Collaborative Thematic Unit
Theme: The Middle Ages

by Nancy Walker and Libbie Poole

Focus: Students will explore the Middle Ages by focusing on castles, knights and dragons. They will discover the medieval world through the use of multi-disciplinary activities.

Grade Level: 3rd Grade

Objectives: On completion of this thematic unit, students will:
1. Know the character's names and the roles they played in the Middle Ages. Twenty Vocabulary/Spelling words will be learned and mastered.

2. Know the geography of the Middle Ages.

3. Learn math skills through a "dragon math game".

4. Know the time frame of the Middle Ages and when major events in the Middle Ages occurred.

5. Know the art and music of the medieval world.

6. Use puppets in role playing characters of the Middle Ages.

7. Physically act out games such as jousting and ball & chain games.

8. Science of how castles were built.

9. Understand the importance of the tools and weaponry of the times.

10. Be able to make foods of the middle ages and understand what the society of the Middle Ages consisted of.

Materials and Resources:
1. Cardboard, aluminum foil, markers, stapler, scissors for king's crown and knight's outfits/armor.

2. Gallon jug or 3 gal. ice cream container, coarse mesh dish cloth, silver spray paint for knight's helmets.

3. Crayons, construction paper, pens and pencils for writing poems and stories on dragon.

4. Recorder, violin, bells, castanets for displaying music/playing roles of minstrels and troubadours.

5. Castle, Theater and Puppet Set (Knights Treasure Chest : The Age of Adventure, to Unlock and Discover/Includes Book, Board Game, Ring, Key, Catapult by Marilyn Tolhurst
Reading level: Ages 9-12 Hardcover - 32 pages Chest&Kit edition (March 1995)
ISBN: 156138545X ; Dimensions: 3.11 x 8.45 x 7.23)

6. Collection of books relating to castles, knights, dragons and the Middle Ages (See Related Literature at the end of this section).

7. Student copies of the following: Castles by Christopher Maynard and folders for students to keep their own work in about the Middle Ages (their own booklet).

8. Glue, construction paper, scissors, markers, or crayons, kite string or ball of twine for dragon kite.

9. Material for recipes, such as the castle pie: 6 ounces dried figs, 1/2 tsp. powdered cloves, 1/2 tsp. grd. black pepper, 1 tbsp. honey, 8 ounces pie pastry, greased baking sheet and oven for baking. (See section on lit. specific activity).

10. Online Museums and Exhibits:
The History Web Site at Kansas University
http://history.cc.ukans.edu - this is the home page for Kansas University, browse through and go to The Labryinth - this contains image databases for medieval art/the WebMuseum (WebLouvre), Treasures of the British Library.

Online Medieval and Classical Library
http://sunsite.berkeley.edu:80/OMACL - this contains the Online Medieval and Classical Library, it has a collections of some of the most important literary works of Classical and Medieval Civilization. This, as well as the U. Of Kansas online resource, has to be explained in a scaled down version so students on a 3rd grade level can comprehend the material. The images and artwork would be very useful.

11. Materials for students to make up their own paper bag dragon puppets (hand- out, paper bag, crayons and markers, glue).

12. Music/Video Resources:
Puff the Magic Dragon, featuring Burgess Meredith The My Company 1984 Children's Video Library P.O. Box 4995 Stamford, Ct. 06907

The Reluctant Dragon Walt Disney Home Video Burbank, CA 91521

Pete's Dragon Read-along Book and Tape Disneyland/Vista Records Burbank, CA 91521

The following music excerpts are from the cassette tape: Roger Kamien/Music-An Appreciation, Side 1 (Music from The Middle Ages):

Alleluia: Vidimus stellam/Schola Cantorum Coloniensis/Schola Choralis Solingen: Gabriel Maria Steinschulte, director. 1991 EMI Electrola GMbH. Under license from EMI Records. Ltd. Machaut: Agnus Dei from Notre Dame Mass/The Deller Consort; Alfred Deller, director (Under license from Vanguard Classics, a division of Omega Record Group. Inc.)

Also a cassette tape on Gregorian Chants: Gregorian Chants - The Gregorian Chorale of Eglise Querin Distributed by LDMI, P.O. Box1445, St. Laurent Quebec, Canada H4L 4Z1
What is Gregorian Chant?

13. Thematic Unit Books Used:
A Unit About Dragons by Moore, Evans, Tryon.
Castles and Fairy Tales by Stangl and Stangl, illus. by Darcy Myers.
Medieval Times by Edgar and Lee Fairy-Tale Fun by Soloff-Levy
Medieval Times Activity Book by Milliken, illus. by Lorseyedi
Castles and Dragons by Creative Teaching Press

14. Castle by David Macaulay for a non-fiction book read to children a little each day to explain how castles were built and used (see lit. specific activities).

15. A Medieval Feast by Aliki Brandenberg used for a fictional book on preparing for a feast. Children can prepare for a feast and make real food (see lit. specific activities).

16. Read "Happy Birthday, Dear Dragon" - poem by Jack Prelutsky from The New Kid on the Block. Discuss the poem, have children make up their own poems about dragons.

17. Saint George and the Dragon, retold by Margaret Hodges, illus. by Trina Schart Hyman. Fictional book that adds humor to the serious side of the medieval world - children can read this with some help.

18. Living Books - Knight in Armor can be used when dressing students as knights.

19. Man Made Wonders - Castles by Cooper, Castles by Watts, Little Library
Castles by Maynard, Eyewitness Books
Knights, Eyewitness Books
Castles (both by Christopher Gravett).
All of these can be used to show pictures and for display.

20. The Knight and the Dragon - fiction by Tomie De Paola - read aloud to students. The True Book of Knights - by John Lewellen, illus. by Frances Eckart - read aloud to students.

21. Show laminated pictures of representations from the Middle Ages from Medieval Times Photo-Fun Activity by Edupress. Show real pictures of actual visits to castles.

Initiating Activity:
Introduce to the children the topic of The Middle Ages. Ask them what they think The Middle Ages are. Many will probably think the Middle Ages are people that are in their middle ages - like 30-40 years old!! So the vocabulary and syntax is important in making clear to the students what time period The Middle Ages occurred (approx. 450-1450) and what will be discussed in this 1 to 2 week period covering this thematic unit. Let the children help decorate a bulletin board with themes from this unit such as dragons, castles, knights and any other main topics that the students would be interested in (like the food from the time/jousting and swords/damsels in distress). Have cut outs of these ready for the children to arrange one day, leaving enough space for them to add to the collage for the remainder of the week. The next few days they can go home and find pictures in magazines/items relating to knights/dragons/castles and bring to display on the board. Then read a brief outline (or short non-fiction book) about the events that occurred in this time period and the next few days read a fiction book and/or non-fiction book during story time.

General Activities:
(These are intended to be a guide for the teacher and student to use while discussing the middle ages and are not meant for all to be used. By having a large amount of activities listed the teacher can pick and choose which are appropriate for the student needs, interests, objectives and timeframe the teacher has to work with.)

1. Students can help create "The Middle Ages" in the classroom by designating the reading center/storytime section into a castle they can read in. They can use the cardboard building blocks to create a small area for children to build a wall maybe 2ft. high and 3 sided and have books about the Middle Ages inside this area so children can take turn in "center time" or "free reading time" to sit in the castle and read. Or else a large cardboard box (like the size a large appliance was shipped in) and it can be decorated like a castle, and a flag put on top with windows cut out and a mat inside to be used for either pretend play or a quiet place to read in the castle.

2. Students can build castles on the playground. Ask the children to bring in buckets and materials if they have any from when they have gone to the beach and brought sand pails, shovels, and castle molds for sand castles. This will motivate them to use their creativity outside the classroom when they go on vacations with their families.

3. Color a dragon's head, body and flame with bright colors. These drawings are available in the "Castles and Dragons" Theme Series (1990, Creative Teaching Press). Cut the pieces out and glue flame to the dragon's mouth. Glue the dragon to a paper bag and a dragon puppet is made.

4. Castle and Dragon Songs: Come to the Castle (sung to the tune of "Down by the Station") Come to the castle early in the morning, See the lords and ladies all in a row. See the prince and princess leaving in the carriage, People throw confetti as they go.

Come to the castle early in the evening, See the king and queen sitting on their thrones. See the knights in armor coming from a battle. See the captured dragons rattling their bones.

I'm a Little Dragon (sung to the tune of "I'm a Little Teapot") I'm a little dragon, strong and stout. Here is my tail and here is my snout. If you get me upset, you better watch out! I'll give you something to shout about!

5. Writing a story or a poem on the cutout of a dragon would help children incorporate their vision of what the Middle Ages and dragons were all about. Read a story like Alexander and the Dragon by Katherine Holabird then ask the children to write about dragons and if they're afraid of dragons - ask questions about fear and if they're scared of dragons in the dark like Alexander was. Another book similar to fear of monsters is There's a Nightmare in my Closet by Mercer Mayer which may aid in alleviating any fear of monsters children may have.

6. Make a dragon kite using either the same cutouts from the puppet in #4 above or have children make their own hair, face, teeth, tongue, body and tail. Once all the pieces are colored with markers or crayons, have the children glue the pieces together and make 4 little holes for the ends of 2 small wooden rods/sticks to go through (in the shape of a cross).

7. Have the children dress up like knights in armor and play games. This could be incorporated into a physical education class. Have children recite "The Knight's Code":
* Be always ready with your armor on, except when you are taking your rest at night.
* Defend the poor and help them that cannot defend themselves.
* Do nothing to hurt or offend anyone else.
* Be prepared to fight in the defense of your country.
* At whatever you are working, try to win honor and a name for honesty.
* Never break your promise.
* Maintain the honor of your country with your life. Rather die honestly then live shamelessly.
* Chivalry requireth that youth should be trained to perform the most laborious and humble offices with cheerfulness and grace; and do good unto others.

Have children make cardboard swords with aluminum foil wrapped around them, them make shields, helmets, ball and chain (using knotted sashcord and old sock stuffed with rags). Then Let the Games begin! Play jousting/ball and chain games, and the girls can either participate or act like damsels (have costumes like old gowns/old dresses).

8. Read books, such as A Medieval Feast by Aliki and have children prepare a feast for the class. (See Specific Lit. Activity).

9. Have the children make up their own exhibit (based on the article "The Project Approach: A Museum Exhibit Created by Kindergartners" by Deborah Diffily, Young Children, Jan. 96, pp. 72-75).

10. Castles: Initiating Activity -
Collect and display pictures of a castle, moat and drawbridge, an herb garden within the castle compound, a tapestry to hand on the castle wall, the knights' armor, the bell tower, the stained glass, and the guild flags. Read the captions of the photos on the back. Read and answer the appropriate trivia questions on the back of the photos. Also display Knights Treasure Chest : The Age of Adventure, to Unlock and Discover/Includes Book, Board Game, Ring, Key, Catapult by Marilyn Tolhurst . This contains a 3-D model of a castle, plastic model of a catapult (a weapon), the map of the area, the stained glass, the diagram of the knight in armor and the shields, and the document of knighthood presented by the king to the new knight.

1. Create a "Castle Timeline" and a "Castle Country Map".

2. Create a "Castle Vo- cabulary" sheet. Have the students look up and record the meaning of words related to the study of castles. Use this as a spelling-vocabulary word study.

3. Create a "Identifying the Parts of a Castle" handout for each child or group.

4. Create a "Castle Crossword " sheet.

5. Display Knights Treasure Chest by Marilyn Tolhurst on overhead projector. Show "Banquets". Read about food of the day and the first court's menu.

6. Read from Knights Treasure Chest by Marilyn Tolhurst - build the castle included in the kit.

7. Check out the Medieval/Renaissance Food Homepage (http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/food.html). Have the students read some of the recipes. Have them calculate the amounts of ingredients needed to serve the entire class. Also see:

Master Huen's Boke of Gode Cookery
a compilation of Medieval recipes transcribed for the modern kitchen.

Discussion Questions:
1. If you were the king, what other ideas would you have for defending your castle?

2. If you were fighting the king, what other ways would you try to get into the castle?

3. Would you like to visit a castle? Show pictures of castles that are frequented by visitors today (Biltmore, Chenonceau, etc...).

Knights - Initiating Activity:
Point out the photo of a knight's armor. Read the caption about his armor again. Point out the "Arming A Knight" chart from Knights Treasure Chest : The Age of Adventure, to Unlock and Discover/Includes Book, Board Game, Ring, Key, Catapult by Marilyn Tolhurst :

1. Read and discuss "Knights in Shining Armor" .

2. Read "Suit of Armor". Then have students read parts of a "Suit of Armor" aloud. Help students with any new words. Have students point to each number of the part as the name and purpose of the part is being read .

3. Have students place "Suit of Armor" to the left on their desk and "A Knight in Armor" to the right of their desk. Have each student write the correct name of the part of the armor beside the corresponding number while referring back to the key.

4. Share the colorful photographs and text about "Pages and Squires", "The Accolade", "Making Armor", "Arming the Knight", "Weapons and White Armor", "the Siege", "Fighting on Horseback", "Dangers in Battle", "The Chase", and "The Tournament", from the book Knights in Armor.

5. Work problems together in class from "Mathematics in Sherwood Forest" .

6. Show the students a picture of the catapult. Call attention to the model catapult in the display area (from Knights Treasure Chest by Marilyn Tolhurst). Explain how the catapult was used as a weapon in the Middle Ages.

7. Read "Heraldry" from Knights Treasure Chest and explain that the shields identified the knights in battle. The lion was the first symbol to appear on a shield. Discuss the Coat of Arms. Also, point out the chart of the designs of shields from the Treasure Chest by using the overhead projector.

8. Have the students design their own shield.

9. Bestow upon each student the "Order of Knighthood" and point out the King's document from Knights Treasure Chest : The Age of Adventure, to Unlock and Discover/Includes Book, Board Game, Ring, Key, Catapult by Marilyn Tolhurst along with his red ribbon, ring, seal and clay which make the document official . Demonstrate how the King signed with his special initial seal.

Discussion Questions:
1. What is the easiest way for the knights to break the gate and invade the castle?

2. Could you compare a knight of the Middle Ages to a soldier of today? Why or why not?

3. Would you like to be a knight?

Dragons - Initiating Activity:
Discuss with the students the fact that dragons are a "myth" and explain what a myth is. Dragons are fictional characters used in stories about knights who are real characters.

1. Read the two poems about dragons.

2. Have the students connect the dots in sequence (explain in order) to see what a dragon looks like. Read the caption, then have them color the dragon. You may show them the picture on the front cover of the book.

3. On "Learning to Letter" paper with lines, have the students practice writing their spelling words ten times each.

4. Have the students write the spelling words on the body of the dragons as the class provides sentences with these words. This activity may be done in two parts.

5. Make dragon figures by laminating green construction paper and cutting dragons out with "dies". Write a number 0-9, an operation (+, -, x, / ) or a place value (ones, tens, hundreds, etc...) on each dragon. Display the prob- lems on the board, such as 1. 22 + 34 =, 2. 100 - 45 =, etc...

Tell students to write the correct numbers using place value:
1. Ten thousand three hundred and six.

2. Three hundred thousand four hundred and forty five.

Discussion Questions:
1. Ask the children if they would like to fight dragons.

2. Ask the children if they think dragons are real or fantasy?

3. Ask the children what they would compare dragons to - (maybe dinosaurs).

Literature Specific Activities -

Fiction:
A Medieval Feast by Aliki Brandenberg

Prereading Activity:
Read the title and ask the children what they would have in a feast if they lived in medieval times.

Activities:
1. Read the story and point out details in the pictures. Discuss the different roles and characters.
2. Make a feast in the classroom. Have different students take part and perform different tasks. Make a castle pie, dragon chili and cornbread castle.

Discussion Questions:
1. What type of cooking utensils do you think they had then?
2. What other types of food do you think were available? Do you think they did much hunting back then?
3. Did the men as well as the women do all they cooking? What is the difference between the roles men and women played then as compared to now?

Literature Specific Activities-
Non-Fiction: Castle by David Macaulay

Prereading Activity:
Read the title and discuss what type of castles there were in the Middle Ages. Show pictures of castles and discuss the various parts of castles.

Activities:
1. Read the book and ask if there are any questions. The book can be divided into several days. Show the pictures of the different jobs people had in building castles, like the masons and the diggers, carpenters and blacksmiths.
2. Have the students build their own model of a castle.
3. Set up part of the room as a little castle using cardboard bricks. This can be a reading room children can go to during the week to read about castles, knights and dragons.
4. Have the children draw their own version of a castle.

Discussion Questions:
1. What would your castle be built like?
2. Would you like to have lived in a castle?
3. Go over the glossary in the back of the book and introduce at least 2 new words each day a part of the book is read.

Culminating Activity:
Castle Theater and Puppet Kit - Knights Treasure Chest : The Age of Adventure, to Unlock and Discover/Includes Book, Board Game, Ring, Key, Catapult by Marilyn Tolhurst

Have 7 students volunteer to act out the story printed on the back of the castle backdrop. There will be 7 characters: King, Queen, Knight, Damsel, Jester, Dragon, Horse. After the drama, display the puppets in front of the castle. Have all of the students write their own story about the characters or write about anything in the unit that caught their imagination.

Evaluation:
Have each student keep a daily journal in a booklet provided. Each handout/worksheet given and/or created during the unit will be included in order. As time permits during and at the end of the unit, each student should color or decorate the journal. Each student will hand in the journal at the end of the unit for evaluation of understanding the material. The journal will be returned in a timely manner to each student for feedback on how well the unit progressed.

Two awards will be presented to the students:
1) The "Order of Knighthood" upon completion of the castles and knights segments.
2) The "Dragon Hunter's Training Certificate" upon completion of the dragon segment which will be at the end of the thematic unit. Write a personal note to each student for his or her individual help with the unit.

Bibliography:
Brandenberg, Aliki. A Medieval Feast. Thomas Crowell, 1983.
Clare, John D., Editor. Knights in Armor. Harcourt Brace, 1982.
Cooper, Jason. Man-Made Wonders: Castles. Rourke Enterprises, 1991.
De Paola, Tomie. The Knight and the Dragon. General Publishing, 1980.
Diffily, Deborah. "The Project Approach: A Museum Exhibit Created by Kindergartners". Young Children, Jan. 1996, Vol. 51, No. 2, pp. 72-75.
Edgar and Lee. Medieval Times (Soc. Studies Activity Book). Mark Twain Media, 1994. Edupress: Medieval Times Photo-Fun Activity. Edupress.
Gravett, Christopher. Eyewitness Books: Castle. Alfred P. Knopf, 1994.
Gravett, Christopher. Eyewitness Books: Knight. Alfred P. Knopf, 1993.
Hodges, Margaret. Saint George and The Dragon. Illus. by Trina Schart Hyman. Little, Brown and Co., 1984.
Holabird, Katharine. Alexander and the Dragon. Clarkson Potter, 1989.
Lewellen, John. The True Book of Knights. Illus. Frances Eckart, Childrens Press, 1956. Living Books: Knight in Armor. Harcourt Brace, 1992.
MacCaulay, David. Castle. Houghton Mifflin, 1977.
Maynard, Christopher. Castles. Kingfisher Books, 1993.
Milliken, Linda. Medieval Times. Illus. Barb Lorseyedi. Edupress, 1995.
Moore, Evans, Tryon. A Unit About Dragons (thematic unit). Evan-Moor, 1989.
Prelutsky, Jack. The New Kid on the Block. "Happy Birthday, Dear Dragon" poem, drawings by James Stevenson. Greenwillow Books, 1984.
Stangl, Jean. Castles and Fairy Tales (thematic unit). Illus. Darcy Myers. Denison and Co., 1994.
Watts, Franklin. Castles. Franklin Watts Ltd., 1984.

Other Related Literature (May be above 3rd Grade Level):
Bulla, Clyde Robert. The Sword in the Tree. Illus. Paul Galdone, Thomas Crowell, 1956. Buehr, Walter. Crusaders. Putnam's Sons, 1959.
Buehr, Walter. Chivalry and the Mailed Knight. Longmans Canada Ltd., 1963.
Carlson, Laurie. Huzzah Means Horray - Activities. Chicago Review Press, 1995.
Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. Simon & Schuster, 1978.
Gies, Frances and Joseph. Life in a Medieval Village. Harper and Row, 1990.
Hartman, Gertrude. Medieval Days and Ways. MacMillan, 1965.
Howarth, Sarah. Medieval People. Millbrook Press, 1991.
Hunt, Jonathan. Illuminations. Bradbury Press, 1989.
Jenks, Tudor. "The Dragon's Story", from Folk and Fairy Tales. Univ. Society, 1979.
Jones, Gwyn. Welsh Legends and Folk Tales. Illus. by Joan Kiddell-Monroe. 1970.
Lasker, Joe. A Tournament of Knights. Thomas Crowell, 1986.
McLeod, Mary. "How Arthur Became King", from King Arthur and His Noble Knights. Univ. Society, 1988.
Platt, Richard. Stephen Biesty's Cross-Section's Castle. Kindersley, 1994.
Scieszka, Jon. Knights of the Kitchen Table. Illus. Lane Smith, Puffin, 1991.
Soloff-Levy, Barbara. Fairy-Tale Fun: Story Book with Activities. Watermill, 1984.
Twain, Mark. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Bantam, 1981.
Williams, Jay. Knights of the Crusades. American Heritage, 1962.

Other Sources:
Spoken with and borrowed references from the following HELPFUL teachers:
Campbell, Jennie. Third Grade Teacher - Congaree Elementary, BSAP word list.
Coppola, Peggy. Third Grade Teacher - Congaree Elementary, Fairy Tale Fun Theme Unit by Soloff-Levy.
Spainhour, Wendy. Second Grade Teacher - Congaree Elementary, Castles and Fairy Tales by Stangl & Stangl.
Sullivan, Eileen. Fellow Student (CLIS 759) - Castles by Christopher Maynard, and many other thematic units and sources.

Thanks to all those that helped put this together!!

Back to the Thematic Unit Page

Back to Elizabeth's Home Page