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Organizing a

Medieval Activities Day



presented by


Della Hutchison




Teaching the Middle Ages Across the Curriculum:

The Biennial CARA Conference


Penn State University

Friday, September 22, 2000

1.      Determine local resources:

        What's available? Who's available?



Brass Rubbing


Card Weaving

Clay Tiles

Gargoyle Sculptures



Natural Dyeing



Stained glass





Home Ec




Food and Feasting






Phys Ed







Armor, Weapons, and

Siege Engines


Tech Ed


Chain Mail


Pewter Casting



Games (chess,



Trivia Hunt



        Start with the hobbies and interests of staff members.

        Question students about their parents' hobbies.

        Contact local art groups: spinners and weavers guild, arts council, etc.

        Contact local living history groups: SCA (, Rev. War, Civil War, etc.


When choosing activities:

        Strive for a balance of activities that will appeal to boys as well as girls.

        If many of the activities will have a limited number of participants, also choose one or two that have no limit.


2. Determine parameters:

        When will the activity occur?

        What resources and manpower will be available?

        How many students will participate?

        How much time is available for the activity?

        What space is available?

        What kind of a program will it be? (Demonstration? Lecture? Hands-on?)

        What costs will be involved?


3. Get administrative approval:

        Who, what, when, where, why, how





4. Contact potential presenters:

        Initial contact -- find out if interested

        Questionnaire -- information about activity (See sample questionnaire, below.)

        Confirmation letter -- logistics (See sample letter, below.)


5.      Determine schedule:

        Look at which teachers will be affected; strive for a schedule that affects the least number of teachers.

        Teachers whose classes are involved in an activity could cover classes for teachers who are presenting, or they could act as "helpers" (videotaping or photographing activities, etc.)

        Find out which classrooms or spaces are available for use.

        Assign activities to available rooms.

        Assign students to activities/times. (Strive for a balance between girls and boys, ability levels, etc.) Print and post lists.


6.      As soon as possible, communicate with faculty:

        What's happening


        How individual teachers will be affected

        Schedule of activities

        Room changes

        Invitation to attend/participate


7.      Pique students' interest:

        Set up a display in a display case.

        Hold a show-and-tell of activities students may participate in.

        Give students written descriptions of the activities taking place.

        Have students sign up for activities in order of preference. (Warn them that not everyone will get his first choice.)

        Based on their group assignments, have students list questions about their activity as it relates to the Middle Ages. Then have them use resources to find answers to their questions. If possible, send questions to the presenters ahead of time so they can answer any the students could not answer themselves.


8. Other:

        Ask for help (colleagues, parents, community members).

        Start small.

        Keep a photographic record as a visual reminder of things you'd like to remember.

        Have fun!










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



Sample questionnaire to send to activity presenters



Name ________________________________________________________________________< /o:p>


Phone _____________________________


Activity ______________________________________________________________________



To help us prepare for your visit and to get students excited about your activity, we ask that you complete this questionnaire and return it by Monday, April 15, to Della Hutchison, Mifflinburg Middle School, East Market St., Mifflinburg PA 17844. Thanks!



Background or brief history of your experience, especially in working with students and your craft/activity:





Brief description of your craft/activity and its importance in the Middle Ages:






Presentation will be (circle): lecture show-and-tell hands-on



What is the maximum number of students you can work with in each group? __________



If students will be working on a hands-on project, please describe what they will be making or doing:





Supplies (if any) we need to provide:




Will you need monies to cover the cost of consumable supplies? If so, how much?



Do you have any particular space requirements (sink, large tables, A-V equipment, outdoors, etc.)? If so, please list.




Sample confirmation letter to send to activity presenters



To: Wade Hutchison

From: Della Hutchison

Mifflinburg Middle School


RE: Mifflinburg Middle Ages Guild Day

Date: April 28, 1999


Dear Wade,


Thank you for your willingness to bring the Middle Ages to life at the Mifflinburg Middle School.


This is to confirm your presentation on Friday, May 7. Included with this letter is a map of the building and a copy of our school's expectations for students' conduct and behavior.


You will have two groups of approximately 12 to 15 seventh graders; you will see each group for 85 minutes. Your activity will be located in room 100, which has tables and a blackboard, as per your request.


When you arrive, please sign in at the office, where you will receive a packet containing a list of students in each of your groups, a copy of the schedule, and a map of the building. A secretary will let me know when you have arrived, and I will send a student to escort you to your room.


The schedule for the day will be as follows:

8:00 9:00 Set-up (If you would like students to assist you in transporting

things to your room, please let me know. We also have a cart available for your use.)

9:05 10:30 Group #1

10:35 12:00 Group #2

12:05 Students report to homeroom after going to their lockers.

12:11 Students go to lunch.

You are invited to stay as our guest for lunch, if you wish.


To get to the Middle School: Take Route 45 to Mifflinburg. Turn at the light by the Carriage Corner Restaurant onto Market Street. At the second stop sign, turn left and park in front of the school. The office is located through the main lobby doors (by the flag pole).


As compensation for your time, you will receive a stipend of $75.00


If you have any questions or need further information, please contact me by phone at school or electronically at


Thank you for sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm with our students. We look forward to your visit.


Sincerely yours,



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