Monday, March 19, 2018

Making a Masterpiece for Medieval Guilds

Our most recent dive into Medieval History has brought us to learning about the Guilds and how the Guilds drove business and trade during the Middle Ages.  I wanted to give the kids a taste of Medieval Business so we read about what it would take to become a Master Craftsman. 

First, several years were spent being an Apprentice, then a Journeyman, then a Craftsman, and finally a Master Craftsman.  In order to be approved to hang out a sign and begin a business, we learned that you would first need to get a "Masterpiece" approved by the Guild.  This sounded like we could create an exciting activity around it.  So, we began our Medieval Trades Activity (seen in the image below).

The kids chose a trade.  Then, they followed the Masterpiece activity suggestion for their trade.  For instance, to be an Armorer, you would need to create a shield or helmet (cardboard works great!) Here is my young Armorer, hard at work on a Shield to present as her Masterpiece:

She had to get her Shield painted and ready to present to the Guild (her teacher) and it was proclaimed an approved "Masterpiece".

Now she has confirmed herself to be a Master Craftsman at her trade.  She is now ready to prepare a sign that she can set up, showing off her Tools of the Trade, or a product that explains what she is skilled at. 

She chooses a Sign Page, and off she goes. 

This is always a fascinating study for children who are already reading or are beginning to learn how to read.  For of course, in Medieval Society, few could read and all signs must be designed for an illiterate clientele.  We have create the basic sign sheets (see below), ready to be designed with the "Tools of the Trade" or whatever image the children come up with that they feel most accurately depicts what they do. 

In the case of my little Armorer above, she is drawing an armored hand to depict her Trade.

Upon completion of her Sign, she was ready to start up work as a Master Craftsman Armorer!  What fun!

Everything needed for this activity can be found in our most recent product, Medieval Signs and Subtleties.

Not only are the Sign Sheets, the Guild Information, and the Medieval Trades Activity (above) included in this great packet, but we also include a lesson on how to create a Medieval Subtlety from Marzipan, one of the few delicacies of the Middle Ages.

Keep following us for more fun historical projects that help kids enjoy each facet of the learning process.  In the meantime, you can check out this latest product, Medieval Signs and Subtleties, in our Store. 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Medieval Stained Glass Craft

We have been doing some fascinating activities for our Medieval History unit, (Viking Runes, Medieval Illuminations, and our own homemade Medieval Subtleties) but this craft or "craftivity" turned out the most beautiful of all.  We created our own stained glass windows!

This is an easy activity, especially if you purchase our premade Medieval Window packet which includes 4 possible designs for your students to choose from to make their window.

You will also need a transparency sheet (or some recycled flat plastic), a sharpie, food coloring and glue.  And some Q-tips.  Because we always fall back on Q-tips as an easy go-to paintbrush for these kinds of activities.

After drawing the designs on the transparencies with black sharpies, we cut out our window shapes.  And we began to fill in the window shapes with our glue paint.

To make it easier, we cut out our paper design and taped it, along with the transparency to the table.  It kept our image stable while the kids filled in the colors.

After the colored glue had dried, we cut out our window edging and glued it over the glass.  An optional idea is to go over the top of the sharpie with black puffy paint.  This raised black edging makes the stained glass really pop.  It feels just like the leaded glass stained windows you might see in an old church or heraldic window.

The finished product is tacked to the window so that the light can stream through, just like it streamed through Medieval stained glass windows, many years ago.

A beautiful finished product!  Check out our packet that includes everything you need to create this craft, here in our store.

Friday, December 1, 2017

We're Vikings: The Terrors of the Sea!

It's admittedly quite a change up.  A few weeks back we were pretending to be monks, living quiet, humble lives in our stone monasteries, doing penance on our knees and tasting pottage and mead.  And today, we're learning about Vikings, a bloodthirsty group who'd slaughter a monk and make off with his pottage.

After we read up on Vikings and their many journeys across the Atlantic, exploring Iceland and Greenland and North America, we decided it would be fun to create a Viking helmet and shield.

Although I created a color version and a black and white option, the kids wanted to color their own.  And maybe add a few extra designs to make the helmet truly their own.

A bit of color, a few fine jewels drawn on:  we're definitely getting the hang of what Vikings valued back in their time period.  That, and land.  They did appreciate a good piece of land, didn't they?

After we completed our helmets, we were ready for more!  The shields were brought out!  Now I admit, I did not intend these shields to be used in pretend play.  The idea was to let the kids design their very own shield:  with colors or images that made it uniquely theirs.

 We were printing on card-stock (I always print these kinds of things on a good thick sturdy card-stock!) and rather naturally, the kids cut out their shield once they'd colored it, stapled on a hand grip and were deep in Viking combat almost before I knew what had happened!

Those paper swords were kid created, out of a rolled up and stapled card-stock sheet.  These shields aren't sized accurately.  Let your kids know, if you try out this activity, that actual Viking shields were at least 32" in diameter, and the boss in the center, was like a 6" dome off the front!

The next day, these kids were still hot to trot about Vikings.  So, we investigated a bit more and came up with these fun activities!

First of all, runes!  There are several different Viking alphabets because they were always adding more as they conquered new peoples and added that to their language, too.  The alphabet we share in our Viking Activity packet has 21 characters.  As we looked over the characters, we could see several that are in our own English alphabet today (with a bit more curvature).  We also watched this excellent introduction to Viking runes:

After that, the kids were ready to try out carving runes of their own.  We made our own dough (using flour, cornstarch, coffee and one drop of blue food coloring) and we drew our runes using plastic knives.  This was easier to do than I first thought it would be.  The Vikings knew what they were doing with that upright line based alphabet!

And last but not least, we decided to create a paper model of a Viking longboat.  This, along with all the activity pages in this post, is available in our Store.  You can print out a fully colored version or and black and white one for coloring in yourself (my kids always prefer that!).

Now the cutting was a bit tricky for my 5 year old, admittedly.  She needed a lot of help.  But once I explained that all the dotted lines were for folding, she went after those folds.  Great folding practice!

We used glue, staples and tape for attaching things.  Staples were best for the mast, and glue was best for affixing little tabs together.  But the finished product looks neat and was fun for pretend play while I read out loud a bit more about those villainous Vikings!

And we finished up our Viking study by putting on "How To Train Your Dragon" just for fun.  It's always important to clarify what is fact and what is fiction in these stories but you just can't go wrong by hanging out with Hiccup.

All of the activities previewed here are available in our store for purchase.

Thanks for reading, and please share your favorite Viking activity in the comments!