France Unit Study: Week 4

Our final week of our France unit is full of hands-on STEAM activities. We will build our own Eiffel Tower and periodic table; practice multiplication in a hands-on, Montessori-inspired way; create Matisse-inspired art; and make and eat French crepes. Finally, we will explore the popular sports played in France. C’est parti! (Here we go!) Here is your final skills tracker for the month.

What you need:

Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):

Optional additional reading:

Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):

Note: We break down our supply list by so you can choose what you need based on which lessons you plan to do with your child.

Eiffel Tower model:

Eiffel Tower upgrade:

Skip counting puzzles:

Egg carton periodic table:

  • 45” x 35” piece of cardboard
  • 11 egg cartons (flat-bottomed egg cartons work best)
  • cardstock
  • paints (in colors that match the printable)
  • hot glue gun + glue

Non-crafty periodic table option:

Radiation experiment:

  • a toaster
  • a piece of bread
  • butter
  • a butter knife

Cootie catcher soccer game:

DIY foosball table:

Matisse craft:

Tour de France map:

Crepes recipe:

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!

Lesson 1:

Today, we’ll learn more about what might be France’s most famous monument of all…the Eiffel Tower!

Activity 1: Read + Discover. Read this National Geographics Kids post about the history of the Eiffel Tower. Watch the video at the end of the post. 

Activity 2: Next, let’s build our own Eiffel Tower! This is a great project for a family or co-op. Each child can build one of the sides of the tower and put it all together when complete. Start by printing this template onto four pieces of foam sheet, cardstock, or other sturdy paper.

Next, cut pieces of your paper straws and hot glue them onto each side to build out the details of the tower, like this:

When all four sides are completed and dry, hot glue the four sides together to create a three-dimensional tower.

(+) Want more of a challenge? Get a little inspiration from this Eiffel Tower craft made out of cardboard. There are no instructions, but see if you can figure out how to make your own with cardboard, a craft knife, and hot glue.

Activity 3: Let’s use pictures of these famous structures to practice skip counting by 6, 7, 8 and 9. This is a helpful activity for a child that is working on multiplication. Open and print (and possibly laminate for continuous use) these skip counting puzzles (you might see a few familiar sights in the photos!). Cut out the picture and provide your child with the puzzle pieces. If your child has some trouble visualizing the numbers in their head, you can give them these number bead manipulatives to make this more hands-on (or you can make your own with beads and pipe cleaner crafting sticks.) 

Lesson 2:

There were many notable French scientists, too. Let’s learn about two of them and their contributions to physics today.

Activity 1: Research. Pierre Curie (1859-1906), a physicist, won the Nobel Prize in Physics together with his wife Marie Curie (1867-1934) and Henri Becquerel in 1903. They won for providing evidence of radiation. In fact, the unit for radioactivity is named after Henri Becquerel (1852-1908).

Although many refer to Marie Curie as one of the most famous French scientists, she was Polish by birth and naturalized in France later in life. Her full maiden name is Maria Salome Skłodowska. Even when becoming a citizen of France, she still kept her Polish citizenship. Marie Curie is especially notable because she is the first woman to ever receive a Nobel Prize! She is also one of the few Nobel Prize winners who received a second Nobel Prize, this one in 1911 in chemistry. Watch this video to learn more about this famous couple. 

You may also want to read Marie Curie by Emma Fitzelle-Jones (a biography) or Marie Curie and the Power of Persistence: A (Mostly) True Story of Resilience and Overcoming Challenges by Karla Valenti, which is a fictionalized account based on her character.

Let’s play a scavenger hunt! Print and use these printable sheets to play a periodic table scavenger hunt in your home. (Need a little help finding these items? This article might help.)

Activity 2: Build a periodic table model out of egg cartons. First, print this free periodic table printable. Use it as your model.

Activity 3: Want a non-crafty alternative to learning the periodic table? Try this 200 piece puzzle!

Activity 4: Radiation is energy that moves from one place to another. Light, sound, heat, and X-rays are all examples of radiation. The different kinds of radiation fall into a few general categories: electromagnetic radiation, mechanical radiation, nuclear radiation, and cosmic rays. (source)

The Curies experimented with nuclear radiation. Today, we are going to do an experiment with electromagnetic radiation. Conduct this (safe and simple) radiation and conduction experiment

Lesson 3:

Activity 1: Henri Matisse was born on December 31, 1869 and was raised in the small industrial town of Bohain-en-Vermandois in northern France. As a young man, Matisse worked as a legal clerk and then studied for a law degree in Paris. Returning to a position in a law office in the town of Saint-Quentin, he began taking a drawing class in the mornings before he went to work. When he was 21, Matisse began painting while recuperating from an illness and his vocation as an artist was confirmed. Matisse moved to Paris for artistic training where he met other amazing artists. (source) Watch this video to learn more about his life and works. 

Activity 2: Read or listen to Henri’s Scissors, a picture book about Matisse. Next, let’s make this craft inspired by Matisse’s distinctive collage art. Watch this video for more tips on how to make your Matisse bowl.

Lesson 4:

Today is all about sports and games commonly played or practiced in France. They just might inspired you to get active today, too!

Activity 1: The Tour de France is a men’s only cycling road race that takes place over 23 days and covers over 2,000 miles. Each year, the race takes a different route, but ever since 1975 the Tour de France finish has always been in Paris with a magnificent sprint down the Champs-Élysées. The start of the race (known as the Grand Départ) is a major event, and cities compete to host it. Each day of the race is known as a ‘Stage,’ and Stages can last up to six hours. At the end of each day, the rider who crosses the finish line first is the ‘Stage Winner’ and gets to go up onto the podium. In total, there are 21 stages over the 23 days, so the riders only get two rest days over the whole race! The lead rider gets to wear a yellow jersey for the next stage. The overall winner of the Tour de France is the rider with the quickest time for all the stages put together. 

Read more interesting facts about the Tour de France here

Next, print the map in this link. Using a new laminating pocket, trace out the path that the 2022 Tour de France will take on your map of France from Week 1. Label the cities that the tour will visit. View the map again with the French mountain layer on top of the tour layer.

Activity 2: Football, or soccer as it is called in the United States, is one of the most popular sports in France. France has the distinction of being one of only three nations to have won back-to-back major tournaments, including the FIFA World Cup, UEFA European Football Championships, and FIFA Confederations Cup. Football was first introduced to France in the 1870s by English travelers, but it didn’t really take off at the time. Its popularity really dates back to the First World War, when soldiers played in the trenches during long periods of downtime. The game spread after the war and remains one of the most important sports in the country. France’s team is locally known as Les Bleus (The Blues). (source)

Let’s get moving with this gross motor skill game! Print, cut, fold, and play this football/soccer themed cootie catcher game. You will need a mini soccer ball (or other small ball) to play along.

Activity 3: Have you ever heard of foosball? According to Belgian magazine Le Soir Illustre, No. 2471, November 1979, p. 26, the inventor of the first foosball table was a Frenchman named Lucien Rosengart who lived from 1880 to 1976. He is also accredited with the invention of the minicar, front wheel drive, and the seat belt! (source) Let’s follow in his footsteps by making our own foosball table with this tutorial.

Lesson 5:

It’s our last day of our France Unit, and it wouldn’t be complete without a crepe or two! Let’s learn the history of these famous French pancakes along with an art lesson.

Activity 1: The history of crepes goes back to Brittany, France. According to urban legend, the first crepe came about when a housewife in the 13th century accidentally dribbled some thin porridge onto a hot, flat cooktop. Another version of the story claims that the original crepe was made of buckwheat, an ancient grain. The buckwheat crepes were filled with savory fillings, while the more delicately flavored wheat crepes were filled with fruit and sweet fillings. As with eggs, crepes are not typically a breakfast food in France. Instead, they are eaten as a meal, a snack, or as dessert. 

Next, read the children’s picture book, Crepes by Suzette or listen to this read aloud. Children can take time to examine the pictures closely and notice the famous buildings, architecture, and gardens that we have studied this month.  There are also several French words and expressions that can be used to review French vocabulary. 

Activity 2: Research. Using the picture book Crepes by Suzette, let’s research famous French artists. You and your child may have recognized many popular images of famous art in the picture book. There is a section in the back of the book that details the famous artists that inspired the book’s illustrations. Ask your child to examine the pictures again and find images on the internet of the original art those pictures are based on. 

Activity 3: Time to cook! Savory crepes are often filled with ham, cheese, and mushrooms. Watch this video to see a French chef prepare them. Even though we won’t be making this exact recipe, take note of his technique. Watching professionals cook helps us to develop cooking skills of our own. Now, try your own hand at a savory crepe with this recipe. Would you rather have a sweet crepe? Try this delicious strawberry-filled recipe instead. 

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Published by The Learn + Live Letter

The Learn + Live Letter is a play- and project-based homeschool curriculum for children ages 3-12.

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