A Toolbox for all Language Educators
A Toolbox for all Language Educators

Working From Home: A Still Life

For many of us, our kitchen tables have become our offices. A variation on the typical “classroom objects” lesson, this activity takes advantage of the work-from-home situation to encourage students to identify objects found around them. The task combines article practice, object vocabulary and the phrase “il y a” with an opportunity for creative output. I created this activity for my French class but it can easily be adapted to any language course.

In this activity, students assemble 5-10 objects found on their tables into a still life. They then take a photo and upload it to whatever discussion platform you use, whether Blackboard, Canvas or other (you could also use a shared google doc). Have your students give their image a title in the target language. Students then choose one of their classmates’ still lives and make a list of its contents. You can anticipate which items are likely to be found and provide them with a list, as I have done here: Une nature morte (1). For any items not included, they can obviously consult a dictionary. Prompt students to begin their list with “Dans cette nature morte, il y a…” Remind students to include the articles (un, une, des). Once everyone has created a contents list for one of the photos, ask students to view each photo and identify the objects listed.

Provide an example. (Dans cette nature morte, il y a une tasse, une plante, un livre, un crayon, une cafetière, des écouteurs, du gel antibactérien et un éléphant.)

Create discussion prompts, such as:

What common themes do you notice among your classmates’ still lives?

How have the contents of your work space changed?

To take the activity a step further, invite students to choose a still life from online, to catalog its contents and to add this to the discussion board, as well.


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