On the French Frontier 1700-1800

Teachers Level One

  1. Learning Goals and Objectives--Grades 3 - 5
  2. Voices and Choices--Antoine Bienvenue
  3. Voices and Choices--Ambroise Moreau
  4. Livre's Worth Activity
  5. Side by Side Activity
Note: It is a good idea to print this section for easy reference.

Voices and Choices--Antoine Bienvenu

Antoine Bienvenue is now 12 years old and needs to decide if he will participate in the New Year's celebration like a man or pursue more "boyish" pursuits.


These themes can be explored with either a social studies or language arts curriculum. Use these themes to tie in other resources to your class discussion, i.e., other books, other cultures, students' own lives.


Think Use these questions to start class discussions.

Have you taken on new responsibilities in your family since your last birthday?

Explore the idea of family responsibilities with your students. Does each birthday bring new jobs within the family? How do different cultures view the roles and responsibilities of children within the family?

What new responsibilities does Antoine have now that he is 12? How are they the same or different from yours?

At the age of 12, Antoine was growing up. He was now considered man enough to carry a gun and protect the village. His sisters expected him to join in the festivities surrounding New Year's eve.

Why did Antoine ask St. Nicholas (Santa Claus) for a gun?

As much as he feels himself a child, Antoine wants to become a man. A gun was a symbol of manhood in French colonial society, plus he will be able to show it off to his Indian friends.

What do you look forward to doing when you turn 12?

Find out if your students regard the age of 12 as a time of coming of age. Will they be able to do "adult" things like having their ears pierced or being able to go places by themselves?

Do you and your family celebrate New Year's Eve in the same way that Antoine and his family did?

The French celebrated New Year's Eve by going to church for a midnight mass and preparing for the Twelfth Night Ball held on January 5th. Everyone in the community would have participated. Before the ball, young men dressed in costume would go from door to door begging food for the ball and entertaining each household by singing the Guignolee and dancing the rag dance.

Why are Antoine's Indian friends important to him? In what ways are your friends important to you?

His Indian friends have taught him to hunt with a bow and arrow. Explore the idea of friendship with your students. What do we do with our friends that we don't do with members of our family?


Activities for suggested activities.
  1. Diary Activity:

    Pretend to be Antoine or one of his sisters and write a diary entry about what took place New Year's Eve. Begin your diary like this:

    January 1, 1743, Kaskaskia
    Dear Diary,

  2. Neighborhood Map:

    On a piece of paper, draw a map of your neighborhood. You might want to show where you live, where your friends live, where your school is located, where your family buys their groceries.

    How does your neighborhood compare with a French village in the 1700s?
    Go to Maps and find outMaps
  3. Create a mask for a masked ball.

    You can design your own mask out of thick paper or cardboard or buy premade paper masks at the store. Use scraps of construction paper, fabric, tinfoil, tissue paper, and bits of string or tinsel to glue onto your mask as decoration.

  4. Make a diagram comparing life in French Colonial Kaskaskia to life in British Colonial Williamsburg.


Voices and Choices--Ambroise Moreau

Ambroise Moreau needs a table for his household. He has 10 bushels of wheat--the only surplus food that his farm produced this year--to trade for a table. What kind of table will he be able to afford--used, custom made, or homemade?


These themes can be explored with either a social studies or language arts curriculum. Use these themes to tie in other resources to your class discussion, i.e., other books, other cultures, students' own lives.


Think Use these questions to start class discussions.

Are all of the things you own brand new? Have you ever traded something you owned for something you wanted?

Have your students bought used things from garage sales or thrift shops? Maybe students have older siblings who give them "hand-me-downs." Have students traded cards or objects with each other?

How do you purchase things that you need? How did the colonists purchase things?

Money was scarce in the colonies. Instead, colonists would trade goods that had the same relative monetary value. This is known as barter economics.

Where did their household objects come from? Where do yours come from?

Household objects were scarce in the colonies. Most people had to make their own furniture. Some of the colonists were trained artisans and could make things that people needed. Items, such as plates, crockery, and glassware, would have come from New Orleans in exchange for animal pelts or agricultural goods from the colonies. Estate sales made items available that were scarce or otherwise too expensive for most settlers to purchase.

Why would this table have been important to the Moreaus? Can you list all of the different things that might have taken place at this table?

A colonial house would have had very little furniture. A table would have provided a useful surface, and served as a reminder of the European way of life. They might have prepared and eaten meals at the table. Outside of meal time, the table would have been a place to play cards or would have served as a desk.

What is an estate sale? Have you ever been to one?

When a man or woman died, their possessions were usually sold in an estate sale. The profits of the estate sale were divided among the heirs. Estate sales exist today. They are usually publicized in a local newspaper or gazette (find one to show to your students).


Activities for suggested activities.
  1. Estate Inventories: Ambroise went to the estate sale of Marie Catherine Baron. Take a look at the inventory of her estate in Clues to the PastTeachers
  2. Compare your inventory list with that of Marie Catherine Baron.
  3. Make a museum label: Choose your favorite object from your inventory list and draw it or take a photograph of it. Can you write a museum label for your object?


Livre's Worth Activity


Livre's Worth: introduces students to the rudiments of the barter economy of colonial Illinois. Students choose an object from a list of household goods that belonged to marie Catherine Baron and were sold at an estate sale in 1748. Students are asked to calculate how much of a certain agricultural product, for example bacon, they must produce to trade for the object. They will be determining the relative value in livres through simple mathematics.

Lesson Plan

Livres Worth Click here for the teacher's lesson plan for the Livre's Worth activity.


Side by Side Activity


Students use Side by Side as a model for categorizing information about themselves, their classmates, and their community.

Lesson Plan

Click here for the teacher's lesson plan for the Side by Side activity.


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