France has a culture rich in history, art, and pride. Children learning about France have many opportunities to explore these aspects of this old country. Discuss the rich culture while the children complete the art and crafts. The projects below give you many options when it comes to complexity and medium of presentation.
Artists and Art
Have the children look at works by such French artists as Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Let them mimic their paintings on colored construction paper with tempura paints. Make postcards by painting or collaging French magazine or newspaper clippings onto blank postcards. Let the children keep them to mail to a friend or find some French pen pals for the class to write to.
Children can color their own French flag or cut out pieces of blue, white and red paper to create a mosaic of a French flag. Discuss the different meanings of the colors. Some sources say that blue is a symbol of assistance, reminding the rich to help the poor, white is the color of royalty and red is the color for the patron saint of Paris, Saint Denis. Other resources say that white represents honesty and peace, red represents bravery and longevity and blue represents loyalty and truth. It can also simply represent liberty, equality, and brotherhood.
Fleur De Lis
A traditional symbol of France, "fleur de lis" means "flower of the lily" and can be found all over France. Let the children decorate their own fleur de lis to decorate the classroom, put on their desks or take home to decorate their rooms. While the children are drawing and decorating their fleur de lis, discuss the origin and tradition behind the symbol. Ask the children if they have ever seen the symbol and have them share where they saw it.
Baking and Food
Celebrate the French tradition associated with Epiphany, a Christian holiday which takes place on the first Sunday in January. Have a child place one piece of dried fruit or nut in a large pastry. Cut the pastry up and distribute among the children. Whoever finds the piece of fruit in his pastry is crowned king for the day. Make a paper crown for the winner to decorate and wear.