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!


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