French Revolution Teacher’s Guide Day 1

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French Revolution Teacher’s Guide

Day 1
*** (Background to French Revolution Lessons: Absolutism flip charts, Masters of Enlightenment, American Revolution. Go to : and scroll to Unit 5)
Step 1: Introduce Activity: Simulation of 3 Estates

  1. Randomly pass out roles and bags of candy based on roles. Candy will be divided up before hand according to the following:  40 for the 1st estate; 30 for the 2nd estate; 15 for the Bourgeoisie and 10 for the peasants (3rd Estate).

  2. While distributing roles and candy to students, play YouTube video about French Revolution to the tune of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance.

  3. Students will be separated into three groups according to their roles; 1st estate should have the most candy, but the least amount of people

  4. Announce: “If you belong to the 3rd estate, pay 3 pieces of candy for taxes to the 2nd estate. In addition, tithes are due today. Pay 7 pieces of candy to the 1st estate. This applies to both the 2nd and 3rd estate.
    Question: Who has the most? Who has the least? What is the problem with this system? Review the ideas of the Enlightenment:
    Popular sovereignty                                
    Natural Rights: life, liberty, property
    Individual freedom                                  
    Political equality
    Who would disagree with these ideas? Who would agree with these ideas? Who likes the way things are? Who wants change?

Step 2: Play French National Anthem, La Marseillaise, & Lecture

  1. Play YouTube video of La Marseillaise with lyrics translated in English.  

  2. Lecture on moderate stage of French Revolution: To access lecture, go to :

And scroll to Unit 5- French Revolution.
Step 3: Prepare Student’s for Tomorrow’s Estates General Simulation

  1. Pass out the student handout with information on tomorrow’s simulation.

  2. Prior to class cut up the student roles. Assign roles or take volunteers.

  3. Read through the role-play instructions and answer any questions.

  4. Give students time to prepare. They must complete for homework.

Day 2
Step 1: Video

Show 1st half of video: The History Channel’s: The French Revolution

(Preview at
Step 2: Estates General Simulation

  1. The room should be set up so that the members of the different Estates are sitting together. They should be separated as much as possible. The teacher should read the introductory part and call the students up to the podium to speak on the matter in the order listed.

  2. Once all of the speeches have been given, the teacher should call for a vote on the matter at hand. This can be done aloud or by secret ballot, with the results read before the end of class.

  3. Wait for the reaction of the 3rd Estate, and then hand note to Lafayette, Mirabeau & Sieyes to lead a walkout of the 3rd estate.  They storm out as class ends (If time permits, they may go to gym to simulate the Tennis Court Oath)

  4. Instruct those students that are to speak on the fate of the king to be prepared for the following day.

Day 3
Step 1: Video

Show 2nd half of video: The History Channel’s: The French Revolution

(Preview at )
Step 2: Legislative Assembly Simulation

  1. The room should be set up in rows, with the podium in the front. The teacher should read the introductory part and then call on Count Mirabeau to run the meeting, calling on the student speakers in the order listed.

  2. When the speeches are complete, allow the King and Queen defend themselves.

  3. Explain the charges.

  4. Allow for some time for debate among the representatives.

  5. Vote taken to decide King/Queen’s fate.

  6. Give time for students to reflect on what they just did.  Did the revolution accomplish its goal? Tell them that tomorrow you will explain what happened next.

Day 4
Step 1: Finish Lecture Notes

  1. Lecture on radical stage of French Revolution- Reign of Terror

  2. To access lecture, go to :

And scroll to Unit 5- French Revolution.
Step 2: Quiz over French Revolution video.

Step 3: Transition to lesson on Napoleon.

Censer, J.R., & Hunt, L. (2001). Liberty, Equality, Fraternity: Exploring the French Revolution. University Park, PA (The Pennsylvania State University Press).

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