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Stuck in the Middle {Ages}

Well, I wouldn’t say stuck, exactly, but we are smack in the middle of our year-long study of the Middle Ages!

I thought this would be a great time to share some of our favorite books and projects covering this time period. For more information on our quasi-subjectless approach, take a look at September’s post, School Without Subjects.

We started with Beowulf in early September and are about to launch headlong into The Magna Charta this month. We’ll linger over this for a few weeks as it’s a great time to pause and discuss the importance of this early document.

Along the way we’ve made a crossbow and a catapult, and attended two homeschool classes at a local science museum on castles and medieval siege machines (I love it when synergy happens).

Following are our favorite images, videos, and a list of the books we’ve loved so far.

Here is my youngest’s attempt at a crossbow:


Here is the video he used to make it: How to Make a Paper Crossbow (Some younger children may require supervision).

At our class on castles, we labeled all the parts of a castle and drew aerial views of our own castles.



Here’s a super simple diagram of a typical castle if you want to create your own:


Image courtesy

For more in-depth information on the parts of a medieval castle, check out Castle Architecture.

At our siege machines class we made a catapult:


These are great fun to make and play with. For instructions on how to fashion a similar catapult made of large popsicle sticks, rubber bands, a soda cap (we used a liquid medicine measuring cup) and glue, check out Tongue Depressor Catapult over at The Boring Dad. You can use marbles for your payload, but we stuck with pennies — less painful on impact.

After reading The Adventures of Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green, we thought we might try our hand at making a bow and arrow. Not having the supplies or time to make a proper working model, we opted for a Mini Bow and Arrow using popsicle sticks, q-tips. and dental floss! Again, young children will need help or supervision.

There are many great books covering this time period — both fiction and nonfiction, but here are just a few of our favorites thus far (hopefully some of these are new for you!):

One Thousand and One Arabian Nights by Geraldine McCaughrean

Queen Eleanor, Independent Spirit of the Medieval World by Polly Schoyer Brooks

A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver by E.L. Konigsburg

The Boy Kight: A Tale of the Crusades by G.A. Henty

Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz

Cathedral and Castle by David Macaulay

We treated these primarily as read-alouds for our 10 year-old. Six or seventh grade and up should read independently.

Do you have a favorite medieval book or project to share? Drop us a line in the comment section — we’ll give it a try!

Angela (30 Posts)

Angela is co-founder of Mosaic Freeschool and a homeschooling mom to two never-been-to school kids. Born in Southern California and raised on the East Coast, Angela had a bit of an unconventional education, but did not consider homeschooling seriously until her first child was born. Believing that young children learn best from those that love them most, Angela and her husband John chose homeschooling for their two boys. She is dedicated to the advancement of alternative education choices, creating the web-site Raising Autodidacts in 2011 to further explore the idea of fostering the self-taught individual. In June of 2013, she started an instructional writing service called Gathering Ink .

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2013 Share-Your-Holiday Crafting Linkup

2013 Share Your Holiday Crafting Link Up with The Homeschool Post

Sing it with my folks:

Tis the season to be distracted….fa la la la la, la la la la,

Make some ornaments with protractors….. fa la la la la, la la la la,

Bake some cookies, call it math class…. fa la la, la la la, la, la, laaaaaaaaa.

Cocoa mugs paint’d with Sharpie markers… fa la la la laaa, la LA. LA. LAAAAA!

Yes, I know that’s not what the holidays are about, but as a fellow – tired – homeschooling momma it totally fits!

The team thought it might be fun to spread some Christmas joy by sharing our favorite crafts!

It doesn’t have to be ornaments, or decorations, or specifically crafts you can give as gifts. Anything that you have made or are planning on making is fair game for sharing. Even if you aren’t a blogger, feel free to leave us the exciting details in the comments.

We can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to!

To help readers when they’re checking out the links, please consider putting something specific in your link title, such as type of craft, age range, or difficulty level

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Messy {Outdoor} Preschool Activities for Summer

@destinyblogger, @hsbapost

Let’s face it; kids are good at making messes.  It’s part of the fun of being a kid!  For those of you that shudder at the thought of messes, summer can be a good time to cut loose and let the kids be kids — outside where clean up isn’t so much of an issue.  I’ve been scouring Pinterest and my bag of tricks homeschool plans to find new preschool ideas.  If the kids start to get bored of the same old activities this summer, try this list to spice up their playtime (and sneak in some learning and sensory play):

What preschooler doesn’t like bubbles?  I found this cheap and easy recipe for homemade bubbles, complete with a cute container.   Need a bubble wand?  Take several drinking straws and rubber band or tape them all together to make a big bubble pipe.  Dip one end of the straws in the fluid and blow through the other end to get multiple bubbles at once.

My preschool girls love sidewalk chalk, but how about taking it up a notch?  I found these awesome ideas for making your own frozen sidewalk chalk with cornstarch and food coloring.  Simple, fun, and a great sensory experience.

@destinyblogger, @hsbapost

Speaking of sensory ideas, summer is a fun time to try making your own sensory bins.  I blogged about an ocean-themed sensory bin I made that was very budget-friendly and easy to do.  If you take the bins outside, it allows more room for experimenting with messiness.  Use sand, rice, Cheerios, and even water as the medium for the bins.  You can create your own I Spy game by hiding things in the bins for your kids to discover.  Preschool themes can include colors, shapes, numbers, letters, animals, or any other subject your kids might love.

@destinyblogger, @hsbapost, sensory bin, Montessori

Call me crazy (or Messy Mama), but we’ve even made our own homemade moon sand.  You can take this outside and use a small sand and water table (you can usually find a small one for about $20 at a discount store) or any other container you choose.  Mix some baby oil with either white flour or cornstarch and experiment with the consistency.  My girls loved this, and believe me, it was plenty of messy fun.

@destinyblogger, @hsbapost, sensory, preschool

These are just a few of the fun and messy things you can do with your preschoolers outside this summer.  Remember, play equals learning for little ones!

Sara (47 Posts)

I'm a reader, writer, dreamer, wife, and homeschooling mom of 3 girls. We take a relaxed, eclectic, Charlotte Mason-leaning, Montessori-ish, literature-rich, delight-directed, almost unschooling-at-times approach to learning. Lots of unit studies, field trips, and lapbooks, too. I like to blog about our learning adventures (plus faith and encouragement) at Embracing Destiny.

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