Medieval Study: Eleanor to Robin Hood

20150908_203459 (640x480)

some of the books we read for weeks 7-12

By the title you can see that we haven’t covered a long period in history. We hit a little snag in our schedule…my husband was offered a wonderful job and we are in the process of moving. My homeschool schedule took a major hit! Normally, I would have carried on this section of our study on through to the Magna Charta, medieval architecture, and castle life. We should be finishing up week sixteen of the study instead we are in the midst of week twelve.

The study of Queen Eleanor and her times begins in week seven of the study. We chose to start this section with one of the recommended books A Proud Taste of Scarlet and Miniver  by E. L. Konigsburg. Oldest loved this book and even the younger children listened to the story. We couldn’t put the book down and I finished reading it aloud in about four sittings. Oldest became enthralled with Queen Eleanor. Everything about her and her times fascinated him. He checked out several extra books at the library on the time period and enjoyed a couple of books on Saint George the Dragon Slayer. After reading the next chapter in our spine book (The European World) we started on Queen Eleanor: Independent Spirit of the Medieval World.

Lego feudalism model

Lego feudalism model

In his first couple of weeks with this section of the guide Oldest explored feudalism. He chose to make a Lego representation of the feudal system. He then explored several websites on Gothic architecture, Vikings, and the early Crusades. He also worked on his map marking cities and Queen Eleanor’s route on the Second Crusade. We read about the struggle between church and state through the tragic story of King Henry II and Thomas Becket. Oldest found Becket’s betrayal of his friend and king shocking and just could not understand the Church’s stance on a nation’s laws. Oldest still sees the world in very black and white terms. He was rather upset at the lack of true justice in medieval law. He struggled with the idea that people who called themselves Christians did not “walk the talk”. I had to remind him at this point that many people during this time in history could not read. Most people did not have access to a Bible and simply believed whatever they were told. We had some good discussions that we will likely revisit when we study the Protestant Reformation. I felt a little sad for my son…sensing his faith in humanity took a hit. A little gray is starting to penetrate his black and white world.

the crossbow worked

the crossbow worked

Oldest designed a tapestry with a battle scene from the Second Crusade. I then assigned him a five paragraph paper on Eleanor of Aquitaine. I simply hoped to get one page. He does not enjoy writing. He loved to write when he was younger but something happened during his public school years to choke that early spark from him. The past few months I have backed off from too many writing assignments and started slowly implementing techniques I’ve learned from Brave Writer. Once he started writing about her he couldn’t stop! I took a very hands off approach with this assignment. As he continued to write I allowed him to put off his other work. He wrote 1144 words! I was beyond thrilled and chose to accept his paper without a proper editing session. I didn’t want to end his enthusiasm for writing or history. He also wrote a poem about her that I will have to add a picture of later. It is currently boxed for the move (along with both of the Eleanor books).

We then started The Boy Knight: A Tale of the Crusades by G. A. Henty and Saladin: Noble Prince of Islam by Diane Stanley, Saladin: The Warrior Who Defended His People by Flora Geyer and Richard the Lion Heart and the Third Crusade: The English King confronts Saladin by David Hilliam. All of these books are only recommended and are not a part of the guide. We enjoyed reading The Boy Knight and the rest of the books above helped to flesh out the history in the novel. Oldest made a mini crossbow and then spent some time tinkering with it to make the design better. The Boy Knight segued quite nicely into The Adventures of Robin Hood. We’ve watch a few Robin Hood movies over the years so he knows the basic story. Due to our crazy moving schedule we only

playing from The Song of Robin Hood

playing from The Song of Robin Hood

got through three or four chapters a week. We had already chosen our projects and bought parts but will have to wait until after the move. We were going to make a PVC pipe long bow and Robin Hood style hats for everyone and host an archery competition followed up with a proper medieval feast. We’ll actually do those projects at the end of our study.

We did watch the Doctor Who episode: Robots of Sherwood. Oldest enjoyed pointing out scenes that were inspired from the book. He thought the actor and writers did a good job of bringing Robin Hood to life…other than the robots and time traveling of course. We discussed heroes in literature, forest law and justice. I was surprised when he pointed out the similarities in literary style between Doctor Who, King Arthur, 1001 Arabian Knights, and Robin Hood! They are all framed narratives. Just as each chapter of the books is part of an overall narrative telling a single story so is an entire season (sometimes several) of Doctor Who. I was impressed he caught that. I also never considered using literary devices to describe visual media. We also read a few article on the Battle of Hastings and the Norman invasion of England. Learning about the conquest helped us to understand the animosity between the Saxons and the Normans in The Boy Knight.

fig tarts

fig tarts

Oldest did have to write a food review for another course and chose to make medieval fig tarts. He finds a way to merge most assignments into his medieval studies these days. The tarts were tasty but really heavy on the spices. I had to make a slight modification to the recipe above since fresh figs are hard to come by in Kentucky! I found dry whole figs at the local Mennonite shop and soaked them in grape juice overnight. I also skipped the saffron and used turmeric…

We are looking forward to getting settled in our new home so we can continue our medieval history studies. We are about to start the story of the Magna Charta and the origins of representative government. For now, Oldest is learning to play one of the ballads in The Song of Robin Hood by Anne Malcolmson, Grace Castagnetta and Virginia Burton. The book is a must have for any true fan of Robin Hood. The book contains early original ballads of Robin Hood with music adapted for modern times. Once he is comfortable I’ll record his version and upload it to YouTube and post a link here. Also, last month one of my favorite blogs: As He Leads Is Joy posted a picture of Little John’s grave she found while out on a walk. Just something of a neat coincidence…

Advertisements

Medieval Study: From Saint Augustine to Arabian Nights

books from the study

books from the study

We’ve completed our first six weeks of Beautiful Feet Books’ Medieval History: A Literature Approach for Advanced Intermediate and Junior High.  Oldest loves history. It is his favorite subject to study. I think one of the reason’s he loves it so much is because I read many of the books to him. When we first started using Beautiful Feet Books a few years ago I thought reading books to my kids was kinda strange. I mean, they are old enough to read on their own now. Odd as it seemed to me at the time, I went along with the recommendation in the guide anyway. I (and my kiddos) am so happy I took the quirky counsel. Read-aloud time is one of our favorite parts of the homeschool day. I didn’t know it at the time but reading to our kids is not only beneficial to our children’s education but…oh my! I am getting off topic! For more information

from the guide

from the guide

on why reading aloud is important check out the Read-Aloud Revival. I am currently listening to one podcast a week for my own time of summer refreshment.

This study dives the student right into a pretty good-sized workload the first week. Within the first three weeks of the study Oldest’s hand written glossary contained nearly one hundred words.  We chose to break up the vocabulary words by doing only five to eight of the words each day. He wrote a small paper on Charlemagne, worked on a hand drawn map, completed an Anglo-Saxon rune art project, and copied and decorated King Arthur’s Code of Chivalry. The rune project was his own idea. The guide directed him to a website to learn

projects

projects

about the runes and suggest he have fun making coded messages with someone. His rune page says, “Beowulf is cool!” and then he did some illustrations similar to those in the Beowulf book from the study. In the midst of this study Oldest was working on his final research paper (1000 words on the life of Julius Caesar) for his writing curriculum so I cut two of the writing assignments. An essay comparing the conflicting ideas of Christianity and Paganism and an essay on Judaism, Christianity or Islam. We simply discussed and explored these topics together. I think his favorite project so far is the map. He takes his time locating each place, marking routes, and adding a bit of color. Every week also includes internet sites to explore and Oldest has really

map work

map work

enjoyed exploring these topics further. He spent a couple of hours on the recommended King Arthur webpages.

Oldest loves the spine book  (The European World 400-1450) for this study. He strongly disliked Streams of Civilization used in the ancient history study and has suggested several times that every copy should have a proper Viking burial at sea. The European World is an excellent and informative text with photographs and maps. Our favorite part of the book is the little samples of primary sources of literature, biographies and other text usually dated from the time period covered in the chapter. Oldest found it fascinating that the tradition of decorating Easter eggs originated with feudalism.

from Beowulf

from Beowulf

Oldest’s favorite book for the first six weeks is Beowulf. The book is beautifully illustrated and even the younger children would listen to the story. As a mom, I just love when their imaginative play mixes with the books we are reading. Middle Boy even built Grendel with Legos. I read several stories from King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Through this book and One Thousand and One Arabian Nights we learned about literary elements and framed narratives. The guide suggested only a portion of each of the two books for reading. Oldest added the King Arthur book to his reading list and will do an additional report with it later in the school year.

from The European World

from The European World

We decided to finish the Arabian Nights book as a read aloud. (I wish the book contained a pronunciation guide or the names and places…this Southern girl had no clue!)  I had never read this book in the past and wasn’t looking forward to it honestly. I knew it was about an Islamic king who killed his new bride every day because he hated women. Much to my surprise we all enjoyed the book…yes, even me with my own admitted prejudice was charmed by Shahrazad’s stories. Now that I have read this book I also know where the writers’ of several episodes of Bugs Bunny received their inspiration. Ha! The book prompted some difficult conversations about how women are treated in other cultures…especially in Islamic regions. During this time I read about Ann Voskamp’s journey to Iraq (you may want to skip this if you are very sensitive…it gave me horrible nightmares.) My sparkly girl is nine and so my emotions were a little high as I

extra books

extra books

struggled with how much to share with my children. (And no, I did not share anything of Mrs. Voscamp’s report.) History and current events can be tough to talk about sometimes.

Oldest spent the last week learning about the differences between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We’ve studied this in the past so it was mostly a review for him. He did read the appropriate sections in The Usborne Book of World Religions by Susan Meredith. We found a few videos on YouTube to explain the basic practices of Judaism and Islam. I tried to arrange an interview at the Jewish Temple in Paducah but have not received a return call yet. As far as I know there are no Islamic practitioners that I feel comfortable exposing my children to in this area. This weekend I will take Oldest to a Catholic church and explain to him the Way of the

Charlemagne paper and a peek at the guide

Charlemagne paper and a peek at the guide

Cross, Rosaries, scapulars, and transubstantiation. In fact, I will be taking him to the monastery chapel where  I once lived and believed my vocation was to the religious life. We currently attend a Methodist church and I am looking forward to explaining to him the differences in practice between the two denominations. He’ll have some hard questions for me I am sure…

We read two extra books that are not part of the study but are recommended for extra reading. The first book we read was Saint Augustine: Early Church Father by Rachel M. Phillips. This book covers the time period just before the fall of Rome. It is a nice bridge book between the ancient course we just finished and our current study. We pushed through the book as a read aloud but it was not easy. So much of the book is Augustine’s thoughts and that made it hard on Oldest to understand at times. The

Intermediate Medieval books and guide form Beautiful Feet Boks

Intermediate Medieval books and guide form Beautiful Feet Boks

book also delves into sexual sin (not graphically) and womanizing. If you are not ready to discuss such things then skip the book. This is a book we will likely revisit in the high-school years. The other recommended book (but also not part of the study) we read was The Boy’s King Arthur by Sidney Lanier. The book I found was illustrated by N. C. Wyeth. The book is beautiful and after I got the rhythm of the older usage of the English language down we found the book delightful…it is one you have to give some time for it to become immersive. The illustrations alone are worth seeking for the book. Not all middle school

Oldest working on mapwork for Medieval studies

Oldest working on mapwork for Medieval studies

boys are going to love the book…however if they are fans of Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail then they will love it. I guess it is the usage of the book’s prose…maybe…?

Oldest loves this course. He begs for history every day. This week we are currently on a one week summer break from school (Yes, that is all the summer break my kids get!). However, Oldest insisted that we read our next book in the study while on break this week. What more can a homeschooling mother ask for from a curriculum that a middle school boy begs to do while on summer break?!?