Monday, July 30, 2012

Mapping out the Middle Ages

We will begin the next season of schooling here the end of this week, with a jaunt thru the Middle Ages. We have an interest here with knights, castles, Robin Hood and King Arthur's legends so I'm planning out the next year to focus on this time frame.
I am totally not above exploiting a current interest for the sake of schooling!

So, for the past few weeks I have been browsing websites and book lists, printing reams of pages for lengthy lapbook and notebook selections, organizing our necessary readers here at home, downloading free resources to iBooks and our Kindle app, and browsing used books for deals on good books to use this next season. I have been to AmblesideOnline, Tanglewood Curriculum We will utilize the idea of notebooking and lapbooking for the majority of our work this year. With a topic like Medieval Times, we probably won't stick to conventional lapbooking though, and will put together a mutated version combining the best of both styles.  I am looking at inexpensive artist sketch books for our notebook foundation. If I can't find them on the cheap, we will probably just go with bulk cardstock or cover stock paper and 3-hole them into binders.

I have now re-organized our main school shelves to accommodate our resources, loaded several large binders with print-outs ready for use, set up the work boxes to organize the daily work, and I am hoping to find goodies to decorate our bulletin board as well.

So...what are our plans? Varied, of course, with my range of ages from 6yo up to 14yo. My main helper day to day will be my right hand, 17yo daughter. Here's our general layout...

Calvary Children's Ministry lessons, 1-2 lessons/week, keeping the subject together
Understanding Charlotte a CM blog has some reading plans already laid out as well We will probably pick up with these and notebook/illustrate each reading for our notebooks
Amblesideonline's Hymn Study, 1/week
Little Folded Hands, Prayers for Children for memory work and skills

Our core in these areas has been Rod and Staff texts for the past handful of years, and we're not making any changes there. I do go back and forth using Ray's Arithmetic and the original 1836 version of McGuffey Readers for supplement and quiz work though. Dollar Homeschool has a good price for the entire eclectic education series' (Rays, McGuffey, Harvey's, Thalheimer's and Norton's) all contained in CD form.
We always find bits and pieces online to pad out our lessons and supply extra work or just fun work, such as here
In addition to this, we have spelling daily, and the middles do a lesson in Apples daily.
We will be reading thru Poems Every Child Should Know, 1/week plus illustrating it for our notebooks. This will work into copywork as well.

This will be our spine this year, our main reading to lead our Middle Ages study and lapbooking season. Our core texts will be An Island Story, 2 chapters/week on Mondays and Wednesdays, A Child's History of England, 1 chapter/week on Tuesdays, and Story of the World v2, 1 chapter/week on Thursdays.
Our lapbook and notebooking resources have come from all over the Internet. Great sites like HomeschoolShare and Dynamic2Moms filled my lapbook binder, I've been bookmarking all manner of Medieval Times websites, information on castles, knights, and more. I'm sure we won't use all of them, but I'm all about the over-kill :-)

We'll do as we usually do and map our the locations and such thru our reading. With a spine taking us thru The British Empire of old as they really grew their roots, we will have plenty to do. Our study starts with the Vikings so we will hit the gate running with plenty of adventures in mapping.

Science/Nature Study
We will be using a 2 week unit study approach this year to the animal kingdom at large. Everything from worms, butterflies, wasps, spiders, snakes, bears, turtles, ocean life, and exotic rain forest creatures. Our unit on birds will most likely stretch out to at least 4 weeks, as will the ocean life. Padded out, this should last us all season (36-40 weeks).
This has since changed in the plans. We really enjoyed using God's Marvelous Works (Rod & Staff) last year, so we are going ahead with God's Marvelous Works book 2 this year. There are 4 units for the year, covering 30 lessons. We will study thru Algae and Fungi, Mammals, Sponges, Mollusks, Sea Worms and Jellies, and Amphibians. We will take 1 week to study each lesson, making notebook.lapbook pages and so forth. The unit of Mammals will most likely pad us out an extra 6-8 weeks to complete the entire year.

We will continue along with reading lessons using AlphaPhonics, Word Mastery and 100 Easy Lessons. Here are the great worksheets for the lessons in 100 Easy Lessons, from Donna Young (also a great site for just about every single thing you can think of for planning and organizing your school year!)

We will work on handicrafts and other projects that tie into our time frame, such as stained glass 'windows' and maybe a chain mail project.

And now, the book list. It's definitely not all-inclusive, but I have browsed around, and these suit our interests nicely. I am using as many free, online or downloadable texts as I can find, but we will purchase a few books (used) to add to our library here. For our own library, I try to locate inexpensive hardcover volumes to keep.

Henty has a great assortment for us, including:
In Freedom's Cause
Winning His Spurs
St. George for England
A Knight of the White Cross
The Dragon and the Raven
The Boy Knight
At Agincourt
Wulf the Saxon
Ivanhoe, Walter Scott
H.E. Marshall books free online, Baldwin Project has so many good titles to read online
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, Howard Pyle
Otto of the Silver Hand, Howard Pyle
Stories of King Arthur's Knights as Told to the Children, Mary MacGregor
King Arthur and His Knights, Maude L. Radford
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Mark Twain
Viking Tales, Jennie Hall
Viking Adventures, Clyde Robert Bulla
The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights, Sir James Knowles
Legends of the Middle Ages, Hèlène Adeline Guerber
Sir George and the Dragon
Harald and the Stag
Miss Frizzle's Medieval Adventures
Castle, Robert Macaulay
Robin Hood
Knights of the Round Table
The Usborne Book of Castles
The Door in the Wall
The Kitchen Knight
50 Hands-on Activities for Knights and Castles
Days of Knights and Damsels activity guide
In the Days of William the Conqueror
When Knights were Bold
King Arthur and His Knights
The Knights of the Silver Shield

Other Resources we may utilize:
Storm The Castle has a great list of projects we will definitely be putting into the works here during the year! There are catapults, shields and masks, swords if you're interested, diorama projects and so much more. Thank you Eddie for the heads-up in the comments! We would have missed this great addition! edited addition 8/3 site for The Middle Ages
A Book in Time, Middle Ages
A Book in Time, World History reading list
Chronicles of The Earth blog  Story of the World and lapbook resources Story of the World V2 Resources
Busy Bee Kids Crafts
Middle Ages Games and Activities
Mr Donn's Middle Ages links
Webtech Middle Ages
Sacred Heart of Jesus Academy has a nice collection of book ideas for Middle Ages
Learning Adventures Curriculum, Collection of info pages
Kickbutt Crazy Lapbooks page for Medieval Times
Mattman's Arthurian Resources
Paula's Archives Literature to Supplement History
History for Kids, Middle Ages Projects
AtoZ Kids Stuff pages
Castle craft project, younger levels
Britain Express Medieval History
England in the Middle Ages 
The Middle Ages, Chivalry, and Knighthood
Classical Homeschooling's History on the Internet list
Viking Network Ireland, The Vikings
a great school page on The Middle Ages
Lady of Shallot poem, Alfred Lord Tennyson
King Arthur and the Knights of The Round Table information
Interactives The Middle Ages
Travel to The Days of Old  These pages are from Beacon Learning, there are a lot of lessons to glean from here
FunSchooling Unit Study Archives, Kings, Queens, and Castles
Listmania! list of Kid's Books for Middle Ages and all ages books on Middle Ages

On another note, just for great reading, Classic Reader Online has a lot of good reading in various genres free, online. There is also, but I haven't checked that one out much yet.

Many titles are available free online thru resources like Project Gutenburg, Baldwin Project,, and other free text sites, with some available as audio reads as well. Where I could, we utilized these free resources and downloaded them for reading via iBooks or Kindle. Definitely don't go by just my suggestions here for book locations...Google them for yourself and find the source that suits your own needs best.

Ambitious, I know. We will never read everything, but with so many great titles available free online, how could I refuse to load them up just in case we need more free reading fun? I love having too many options than coming up short. There are far more titles and resources available out there than I've listed here. So many great bloggers have been thru the Middle Ages and have lots of notes, ideas, and projects to share. If anyone finds any blog  notes out there, please do share here in the comments!

- Blessings from Abundant Blessings Homestead!


Eddie said...

I'm bookmarking this post for when we do Medieval times next year!

Also, you might want to take a look at for some great hands-on medieval projects and drawing lessons. We made a 3 foot trebuchet this past month that throws tennis balls for the dogs, using plans from the site.

Life of a plainlady said...

Whew! quite a bit of learni' gonna happen in the next year! I wish I had my plans alllaid out, not yet. Hope to soon.

Mrs. Dewey Smith said...

Great Eddie, thank you for the link! I will definitely add it here and we'll check it out as well. Sounds like the perfect addition for this crew!

Plainlady, my plans laid out so well because I gleaned from every place online I could find that had already done this road before me :-) I knew we were looking at the Middle Ages, I sort of expected it to be a lengthy plan of action (didn't figure I could wrap the entire year around it though!) and when I found book ideas, lists, projects and so forth, I just tweaked the listing to the ones I thought would work here. I have such an age range, I can just about make anything work thankfully.

What I seem to have a total mental block on is mapping this all out into a day-by-day plan. I mean, I have plucked myself near bald just writing out the reading on a daily schedule :-( It's driving me nuts! How hard can it be...I know what we are reading, I know how much we have to read each week to stay on 'target' for the why can't I just write that out?

I am totally weird that way I guess.