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Shedding Some Light on Knights and the Middle Ages...

Here are some of the activities that I've used with my students during a study on the Middle Ages.

  1. Have students made a postcard pretending to be a Crusader. Include three facts learned about the crusades. A postcard should also have a picture, a 'stamp' and the note should have an address of the person to receive the postcard.
  2. Try and obtain some chant music and have the students pretend to be in a scriptorium working on a manuscript as you play the music. Explain that they can not talk and must make an illuminated letter at the start of their work. Tell them not to capitalize letters or to space words since that takes up valuable parchment! Discuss the activity afterwards and ask them what they thought about when they couldn't talk and the music was playing.
    As a tie in, make pretzels, which were an early contribution from some monks in Europe. The story goes that the shape of a pretzel is that of a person in prayer(the old way of praying was to cross to hands over the chest).
  3. Show students pictures of gargoyles(evil creatures which adorn such places as Notre Dame in Paris and other cathedrals in Europe). Begun about the 12th c., it is not really certain why these creatures were created. Perhaps, it was to scare people into behaving and/or to scare evil spirits away from the churches. A great site to see some gargoyles is here
    Have students draw a gargoyle and then write a creative story, the "Day I Met a Medieval Creature".
  4. Make a coat of arms. This site will provide lots of information for kids to design their own heraldry sign: http://www.yourchildlearns.com/heraldry.htm. Another activity is to have the students make a coat of arms where they divide a shield into four parts. Things to write and draw in each section:
    1. Three things I'm proud of that I can do.
    2. Three things that I value.
    3. Two of my accomplishments thus far this year.
    4. Three words I'd like others to use to describe me.
  5. Learn about the Renaissance Man, Leonardo Da Vinci. Students can look at his drawings at Web Museum See some of da Vinci's inventions: da-vinci-inventions.com

    INTERESTING STORY: One of the many things sketched in Leonardo da Vinci's notebook was that of a parachute. This sketch is amazing when you think he drew it in 1485. Using da Vinci's sketch,a man from Switzerland designed a replica and recently successful dropped 2000ft. in the da Vinci designed parachute. Made of four equilateral triangles, Olivier Vietti-Teppa said the parachute didn't have any way to steer and so he went where the wind took him. Fortunately, Vietti-Teppa first experimented with a dummy before trying it himself! By the way, some of the other sketches in da Vinci's notebook included a type of automobile, helicopter, calculator, and a tank!

  6. Students can learn about castles by going to this site: Castle Learning Center.
  7. With the rise of towns, people needed to advertise their place of business and since many people couldn't read, store owners made signs to associate with their business. Have students make 'guide signs' for businesses such as a tailor, barber, baker, dressmaker, armor maker, blacksmith, swordmaker, candlemaker, etc.

Although I have tried to review each link, please check the site to see if it is appropriate for your grade level. Also, please monitor that students stay at the link. Should you find something questionable, please let me know. Thanks! Note: Illustration from Openclipart.org