Wednesday, August 8, 2007

History of the Middle Age

Edited to add web resources that I forgot and to repair a link.

Last year we studied Ancient Times, so this year we will move into the Middle Ages and finish with the Renaissance. Excitement does not begin to describe what my children feel about this new study. In fact, I received a few books from Rainbow Resource Center last week and many of my resources have been consumed. Alas, what a quandary. Do you let your children devour all the materials before you actually start school? I do.

We will use Van Loon's The Story of Mankind and The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia for our spine. We will start on page 90 in the Van Loon book. Last year I felt we had too much spine and not enough extra reading, so I may be overcompensating, but we really like trips to the library to bring home arm loads of new and interesting books. I think it helps keep the study fresh. We will keep up with history on a timeline. Last year, I added important events to the timeline, but this year I'm letting the children add all the events except the beginning and ending of our time period which I needed to add to create the grid.

In addition to the spine books and timeline, we will use Blackline Maps of World History to map our way through the middle ages. From this base, I will order books each week or two from the library to bolster and add detail, making sure I have materials appropriate for both my eleven year old and my seven year old.

Here are some of the resources that won't come from the library. I make the purchasing decisions by finding materials that look interesting, seeing what is available at the library, then weighing the enjoyment and length of use of each item. We buy more than some people, but less than others.
  • The Usborne Official Knight's Handbook - My son grabbed this book out of the box and read it immediately barely stopping to eat or do chores. Then, he read it again. He loves it. He has been training to be a knight for days by filling a backpack with bricks and running around the house, building weapons and shields, studying. True, this book is not difficult, nor is it serious non-fiction. But, it is fun and the information is good. I'm sure my daughter will love it, too, if K ever lets it out of his hands long enough for her to pick it up.
  • Archers, Alchemists, and 98 Other Medieval Jobs You Might Have Loved or Loathed by Priscilla Galloway - Another fun book that seems to be a magnet for children. Which career would you choose? Seriously, the book shows how medieval jobs were more specialized than the jobs today and how birth played an enormous role in life choices.
  • The Great Castle Search - No reading involved in this book, but instructional in its own way. Search the pictures to find tools, weapons, foods, and people of medieval times. I bought this one for myself, but I haven't gotten my hands on it yet.
  • Knights & Castles: 50 Hands On Activities to Experience the Middle Ages - Every history study needs a few activities to mess up the kitchen, clutter the house, and make history more real. I used this the first time through history but didn't do all the activities.
  • Keep Out! by Malcolm Day - My mother gave my son this book last time we did medieval history, but he still finds it interesting. This book is more specific about how castle layout has changed over time.
  • National Geographic Biography Series: Galileo, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Leonardo Da Vinci, Marco Polo, and Elizabeth I - I like these books for a couple of reasons. First, they have the beautiful graphics that you would expect in a NG book. Secondly, the books have a Bibliography which many writers of children's biographies and histories forget to include. The book also has a listing of websites, so you can take your study further without additional expenditure.
  • Medieval Siege Engine Kit - We will build a Trebuchet. I just knew my children would love to hurl things across the room at each other and at me. You can choose between a catapult or a trebuchet.
  • The Art of the Catapult by William Gurstelle - We've owned this book for a while and have built a few. We will build a few more this year because you can never have too many.
We may purchase a few more along the way, but the library is full of wonderful books and the internet is loaded with free good quality resources. Here are a few:
  • Middle Age Exhibits - This site has links to everything from a dictionary of feudal terms to primary sources of internet material. There are also sources for more sources. Take a look.
  • Medieval Studies Theme - Again, a site of sites with lesson plans and primary sources. There is material for younger ages even at some of the University links. Obviously, you can pick and choose what you like.
What you don't see here are our literature and art selections. I will tell you about them in other posts, even though I always have felt that literature and art tell us as much about history as history books, biographies, and architecture.


Anonymous said...

So do you use the catapults to keep the squirrels from eating the peas? Does it work? :-)

Wisteria said...

We don't really have a squirrel problem, so no. K has tried to use and design catapults for composting. His idea was to have a catapult outside the kitchen door so he doesn't have to walk to the compost bins in the garden. After more than a few misses I called a halt to the project because the front of the shed was getting to be a stinky mess. So he is back to walking.

angelin said...

Recent research reveals that the common house mouse, which evolved into different strains once it came into western Europe from the Middle East during the Iron Age, traveled along with Viking raiders and settlers to Britain, Iceland and Greenland.
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