I see we have our work cut out for us ...
The First Fire of the Season

More on the Middle Ages

Just a week from tomorrow we begin our new learning year! As usual, I am still ironing out all the details. But, at least one subject is now neatly pressed and relatively wrinkle-free, thanks in part to a Sunday spent - by sun and candlelight if you will - working on our history plans! Naturally I am now going to tell you all about them. Hang on - this is a long one ... :)

As I mentioned a while back, I am using the Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History as a spine for our studies this year. I just love this book and highly recommend it for anyone with children interested in history. Every page is filled with great graphics, interesting details, well written text AND internet links to support and expand upon the topic at hand. For instance, when we read about the Anglo-Saxons, we will follow the Usborne link to several interesting webpages, via which we can visit an Anglo Saxon village, see Anglo Saxon artifacts - even talk with an Anglo Saxon villager! All these sites are right there - it would take me hours to research such sites on my own. (And by the way, my new favorite Usborne resource is Donna Marie's Bookshop!)

The following plan may seem way too detail-oriented (or maybe not enough, depending on your style!), but it's convenient for me to have a general outline of topics to follow, especially when requesting library books and planning projects in advance. As always, there is lots of wiggle room. If, say, we are taken up by the story of Robin Hood (which I have a feeling we will) we can certainly stray from the plan and follow that path through the forest primeval for a while. ;)

The History Notebooks: The older two boys and I will each keep a binder in which we'll store our Middle Ages work. Inside we'll keep a timeline, mapwork, narrations, coloring pages, reports, projects and field trip descriptions.

Unscheduled additional topics: Arthurian legend, the liturgical year in medieval life, Marian devotion and gardens, saints of the middle ages, bookmaking, heraldry, weaponry, the legends and science of dragons ...

The Living Books: I'm still in the process of finding good living books to include, and figuring out what we'll read, when. Here are the titles I've found so far; some are for Bookworm, some are for Crackerjack and some will be family read-alouds. (Please leave a comment if you can recommend any resources!)

The Outline: Below is the general breakdown of our Middle Ages study as it will unfold this year. Generally, each numbered item (topic) will be covered within a week's time or so. There are 26 topics to cover within the 34 weeks (give or take) we call our "school year" - voila the wiggle room! After each topic I've listed the sub-topics we'll investigate and any books assigned to that week.


1. The Byzantine Empire ~ Constantinople, Emperor Justinian, Byzantine art - mosaics and icons, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Discoveries: Great Buildings

2. Return to Christianity ~ Irish monks, Augustine Came to Kent, Color Your Own Book of Kells, map of Barbarian kingdoms, A Street through Time

3. Anglo-Saxon England ~ village life, the Danes, thanes/churls/slaves, King Alfred

4. Charlemagne's Empire ~ King of the Franks, Charlemagne's 3 kingdoms

    4a. Holy Roman Empire ~ Otto the Great, Emperor Frederick

5. The Norman Conquests ~ Battle of Hastings, King William the Conqueror

    5a. The Hundred Years War ~ The Black Prince, St. Joan: the Girl Soldier, Henry V

6. Kings, Nobles & Peasants ~ medieval calendar, The Duke and the Peasant: Life in the Middle Ages, land, Magna Carta, Peasants' Revolt

7. Knights, Soldiers & War ~ defending a castle, becoming a knight, The Making of a Knight

8. Living in a Castle ~ Castle, hunting, falconry, The Sword in the Stone, pastimes, feasting, A Medieval Feast, tournaments

9. Living in a Village ~ farming system, A Farm through Time, village jobs, fairs, homes, fairs, Children and Games in the Middle Ages

10. Living in a Town ~ craftworkers, merchants, guilds, holy days, Medevial Towns, Trades and Travel

11. Traders & Towns ~ trade fairs, merchants, city-states, the Hanseatic league

12. Building a Cathedral ~ stained glass windows, Rose Windows & How to Make Them, Cathedral: The Story of its Construction


13. Going on a Pilgrimage ~ pilgrim routes and destinations, The Canterbury Tales

14. Monks & Monasteries ~ becoming a monk, layout, herbs and healing, manuscripts, A Medieval Alphabet to Illuminate, The Hidden Treasure of Glaston

15. Art in the Middle Ages ~ gargoyles, Gargolyles and Medieval Monsters Coloring Book, stained glass, statues, tapestries, Medieval Tapestries Coloring Book, altarpieces

16. The Crusades ~ map of Holy Land, the various Crusades, Saladin, Richard the Lion Heart

17. The Black Death ~ the origin and spread of the plague, Flagellant Brothers,

18. Criminals & Outlaws ~ public punishments, forest laws, Robin Hood, The Adventures of Robin Hood, archery, Medieval Law and Punishment

19. Kingdoms of the Celts ~ Prince Llywelyn the Great, Gruffydd, William Wallace, Battle of Bannockburn, Strongbow

20. The Rise of Burgundy ~ Dukes of Burgundy, Jan van Eyck, Flanders, Burgundian court, medieval clothing

21. The Wars of the Roses ~ House of Lancaster and House of York, Henry VI, rose symbols, Richard III, Battle of Bosworth Field, the Tudors

22. The Struggle for Spain ~ the Moors, al-Andalus, Cordoba, kingdom of Portugal, the Reconquista, El Cid

23. Explorers & Sailors ~ Marco Polo, Kublai Khan, China, Cheng Ho, junks

24. Artists of Italy ~ the Renaissance, patrons, Florence and the Medicis, classical architecture, Michelangelo, Botticelli

25. Ideas & Inventions ~ education, da Vinci, alchemists, Gutenberg, Machiavelli

26. Voyages of Discovery ~ Henry the Navigator, Dias, sea monsters, Columbus, Vespucci, Cabot, Vasco da Gama, maps


I'll come back to this post and update our resources and progress as we go, so check back if you'd like! I'll also make up a booklist on the sidebar to keep track of the books we are reading and when. :)