Medieval Study: Minstrels, the Black Death and Chaucer

books for this session

books for this session

We’ve just wrapped up weeks nineteen through twenty-four of Beautiful Feet Books’ Intermediate Medieval History covering from the 1290’s to 1400 or so. The book selections for this session were some of our very favorite of the study so far. The books are so wonderful, in fact, that my younger crew abandoned their history studies and insisted on listening in with their older brother. I just modified a few of the assignments to suit the younger kids so they could participate with their older brother. This is what happens when you read quality books aloud! Everyone joins in the fun…

In the first book, Adam of the Road, we learned about minstrels, heraldry and even more about medieval society. I found a fun heraldry prompt on Pinterest for my crew to dive into. The kids enjoyed making their own symbolic shields and I was so pleased with the results that I put their projects in a safe place. So safe, that I cannot remember where…(please tell me that I am not the only one who does this!)

The European World resource book

The European World resource book

At this time Oldest came up with his own history project for the rest of the study. He is using Minecraft to build a medieval city. For the past six weeks he has been building locations from the books. He even added one of the medieval Robin Hood ballads to the tavern he built to represent the Canterbury Tales. I wasn’t sold on this Minecraft build since the BFB guide includes several projects as well. It seemed more like an excuse to play video games to me at first. However, after watching how much research he put into each addition to his city I lost my skepticism. After the first week the middle two joined him on the project. The three of them are working together, checking out medieval history books from the library and learning so much on their own just so they can build their city. I’m pretty sure this is

illustration from Canterbury Tales

illustration from Canterbury Tales

what is referred to as “delight-directed learning”…the sweet-spot of home education. I sincerely believe the quality literature and discussions prompted by the guide led to my children’s curiosity to learn more on their own.

The next part of the study was on The Black Death and John Wycliffe through the book Morning Star of the Reformation. We found this book to be just a wee bit preachy in favor of Fundamentalism. For us it sparked a discussion on world views, respecting other’s beliefs and the importance of reading and understanding the Scriptures in our own language. The book does provide a rich portrait of a clergyman’s life and the description of The Plague and its aftermath on a culture is vivid. Oldest then gave us a presentation on The Plague aided by a nice map and website references in the guide.

they get cozy during read aloud time

they get cozy during read aloud time

In our next book, Crispin: The Cross of Lead, we learned just how difficult and harsh life could be for the common people. Thus far into the study this is probably my favorite book. It really captured the importance and hold the Catholic Church had on the medieval mind. We could feel the beginnings of political and religious unrest unfolding in society. The kids were just heart broken over the unjust cruelty shown toward Crispin and his mother.

the Minecraft tavern

the Minecraft tavern

Our last two weeks for this section of the guide was on Chaucer and The Canterbury Tales. The book provided by BFB is beautiful! The illustrations are just gorgeous! We also read Chaucer: Celebrated Poet and Author, Life on a Medieval Pilgrimage and another Canterbury Tales adapted by Geraldine McCaughrean. All three books were recommended by BFB. The kids, to my surprise, really enjoyed the Canterbury Tales and the Chaucer biography. The guide gives several websites on pilgrimages and suggests the student write a report. Since we were reading a book together on the subject I did not give Oldest the assignment. After we read the book I told the kids about the two pilgrimages I went on many years ago. My first pilgrimage was to the Ava Maria Grotto in

horse from Adam of the Road

horse from Adam of the Road

Cullman, Alabama. My second pilgrimage was to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows during my time with the Franciscan Order. I’m pretty sure that my kids think I’m weird…

We’ve been studying Shakespeare this term as well. We wrapped up our Shakespeare unit by reading and watching Hamlet since the story occurs during the late Middle Ages (1300-1499 or so). Hamlet is not a part of the BFB study at all but it does fit in nicely. We watched the Mel Gibson movie. It was pretty good and on Netflix.

20160225_161731

Hamlet

Right now Oldest is writing his own Canterbury Tale. For most of the written assignments in this study I have accepted first or second drafts with oral discussion. For this assignment we will be going through the entire revision and editing process which takes about a month for us. Once his story is completed and if he gives permission I will share it here in the blog.

We spent a great deal of time discussing religion, justice, the unfairness of the feudal system and the breakdown of society due to the plague and the Little Ice Age. These conversations led

church

church

to the kids understanding the importance in literacy and the ability to think critically as a defense against tyranny. If only it were so simple as their sweet idealistic hearts believe. Oldest then made a comparison of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages to Sharia Law today. Now that, is a chilling thought…

We have about nine weeks remaining for this study. Our tradition with history studies is to have a feast. In the next few weeks we will be researching recipes and final projects to share.

Medieval market square

Medieval market square

At the end of March and first of April Oldest and I will be hanging out at the Beautiful Feet Books’ booth at the Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati. If you are going then please stop by and say “Howdy!” We’d love to meet you! Beautiful Feet Books will also be at the Great Homeschool Conventions in Texas and California as well this year.

 

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