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Unit Study for Medieval History (The Middle Ages)

(I’ve posted a follow-up with pictures of our completed lapbook.)

I will be the lead teacher in our homeschool co-op this semester for a class on Medieval History (The Middle Ages). At this point my team consists of three other teachers and we will teach 50+ students over 4 class periods during a 10-week period on Thursday mornings (you Easy Grammar users can mentally cross out all the prepositional phrases). I thought I would share my notes for any of you who might need to organize a co-op class or would like to use this unit study in your home.

Our primary reference is Knights & Castles: 50 Hands-On Activities to Experience the Middle Ages (Kaleidoscope Kids). I cannot recommend the Kaleidoscope Kids guides highly enough. We own the guides for Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece. The Greece guide is falling apart from use; it was a huge help to me in a co-op class on Greek Mythology I taught last year.

Here is the breakdown of what we are covering week-by-week. We have one teacher who is an experienced lapbooker (my experience doesn’t go beyond downloading free ones and never using them – maybe that will change…); the students will put together a lapbook the first week, and the lapbooking notes indicate subsequent additions. The 10th week consists of a co-op-wide wrap-up performance or party, so there are only 9 weeks of class plans.

Week 1 – Overview
overview of time period (timeline)
modern inventions that didn’t exist then
how knights and castles came to be
code of chivalry, code of honor
Charlemagne
lapbook: make lapbook; add your code of honor, and Charlemagne

Week 2 – Feudal System (teachers dress in period costume)
Peasants and serfs
Knights
Priests
Royals
“Ranking vs. linking” concept of society
lapbook: Joan of Arc; maybe images and descriptions of each of the four classes of people?

Week 3 – Castles and castle life
Castle DVD excerpts
Kids’ lives in castle times (peasant or noble)
Growing up fast (early marriage and mortality)
Do you have a Medieval name?
Visit a castle online
lapbook: Robin Hood

Week 4 – continuation of castles & the castle community; transition into knights
Model of castle (build a medieval castle online)
Sieges
Parts of castle (inside the walls): keep, church, cookhouse, craft shops, bailey, drawbridge, moat, gatehouse
Parts of castle (outside the walls): peasant hovels, fields or crops, fairgrounds for festivals and tournaments
Tournaments is a good point to transition into talking about knights:
pages and squires: steps to knighthood
Getting dubbed
lapbook: King Arthur

Week 5: Knights
Why did they fight?
Crusades
Tournaments and jousting
Word search/coloring pages
lapbook: make your coat of arms

Week 6: The Church
Life of a monk
Vow of silence
Illuminated books
Stained glass windows
(craft)
lapbook: St. Francis of Assisi

Week 7: Medieval Merrymaking (games & food)
Discuss origins of Valentine’s Day and April Fool’s Day
Wassail a Fruit Tree (drink apple cider)
Read aloud: A Medieval Feast by Aliki
Play Bocci (need colored tennis balls) outside OR perform St. George and the Dragon inside
lapbook: medieval “drugstore” – parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme – and their reputed properties at that time

Week 8: Learning: Literature, Science, Music, and Medicine
Binding a book (craft)
Book of Days (discuss calligraphy, too)
Medieval medicine
Gregorian Chant
lapbook: Chaucer

Week 9: End of the Middle Ages
100 Years’ War (1337 – 1453)
Bubonic Plague (Black Death) and economic changes it caused
Invention of guns
Marco Polo – read story and ask questions
Magna Carta
The printing press
Modern day traces of Medieval times
lapbook: Gutenberg

I hope this is a help to someone!

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