Hello, friends! This week is officially Spring Break. While we aren’t actually traveling anywhere and our schools are taking a break from remote learning… we are taking a super-duper, virtual, time-traveling vacation that I think will be fun! When my boys were toddlers, their pediatrician gave me some golden advice: follow the kids’ interests and give them as much exposure as you can to the topic. So my kids have been reading Chris Colfer’s A Tale of Magic during their daily #BooksThatBindUs read aloud. My boys love the ideas of castles and magic, sword fighting, knights, etc. I know just where we should journey to–medieval Europe!
This time period shows up in so many fairy tales and fantasy novels. We’ll dive into the deep end, sampling fact and fiction. We will explore castles, knights at the round table, Scottish sayings, medieval music, and more Fairy tales. If this feels right for you and your home learners, here’s my plan for you to customize! The rough schedule goes like this: We start off with a video and discuss what we learned. We take on an activity (from the list below), followed by some math and independent reading. We are ALSO throwing in cooking and movie nights into the schedule. I’ve included links to make it easier! Taking on breadth and depth of the topic… we will feel like knights and damsels by the end of the week!
Here we go:
1) We are starting with a video for kids about castles here. Why they were built, the purpose behind their design, and why castles aren’t the architecture of choice anymore. Khan Academy also has a Middle Ages unit for older kids. Here’s a video from their lesson.
2) We are watching an animated BBC video about a day in the life of a medieval 10-year-old, which has great information (often funny), including how kids pooped back then–this tidbit is an essential ingredient for getting my kids to pay attention ; ) We dive deeper into darkest side of the dark ages by reading Chapter 6 of Sarah Albee’s Poop Happened: A History of the World from the Bottom Up. Yes, this is a great, gross, and funny way to learn about history!
3) Using Google Maps, we are exploring a remote castle on a rocky outcrop on the Isle of Barra in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides.
4) We are watching a short video about how bread was made in the middle ages and will make oat cakes. The recipe doesn’t call for yeast which is perfect since we can’t find any because of pandemic baking!
5) This video is great because it touches on Medieval table manners… which um, are not like today’s table manners… and my boys loved it! Maybe we’ll eat this way one night this week!
4) Movie night (or all day marathon ; ) The Kid Who Would Be King. Speaking of… did King Arthur actually live, how did this legend come to be. We are watching this video to come up with answers!
5) What We Are Reading – Poop Happened by Sarah Albee, Once Upon a Goat by Dan Richards and illustrated by Eric Barclay, Good-Night Baddies By Deborah Underwood and Illustrated by Juli Kangas – this book is a family favorite!
7) What we Are Creating – A Minecraft Building Challenge! My boys are OBSESSED with Minecraft which I fully encourage because it lays the foundation for coding concepts, construction, critical thinking, etc. So the boys have a mission to build a castle–based on what they learned about this week. They’ll have to show me how they are defending the castle. We’ll analyze the land position they chose, building materials, architecture, etc. This will be fun. If they want to build out their medieval world with a village, too, awesome!
Also… I personally LOVE illuminated manuscripts. So we will take a look at these incredible examples and make some hand lettered art. I’ve even found a gold paint pen! We my much treasured laminator… we might even laminate them into place mats!
8) Most excitedly!!! I am showing them how some medieval traditions endure today, including a real life joust that takes places every August in an Italian town where I spent part of my childhood. I’ll teach them how to cheer for my old neighborhood! Here’s some video to bring it to life!
6) What Else We are Studying – We’ll use Khan Academy to maintain math and english language arts skills. We are keeping up with foreign languages using the app Duolingo for just ten minutes a day.
Here’s the treasure chest of take aways from this week of study: math, architecture, history, geography, social studies, language, creative writing, literacy, research skills, and MORE!
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P.P.S. My debut picture book with Harper Collins is out in the world! I can’t think of a better moment to introduce you to a brave hero who courageously saved the words that built America. I am talking about the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and more. This man’s TRUE and long forgotten actions inspired me to be brave during a tough time in my life and I hope they’ll inspire you! All orders through my local independent bookseller, PRINT: A Bookstore, will be entered to win a signed bundle of all four of my books!