Introduce your kids to some French history – and make it fun!
As a child I loved history – I just didn’t know it. I would absorb all I could from movies, shows and books and then recite my newfound knowledge to all of my friends.
To me, I was just having fun, but really I was learning. Before I knew it I was crazy for all things French, and all that from watching a few episodes of ‘Madeline’.
Children are very curious and love to learn new things. Teaching them French history can be the prefect gateway into the French language. And, it’s easier than you think. So, we’ve put together a little guide to help you get started.
Which historical events should I teach?
France has a very long and rich history. Figuring out where to start isn’t easy.
Each historical period or event will have a few well-known events, people or places, so start there.
Here are some of the most popular French historical people and eras:
- France under the Roman Empire
- Joan of Arc
- The enlightenment
- The Bourbon dynasty and the ancien regime
- The French revolution
- The belle époque
Lessons on history, structured for French kids
To get the most out of your mini-history lessons we recommend starting with a story or film that gives a very general overview of the era or event.
Once your kids know the general story, you can have a question and answer session where you can bounce questions back and forth to see what they understood.
When the questions have been answered, it’s onto the activities. Depending on how in-depth you wish to go, you can prepare as few or as many activities as you please. Each one can focus on different aspects of the era and can help your child better understand what they’ve just learnt.
Making French history fun!
Letting kids put their own spin on history makes it fun for all of you. Creativity is your best friend.
To make learning history fun, you could try books and stories, games, movies, field trips, cooking or even arts and crafts.
How can I make these activities relate to French history?
Coming up with ideas for activities doesn’t have to be hard. As long as you can work in some facts then your lesson will be worthwhile.
The simplest connections will suffice; the key is to make learning fun so your French kids want to know more.
Here are a few ideas for linking your activities with history:
- Play memory games to help them remember.
- Painting is a great way to keep their memory fresh. They can paint a picture of a French château or do their own interpretation of a Monet painting.
- Make an afternoon tea fit for a king and discuss what life was like for the kings and queens of France.
- Make a paper version of Napoleon’s hat complete with a tricolore cockade. While making your hats tell stories of Napoleon. They may even recognise the cockade from the revolution.
If you are planning a trip to France you’ve got a great opportunity to relate what you teach the kids with where you will be visiting. Then you can take them to see the sites and let their imaginations run wild with history.
Handy resources on teaching French history:
- Beware Madame la Guillotine is an award-winning app by Sarah Towle at Time Traveler Tours. It’s a guided tour of Paris and a history lesson all in one!
- Learn French Help has very detailed descriptions of most well known eras with plenty of facts and dates to help build lesson plans.
- Kids world travel guide has some general facts about France.
- DLTK has French history inspired craft ideas.
- Time for kids has a French history timeline to put your lessons in perspective.
- Kids past have a detailed explanation of the French revolution that touches on Napoleon’s reign.
- Horrible Histories have a book on Joan of Arc.
- Our guide to learning styles can help you understand your French kids’ preferred style.
What are you tips for teaching kids about French history? Share your experiences and suggestions with other members below!Image Credits
1. Royal Irish Rifles ration party Somme July 1916 by Imperial War Museums, via Wikimedia Commons.
2. The three musketeers Fairbanks by PKM, via Wikimedia Commons.
3. Napoleon I of France by Andrea Appiani by The Yorck Project, via Wikimedia Commons.