This lesson begins with a simulation that will let students feel what it was like to be a part of different estates in France prior to the French Revolution.
Background for Teachers
What is a Revolution?
- A revolution is a battle fought for principles and ideals.
- A revolution may be fought by volunteers, not professional soldiers, who are committed to the principles of war.
- Wars are fought by professional soldiers who focus on military tactics and strategies.
- Wars often are the result of territorial conflicts
- Place freshly popped popcorn/ candy/ cookies, etc. in a conspicuous location.
- Depending on the size of your class, have enough treats to distribute to about one fourth of your class. In a class of 25 have enough for only one-third on display.
- I am the Queen/King in the simulation (a crown can be worn for added effects)
- When the kids are seated have them begin an assignment.
- When the students are engaged with their writing or activity begin to indulge the students in the 1st and 2nd estate the with the treat. Make no comment to the "peasants" who may start to complain and comment about what is going on.
- After a period of time begin discussion about the Revolution and outline the French Revolution's Three estates:
Discuss voting, tennis court oaths, etc. When all is said and done the 3rd Estate is voted out again and begin a revolution with shovels and rakes. Thus begins the French Revolution.
At the end take out the rest of the treats to share with the rest of the class.
- 1st Estate -- clergy
- 2nd Estate -- nobility
- 3rd Estate -- Bourgeoises, Working Class
Begin by playing the song, "Revolution." Instruct students to listen carefully to the lyrics so that they can identify what the song's message is. Probe the students for prior knowledge by asking convergent and divergent questions about revolution. (Begin with open-ended questions: "What do you know about revolutions? What is the difference between a war and a revolution? Can you name any revolutions?") Write students' answers on the board. Ask students about current revolutions. "Do you know of any revolutions currently happening or ones which have been in the news recently?" (ex: Northern Ireland crisis, Afghanistan, Turkey, Iraq, Eastern European countries, etc.).
See Overview of French Revolution