Most ordinary day camps strive to meet one goal: to create an active, outdoor experience where campers can have fun in a safe and nurturing environment. But Camp Tournesol rises to the challenge with an additional goal: helping campers boost their confidence speaking French by offering a French program that doesn’t look anything like their school year classroom.
Keeping those two goals in mind, we engage campers in a module unique to the day camp experience: playing French Board Games.
After a long action-packed day, campers need downtime. And what better way to re-charge than enjoy board games in the company of friends and counsellors? It also offers our counsellors the opportunity to get on the same level as the campers and develop a strong and trusting bond with each individual camper, thereby strengthening their positive and supportive relationships. While some of the games may be familiar to campers, some are new, and it gives counsellors a chance to introduce them to what could possibly be their new favourite board game! On the flip side, often times the campers know of games the counsellors have never heard of, and get a chance to take on more leadership as they teach it to their friends and counsellors. Often large groups of campers come together to play large rounds of games, and soon enough campers are developing new friendships as they play together.
Beyond developing new friendships and strengthening bonds with their counsellors, the campers are talking and playing entirely in French, often without realizing it. They are more focused on trying to roll a 6 or deciding what card to play next, that the focus shifts from speaking in French to simply having fun in French. Spontaneous and authentic conversations come forth, as per the revised Ontario French as a Second Language curriculum, where students are expected to have spontaneous conversations with their friends and teachers about real things happening in their everyday lives. Then, as counsellors are playing alongside their campers, they have a chance to understand the level of French their campers currently have and what their needs are. When campers struggle to find a word in French (e.g. “skip your turn”), counsellors can support their vocabulary development by offering clues and suggestions as to how to say what they’re looking for, or how to reformulate what they’re trying to say – all strategies to encourage constant self-expression in French without having to resort to English translation.
Participating in any board game can help any language-learner learn how to express themselves confidently in French. But just in case you want a gentle nudge in the right direction, here are our top picks of board games that we couldn’t live without:
Milles Bornes is a car racing card game! Players try to race to reach 100km first, but have to avoid speed limits, red lights, and other traps placed by their friends! This game has children using common numbers (the speed limits) in their regular speech with one another, as well as learning vocabulary related to driving and cars.
Twister is a family favourite, and many of our campers already know how to play. One at a time, the Game Master instructs participants to place one of their hands or their feet on a coloured circle, and participants have to keep their balance! The last player standing wins. This game reinforces right and left directions that are often confused with one another, as well as body parts (hands, feet, etc.) and colours all in French, as all participants need to put the three together to know where to move next.
In this camp classic, Uno, campers are dealt a hand of cards similar to in Crazy 8s, however this deck also contains a variety of wild cards that can make the person beside you pick up cards or miss a turn! Uno gets even more fun the more people you play with, because you never can guess what the person before you is going to put down. Campers need to use their colours and numbers as they speak, and practice their conversation French as they form alliances with their friends across the circle. They will also learn specific vocabulary such as “miss your turn”, “skip your turn”, “pick up” and more!
Snakes and ladders is another favourite of our campers! In this game, campers race to reach the final space, across a board filled with ladders (which bring you to a higher space) and snakes (which slide you down to a lower space). In this game, campers practice counting in sequence as well as using one-off numbers in their sentences. They also develop board-game specific language (e.g. “your turn” and “please pass me the dice”) as well as practicing their conversational French as they try to plot which ladder to hit next!
Headbandz is a perfect example of a French game that reinforces vocabulary without campers realizing it. In this game, everyone is given a headband and a card to place in it. They sit in a circle and ask yes or no questions to try and figure out what is shown on the card on their forehead! While this game develops a wide range of vocabulary, including terms related to food, clothing, professions, and sports. They also strengthen their question-asking skills, practicing the various sentences structures for asking a question and interpreting the answer.
Candy Land is a favourite in our kinder program and includes a variation for our older campers. Players navigate through Candy Land, racing to King Kandy’s Castle while avoiding the traps placed by Lord Licorice. With each turn, players practice their food vocabulary (as they describe where on the board they are), as well as their colours (as they draw and play cards associated with colour spaces).
Jeux de 7 familles is a Camp Tournesol classic for our French Day Camp campers! Similar to “Go Fish”, campers try to collect all of the characters in one family (or suit), and then try and collect the most families! As they go through the game, campers develop a vocabulary related to family members (e.g. grandpa, brother), professions, and hobbies. They also strengthen their question-asking and answering skills, as they hunt for their cards!
Now we want to hear from you:
What are your favorite board games? Share your favorites with the community in the comments below!
Disclaimer: Information about third party organizations is provided for reference only. Tournesol is not responsible for the quality of services provided by these third party organizations. Their inclusion in this blog is not an endorsement by Tournesol. Parents and guardians should research the organizations themselves before using them.
Written by: Martine Brouillet
About Martine: Driven to make an impact in second-language learner children in their quest to become bilingual, Martine Brouillet founded Camp Tournesol in 2001 in Ontario, Canada. The company’s flagship French camps have since become leaders in this market, welcoming tens of thousands of children and spawning sister products servicing these families such as the Brouillet French Academy. Her passion and concern for the environment inspired her to create a new brand of eco-friendly camps, workshops, and summits: Love My Plant. To learn more about Camp Tournesol, visit www.campt.ca
Contact Martine Brouillet at email@example.com | 905-891-1889