This is part 2 of a 4 (or 5) part hands-on unit on the Medieval Period. Build model castles, weapons, and more! These lessons are geared toward 4th-5th grade level children and their siblings. They were created by another mom for our weekly homeschool co-op. We meet each week for 2 1/2 hours and have 33 children between the ages of 1-13. Use these fun lessons with your class, family, after school program, camp, or co-op!
Have you ever visited a castle?
1. Pray. Read & discuss Colossians 3:22. Review Medieval Life.
2. Read "Castle" by Claude Millet.
Book to read for activity 2
This provides a nice overview of the parts and functions of a castle. It has fun see-through pages. It is short enough that even younger children can sit through a reading of this book, but it still provides plenty of information about the parts of the castle, what daily life was like in one, an more.
3. Quickly discuss the parts and functions of a castle. Use books, pictures from your phone, or pictures from your laptop or computer to show various styles of castles.
4. Build castle models. Divide children into groups on 3-4. Have each group create a model of a castle. This can be done using boxes of different sizes, water/soda bottles, and poster board (which is what we did) or by printing off templates and pasting them together. Our favorite template is http://www.stormthecastle.com/paper-castle/make-a-cardboard-castle.htm.
Alternatively, you can divide up the class into groups and have them each make part of the castle model. One year we did it that way. The youngest children taped together the castle and painted it. The middle aged group created the cottages. The oldest children made the weapons. This allowed for all of the parts of the castle to be done well and to look nice. However, it prevents everyone from being able to take home a castle and its parts. (Everyone especially wanted to take home a weapon.)
YOU WILL NEED: materials for building castles: boxes, water bottles or 2L bottles, clear packing tape, poster board, scissors, paint, paintbrushes, and smocks or t-shirts that can be used to cover and protect clothing
5. Discuss how villagers would build thatched-roof cottages near the castle. Have children create their own thatched-roof cottages to place near their castles. Have children crumple up newspaper and stuff it into a paper lunch bag. Tape the top of the bag. Fold a piece of construction paper in half, use markers to draw on it to give it a thatched look, and glue that over the top of the bag. Add construction paper windows, doors, window boxes, etc. as desired.
YOU WILL NEED: paper lunch bags, newspaper, construction paper, tape colored markers, scissors, glue
6. Discuss some of the weapons that were used during this time period and the need for them. Create either a trebuchet or a ballista model by following the directions at stormthecastle.com/ or a catapult by following the directions at stormthecastle.com/catapult/. (We let the children choose which one they wanted to make.) These do take a while to make, but they are a lot of fun to play with afterward!
YOU WILL NEED: popsicle sticks, glue (may use hot glue guns), string (not yarn), rubberbands, masking tape, paper, foil
7. If you're not limited by time, you can let the children set up their castles, villages, and weapons. We brought some toy knights and let the children "wage war" on the various castles.
8. Review what we learned.
Joke: What says "meow" and flies over castle walls?
More of Our Favorite Picture Books on Castles
*Also look for "You Wouldn't Want to Be in a Medieval Dungeon!" by Fiona MacDonald from the same series!* My boys love this series! Everyday life in the castle is discussed (carrying water for baths, common dining areas, sleeping arrangements, daily Mass, etc.) and so are the details of laying siege to and the defense of a castle. The book mostly is about a little girl who is brought into a castle to work as a damsel. The events take place during a real historical event - the siege of Rochester Castle in Kent in 1215 by King John as he is dealing with the barons after he signed the Magna Carta.
Castle by David Macaulay is a must-read, but not necessarily something you'll want to read with your children in one sitting because of it's length (80 pages). We did read it in one sitting because my children really enjoyed it, though. It discusses the process of how a castle is built, including all the workers that were needed. It was especially helpful in teaching my boys that castles took a long time to build and involved many workers. Come to the Castle!: A Visit to a Castle in Thirteenth-Century England by Linda Ashman is a great book on the people of the castle. The lord of the castle wants a feast, so the book goes through all the castle workers and what they do to prepare for the feast. While I do think this book is worth reading, I did not like that each of the workers complains about their work. This is still worth reading though. It just provides an opportunity to talk about proper attitudes. The illustrations are in the illuminated book fashion, which should be pointed out, as we will be learning about that during the lesson on medieval art. Castles (Usborne Beginners) by Stephanie Turnbull has excellent illustrations and a nice overview of information so that even younger children can enjoy it. A Year in a Castle (Time Goes By) by Rachel Coombs is a fun book to simply flip through and look at the busy illustrations that show what might go on in a castle over the course of a year. Over at the Castle by Boni Ashburn has really cute pictures and includes some castle workers and what they do in a simple rhyme. This is great for preschoolers or kindergarten aged children! The Tower of London by Leonard Everett Fisher is quite a gem! It's hard to find story books that cover these time periods, so this is wonderful! It provides a great overview of the history of the Tower of London. Even though it is a longer picture book, my 3 year old sat through the book as we read it because the history is so fascinating and the illustrations are phenomenal. Leonard Everett Fisher, the author and illustrator, has created a number of delightful historical picture books.
If you've never read a book from the Sir Cumference, you need to hunt one down now! These are fabulous! They take place in the times of King Arthur and include various math topics (pi, angles, place value, and more) in a clever and memorable manner. While your children learn about various aspects of life in the Medieval period, they will also pick up on some math. All my children LOVE these books (even my 2 year old)! We own most of them and my children continue to read them year after year.
Homework: Free Castle Lapbooks
If you would like to also add in a castle lapbook, you can find links to some excellent free literary-based lapbooks at http://www.homeschoolshare.com/ . A number of families created literary-based lapbooks using those free lapbooks based on the books such as the Sir Cumference series, "Saint George and the Dragon", "The Whipping Boy", and others. There are so many great options for this lesson and unit!
Materials Needed for This Lesson
-the book: "Castle" by Claude Millet or other picture book about castles
-materials for building castles: boxes, water bottles or 2L bottles, clear packing tape, poster board, scissors, paint, paintbrushes, and smocks or t-shirts that can be used to cover and protect clothing
-paper lunch bags, newspaper, construction paper, tape colored markers, scissors, glue
-popsicle sticks, glue (may use hot glue guns), string (not yarn), rubber bands, masking tape, paper, foil
Ready to see the next lesson?
Bake medieval meals, create a medieval village, design stained glass window cookies, hold a jousting tournament, and more during this fun 4 or 5 week hands-on unit study of the medieval period!
- Medieval Life Lesson - This is part 1 of a 4 (or 5) part hands-on unit on the Medieval Period. Cook & eat a Medieval meal, play Medieval games, create Medieval crowns, and more!
- Castles Lesson - This is part 2 of a 4 (or 5) part hands-on unit on the Medieval Period. Build model castles, weapons, and more!
- Medieval Art Lesson - This is part 3 of a 4 (or 5) part hands-on unit on the Medieval Period. Mix together and paint with egg yolk paint, design and eat stained glass window cookies, create colorful tapestries, and more!
- Cathedral Lesson - This is an optional lesson in this unit focusing on Cathedral design and architecture. Decorate stained-glass cookies, design a dome using blocks, sketch each type of cathedral, sing about the true foundation of cathedrals, and more in this fun lesson on cathedrals!
- Knights & Ladies Lesson - This is part 4 of a 4 (or 5) part hands-on unit on the Medieval Period. Create a Coat of Arms and swords, hold a jousting tournament, act out a knighting ceremony, and more!
- Medieval Feast and Field Trip Ideas - This is the culminating activity we did after a 4 (or 5) week hands-on unit on the Medieval Period. We held a festive medieval feast complete with entertainment and much merriment. Also included are the field trips we took during our unit.
- Fun, FREE Hands-on Unit Studies - Over the years I have posted over 40 science and social-studies based unit studies, compromised of more than 170 lessons. The unit studies include the Human Body, Simple Machines, Earth Science, Medieval Period, American Revolution, Pioneer Life, Countries of the World, and many more! For each lesson I have included activities (with photos), our favorite books and YouTube video clips, lapbook links, and other resources.
Castle by David Macaulay by PBS - This does not show a picture of the movie, but the link is working. * Also look for Medieval Warfare: Castles of War
Follow Eric as he discovers what life was like for Norman children. A few topics shown might be considered crass (where they went to the bathroom, drinking bee
Would you like to teach this way every day?
I use Konos Curriculum as a springboard from which to plan my lessons. It's a wonderful Christian curriculum and was created by moms with active children!
If you're new to homeschooling or in need of some fresh guidance, I highly recommend Konos' HomeSchoolMentor.com program! Watch videos on-line of what to do each day and how to teach it in this great hands-on format!
© 2012 Shannon