Passport to Culture: France
Cultural Activity for Kids
Our at-home travel series took us to France this month, but it’s most certainly a destination that I hope to take my kids to for real one day. I’ve been to France once. With an old friend, we stayed in Paris for a few days before taking the train down the coast to Monaco. It was breath-taking being in Europe and realizing how young our country truly is. Walking down those cobblestone streets makes you feel so small, yet so alive and purposed, to know you are just a moment in history. One day I’ll take my babies there. But for now, we explore, learn and travel… at home…
France is highly regarded for their food culture, so this Passport to Culture party was centered around the traditions found in the culinary exploits of the French. We created a balanced and progressive cheese and juice pairing experience for Alina. She tasted Camembert and Brie, coupled with varying grape juices (and even prune juice!). It was quite an experience teaching Alina about the nuances of flavor – recognizing each of our tastes – and how French kids are less prone to be picky eaters. Alina is not a picky eater at all, and felt like a little French girl while tasting her juices.
French Facts for Kids
We taught Alina a few French facts, helping her to identity the country on our map and learn a few French phrases. Whenever I travel, I make it a point to learn a few, common place phrases in the native language. I believe it shows respect and diligence as a traveler, in addition to creating a more authentic experience. These are the phrases we practiced at our at-home culture party:
“Bon Jour! Je m’appelle _______.” (Hello! My name is _______.)
“Au Revoir” or “Adieu” (Good bye!)
“Ce frommage est delicieux!” (This cheese is delicious!)
We also learned that the capitol of France is Paris, where you’ll find famous places like Notre Dame cathedral and the Louvre – the most visited art museum in the world. We talked about the famous works of art, such as the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci and Water Lilies by Claude Monet, housed there. And we read My Little Louvre, a simple children’s book that I purchased while at the Louvre in 2005 (long before I became a mom!) that illustrates many of the amazing art forms on display.
We talked about the Eiffel Tower, built as the entrance point for the 1889 World Fair, and how it is one of the most visited monuments in the world. And that Paris is nicknamed “the city of lights”… not because of how illuminated the city is, but because of the number of intellectuals and progressive thinkers living there.
While I know she won’t remember everything, my 4 year old now has a strong sense of what Paris might be like.
Cultural Crafts for Kids: Painting by Numbers
As an activity (other than eating and sipping juice!), we talked about fine art. Specifically, we introduced Alina to Claude Monet, an impressionist painter. An impressionist painter is one who paints as an expression of their perception, not merely what they see. Impressionists paint the world the way they see it, not always how it actually looks. To begin, we showed Alina a printout of a Claude Monet painting and asked her to paint what she perceived. She loved this activity, as it allowed her room for creative freedom.
We then practiced some number recognition with a simple DIY Paint by Numbers activity.
Get Your Passport to Culture Stamp!
We taught Alina about the national flag. The french flag looks like a color-block of blue, white and red. White was the traditional color of the House of Bourbon which ruled France from the 16th century until the French Revolution. The color white in the flag represents the King. Red and Blue represent the city of Paris. When revolutionaries stormed the Bastille, they wore red and blue ribbons.
Click on the image above to download your own Passport to Culture France stamp!
I wrote this post over at eHow this week about teaching culture at home, too! 5 Ways to Teach Culture at Home
See more of our at-home travel series: