Saturday, June 2, 2007

Collection of Info

Books/CD games (educational content only)/Videos
1. Castle Explorer CDRom by Scholastic is excellent. The game format allows you to be a spy in a castle and you have to answer questions about life in the Middle Ages. Some video, some search formats, lots of sounds and "look under" photos. My kids all love this one - ages 6-12.
2. We are on our journey through the Middle Ages and just watched a video yesterday that I got at our library that was really good. It's called Secrets of Lost Empires II - Medieval Siege. It is put out by NOVA and was on PBS stations at some point. In it two different teams build true-to-life trebuchet's just like those used in Medieval Times. Maybe it's because I'm married to an engineer, but we found it totally fascinating!
3. " If All the Swords in England" (Bethlehem Books, by Barbara Willard) was about the relationship between Thomas a Beckett and the king. It portrayed Beckett as a very devout, pious man who had angered the king by choosing to follow what God wanted, rather than provide rubber-stamp approval to the king's desires. But in Charles' Coffin's book, The Story of Liberty, Beckett is described as a headstrong man who clashed with the king willfully, rather than as a result of following his principles. Very interesting!! I'd love to know more, but who to trust?!! It showed the need to be aware that historians present things from a certain point of view, and we need to read critically.
4. The first version, of Beckett, is closer to the truth (of what I read). Basically he was really poised and intelligent and loved the lavish lifestyle of the court. People would send their children to live with him, more so than the king, to learn to be a courtier etc. (Henry served elaborate meals, but the distance to the dining room from the table was so far the food would be cold. and wasn’t really very good a lot of the time, but really fancy. And he really didn't want the position, but accepted *gladly*, as they had been great friends, and went about it with fervor. Read the Scriptures and donned a rough hair shirt, (secretly, I can't remember all what else), he assumed the position with all seriousness!
The book I read from B and N is called WHAT LIFE WAS LIKE...In the Age of Chivalry by the editors of Time Life books. I had to have been on the sale shelf knowing the way I shop!! Pretty good summary and a great read. Yes, I know, Time life publisher...but they did paint him as a good and Godly man who was hacked to death by over zealous knight friends of Henry... also, it tells the story of how Henry became the king and about William Marshall...the baby who was put into a catapult...who was there when Henry (II) died...bitter and worn out.
5. As far as fiction for the Middle Ages, we enjoyed Otto of the Silver Hand and Ivanhoe by Howard Pyle.
6. Marguerite Makes a Book - by Bruce Robertson - 600 years ago, Lady Isabelle of Paris ordered a book from Papa Jacques, a famous bookmaker and he has only three days left to finish it. However, Jacques’s' eyeglasses is broken. So Jacques’s' daughter, Marguerite finished the book for him. Marguerite went to Master Raymond's house for gold leafs, a farm for parchment, the market for eggs, goose feathers, parsley, and a pot of honey, and finally the apothecary for dried saffron flowers, madder roots, a cake of vermilion, some wax, pine pitch, and some lapis lazuli stone. At her house, Marguerite prepared he pens and paint.
Then Marguerite started to paint. On one page, which was decorated with Lady Isabelle's favorite daises Marguerite colored Lady Isabelle's robe and hair. When Isabelle came to check on the book, she was very impressed.
7. I felt that we didn't read enough on the important people of the Middle Ages so we are reading through Famous Men of the Middle Ages. So far the kids are enjoying it. Here is a link to it: Another one I think we will read is Viking Tales. Here is a link to it:
8. If you can get hold of Jim Weiss’ KING ARTHUR tape you will love it! Here are some other titles that we loved:
The Making of a Knight (Patrick O'Brien),
Castle Diary (Richard Platt),
Sir Kevin of Devon,
Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi,
Measy Middle Ages,
English Life in Tudor Times,
Castle by David Macauley, and we also liked the video of “Castle” (PBS)
9. My son read The Minstrel in the Tower in his free time and enjoyed it. The Viking News was a great addition at the time that Dorian mentioned the Vikings. A Medieval Feast by Aliki was a wonderful little book that my 9yo read over and over, feasting on the illustrations.

10. A wonderful book that we used to learn about Illuminations was ILLUMINATIONS by Jonathan Hunt. It is such a beautiful book! - Julie
11. Magna Charta - James Daugherty
Viking Ships at Sunrise (Magic Tree House Series #15) - Mary Pope Osborne
Knights and Castles: A Nonfiction Companion to The Knight at Dawn -Will Osborne, Sal Murdocca (Illustrator), Mary Pope Osborne
The Sword and the Circle: King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table - Rosemary Sutcliff, Thomas Malory
Time Trekkers Visit the Middle Ages - Kate Needham, Sheena Vickers (Illustrator), Dave Burroughs (Illustrator)
Kids in the Middle Ages - Lisa A. Wroble, L. Wroble
Joan of Arc - Diane Stanley
12. The following article, written by Ruth Beechick and reprinted from The Old School House Magazine, is from's Home School Life column
Beowulf: Fiction or History? Ruth Beechick
Beowulf had an unusual name. It means bee-wolf. Some old English people (Saxons) called the bear a bee-wolf. A bear's face was dog-like, or wolf-like, and it often nosed into beehives to eat honey. People thought it was eating bees, so they called it a bee-wolf. The man Beowulf became a powerfully strong fighter, so he gained that name too.
Beowulf was born in the Middle Ages, A.D. 495, in Denmark. At the age of seven, he was sent to southern Sweden where he lived with his grandfather, and later his uncle, who were kings in the tribe of Geats there. When his uncle died, Beowulf rejected the chance to become king. Instead, he agreed to be guardian for a ten-year-old prince while he was a child-king.

1. The Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn. 1938
2. Ivanhoe with Elizabeth Taylor and Robert Taylor. 1952
3. I was thinking of finishing off our study with First Knight.
4. The Brother Cadfael videos (PBS) were enjoyed by the whole family. He's a monk who also plays detective.
+I ran across this link, and I thought it might be helpful for those of you who are studying the Middle Ages and reading The Door in the Wall. ""
+This lists Famous Men in the Middle Ages and a brief bio on them.
+ Adam of the Road SCORE teacher's guide
+ Literary resources

Coloring pages/Arts & Crafts/Music
Here is a great site for your children to study about medieval manuscripts and illuminations. There are numerous things to print out and color. Great information! (click on middle category on right side of page) Click here: Bayeux Tapestry Here is a site with a lessons/quizzes on medieval music. arts and crafts for unit - Castle coloring pages,2357,22-9342-132,00.html - Knight coloring page
Guide to Medieval and Renaissance Instruments
Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and you'll be able to listen to samples of Gregorian chants.
Description: Make your own book about the Bible. You can access this file at the URL for pix of Henry VII, Anne of Cleves, Mary Tudor, etc.
Knights and Castles There are some worksheets for labeling a knight’s armor, etc. - Leeds Castle
Castles on the Web pictures, links
Neat site! Arthurian stuff. has pictures of castles

Games - interactive games

Miscellaneous/General Information this site is so cool and it provides tons of information to help with whatever part of Learning adventures you are using. Middle Ages across the curriculum guide 3rd grade (cool site - also Ancient Greece, Middle Ages, Rome, Renaissance, Crusades, etc.) - other links Click here: 8th Graders Site on the Middle Ages this site is more for high school age students - And a link to a list of other pages
Family Crests and Coat of Arms Service
Medieval & Renaissance
Medieval Europe Exploring Ancient World Culture
Medieval Sourcebook Fordham University
Middle Ages Annenberg/CPB Collection
Themestream Middle Ages article lots of sites, resources:
Descriptions and illustrations will give you a flavor of the times as you ask yourself: What impact did this have on the world of 1000?

We have a place in Florida called Medieval Times which is nothing more than a HUGE castle that you go to and watch perfectly set up and choreographed re-enactments of the Medieval time period. Not only that, we get a 4 course meal handed to us, all served as they would have eaten it--in trenches and without silverware.
I'll paste in two snippets from the "locations" part of the website.
4510 W. Irlo Bronson Hwy. , Kissimmee, FL
Conveniently located six miles east of Walt Disney World. Easy access from Orlando and Tampa.

Our coop had a blast today playing a game on the black plague. First, I read a book to them and we saw pictures and learned the facts, then we played the game. After we played the game, they wrote "postcards" to their family describing their journeys. This will make more sense once you read the site. I highly recommend it!!

Herbs - Medieval Use of Herbs
Good Science Botany Articles Institute of Creation Research
Great Plant Escape
Label Flowering Plant Anatomy Glossary -
There is a site with some plant related games to print off on it. My children created the site a few years back when they wanted to learn about web design. It is in the Think Quest Junior archives because they actually won third place nationwide in the science category with the site. It focuses on Alaska's Blooming Beauties, but has a lot of good info, links and some games also. You can find it at
There may be others now since the contest runs each year and new sites are added each year. You can do a search on the site for others. They are all geared toward kids in Think Quest Junior and everyone in ThinkQuest.
Just wanted to share a find...on the website for Home and Garden TV ( there is a great site for herbs. This could be very useful in the Middle Ages Unit.
The Garden Game is a huge hit here; I can't believe the amount of information we've learned about plants and gardening just from playing that game! For a few extra projects, in place of always reading more on plants, we used Dinah Zike's Great Science Adventures - The World of Plants. The projects are wonderful and fit right in as Dorian covers many of the same topics.

There are all kinds of ready-made quizzes at this site. Go to and on the left you will see "Files". Open that and there are several choices one of which is “Middle Ages". Click on that and you will find the quiz.
We found books at our local library on whittling. However, my son wasn't interested in "their" ideas -- he had his own -- and he did quite well!
We bought a large package of Ivory soap bars & he used his camping knife and whittled away! He broke the first couple of bars, because he tried to draw a picture on the bar & then cut it out -- but when he cut -- it broke.
He soon learned to whittle shallow cuts until he got the shape he desired. (quite easy with soap -- you could probably even use a butter knife or plastic knife)
He carved a small car & then put some plastic wheels on it from one of his toys. Next, he wants to whittle a cross.
Becky in NJ

Do watch buying the "whittling kits" some places sell. I remember researching them a while back, and I found they frequently use harder wood than a new whittler can really work with easily. Someplace on the web had softer woods for just such a purpose. Sorry I don't have the link. - Brad

This link could be used as an alternate to whittling, or a great starting out project before working with wood. Click here: -- Boredom Busters -- Soap Carving
A Boke of Gode Cookery reaches back into times long past to offer recipes for medieval dishes, updated for the modern cook. has lots of neat links if you are interested in this kind of thing...

Fire Breathing Dragon Bookmarks Here is a fun and easy craft that can be used with a study of dinosaurs, the Middle Ages, or mythological creatures.
We had our Medieval Feast today...way scaled back cause we weren't REALLY planning on it. We were going to take the kids to the Renaissance Festival (we thought that would finish up Middle Ages and introduce Renaissance) but the northeasterner-messed that up! So we had roast beast (beef) and used the herbs from our herb garden that we planted at the beginning of the unit, we had roasted potatoes with herbs on them...and we used great big pieces of sourdough bread as our trenchers (what they used as plates in Medieval times). We also had a fruit salad and broccoli, cause it didn't seem well rounded with out it! We had a couple of adult friends over who enjoyed our lack of manners (they had none in the middle ages) and a good time was had by all! We put together puzzles (one giant floor one and one smaller one in a wooden frame) and made sugar cube castles.

One of the Ravensburger games we got this weekend at a sale is called is a Middle Ages game and you build castles and have knights guard the castles and the king! It is totally awesome! One thing I REALLY liked about it was that noone attacks or "kills" another person. There was some pretty heavy critical thinking involved and lots of math to add up the points but I think our youngest mostly enjoyed building with the castle pieces. It was fun for the whole family though.
A few days ago we had our medieval feast. It was a great big success. We invited 8 guests to join us. Here are a few things that helped make it a success. Thought I'd share them with the group.

We did not tell the guests what the menu was and that just added to the fun. They didn't have any clue what a medieval feast was.

All of the food was covered so they couldn't see the food as it was being carried to the tables. We started serving the vegetables, then meat. I got up from the table and announced, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Roast Beast is now being served." I got looks that varied from puzzlement to hesitancy to expectancy. I waited a second and told them it was meatloaf and it didn't seem so bad to them then. Next, I announced that roast fowl (chicken) was being served. Then a mystery dish (chicken potpie) was passed. It was covered in foil so they hesitantly opened the foil top enough to know that it was okay to take it. They dished up what they wanted, recovered it and sent it down the table and watched as the next person took their portion and recovered it for the next one. I had so much fun just watching their faces as the new dishes were announced.

We made little pouches with buttons in them and gave them to everyone. No one was allowed to say the words: you, your, or yours. It was really tough to hang on to the buttons when a person has to speak with thee's, thou's, thy's, etc. It really added to the lightheartedness of the evening.

The boys did their mystery play and talked about what they had learned during the unit. Another thing they did on their own was to make a treasure hunt. They cut out about 20 paper swords and hid them around the house. They created their own shields and swords with their own designs and greeted everyone as they came in the door. It is a family memory that will linger a long time.
We were discussing our family coat of arms (as part of the Medieval period) today. My grandmother did quite a lot of family history and found we were related (somewhat distantly) to a castle in England. The relationship was found because of the checkerboard design in the Clifford family crest brought to the U.S. in the early 1700's was the very similar to Clifford crest of Skipton Castle. It is my understanding that the family line died out with Lady Anne Clifford in 1676. It seems that Lady Anne was quite a unique person. ( ) [Ed: You may need to check this site out as far as accuracy of link page.] Now the castle is a tourist location presenting one of the most complete and best-preserved medieval castles in England.
A great site for printouts of a banquet, kitchen scene, and even has some items to make, such as masks and 3-D projects.

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