French Revolution

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Our French Revolution lesson plan teaches students about the French Revolution, including its causes and effects, its major conflicts, and its lasting impact. Students also learn relevant vocabulary and about some key figures involved in the conflict.

Included with this lesson are some adjustments or additions that you can make if you’d like, found in the “Options for Lesson” section of the Classroom Procedure page. One of the optional additions to this lesson is to invite a historian to speak to the class about the French Revolution.

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Description

What our French Revolution lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: French Revolution is an overview of the French Revolution and does not include an in-depth study or investigation of the revolution. A summary of the important people and events of the revolution is included. At the end of the lesson, students will be able to explain the causes of the French Revolution and identify some of the major people and events of the war. This lesson is for students in 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the orange box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand.

Options for Lesson

Included with this lesson is an “Options for Lesson” section that lists a number of suggestions for activities to add to the lesson or substitutions for the ones already in the lesson. One optional  addition to the lesson is to assign each student a historical revolution to research and present to the class. You could invite a historian to speak to the class about the French Revolution. You could also have your students create a timeline of the revolution. For a group activity, you can have your students meet and discuss the causes of the French Revolution and how (or if) it could have been avoided. Finally, using the resources in the lesson, you can show your students a video to give them additional information about the French Revolution.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page includes a paragraph with additional guidelines and things to think about as you begin to plan your lesson. This page also includes lines that you can use to add your own notes as you’re preparing for this lesson.

FRENCH REVOLUTION LESSON PLAN CONTENT PAGES

French Revolution

The French Revolution lesson plan includes four content pages. The lesson begins by stating that, throughout history, people have taken over their governments using different strategies and methods. When a group of people forcibly taken over their government and want to replace it with a new system, we call it a revolution.

Revolutions have happened throughout the world. The American Revolution, or Revolutionary War, took place in America! There were many things that caused the American Revolution. In 1776, this revolution led to America’s independence from the British.

Some other historic revolutions include the Haitian Revolution, a slave rebellion, in 1791; the Iranian Revolution in 1978, where they overthrew a monarchy; and the Cuban Revolution in 1952, when Fidel Castro overthrew the president of Cuba and took over, establishing a communist government.

All revolutions stem from turmoil. They often include battles, wars, death, and destruction. They are not peaceful. One of the longest and most famous revolutions of all time is the French Revolution, which took place from 1789 to 1799.

French Revolution

Before diving into the French Revolution, it’s important to understand what a monarchy is. A monarchy is a form of government that has one single ruler, a king or queen, who rules for life. A family member replaces them when they die. The monarch, or leader, has absolute power. This means that no one can overrule them.

In 1789, France had a monarch named Louis XVI. He ruled with his wife, Marie Antoinette. The people of France were very unhappy and wanted to overthrow the monarchy. The French Revolution went on for ten years. It started on July 14, 1789, when revolutionaries stormed the Bastille, a famous prison. This prison was holding many French people whose only crime was speaking out against the French government.

An Overview of the Revolution

They founded France, a country in Europe, in the year 943. Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Britain, and Luxembourg all border France. Its current capital is Paris.

There were several different reasons for the French Revolution. First of all, the government was overtaxing the poor people in the country, also called the peasants. The monarchy took advantages of the lower classes. The harvests weren’t producing enough food and the prices of food were very high. Next, the monarchy had overspent and the government went bankrupt. The people thought the king was weak. Finally, a writer named Rousseau wrote that it was wrong for the king to have absolute power. This idea became very popular amongst the French people.

The king called the Estates General, which was basically a kind of parliament, because of the country’s money problems. He had instituted higher taxes which caused thousands of complaints. The members of the Estates decided they needed to keep meeting until they’d reformed the government and created a new constitution. The people who stormed the Bastille supported them in this work.

During this time, France adopted the Rights of Man, which is kind of like the concept in America that “all men are created equal.” The Rights of Man stated that “Men are born free and remain free and equal in rights.” They also set up a parliament similar to Britain’s that they called the Convention.

In 1792, Austria and Prussia wanted to help King Louis XVI by invading France. Just a few weeks later, however, the French people executed the king and ended the monarchy.

After the Monarchy

This led to turmoil in France over the next few years. The people rebelled against the new government, the Convention, for three years. Maximilien Robespierre led a committee that made “Terror the order of the day,” ironically called the Committee of Public Safety. They also executed over 40,000 people who seemed to be a danger to the revolution by guillotine (cutting their heads off).

In 1795, Napoleon Bonaparte, a soldier who rose through the ranks during the revolution, and the army crushed the Paris mob riots. Napoleon later seized control of France and named himself First Consul (leader) and appointed himself emperor of France between 1804 and 1815.

After the French Revolution, many things changed in France. Its social and political structures changed greatly. The revolution ended the monarchy, stopped the practice of feudalism (a social system where people fight for nobles in exchange for protection), and took power away from the Catholic Church.

New ideas were introduced throughout Europe at this time, like the idea that liberty and freedom are for everyone regardless of class or wealth, the abolishment of slavery, and women’s rights. These ideologies from the French Revolution influenced Europe and many other modern-day governments.

In some ways, the French Revolution achieved for Europe what the American Revolution did for the United States. The people were not willing to live under a monarchy.

Key Terms

Here is a list of the vocabulary words students will learn in this lesson plan:

  • Revolution: Forcibly overthrowing a government, replace it with a new system
  • Monarchy: A form of government with one single ruler for life
  • Monarch: The king or queen as leader of a country
  • Louis XVI: King of France during the French Revolution, a monarch overthrown and executed in 1793, had abused his power over the people
  • Marie Antoinette: Wife of King Louis XVI, Queen of France during the French Revolution
  • Bastille: Prison taken over by a mob, began the French Revolution
  • Peasants: Poor people in France during the days of the revolution
  • Rousseau: Writer who wrote that it was wrong for a king to have absolute power, and the idea became popular among the people
  • Estates General: A kind of parliament
  • Rights of Man: The idea that all people are created equal and have free choices that should not impede others’ free choices or safety
  • Convention: Government system setup similar to British parliament
  • Maximilien Robespierre: Led the Committee of Public Safety, responsible for “Terror the order of the day”, 40,000 people executed
  • Guillotine: An execution device used for removing a person’s head
  • Napoleon Bonaparte: Soldier during the French Revolution, led the ending of the Paris mob riots, seized control of France, named himself leader and emperor of France between 1804 – 1815
  • Feudalism: Social system where people fight in exchange for protection

FRENCH REVOLUTION LESSON PLAN WORKSHEETS

The French Revolution lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. You can refer to the guide on the classroom procedure page to determine when to hand out each worksheet.

REVOLUTIONS ACTIVITY WORKSHEET

Students will work in groups to complete the activity worksheet. Each group will review a few different things that have inspired revolutions in the past. They will read each issue and answer some questions about each.

Students may also work alone or in pairs for this activity.

MATCHING PRACTICE WORKSHEET

For the practice worksheet, students will first match the year to its related event. They will then look at a list of names of significant people from the French Revolution and write down some facts about each of them and their roles during the French Revolution.

FRENCH REVOLUTION HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT

The homework assignment asks students to first unscramble and define each of the terms listed. They will also respond to three short answer questions about the lesson material.

Worksheet Answer Keys

This lesson plan includes answer keys for the practice worksheet and the homework assignment. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information

grade-level

4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade

subject

Social Studies

State Educational Standards

LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.5, LB.ELA-Literacy.W.4.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.W.4.7, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.W.5.2, LB.ELA-Literacy.W.5.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.W.5.7, LB.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.2, LB.ELA-Literacy.RH.6.4, LB.ELA-Literacy.RH.6.10

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AB
02/27/2020
andrea b.
US US

French Revolution

Great activity!

JH
12/03/2018
John H.
US

Great Resource

Loved it! Excellent materials!