in order or not, depending on how you wish the difficulty to be.


«         Strip loto: A variation on basic loto. Each pupil is given a strip of paper which must be divided into five parts. Pupils write a month in each part. Instead of crossing out the word the pupils hear called out, they rip the relevant part off their strip – but only if it is at either end of the strip. Eventually, they will be left with one part and have to wait for that word to be called, before they can call out LOTO!


«         Les deux échelles: Draw two (or more) six-rung ladders on the board with a word (room) on each rung, making it different for each ladder. Display the flashcards of the rooms and label them with a number each. Each pupil / pair / group / team, throws the dice and read out the number in French. They then check which room is labelled with that number. If the number matches the word on the next rung, it is crossed off and the team moves up the next rung. No word must be crossed off until that rung is reached. The first team to reach the top of the ladder wins.

«         Clock dictation: Pupils sit back-to-back in pairs, with one pupil facing the board; the other pupil should face away from the board. Stick on the board four clock faces for pupil A. He or she reads the times 1 – 4 to pupil B who notes the time in numbers, using the previously learnt abbreviated version. The pupils then swap role while you stick on the board another four clock faces. Time limits can be set if necessary. Pupils should feed back the times orally after each speaker has finished.


«         six, c’est tout : say six sums in the target language, pupils write answers down in figures, or you write the sums on the board, pupils write the answer in French.


«         Dos à dos: pupils write a sum on partner’ back who has to work out the answer.


«         La classe contre le prof: pupils get a card with a number on; you call out a sum; pupils have so many seconds to call out their answer.


«         le téléphone arabe: divide the class into two teams and whisper a sum to the first person in each team. In turn, the second pupil gets to hear the sum, and so on. The last pupil has to come to you and say the answer in French.


«         la chaise chaude: one pupil comes to the front of class in the ‘hot seat’. You show the pupil cards with sums. The pupil answers and get points. This could be done as a competition for the whole class in one lesson or over a period of time.


«         ton nom en chiffre: pupils find the number given by their names. Each vowel could be

worth 5, each consonant could be worth 1. Pupil work out the answer and write it out both in figure and in French.


                  eg              SARAH  DELATTRE

                                    (5 x 5) + (8 x 1) = 33

                                    (cinq x cinq) + (huit x un) = trente-trois


«         Pupils work in pairs or groups and pick a number between 32 and 69. The first one to say the number they picked wins a point. Pupils must say a number or numbers in turn, in order from 32 to 69, but are not allowed to say more than 5 numbers in a row. They must start with 32 and carry on to 69 and then start again. The pupils with the most points wins.


«         Noughts and crosses with a variation: choose the nine subjects to be displayed on the board and show them very quickly to the class. Stick them on the board, but face down so pupils can’t seen them anymore. Play noughts and crosses as usual with two pupils / teams but they have to remember / guess the other side of the card.


«         Beat the teacher: pupils (individuals / pairs / groups) play against you. Give pupils a flashcard each without looking at the card. In turn, pupils tell you what school subject they have, but they have the choice to tell you the truth or lie! You have to decide if it is the truth (la vérité) or a lie (un mensonge). You win a point if your guess is right, but if you’re wrong, the pupil / pair / group gets the point.


«         Le monstre (or Le martien): ask children to draw a monster (or a Martian) following your / another pupil’s instructions: le monstre a trois têtes, il a sept nez etc.


This previous activity could be done also by throwing a dice. A pupil should call out a body  part (eg le nez) and then throw the dice. The number then determines the number of noses the monster has, etc.



«         Relay dictionary: Split the class into two teams. Show pupil A in each team a flashcard. Pupil A says the first letter of the item on the card to the next pupil, pupil B. Pupil B writes the letter on a piece of paper. When they have done this correctly they are shown the flashcard and they say the next letter of the word to pupil C. Pupil C then writes down the second letter on the paper. This continues until the word has been completed. If one of the pupils gives a wrong letter, they must start again from the beginning. The first team to complete the word wins the game.


«         Word chains: Split the class into teams of five or six pupils. Take the flashcards and give them to one team, so each pupil has one card. The first pupil in the group holds up his/her card and says the item. The second pupil says the first item, holds up their card and says their item, and so on until the last pupil has to say all the items. To help the pupils remember, ask each pupil to keep holding up his/her card. Every pupil that says all the items correctly wins one point. Each group does the same with their flashcards. The group with the most points when each team has finished is the winner.



«         Floor game: Put some flashcards, facing up, on the floor so that all of the pupils can see them. Ask a pupil to throw a coin or counter. When the counter falls on a flashcard, the pupil tries to name it.


«         The wounded soldier: Draw a soldier on the board and ask pupils to stand in a circle or horseshoe. You show a flashcard and throw a ball or soft toy to each pupil in turn. He or she must tell you what the item is as quickly as possible and throw the ball / toy back to you. This could be played against the clock too. If a pupil does not answer correctly, then the soldier loses a leg, an arm, an eye, etc. (rub these out on the board) until a correct answer is given.



 1.             Pairwork – 5 things they have learnt. Feedback to teacher who categorises.

2.            Back to front sentences – read aloud and write down.

3.            Odd one out – work out the odd one out and give the reason why.

4.            Pairwork – differences between the French and the English (accents, gender, pronunciation).

5.            Hot-spot in teams – spell as many correct words within time limit. Find out what words and sounds are easy / difficult

6.            Discuss techniques for learning vocabulary. Try out a couple of methods.

7.            Discuss listening skills.

8.            Jacques a dit for classroom instructions.

9.            Stepping stones – putting together a correct sentence or phrase e.g. un - cra –yon – bleu

10.         Quiz of countries and nationalities.

11.          Jumbled up sentences.

12.         Stand in circle and throw ball asking a question.

13.         2 tams – team A asks team B a question. Team B answer and then put their own question. point awarded for correct questions and answers.

14.         Show a sentence for a few seconds / minutes. Cover and ask pupils to draw what they have just read.

15.         Brainstorm avoir and then topics and records as a mind map. Get pupils to make up sentences on mini-whiteboards. Could also ask for example from pupils and then others have to remember them.

16.         Squashed up sentences.

17.         Pairwork-test each other on a verb.

18.         Cognates of school subjects – go over pronunciation. In groups of 4 each one gives opinion about subjects for 15 seconds, next one speaks for 20 seconds, 3rd for 25 seconds, etc.

19.         Pupils sequence time. Could work in 4’s and see which group is the fastest.

20.        Put up choice of 2 verb endings which pupils choose and then justify.

21.         Using mini-whiteboards, find the French from a text looked at during the lesson.

22.        For 5 minutes think back all the adjectives they have encountered. Ask for the rule. Point out irregular adjectives (blanc / blanche) and then ask pupils to make up sentences.

23.        Sentence building during the lesson – Plenary – sentences are offered within a time limit.

24.        Opposites – putting sentences into the negative.

25.        Pairwork – one pupil makes up a positive sentence and the other makes it negative.

26.        Matching 2 halves of a sentence.

27.        Reordering a text.

28.        Pictionary – pupil draws a phrase given by the teacher. Fist team to guess correctly the sentence / word scores a point.

29.        Time bomb – pass the ball and each pupil gives a phrase beginning with j’aime. Set a time limit so that whoever is holding the bomb when it goes off receives a penalty point.

30.        Short passage using je. Change to il or elle having looked at in lesson.

31.         Pupil says what they do on a Saturday and the next pupil must use a connective to lengthen the sentence. Pupil could sit down if can’t think of anything

32.        In circle, 1 pupil says quand + weather, the next pupil gives an activity. Pupil repeats the process until everyone has had a turn.

33.        Write the longest sentence they can.

34.        Write up to 5 sentences with mistakes and get pupils to correct and say why they are wrong.

35.        Take a very simple sentence and encourage the pupils to lengthen it.

36.        Où est le bonbon? To recap prepositions guess where the sweet is.

37.        Look at a piece of text and discuss elements of structure e.g. why is it le lit est sous la fenêtre and not un lit est …

38.        match up holiday destinations (e.g. mountain) with activity.

39.        Multiple choice for correct part of verb.

40.        Circle – 1st pupil says je vais + activity, next pupil tu vas + activity, 3rd pupil il va + activity etc.

41.         Break down numbers – say number in French and pupils write down on mini-whiteboard 99 = 4x20+19

42.        Revision – Write a few topics, pick a number for a category and flip coin to decide whether to say the phrase / word or write it.

Plenaries (Power Point)


A quick question and answer activity to recap on the lesson objectives. Click here to download it.