France Unit Study: Montessori Inspired Foam Map [Geography]

As part of all my unit studies, I like to do an interactive map for geography. It’s fun to visualize how the country looks as an outline and pin major cities as well. Both my girl’s are quite young, so too many details are lost on them. My oldest likes to cut out the map with scissors, and repeats the names of the cities after I pronounce (or try to pronounce) them. We also talk about which letter they start with, etc., as she starts to learn the basics on the English language.

First I printed out the outline of France and we cut it out of foam paper. I like foam paper because it works with my map pins for pinning the cities well and it’s a fun texture for little hands. It also comes in so many fun colors!

We looked at maps photos of France and put our pinned our city tags to our map with map-pins.

We talked about the different cities and which ones Mama and Daddy had been to (Paris and Nice). My almost four-year-old loved trying to pronounce the funny names; most likely I didn’t pronounce them correctly either, haha.

Rouen – is a port city on the river Seine. A major city in the Roman era and Middle Ages, it features Gothic churches and a cobblestoned pedestrian center with medieval half-timbered houses. Population: ~110,000.

Paris – is the capital of France, and a major European city with an emphasis on art, fashion, gastronomy and culture. Its 19th-century cityscape is crisscrossed by wide boulevards and the River Seine. Beyond such landmarks as the Eiffel Tower and the 12th-century, Gothic Notre-Dame cathedral, the city is known for its café culture and designer boutiques along the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Population: 2,100,000+.

Reims – is the unofficial capital of the Champagne wine-growing region, and many of the champagne houses headquartered there offer tastings and cellar tours. For more than 1,000 years, French kings were crowned at its Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims. Population: >180,000.

Strasbourg – is the formal seat of the European Parliament and sits near the German border, with culture and architecture blending German and French influences. Its Gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame features daily shows from its astronomical clock and sweeping views of the Rhine River. Population: >280,000.

Bordeaux – is the hub of the famed wine-growing region, and known for its Gothic Cathédrale Saint-André, 18th- to 19th-century mansions and notable art museums such as the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux. Public gardens line the curving river quays. The grand Place de la Bourse, centered on the Three Graces fountain, overlooks the Miroir d’Eau reflecting pool. Population: >250,000.

Orleans – located on the banks of the Loire River in north-central France, Joan of Arc famously saved the city from English siege in 1429. A re-creation of the house where she stayed during the battle, the Maison de Jeanne d’Arc, features multimedia exhibits on her life. Population: >110,000.

Marseille – the second largest city in France. This city has been a crossroads of immigration and trade since its founding by the Greeks around 600 B.C. At the center is the Vieux-Port, where fishmongers sell their catch along the boat-lined quay. Population: ~900,000.

Lyon – this city sits at the junction of the Rhône and Saône rivers. Its center reflects 2,000 years of history from the Roman Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules, medieval and Renaissance architecture in Vieux (Old) Lyon, to the modern Confluence district on Presqu’île peninsula. Population: >500,000.

Nice – sits on the pebbly shores of the Baie des Anges. Founded by the Greeks and later a retreat for 19th-century European elite, the city has also long attracted artists. Former resident Henri Matisse is honored with a career-spanning collection of paintings at Musée Matisse. Population: ~350,000.

Learning geography with young kiddos can be challenging, but it can be a lot of fun! 🙂

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