Level 1: France Unit

Bienvenue en France! We are so excited to explore this beautiful country with you and your child, getting a taste for the culture and cuisine while also exploring amazing architecture, living things, music, and art. Ready to start learning? Click here to download our skills tracker before you get started. Bonne chance!

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):

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

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!

Letter of the week: F

New to the letter of the week? Start here! Next, print your letter F coloring sheet and Letter Guide. Let your child color the coloring sheet as you work through the next part of the lesson.

The letter F makes one sound: /f/ as in France as you can see on the first page of the letter guide. Reinforce the sounds with our Letter of the Week Song.

Remember, the guide isn’t a worksheet! The first page is for you, the grown-up. Use it to introduce the letter name, the sounds it makes, and to demonstrate how to draw each letter. Display the Letter Guide in your school area along with the completed coloring sheet to reinforce the lesson throughout the week.

Next, use the second sheet to create a page for your child’s phonics book. Review the book a few times each week until your child has mastered these phonics.

Lesson 1:

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 understanding of what the country looks like with a simple playdough activity. As you discuss more about where we find France, print this outline of France and have your child fill it in with playdough.
(+) Ready for an upgrade? Referring to this topographical map, use a different color of playdough to add the mountains and rivers in France.

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 and help your child to cut strips of red and blue to complete the flag. (You can let your child do most of the cutting by themselves by first drawing the line for them to follow as they cut.)

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 download 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!

Lesson 2:

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 Goodnight 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 craft.

Activity 2: Need a little gross motor work? 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. Here are some highlights:

  • 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 on 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.

This photography website also has some great photos of the windows. Next, let’s make our own with this craft.

Activity 4: Let’s end our day with one more Parisian monument—that will likely end in some free play! The Arc de Triomphe (Arch of Triumph) was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1806 after one of his military battles. (source) Watch this video of a family climbing up the inside of the arch, and then use this tutorial to make your own. If you don’t have a box big enough for your child to crawl under, just use the biggest box you have and let them drive toy cars or other play things under the arc.

Lesson 3:

Activity 1: Use this printable to do a little Parisian pattern work inspired by the monuments we learned about yesterday.

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.

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 Henri’s Scissors (or you can read it here on OpenLibrary). Next, do this Matisse-inspired collage craft.

Lesson 4:

For today’s activities, we’ll learn about some incredible inventions and discoveries to come out of France.

Activity 1: Did you know the first modern parachute was invented by a Frenchman? While the idea of parachutes goes back to Leonardo da Vinci’s time, it wasn’t until 1797 that André-Jacques Garnerin first designed and tested parachutes capable of slowing a man’s fall from a high altitude. (source) Want to know how it works? Watch this video for a breakdown of why parachutes help things to fall slower, and then do this parachute STEM experiment to bring it to life.

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. (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: Another famous area of France is called Provence, and this area is especially famous for it’s lavender fields! You can see some photos of the fields here. Let’s make this lavender playdough inspired by the Provence lavender. (Bonus: The soothing effects of lavender make this playdough a great resource for helping your child calm down when they’re upset!)

Lesson 5:

Let’s end our week with a few different tastes of France and a beloved French picture book! Start by reading Madeleine.

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: Let’s work those fine motor skills with this snail swirl craft. Start by printing these slugs and cutting them out (you can either print the full color version or the outlines for your child to color in with crayons). Next, spread a thin layer of paint on white construction paper. stick the cut-out slugs onto the paper, and have your child use their finger to draw the swirl shells on top of their backs, like this:

Activity 3: Still not feeling snails as a delicious treat? No worries! Let’s end the week with a snack we can all agree on—a French yogurt cake! Food is a way of life in France, and many French children are included in kitchen tasks from a young age. This cake is perfect for our Level 1 students because the simple recipe is easy for even small children to make virtually on their own.

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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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