Creative Writing Lesson Plan for Teaching Feudalism
This lesson is the second of five in a mini-unit devoted to the Middle ages, Chaucer, and The “General Prologue of The Canterbury Tales.
The first lesson plan exposes high school students to daily life in the medieval period of history, and inequity of the feudal system. Before beginning The Canterbury Tales, however, I like to further cement, and even expand upon this knowledge, with a creative and fun writing assignment. This classroom activity is always a memorable one for students, and definitely helps them remember the basic concept of feudalism.
Computers with internet access and/or research books relating to the middle ages. Pencil and paper.
I explain that during the Middle Ages, society was based on the feudal system: a hierarchy at which the king was at the top and peasants at the bottom.
The following medieval occupations will be written on slips of paper and placed in a hat in the accompanying abundance: King (1), Church Official (1), Knight/Sir (1), Wife of Knight (1), Squire (1), Wife of Squire (1), Yeoman (2), Wife of Yeoman (2), Member of Merchant class (3), Wife of Merchant (3), the remainder of the class roster should be filled with peasants and wives of peasants.
Students will draw one of these occupations out of a hat in order to discern his/her “place” in medieval society. He or she will then have an opportunity to conduct a bit of research in order to write a journal imagining a day in the life of his or her assigned position.
Some things students should consider:
- Where do you live?
- Where do you work? Do you work?
- What challenges do you face on a daily basis? Or do you face any at all?
- What is your family life like?
- How do you feel about the world around you?
- Do you have military training?
- What do you value? Describe your morals.
- What plans do you have for the future? Or do you have any at all?
I encourage students to assume the first person point of view for this assignment, and to write as one living in England during the Middle Ages as a member of the class they’ve selected. The aim is to accurately depict daily life.
One last catch…As students are aware…Life in a feudal society wasn’t fair and neither is this assignment. I tell students to base the length of their journal on the following guide:
- King: Min. 5 sentences
- Church Official: Min. 6 sentences
- Knight/Sir: Min. 7 sentences
- Wife of Knight: Min 7 Sentences
- Squire: Min. 8 sentences
- Wife of Squire: Min 8 sentences
- Yeoman: Min 9 sentences
- Wife of Yeoman: Min 9 sentences
- Member of merchant class: Min 9 sentences
- Peasant: Min 10 sentences
- Wife of peasant: Min 10 sentences
As you can imagine, this little twist makes the “King” the envy of the class!