Bienvenue en France! This week, we’ll explore this beautiful country and gain a deeper understanding of the culture, language, cuisine, and more! We’ll also get to know a few French inventors, scientists, and musicians. Ready to get started? Click here to download your skills tracker, and allons-y (let’s go)!
Note: Occasionally we include project modifications (which can be useful for including younger siblings). We’ll mark those with the minus (-) symbol.
What you need:
Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):
- The Cat Who Walked Across France by Kate Banks (or read it here on OpenLibrary)
- A Walk in Paris by Salvatore Rubbino (or read it here on OpenLibrary)
- The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse by Patrician MacLachlan (or read it here on OpenLibrary)
- Hot Air: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Hot-Air Balloon Ride by Marjorie Priceman (or read it here on OpenLibrary)
- Crêpes by Suzette by Monica Wellington (or read it here on OpenLibrary)
Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):
- atlas, globe, or world map
- paper + access to a printer (don’t have one? we like this model)
- construction paper
- colored pencils
- glue stick
- newspaper (or you could use foil)
- laminator + laminator sheets (optional, but recommended for repeating lessons)
- birthday candles (you can probably find these cheaper at a dollar store)
- ultra-thin plastic bag (like office trash can bags or dry cleaning bags)
- plastic straws
- lighter or matches
- agar plates
- masking tape
- ingredients for this recipe
- ingredients for this recipe + toppings for your crepes
- trying escargot? It’s optional, but you’ll need the ingredients for this recipe. if you do!
What to do:
We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on each skill your child will develop, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!
New to our phonics guide? Start here. The Phonics Guide this week will highlight words in English that have roots in the French language. As a result, many of these words don’t follow English grammar rules. The fun of this week’s phonics guide will looking for words that break English rules! (Don’t you just love a rebel?)
As with all of our country units, we encourage you to start the week with a little map work. Break out your atlas, globe, or world map to locate the country of France. Discuss which continent we find it in (Europe), and use this as an opportunity to review the continents. Talk about how you would get to France from where you live. Next, let’s read The Cat Who Walked Across France to get a glimpse at what many parts of the country look like.
Activity 1: Let’s reinforce your child’s knowledge of the countries surrounding France. Start by printing this map onto a piece of cardstock. Next, assign each country a color and let your child use colored pencils to fill in each country. Next, use a thin marker to label the capital of France, Paris. Refer to your atlas or another map to add in rivers and mountain ranges.
Activity 2: Show your child this picture of the French flag. Next, let’s make our own out of construction paper. Start with a white piece of paper. Have your child measure the length of the paper and figure out how wide each section should be (divide the width of one piece into three). Next, have them measure out the red and blue segments on pieces of colored construction paper. Cut them out and glue onto the white paper to make the completed flag.
Activity 3: The primary language spoken in France is French. Let’s practice some French with the help of our friends at The Cultured Kid. Click here for a free lesson to learn a few action words in French. Watch the video for help with pronunciation, and then downoad the free flash cards. Review the words with your child, making exaggerated gestures to reinforce each one.
Next, play a game of Simon Says to help reinforce what your child has learned, using the French action words as your cues. Use the script download for help to guide the activity.
Want to learn more French this week? The Cultured Kid is giving our subscribers a one month lesson bundle of their program for just $1! Download the flashcards to access the discount.
Want to try more of The Cultured Kid? Use code ANNUAL100 for $100 off of the full year program!
***Click here for our review of The Cultured Kid and to learn more about how they’re helping children learn a second language even when their parent isn’t a native speaker!
Activity 4: France maze.
Today, we’ll take a closer look at the capital of France, Paris! Paris is famous worldwide for it’s culture, architecture, art, and more. Let’s start by looking at some of its most famous monuments in the book A Walk in Paris.
Activity 1: The Eiffel Tower is one of the most famous structures in the entire world. Watch this brief video to learn some of its history. Next, let’s make our own Eiffel Tower with this engineering project. (If you don’t have newspaper, you could also try aluminum foil!)
(-) Want something simpler? Make this paper Eiffel Tower instead.
Activity 2: Of course, the real tower is much, much bigger! Let’s bring it to life with this gross motor activity. There are 1,665 steps in the Eiffel Tower. If you have stairs in your home, encourage your child to start climbing, pretending they are going to the top. (Even if they don’t make it all the way to 1,665, discuss what it would be like to climb all the way! Or you can count how many steps they can climb in one minute to figure out how many minutes it would take to climb the whole thing.) You can reward them with this video, which shows the view from the top.
Activity 3: The primary religion practiced in France is Christianity, with about three-fifths of Christians belonging to the Roman Catholic Church. (source) This is especially apparent in much of the historical architecture. If your family is Catholic, use this time to talk with your child about the meaning of your traditions. If not, here is some information about Catholicism you can share with your child. Compare and contrast your own beliefs to see what common ground you can find. Note: Though Catholicism is a Christian religion, not all Christians believe exactly the same thing, and there is often division even among the same denomination. For more information about Catholicism, read this article.
- There are an estimated 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world. (source)
- By definition, the word catholic means ‘universal,’ and from the earliest days following the Church’s founding, it has pressed to be the universal faith of humanity. (source)
- Catholics share with other Christians a belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ, the son of God made man who came to earth to redeem humanity’s sins through His death and resurrection. They follow His teachings as set out in the New Testament and place their trust in God’s promise of eternal life with Him. Catholicism, however, is distinct from other Christian churches in both its organization and its teaching.
- Catholic doctrine is based the scriptures and on the church’s own traditions. It believes that its doctrines were revealed to the apostles and have been preserved in the continuous tradition ever since.
- The Catholic faith revolves around the seven sacraments: baptism, reconciliation, Eucharist (or Holy Communion), confirmation, marriage, holy orders (joining the priesthood) and the sacrament of the sick (once called extreme unction or the last rites). The importance of receiving Christ’s body and blood at communion as the bread of life is central. (source)
The Notre Dame (or Our Lady, in English) Cathedral, found in Paris, is famous Catholic church with some of the most impressive stained glass windows found in the world. Click here for a virtual tour of the cathedral.
Activity 2: Another popular stop in Paris is Le Musée du Louvre. The Louvre is one of the most famous art museums in the world, with over 35,000 works of art on display and beautiful gardens surrounding the museum. It would take over 200 days to see everything, but let’s take a shorter tour with this brief video. If your child has a longer attention span, you can also try this virtual tour feature on this website.
Next, let’s review some of the most famous works of art and collections in the Louvre with this memory game.
Activity 3: One famous French artist you’ll find in the Louvre is Henri Matisse. Let’s learn about him in the book The Iridescence of Birds. Next, do this Matisse-inspired collage craft.
For today’s activities, we’ll learn about some incredible inventions and discoveries to come out of France. Start by reading the book Hot Air to learn about the invention of the hot air balloon.
Activity 1: Do you know how a hot air balloon works? Let’s learn more about it in this video. Next, let’s make our own hot air balloon with this tutorial! (Note: Adult supervision is a must with this activity! If the instructions are unclear, you can also look at this picture to see what your “basket” should look like.)
(-) Or, try this modified version to demonstrate the power of hot air!
Activity 2: One of France’s famous classical composers was Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Saint-Georges’ given name was Joseph Bologne, and he was born in the French colony of Guadeloupe to a wealthy plantation owner and an enslaved African woman. Click this article by the LA Opera to learn more about his life and his great accomplishments. (Or you can listen to this video about him for more details, including the challenges he faced being mixed race.) Listen to his works here, and one of his opera trios here. (Keep it on in the background as you continue to the next activities.)
Want to learn a little more about opera?
- An opera is like a play, except that the characters sing all of their lines instead of speaking them.
- All operas have solo singers (meaning one person who sings alone) and an orchestra, and many have choruses (or a group of people who sing together in harmony), too.
- Both men and women sing opera, and the parts are determined by how low or high a singer can sing.
- Opera singers do not use microphones or any technology to make their voices louder or more powerful. But they never yell—they have usually trained for many years to be able to project their voices and fill large theaters with sound. They use their bodies to make louder sounds, and this is done in part by learning to control their breath. Want to try it out? Take a deep belly breath and then let the sound out in a “tssssss” sound. See how long you can make the sound before you run out of air!
Want to try singing a little opera? This Learn + Live tutorial will get you started.
Activity 3: Louis Pasteur was a French scientist who revolutionized our understanding of germs, how they spread, and how to kill them. Read some of the information on this post to learn more about him and how he used the scientific method to help prove germ theory and invent the process of pasteurization. Next, let’s follow in his footsteps with our own germ experiment! Follow these instructions to help your child prove what kind of handwashing kills germs best. (Bonus: It might help them wash their hands more often!)
Activity 4: One final invention to come out of France? Mayonnaise!
“Mayonnaise is said to be the invention of the French chef of the Duke de Richelieu in 1756. While the duke was defeating the British at Port Mahon, his chef was creating a victory feast that included a sauce made of cream and eggs. When the chef realized that there was no cream in the kitchen, he improvised, substituting olive oil for the cream. A new culinary masterpiece was born, and the chef named it ‘Mahonnaise’ in honour of the Duke’s victory.” (source)
Let’s make our own today with this simple French mayonnaise recipe.
Let’s wrap up our France Unit with a few more tastes of France.
Activity 1: One dish that the French are famous for putting on the map is escargot (pronounced: ess-car-go), or…snails! But, we promise, they’re much more delicious than you might think. If you are feeling adventurous, you can try this recipe.
But even if not, let’s use escargot to inspire a quick snail science lesson. Start by watching this video to learn more about snails and what they are. Next, print these snail part cards and use them to review the parts of a snail’s body and for copywork. Have your child copy the words with pencil and paper (if they are writing freely) or with a moveable alphabet.
Activity 2: Next, let’s read Crêpes by Suzette (or read it here on OpenLibrary). Suzette sees so many French monuments during her day selling crêpes. Let’s spot a few in this pattern recognizing activity.
Activity 3: Don’t worry—we’d never let you read about crêpes without making a few! Let’s use this simple recipe for the base, and then you choose to make them savory (with turkey, ham, cheese, or cream cheese) or sweet (with fruit, chocolate, jam, whipped cream, or powdered sugar).
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