Della teaches 7th grade English at the Mifflinburg Middle School and in her spare time enjoys learning as much as she can about medieval life. She became enthralled by the Middle Ages when she read the stories of King Arthur and Robin Hood as a middle school student. She can be reached electronically at email@example.com.
Looking for a way to introduce the Middle Ages to your students?
Here are two activities to try; they don't take a lot of time to prepare or present, but they might provide that "hook" you're looking for. They can be used with students of all ages.
Activity: What's My Hat?
· Match the "hat" with the title of the person who wore it.
· Identify the person's job and home.
· Identify the modern "equivalent" to the job.
· To illustrate the different levels of society (all)
· To introduce different jobs in the Middle Ages (Elem)
· To introduce the concept of the "Three Estates" (HS)
Hat Who Did Home Modern
Crown King ruled castle President
Helmet Noble protected manor policeman
Cowl Clergy prayed monastery pastor
Straw hat Serf worked hut farmer
Coif Craftsman made town mason
· Books (e.g., Medieval Life -- Eyewitness Books)
· Pass out the "hats" and signs to students.
· Students with "hats" should spread out throughout the room.
· Students with signs should stand next to the person wearing their "hat."
· Have seated students guess/explain why each person belongs in the group where he/she has gone.
Have students research medieval "jobs." Since most occupations in the Middle Ages were determined by what one's parent did, topics could be assigned based on the students' parents' (or grandparents') occupation.
Students could write a "want ad" or a job description for the job they researched, or they could create a resume for an ideal applicant.
Subjects: Social Studies, English, Research Skills
Activity: New World vs. Old World
· Identify the various foods.
· Determine whether the foods were known in Europe during the Middle Ages ("old world") or whether they were brought to Europe after 1492 ("new world").
· To show how the discovery of the New World changed everyday life by using food as an example. (all)
Old World New World
Rice Sweet corn
Green peas Chili pepper
Ground cinnamon Cocoa powder
Whole-grain mustard Potato
· Map of the world or globe
· Books (e.g., The Gourmet Atlas: The History, Origin, and Migration of Foods of the World; available from Amazon for $31.96.)
· Have students list their favorite foods.
· On a table, display the various foods.
· Discuss which foods are "old world" and which are "new world."
· Try to determine whether their favorite foods were available in the Middle Ages.
Have students locate the foods' origin on a map. Students could then research how a particular food got to Europe and create a poster showing this information.
Students could find out about other "old world" or "new world" foods. They could then research how a specific food was used. Using medieval cookbooks, they could find recipes using their ingredient and perhaps even make samples to share with the class.
Subjects: Family and Consumer Sciences, Social Studies, English, Research Skills
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Last revised: August 5, 2014
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