Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Noel en français for free!

Speaking French while celebrating Christmas with your kids?  You'll need these sites!

Writing letters to Santa Claus is so old-fashioned, don't you think?

Well, no, actually, I don't, but Griffin can't read or write yet, so I'm thrilled to discover this website, "Portable Santa Claus," which will send a personalized video message (for free) to your child in French or in English!

You input information about the child (age, hair color, eye color), what behavior issues you wanted him to work on this year (selecting from drop-down menus of everything from "obeying your preschool teacher" to "obeying your stepmother" to "eating all your vegetables" to "going to bed on time" and so forth--and these are just the toddler options, because there are different choices for different ages), what he wants for Christmas, and so on. You can also include photos and indicate what they represent--a trip you took this year, a new arrival in the family, and so forth.

The website then puts together a video of a jolly, gentle Santa greeting your child and reading about him from his "grimoire" (complete with the photos you uploaded). Santa compliments the child on his good behavior (or chastizes him for not being a good boy, if you select that option) and generally says lots of Santa-riffic things. The versions of the video letter for older children are longer and begin with a tour through an area of Santa's Workshop at the North Pole.

Next, here's a fun resource for those of you who celebrate Christmas and speak French with your children: an online advent calendar with a song for each day! The sound quality isn't great--they are recordings from children's concerts, probably in school auditoriums--but the lyrics appear onscreen along with simple animations. And since it's a site from Quebec, it also includes a song about the national dish, la tourtiere!

Via that same site, you can also visit the Train de Noel, more songs by school choirs with onscreen lyrics and simple animations.  Most are in French, with some bilingual ("Lumières de Noel")  and even some French translations of traditional English songs ("Promenade en traineau," for example, which we know as "Sleigh Ride").

You'd prefer to hear adults singing carols professionally?  Okay, then you need to visit La neige folle, a Christmas-season-only online francophone radio station (November 20-December 26).

(I meant to poke around YouTube to find some existing French holiday playlists and some clips of French children singing and celebrating Christmas, but that'll have to wait for another day!  Perhaps in the meantime someone will share their YouTube or other online resources in French about the holidays?)

Finally, over at momes.net, the kiddos will discover all sorts of Christmassy inspiration for recipes, crafts, songs, and other activities in French, while their parents can read the holiday activity suggestions at Vos questions des parents.  In fact, if you click on the "French for kids" sites in the sidebar of this blog, you will probably find more activities than you could ever do in one holiday season!  But I can't check right now....must finish making candy to give away, finish wrapping presents, and get the basement ready to house my parents and my brother who are coming to visit us for their first Christmas in Colorado.  Merry merry, joyeux joyeux.  Thanks for joining me here.

(Oh, and I haven't sent any of our Christmas cards yet.  I should have just gone to Dromadaire to send their free e-cards in French!)


  1. Sarah, can I hire you to do the same resource list in German!? That would be awesome. Definitely an inspirational post...inspired me enough, at least, to make a Christmas video for my husband in English. It was pretty fun! He'll probably get some extra spam for that fun, but at least it went to his hotmail account!
    Happy Holidays!! Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Oh good! Glad you liked it, Tamara. Are you a member of the American Association of Teachers of German? AATF has a Facebook presence and occasionally sends out links like there, especially around the holidays. Maybe AATF does similarly?

    Or ask your German-speaking blog readers to each contribute one link apiece...probably each person has one or two holiday-related sites in German they could share!

  3. Oh, here's an idea for a Christmas idea you can play in your target language: play "I Spy" with the ornaments on your tree! This is good for young children and language learners because there are a finite number of possible answers, it's contextualized, and you repeat the same grammatical constructions over and over: "I spy an [X] that starts with [Y]," "I spy an [X] that is [shape]", "I spy an [x] that is [color]," etc.

    One of my other language-reinforcing projects that I have not completed yet is to make a Snapfish digital photo book (just a cheapo one, like the spiral-bound flip books) with a picture of a Christmas ornament on each page and a sentence about it in French. When the kids are young, it's a vocabulary book, but as they age, they can learn more about the animal or object or country it came from, etc. I figure that the special ornaments will interest our children!

  4. I'm with Tamara - where's the list of holiday resources in German?! :) Your French list is fantastic! Maybe next year I'll have more time to work on a German list.... I can offer a few ideas of books, songs, and a simple craft we did at our German story hour (germanstorytime.wordpress.com)
    I love your idea of creating a photo book, too! I'm kind of a photo book junkie and always looking for new ideas :)
    Thanks for all your great ideas! I may not speak French, but I always find inspiration here!