French Revolution Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught history, and has an MA in Islamic law/finance. He has since founded his own financial advice firm, Newton Analytical.

Use this lesson plan and video lesson from to teach students about the French Revolution. Guide your class from the Bastille to Napoleon, and further understanding with related lessons and extensions.

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • trace the development of the French Revolution from the monarchy through to Napoleon
  • analyze the important documents of the French Revolution
  • discuss abuses of power during the French Revolution


40 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.


Evaluate authors' differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors' claims, reasoning, and evidence.


  • Begin by watching the video The French Revolution: Timeline & Major Events, pausing to discuss the following questions at these times:
    • 3:48--Had the Revolution ended here, before war broke out between France and a coalition of other countries, how might France be a different country than it is today? How might the history of Europe had been different?
    • 5:43--Napoleon focused on external enemies to France, uniting the people then pushing through his idea of Frenchness. Do you think another method could have been equally effective, or even more effective, in this situation?
    • 6:48--Many of the Enlightenment thinkers were themselves quite wealthy and powerful. How might they have fared under the French Revolution?


  • Compare and contrast the founding documents of the French Revolution to those of the American Revolution.
  • Encourage students to see the effects of the French Revolution in countries beyond France. Most notably, look at Haiti. Also, how did these events influence other countries, such as those in South America?
  • Trace the Louisiana Purchase as a direct result of the French Revolution.

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