Perhaps your child is learning a little French in school or you are planning a family trip to France. Take the opportunity to teach your child more about this European country, which is known for its artistic and culinary contributions to the world, by immersing her in a variety of kid-friendly, France-themed activities.
Read About France
Introduce your child to France through kid-friendly books. For children ages 4 and older, check out "Bonjour L'Enfant!: A Child's Tour of France," by Danna Troncatty Leahy, which provides background on France through the eyes of a little boy. For children ages 8 and older, "Getting to Know France and French," by Nicola Wright, provides a more comprehensive look at the culture of France and includes French vocabulary. Another book to check out for that age group is "Not For Parents Paris," from Lonely Planet Publications, which is a kid-friendly guide to Paris, featuring little-known historical facts and must-see sights that appeal to kids.
French-themed Arts and Crafts
Make simple crafts with your child related to France such as the French flag. To make a craft stick flag, lay six crafts sticks side-by-side and glue them together using nontoxic school glue. This is the main part of the flag. Have your child glue another craft stick along one end, across the craft sticks, to create a flag handle. Turn the flag over and give your child blue, white and red paint to create the French flag on the craft sticks. Allow the paint to dry fully before your child plays with it. To celebrate French art, have your child paint their own versions of famous French works of art. Show your child a picture of the Mona Lisa, for example, and have her draw her own version on construction paper, perhaps with a smiling lady.
Invite your child's friends over to play games that children in France play. To play the game called exchange, assign the kids a number and have them sit on chairs in a circle. One child is blindfolded and sits on a chair in the middle of the circle. The blindfolded child calls out two numbers. They must run to exchange seats while the blindfolded child tries to tag one of them or take their seat. Any player caught or that loses her seat becomes the next person blindfolded in the middle. You can also have the kids play French-style hopscotch, which originated in France. Draw a simple hopscotch board outside with chalk by drawing equal-sized boxes in the shape of a T, with two boxes on top of each other and two boxes going across. Create another T shape directly above it, then draw a semicircle above that and number the squares. Write "return" in the semicircle. To play, the first child tosses a stone in the first square and hops on one foot through the course and back, skipping the square with the stone. She then repeats, throwing the stone into each square and jumping over that square until the person steps on a line or throws her stone. The first person to complete the course wins.
Take your child into the kitchen with you to create simple French dishes. To make dessert crepes, combine a cup of flour with two eggs, a half-cup of milk and water each, 2 tablespoons of butter and a dash of salt. Let your child mix the batter until completely smooth, then pour no more than 1/4 cup of batter onto an oiled or non-stick pan over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Tilt the pan to spread spread the batter. Carefully loosen with a spatula and flip the crepe to cook the other side. Let your child fill the cooked crepe with sweet fillings such as any type of fruit puree, or an almond-chocolate spread. Gently fold the crepe ends over the filling and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Teach your child how to bake fish using the French en papillote method, which consists of wrapping small portions of fish with vegetables in aluminum foil or parchment paper and baking it. It typically takes about 10 to 20 minutes to cook the fish and vegetables in this manner, at about 375 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven.
- Bonjour L'Enfant!: A Child's Tour of France; Danna Troncatty Leahy
- Getting to Know France and French; Nicola Wright
- Not For Parents Paris; Lonely Planet Publications
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