Monday, February 25, 2008

Our Home IS Our Castle!

When we hit the Middle Ages in Child's History of the World, I asked the kids how much they remembered from the unit study we had done 2 years ago. They actually remembered quite a bit, but they wanted to do it again. Sure, why not!

I made a KWL chart listing what we Know, what we Want to know and a space for what we Learned. I've since seen fancier charts that include a column for How we can find out what we are interested in. KWHL! I'll try that next time.

So far we've made a castle from our Big Roll of Paper. We learned how to rag, that is, paint with rags (paper towels!) and very dilute liquid watercolor. I knew this would give a mottled stone effect, but I was delighted to find that the water in the paint also puckered the paper into a great stone texture. We made the portcullis out of several thicknesses of foil. We discussed building techniques from then and now, especially the importance of staggering the courses of stone.

We talked about heraldry and designed coats of arms. We made windows. My personal favorite is Zorg's window. It's the black and white one which shows a hail of arrows storming the castle and several small snails on the window sill. The snails make it so that it's not too scary.

We did some weaving on a tapestry and we will do some embroidery on it later.

I almost forgot! The thing in the middle is the head of some hideous beast (slain by the noble knights, no doubt!) You may have to click on the picture to see it (if you have strong nerves).

We did some castle websites like Ghosts in the Castle and Kids Castle.

Today I traced the kids and they designed their own armor. We talked some about the parts of armor and what they are for, but not as much as I wanted to. I had wanted to go through it all before they started, but I didn't have my act together.

Mxyl and Klenda picked out topics for research reports on the Middle Ages and started reading and taking notes. Klenda wants to know about food and Mxyl is thinking about knights, particularly the relationship of the knight to the king. They will write their reports, create a visual aid and present them for us and some guests at a Medieval Feast in a week, or two, or three! Depends how into it they are.

I am hoping to do paper making and calligraphy later this week, and maybe experiment with some of the medieval technology: sundials, catapults, maybe dying cloth. I don't have it all figured out, but a lot will depend on the length and depth of interest. I found a free printable 3 D castle here.

I'd kind of like to do something with stained glass, but I'm not sure what the patience level will be for cutting and gluing tissue paper and construction paper. I may "cheese" and do crayon shavings! Or worse, oiled paper!

This whole project touches on my core educational philosophy about doing things that are interesting and/or useful. I want the kids to be able to find information on the things they want to know about. They need to be able to explain what they know. I want them to experience history and science as vividly as possible. I want them to understand that the people who were then and the people who are now are equally real. I want them to be able to see from other perspectives.

Best of all, I love to hear, "Daddy's home! Raise the portcullis!!!"


Marci said...

Very interesting! We've just emereged from medieval times reading and projects at our house. If we revisit this again I think we should try making our house a castle too! Marcella

Kate in NJ said...

I can't tell you how much I love this.
You inspire me to do more with my little Princess!

Eric and Wendy said...

Marci, I'd love to hear what kinds of things you did!