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Bastille Day is Sunday, July 15th and it seems like a good opportunity to teach kids about France. Whether or not you have roots in France, kids benefit when they have an understanding of other cultures, traditions, and the world in general. Teaching kids about France doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It can be fun! One of my favorite subjects is social studies.
I love not only reading about other countries, but I explore deeper by reading fictional stories set in those countries, cooking, and even studying the language. Even though Bastille Day was my inspiration for this post, many of the activities have a general French theme so your kids can work on their cultural appreciation all year round!
Bastille Day: A Brief Overview
Just a little information on the holiday that inspired this post. Bastille Day is France’s version of the 4th of July. The French commemorate the storming of the Bastille, a key event that led to the French Revolution. The Bastille represented the oppression of the people by the careless French monarchy, and it also held many weapons. The nation had suffered years of famine and unemployment. Finally, the French people had had enough. On July 14th, a mob stormed the Bastille, and the rest is history. It’s celebrated all over the country with festivals, shows, and even fireworks. Military troops have marched every Bastille Day in France since 1880, making it one of the world’s oldest military parades.
Why Teach About Other Cultures
It’s important to teach cultures to children because they have a natural curiosity about the world around them. Children don’t see color, adults do. As our world becomes more and more intermixed, children will see more faces that don’t look like theirs. By addressing diversity, your children have a greater understanding and empathy for others. They will have more opportunities for personal growth. Also, even if your child is not in a culturally diverse environment now, they will be in the future. By getting educated about diversity, they’ll have a better understanding when they meet people from other cultures.
A great program to introduce geography and the world is a program called Little Passports. For preschoolers, Little Passports has a program called Early Explorers. By paying a subscription, you’ll receive a monthly, surprise package with new learning tools geared towards children ages 3-5.
Kids Activities Inspired By France
- Projects and Crafts
- Make Paper French Beret Hats. Have your little Frenchman or woman dress the part with these fun paper berets.
- Create a Bastille Day Flag. This fun craft by The Real Thing with the Coake Family allows you and your child to go on a scavenger hunt of French items and paste them on to your own French flag.
- Create a Monet-Inspired art project, originally posted by Kids Steam Lab. You’ll child will explore their creativity while learning about the work of a classic artist.
- Fold an Origami Eiffel Tower.
- Download this France Coloring Page from Crayola.
- Beauty and the Beast. 1991 and 2017 versions. This classic favorite is a story your child may already be familiar with. They’ll have no problems watching it again.
- Ratatouille. An animated movie about a rat determined to become a French chef.
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The 1996 Disney version of this classic story written by French writer Victor Hugo is both entertaining and touching.
- A Cat in Paris. This 2010 Academy Award Nominated film is about a cat who lives a double life. By day he’s a house pet and by night he works with a cat burglar.
- The Triplets of Belleville. A funny story about a kidnapped Tour de France cyclist.
- This is Paris by Miroslav Sasek. An informative book your preschooler will love, part of a series of books detailing other popular cities.
- A Walk in Paris by Salvatore Rubbino. A great book about a girl and her grandfather as they explore the sights of Paris.
- Pop-Up Paris (Lonely Planet Kids). The Lonely Planet travel books have reached out to younger readers with this pop-up book featuring popular Parisian landmarks.
- Paris: A Book of Shapes by Ashley Evanson. Teach them shapes and culture at the same time with this brightly illustrated book.
- The Story of Babar: The Little Elephant by Jean De Brunhoff. A classic story of this orphaned elephant by a French writer is likely to become one of your child’s favorites. After reading this book, try the whole series.