Your toddler might be a wee bit young to study the customs, culture and language of France, but you can introduce him to all things French through simple craft projects. Construct an iconic landmark, pay homage to French fashion and art, and bead together simple French words. Voila! With just a little elbow grease, you’ll create a perfect toddler combo -- learning through doing.
The Eifel Tower
Help your toddler develop his fine motor skills by building a replica of the Eifel Tower with him. Draw a simple image of the structure to use as a model, and choose the supplies you’d like to use. To replicate the tower’s design in 2-D, glue together toothpicks in a crosshatch pattern on a piece of construction paper. You could also focus on the structure’s 3-D shape by stacking and gluing sugar cubes. Create the four-legged foundation first, and then stack and glue the cubes to create the tall, thin tower on top.
Look through a fashion magazine with your toddler, perusing the creations of top French designers such as Coco Chanel, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Christian Lacroix. Focus on the models' hats. Help your child create a similarly stylish "chapeau" using an old hat as a base and adding fake flowers, pieces of silk or tulle fabric, and rhinestones or sequins. Allow your toddler to place the decorations on the hat, but you should take care of attaching them with a hot glue gun or needle and thread with your tot at a safe distance. Create a runway in your living room for your child. She'll have a blast modeling her creation.
Pointillism, the application of small dots of paint, was an art movement spearheaded by French artist Georges Seurat. Help your youngster create a toddler-scaled version of pointillism by gluing different colored pom-poms to a pre-drawn picture. You’ll need small craft pom-poms, basic school glue or paste and a simple image from a coloring book. Help your toddler decide which color pom-pom should be used for each outlined part of the picture. For example, for an umbrella, each section of the umbrella might use different colored pom-poms. Apply glue to the pom-poms and let your toddler press them onto the picture. Once the image is covered, your toddler will have his own pointillism masterpiece.
Your toddler can learn a few basic French words by creating an alphabet bead necklace or bracelet. You’ll need beading thread and a set of alphabet beads with pre-drilled holes for making jewelry. Select simple French words such as “la bouche,” meaning mouth, or “le nez,” meaning nose. Write them in large letters on a piece of paper. Help your child match each letter of the chosen words to the corresponding alphabet beads, and then help her string the beads on the thread. Once all letters are on the thread, knot the ends of the finished bracelet or necklace securely together. Your toddler will be able to show off both her handmade jewelry and knowledge of French -- just don't let her put her new treasure in her mouth, and supervise her while she's wearing it.