Paris Picture Books  – a Fun way to learn French

Paris Picture Books – a Fun way to learn French

We love learning through picture books!  Both young children and older children can benefit from reading picture books. In this post we have fun crafts and learning activities for you to learn French while enjoying children’s picture books set in Paris:  The Red Balloon, Madeline, and Kiki and Coco in Paris. There are activities suitable for a variety of age levels and language learning levels.

To get all of the FREE French learning printables in this post, click here.

The Red Balloon

red balloon

We’ve been reading The Red Balloon lately, and our 4-year-old just asked today if we could meet “that little boy in Paris who goes to school” with his balloon.  So cute!  We had to explain that the story is quite old, and the boy is probably the age of a grandpa right now.

There is definitely something endearing about this story!

I had to explain to my children that Paris looks quite different today.  These photos were taken not too long after World War II when Paris had been through quite a difficult time. For a book with modern images of Paris, try Kiki and Coco (at the end of this post).


The Red Balloon Craft – Make a Flying with Balloons Picture

Reading The Red Balloon provides a great opportunity to talk with children about the fact that what they see in a photograph (or in a video) might not actually be real.  This art project allows children to make a photo that makes it seem like they are floating over Paris with a bunch of balloons.  Simply follow the directions in the FREE printable to make your own picture.  The printable has a photo of the Paris sky and balloons.  You may take a photo of your child on tippy toes, pretending to hold balloons, or use one of the provided images,

The Red Balloon craft idea

The Red Balloon French Activity – Find French in the Photos

Red Ballon Vocabulary Activities

Looking closely at the photos in The Red Balloon, you can find so many French words. Download our FREE printable to learn the meanings of the words and find the words in the story photos. Then try to match the words to the provided images in our word matching activity.  Have fun!



This classic book full of rhymes, beautiful illustrations, and sweet lessons might just be one to add to your home library. We kept checking out a copy from the library over the years, and finally decided one should be on our bookshelf too.

Madeline also subtly teaches about Paris through its memorable illustrations.


Madeline Craft – Make a House and Dolls

madeline house
madeline house

We made this house several years ago, but our daughters still talk about how much fun they had making it and playing with it.  We made the house out of a large printer paper box, used hot glue to attach the roof and chimneys, then painted it with acrylic paint.  While some of the details of the house might be best done by an adult or an older child, we found that painting the vines was especially fun for younger children (and though not pictured here, we let our youngest paint the sides of the house however she wanted to while we worked on the details of the front).

We used small wooden peg dolls to make Madeline and her friends (only 2 of the 12 pictured here).  We painted them with yellow acrylic paint and cut felt circles to make their hats.  For tall Miss Clavel, we used a wooden round clothes pin, and painted it blue.  

Madeline French Activity – Paris Landmarks

madeline paris landmarks

Download our FREE printable Paris map activity to learn where the many landmarks pictured in Madeline actually are on a map.

You may also like to try this speaking and writing activity connected with the Madeline story. Learn and practice questions like, “How are you?”  “Where do you live?” and “What do you love?” If you are brand new to French, consider entering the French text on the worksheet into  Narakeet (this turns text into audio, just select French as the language). Need to look up the French words for things you love?  Try this online dictionary: ReversoDictionary.

madline speaking activity

Kiki and Coco in Paris

kiki and coco  in paris

Kiki and Coco in Paris could be called a modern day Red Balloon story. Wonderful photographs of Paris the tell the story of a girl and her doll, rather than a boy and his balloon.  It’s adorable, and book to be read many times over, imagining Kiki’s fun trip to Paris with her doll, Coco.


Kiki and Coco in Paris Craft – Make a Doll

felt doll
natural fiber doll

Making a doll can be so fun and rewarding for children.  Our homeschool elementary sewing group made felt dolls a number of years ago.  Each doll turned out adorable and unique!  We found the pattern for these at CasaMagubako on Etsy, and each girl modified the style to make her own unique doll.

For older girls, making a Waldorf-style natural fiber doll can be fun.  These dolls last for years!  I made many of them as a teen, and my children still play with them today.

For young children, just giving them some fabric scraps, stuffing and a needle and thread can be a great opportunity to create their own special doll.  I still remember one of the dolls I made, probably around the age of 5… loosely stitched together with pick fabric, a face drawn it, and some lace to decorate it.

If you would like to make a doll just like the one in the story, Jess Brown has her own book:  The Making of a Rag Doll.


Kiki and Coco in Paris French Activities

Kiki and Coco word activity

Instantly download these FREE printables to learn some French while enjoying the story of Kiki and Coco.  We recommend just enjoying the story a few times first, then trying the activities.  The first activity lists the French translations of some of the items seen in the pictures of the story (for example, a doll, a slide, and a dog).  The idea is to say the words in French when you see them in the book.  The second activity gives spaces for the child to draw pictures of some of these French words (or second-grader loved this!).  The third activity is a word search to help solidify the vocabulary knowledge (this one is a challenge – suited for upper elementary and older).

Amusez-vous bien!  Have fun!

Note:  Some links on this page are Amazon Affiliate links.  Sparkles and Sprinkles is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Other links may or may not be affiliate links.  We provide links because we have found these products or services beneficial, and we think you might too.