This summer I’m teaching a series of Read Around the World lessons for a group of kids ages 2.5 years to 5.5 years old. You can read an explanation of how I do the lessons and some of the materials I use here.
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The country we visited this week was France! We start every lesson by locating the country on our map and having one of the kids draw our flight path using a dry erase crayon. Then they glue the country’s stamp in their passport and I stamp the date on it.
One of the kids took a turn dressing our paper doll from the country. Education.com has printable paper dolls that I had previously cut, colored, laminated, and added velcro on so we could reuse them many times, but you could also have kids color their own to keep.
The first book we read was Everybody Bonjours! by Leslie Kimmelman
It is perfect for introducing young kids to France as there are only a couple words per page and it features many different sites and aspects of French culture. While reading the book I taught them to say “Hello” and “Thank you” in French and they had a great time saying “Bonjour” and “Merci” the rest of the lesson. My son kept asking me what the French words for various things were throughout the day and that was pretty fun to see.
We made mini French flags by using Do a Dot markers on a small coloring page of the flag printed on card stock and then they attached it to a Popsicle stick.
I played this video of France’s national anthem while they marched around waving their flags in a parade.
It was really cute how much they got into marching around!
Then we talked about Paris being a famous city in France and some of the popular things there are to see in Paris.
Belinda in Paris by Amy Young was a fun read for the kids to get a little feel of Paris through ballet, bakeries, fashion shows and more.
We talked about how people like to paint Paris. After I showed them various pictures of the Eiffel tower–both actual pictures and paintings– the kids each got to do their own watercolor painting of it. I just printed out a coloring sheet for them to paint on. They got really into this activity and seemed to feel like real artists as they each had such pride in their own painting.
I love how they all turned out so differently!
Afterwards we took a snack break. Baguette bread would be a great choice as the two books I read around snack time involved baguettes, but this time I used pains au chocolat (chocolate croissants) because I couldn’t resist them when I saw them at Aldi! They got polished off pretty quickly, but here is a picture of the wrapper.
While we ate we read Monsieur Saguette and His Baguette by Frank Asch
It’s a silly and fun story of a man coming home with his baguette and all the ways he ends up using it to help people along the way.
Then we went outside to play two different French games.
First was Petanque (which is very similar to bocce ball where you try to throw your balls closest to the small ball). We used my bocce ball set and played several different rounds of it.
Next we played Escargot which is similar to hopscotch and uses a snail shaped court. I learned about it here.
I did simplify the rules for our young group a little bit.
Then we went inside to cool off and enjoyed reading the funny book Escargot by Dashka Slater. I explained that escargot is French for snail before we played the game and again when we read this book. It is about a French snail who wants to be your favorite animal and to eat a delicious salad. There are a lot of interactive elements throughout the story as the kids get to respond to the snail. It’s an especially fun read aloud if you try to read it with a French accent (which I would probably never attempt in front of adults, but with kids I’m a little more daring haha). They asked for a reread as soon as it was over.
Next we talked about the Louvre and the painting of the Mona Lisa which is displayed inside.
We read Who Stole Mona Lisa? By Ruthie Knapp which is based on the true story of a man who stole the Mona Lisa and how he world was so invested in the painting and seeing it returned. My son really likes this book and we’ve read it many times, but I did shorten it a bit while reading with the group for this lesson.
The kids colored their own Mona Lisa coloring page and then glued paper strips around the edge to be like the frame. We hung them on my wall like a museum gallery to walk through.
To close out the lesson we listened to the French nursery rhyme Frere Jacques:
And the kids built their own Eiffel towers out of Jenga blocks. This was their own request and idea! After building the Great Wall of China last week they begged to do this and we were able to fit it in.
Farewell to France. Next stop… Kenya!
For additional reading on France…
These are other France themed books I’ve used:
E is for Eiffel Tower by Helen Wilbur
The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems
A Walk in Paris by Salvatore Rubbino
The Boy Who Wanted to Cook by Gloria Whelan