phd mama

from diapers to deconstruction

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“Mad about Matisse”

And here’s another tangent from our study of France, a list dedicated to the masterpieces of Henri Matisse.

  1. Bonjour, Mr. Satie by Tomie dePaola
  2. Colorful Dreamer: The Story of Artist Henri Matisse by Marjorie Blain Parker and Holly Berry
  3. Crayola’s Craft “In Matisse’s Garden”
  4. Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists: Henri Matisse by Mike Venezia
  5. Henri Matisse (1869-1954) by the Metropolitan Museum of Art (includes slideshow of images)
  6. Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors by Keesia Johnson, Jane O’Connor, and Jessie Hartland
  7. Henri’s Scissors by Jeannette Winter
  8. The Iridescence of Birds: A Book about Henri Matisse by Patricia MacLachlan and Hadley Hooper
  9. The Life and Work of Henri Matisse by Paul Flux
  10. Matisse the King of Color by Laurence Anholt
  11. Matisse: Life and Painting
  12. Oooh! Matisse by Mil Niepold and Jeanyves Verdu
  13. When Pigasso Met Mootisse by Nina Laden

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“Delighted by Degas”

Here’s an offshoot of our study of France–a list devoted to Edgar Degas, complete with delightful ballerinas!

  1. Chasing Degas by Eva Montanari
  2. Crayola’s Craft “Dancing Sculptures”
  3. Dancing with Degas by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober
  4. Degas and the Dance by Susan Goldman Rubin
  5. Degas and the Little Dancer by Laurence Anholt
  6. Edgar Degas: Coloring Book by Annette Roeder
  7. Edgar Degas (1834-1917): Painting and Drawing by The Metropolitan Museum of Art (includes slideshow of images)
  8. Edgar Degas: The Complete Works
  9. Edgar Degas: Paintings that Dance by Kristin N. Cole and Maryann Cocca-Leffler
  10. Tour: Edgar Degas at the National Gallery of Art

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Feasting in France

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My elder daughter and I have a pact to visit the Eiffel Tower together some day, so it’s no surprise that she chose France for our country-a-month study. We previously did a unit study called “Paris in the Springtime,” so I’ve tried to expand to France more broadly here, and I’ve avoided duplications from that list. During our study, we discovered that we wanted to explore two artists in greater depth, so I made separate lists for Edgar Degas (“Delighted by Degas”) and Henri Matisse (“Mad about Matisse”). My daughter is still delighted by the Eiffel Tower, but one of our favorite parts of studying France is, of course, the food. Bon appétit!

  1. Anatole by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone (part of a series)
  2. An Armadillo in Paris by Julie Kraulis
  3. Beauty and the Beast by Ursula Jones and Sarah Gibb
  4. The Cat Who Walked across France by Kate Banks and Georg Hallensleben
  5. Cézanne and the Apple Boy by Laurence Anholt
  6. Cinderella (Adaptations of Charles Perrault’s Version)
  7. Count Your Way through France by Jim Haskins, Kathleen Benson, and Andrea Shine
  8. Crayola’s Coloring Pages of the French flag, Joan of Arc, and Napoleon Bonaparte
  9. Crêpes by Suzette by Monica Wellington
  10. The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau by Michelle Markel and Amanda Hall
  11. France: The CIA Factbook
  12. The Inside-Outside Book of Paris by Roxie Munro
  13. Joan of Arc by Demi
  14. Kiki and Coco in Paris by Stephanie Rausser, Jess Brown, and Nina Gruener
  15. A Lion in Paris by Beatrice Alemagna
  16. Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat by Susanna Reich and Amy Bates
  17. Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully
  18. Monsieur Marceau: Actor without Words by Leda Schubert and Gérard Dubois
  19. Papa Chagall, Tell Us a Story by Laurence Anholt
  20. Puss in Boots: A Tale by Charles Perrault and Fred Marcellino
  21. A Walk in Paris by Salvatore Rubbino


Unit Study: Paris in the Springtime


My elder daughter recently found a glass replica of The Eiffel Tower among my trinkets. It fascinated her, and she recognized the landmark from the Madeline stories. We’ve been exploring Paris ever since, and the resources below will show you how I’ve created a unit study based on her interests. My disclaimer is to follow the child’s lead and not push to make things strict or overtly education. Keep it flexible and playful, or kids will resist (or just hate it), and that’s not the purpose of creative inquiry.

This unit study is weighted toward culture (lots of humanities), so adding math and science requires additional resourcefulness. I’d also say it’s OK to not be perfectly balanced on coverage of all subjects in all unit studies, because my goal is balance over the long term (a month, several months, a year) not in a day or week.


READ: Balance fiction, non-fiction, reference, children’s and adult’s books (like the coffee-table art book).

Adèle & Simon by Barbara McClintock (language arts, social studies, geography)

“CIA World Factbook: France” (language arts, social studies, geography)

Charlotte in Paris by Joan MacPhail Knight and Melissa Sweet (language arts, social studies, art)

Chasing Degas by Eva Montanari (language arts, art)

Degas and the Little Dancer by Laurence Anholt (language arts, art)

E is for Eiffel Tower: A France Alphabet by Helen Wilbur and Yan Nascimbene (language arts, social studies, geography)

Everybody Bonjours! by Leslie Kimmelman and Sarah McMenemy (language arts, social studies)

Getting to Know France and French by Nicola Wright and Kim Wooley (language arts, social studies, home economics, geography)

Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors by Jane O’Connor and Jessie Hartland (language arts, art)

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (language arts)

The Louvre: All the Paintings by Vincent Pomarède, Erich Lessing, Loyrette Henri and Anja Grebe (art)

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelans (language arts)

The Magical Garden of Claude Monet by Laurence Anholt (language arts, art)

The Mona Lisa Caper by Rick Jacobson and Laura Fernandez (language arts, social studies, art)

Paris in the Spring with Picasso by Joan Yolleck and Marjorie Priceman (language arts, social studies, art)

This Is Paris by Miroslav Sasek (language arts, social studies, geography)


WATCH: Use film where audio and visual matters most (like hearing native speakers of a language, seeing artwork or a city).

Brainy Baby: French (language arts–French)

Linnea in Monet’s Garden (art)

Little Pim (language arts–French)

The Red Balloon (language arts, social studies, geography)


LISTEN: Add music and audiobooks for immersion in the sounds of native speakers and creation of a fun atmosphere.

French Playground (music)

Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (language arts–French)

Paris (music)

Putumayo Presents: French Café (music)

Songs in French for Children (music)


MAKE: Get creative and incorporate the unity study into everyday play; the possibilities are endless!

Build a replica of The Eiffel Tower with blocks (mathematics, art)

Cook Cool French Cooking: Fun and Tasty Recipes for Kids by Lisa Wagner (home economics, science, mathematics)

Color The Eiffel Tower (art, social studies)

Color the French flag and map (art, social studies, geography)

Color a world map (art, social studies, geography)

Create an Impressionist-inspired picnic (art)

Make a passport to Paris (art, social studies)

Set up a café at home (home economics, science, mathematics)

Track The Tour de France (mathematics–convert kilometers and miles, measure the route, track riders’ distances and percentage of riders in race, count finishers; social studies, geography)

Send postcards from France (art, social studies)