Art and Culture of France
Lessons about France can cover art, history, and the colonization of Africa.
By Daniella Garran
The history and culture of France is a fascinating way for students to learn about art, geography, and many other topics. The geography, traditions and history of the country can be studied from a variety of perspectives and in several different disciplines. Certainly, geography teachers will teach about France as part of their study of Europe, but art teachers may choose to explore specific artists or movements from France as well. Social studies teachers will want to convey that the history of France was not only influenced by other nations but also that France itself had a significant impact on world history.
Students will enjoy researching and making models or drawings of the numerous landmarks throughout France. Using clay, Model Magic, Sculpey or a similar material, you can have students create a small model of some of France’s most important sites including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Versailles, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur and the Arc de Triomphe to name a few. You may also choose to have students write a brief report on the site to reflect their research.
You can divide students into small groups to report on different French cities and regions including Paris, Provence, Normandy, Bordeaux, Cannes and Nice. Each group should chart the history of the place, its landmarks and significance. The information gathered should be presented to the class either orally, visual aids or through a PowerPoint presentation.
France is home to countless individuals who influenced the course of human history. Have a French Festival in which all of these figures come together to share their ideas, inventions, artwork and writings. Be sure to include authors Charles Baudelaire, Albert Camus, and Victor Hugo, artists Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse and Claude Monet and political leaders Jacques Chirac, Charles de Gaulle and François Mitterrand to name a few. Have students dress in character, deliver a brief speech introducing themselves and then allow them to mingle with the other historical figures whom they might not have met previously.
Art and History of France:
A basic introduction to France, this lesson provides links to many different resources and virtual tours of several significant cultural landmarks. Teachers may choose to streamline students’ research so as not to overwhelm them.
In this lesson, students explore France as it existed during the Middle Ages as well as that which it influenced during the Age of Exploration. Students have the opportunity to compare and contrast the influence of Spain and France during this critical historic era.
Students learn about France’s colonization of Africa and the impact that this had on African writers. Students have a chance to debate the pros and cons of colonialism, to compare and contrast poetry written by different cultural and ethnic groups and to create a travel brochure highlighting one of the African countries that was formerly a French colony.