Little ones get wide-eyed when learning about new places and people. So, why not introduce your child to a few delights (and words) found in France? Prime your child for upcoming foreign language and history classes at school through culture and play activities by going on an imaginary trip to Paris this weekend—no passport required!
- Building a Famous Monument
When you think of Paris, the iconic Eiffel Tower comes to mind. Show your child a photo of the landmark, then work together to build your own interpretation of the artsy structure.
Head to the recycling bin or junk door and clean out items such as paper towel rolls, plastic containers, and cardboard boxes from the pile. Blocks are great, but these repurposed ideas can become make-believe bricks, poles, and beams. Encourage your child to experiment with shapes and angles. Once you're done building, count together to see how many pieces you each used: un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, huit, neuf, dix! After mastering the Eiffel Tower, move on to other landmarks like The Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe and see if you can do it without using more materials.
- Sampling French Sweets
Introduce your child to the top culinary treats that makes Paris famous. Try éclairs, gourmet chocolates, or macaroons! Arrange a few sweets on a decorative platter. As you sample each food, think of three words to describe the scent, texture, and taste, and then learn the words together in French with the aid of a translation app on your cell phone.
As you nibble the delicacies, make up a story together about a French bakery in Paris. What time do they start baking? Where do they get their chocolate? What's their most popular sweet? What are the names of the people who work there, and what are their lives like?
- Making a Colorful Flag
Create a French flag with supplies such as modeling dough, watercolors, or crayons. You can also use colorful scraps of tissue paper or magazine pages. Start by tearing pieces of the lightweight paper together, then use a glue stick to adhere the small pieces mosaic-style onto a sheet of typing paper. As you build the flag, work on pronouncing red (rouge), white (blanc), and blue (bleu) in French. If you've mastered that, try looking up some other flag-related words together, like "flagpole," "stripes," and of course, "flag" itself.
If you're both itching for more flag activities, go searching through your house for blue, red, and white objects and assemble them so they line up like the French flag. Take pictures of all the combinations you find and vote on the craziest one.
You don't have to pack your bags and spend hours on an airplane to introduce your child to life in France. It's easy to learn about a new culture and play at the same time. Grab a beret (or slouchy winter beanie!) and focus your imagination on Paris.
A TIP FROM THE EXPERTS
"Just because your kids may not have traveled across the world doesn't mean that they can't experience and appreciate another culture. These activities include all five senses, which connect what they are learning on a deeper level, rather than solely on a cognitive plane. Plus, imagining being somewhere else is exciting and intriguing, so your kids will love pretending with these playtime ideas!"
About the Expert:
Brenna Hicks is a licensed therapist and stay-at-home mom. She created The Kid Counselor blog to offer parenting and play therapy tips. She has been featured in The New York Times and on CNN and iVillage. A native Floridian, she loves the beach, the sun, and water sports. Brenna lives with her husband, son, and beagle.