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How to teach French Descriptive Writing Activities in 3 Easy Steps

If you ever dread teaching writing units, you aren’t alone! Writing is one of those subjects that can be hard to explain. You know good writing when you see it, but explaining it is a whole other issue. Luckily, there are writing activities for students that make introducing French descriptive writing simple and straightforward.

Descriptive writing is when you describe a person, place, or thing in great detail. This is a key skill for students to have when it comes to writing, but it’s also a simple place to practice basic vocabulary, structure, and grammar skills.

Here are a few descriptive writing activities for students to help them go deep and strengthen their writing skills.

Step #1 Mentor Texts

As I mentioned, writing can be something that is a challenge to explain. But with mentor texts, you can provide students with visual examples instead of them solely relying on your explanation.

One of my favourite books to use with French descriptive writing is J’ai perdu mon chat. This book is currently out of print, but you can still find read alouds on YouTube

J'ai perdu mon chat is a great mentor text to introduce French descriptive writing.

After students have listened to the story, ask them to analyse the description given about the cat. Was the description good enough? Why do you think his friends brought him all the wrong things? Was it confusing to name a cat that isn’t grey Tous-Gris?

Then, have students create their own descriptions of the cat. What description would they have given? Encourage students to be as specific as possible!

Step #2 Writing Descriptions

The best way to get better at French descriptive writing is with practice! You can create several writing activities for students just based on descriptive writing. 

For example, have students pick an object around the classroom and describe it. Have them write about their best friend and describe them. Or they can write about their favourite activity and provide a description.

You can also leave this activity completely open to students and let their imaginations run wild. Check each student’s topic before they get started, and then let them write a description! I love having students tell the class and myself about what they want to write before starting. It gives students who don’t know what they want to write about a chance to get inspired by others’ ideas. It also gives me a chance to redirect students who might be choosing a topic that might not work.

Step #3 Share their Descriptions

After students had had practice with descriptions using various writing activities for students, encourage them to share!

You can turn this into a fun game by having students swap papers. Let the partner guess what an object is based on the description.

You can also use this as a peer review. Have students read their partner’s descriptive writing and provide feedback. What did they like about it? What could have been even better? Encourage students to be positive and offer compliments to the writer instead of focusing on the negative. I like to teach my students to offer feedback in the 2 stars and a wish format. Constructive feedback is definitely important, but we don’t want students to feel dejected about their work.

Use this full French descriptive writing unit with your primary students to help them learn how to write with lots of descriptive words. This unit includes lesson plans, worksheets, a craftivity and a rubric.

Want more support for your French descriptive writing unit? Grab my ready-to-go French Descriptive Writing Unit for Primary Students. This unit includes seven lesson plans, writing pages, worksheets, craftivities, and more to help your writing unit run smoothly.

This unit can be used with Grades 1-3. It includes teacher-guided modelling and writing tasks to make teaching simple!

Want to check out the resource listed?

All the links above lead to TPT, but the resources are also available on our website. Here are the resources available here for purchase in CAD. Don’t forget you can also buy credits for an additional discount (up to $15 off).

Want more writing activities for students? Check out the blog on Narrative Writing in Primary. It’ll give you some quick tips and ideas for your narrative writing unit. You can also check out the blog for tips on Using Phonics to Teach French Writing.

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