This year I asked the children to choose one area of the historical period which would interest them enough to dig deeper on their own. The task was to put together a project on their chosen area and present it at our final medieval presentations in April (ish) time. They needed to come up with a written way of expressing all they had learnt; a means of displaying the information; as well as a means of communicating their area of expertise within the constraints of a presentation.
The children have been working away at their individual projects for a month now, and all three seem to be enjoying themselves. The biggest surprise by far has been the amount of time C11 has been putting in, going way beyond the call of duty and working away whilst the others are watching their evening video. I am so proud of her work ethic with regards to this project:
We did lots of individual activities last year, but this is the first time the children have taken on such a large project to do alone. As their mother, it is very interesting watching them work, each in their own unique ways.
Whilst their project is their own, and they can follow whatever interests them, I have had certain requirements of them. There are two reasons for this. First, I want them to be writing each day, and thought they would probably enjoy writing about their chosen project. This means I have asked them to write down their plans, as well as a list of things they anticipate doing to achieve those plans. And secondly, this gives them the additional benefit of knowing vaguely which path they want to travel. Let me explain. I have one daughter, who given the chance will go straight from A to Z without passing through B, C, D…..to get there. This often results in work she is unhappy about and which doesn’t look like it had in her head. I thought if I insisted she went through the planning and execution steps, she would probably end up with work she could be proud of. My other two children probably need this less as they tend to be very methodical by nature; that said, I am requiring it of them all.
So, without further ado, here is the progress they have made in one short month.
C11: Medieval Fashions
C11 wants to research fashions worn during the middle ages, across the classes. She will then design outfits, choose appropriate material from our stash and hand sew the costumes to fit her dollies. During the process she will design a mood board for each class. Her presentation will consist of a fashion show, using her dolls as models. She will describe each doll, what they are wearing and the materials it is made from. She has opted to do a medieval fashion catalogue as her written work. This will include her designs as well as a written description and explanation of all she has learnt. She is very enthusiastic about this whole project, which will include (time allowing) helping her siblings put together dress up for the feast her twin will be hosting. It is a joy to behold.
Here is her work so far:
L11: Medieval Feasts
L11 is a bit obsessed by the kitchen, so it was no surprise to me that she chose to research medieval feasts. Her whole project will rest on the fact that she will host a feast as her actual presentation. She plans on designing invitations and writing them herself, sending them to the couple we are hoping will join us for the feast. Decorations will be prepared and she will also write a menu plan. The rest of her presentation preparation time will be spent, I am sure, in the kitchen, making the dishes she has chosen to serve at her feast. Her writing will be to make a medieval recipe book which she will hand out to all her guests at the feast. I am really looking forward to her take on the medieval feast. I think it is a huge undertaking with 6+ courses, but she seems to be taking it in her stride!
Here is her work so far:
T12: War of the Roses
‘War of the Roses?’ I hear you say, ‘Surely T12 was doing about apocathery during the plague?’ Well, yes he was. Only he didn’t seem able to get a start on it. This is very unlike my son, who tends to be the most proactive of all the members of the family. So we had a chat during which I suggested he change the topic. No point in flogging a dead horse so to speak. I asked if anything else grabbed his attention. Immediately his face lit up as he squealed, with no small amount of passion, ‘War of the Roses!’ Oh, okay then. I didn’t see that coming. Apparently he had spotted the dvd I had bought, chronicling the War of the Roses, and was itching to watch it. So he switched and has been busy beavering away ever since! I was not unhappy about this U-turn with regards to his topic, because it meant I could create some learning around the plague myself (which is a subject that interests me greatly), and I now didn’t have to teach about the War of the Roses (which is a subject that doesn’t interest me greatly. If at all.). T12 would do that for me in his presentation.
So T12’s plans so far include using our large papier-mache map to show where each of the battles took place in Britain. He intends to demonstrate how medieval battle were fought, using Playmobil figures, concentrating on the Battle of Towton. He will also write a manual outlining essential battle techniques knight had to learn to be successful fighters in the middle ages. His presentation will be a power point, including all of the above, a slide show with his still photos of his Playmobil scenes and a short video at the end.
Here is his work so far:
We try to work at this everyday, even if it is for a short time. And I have to say, it’s paid off dividends. We are well on our way towards a fun, fun, fun presentation! The children have really enjoyed having (even) more freedom than usual and I saw a surprising benefit to schooling like this. Over the past week everyone has, at some point or another, come down with some weird virus. The children seem to have fought it off well but it put them out of action for a day or so. Usually, because I school the older ones together for at least some of the day, I have to stop until everyone is well again. This time we were still able to get loads done, with the children working, as they were able, on their individual projects. I can definitely see us doing more of these types of study in the future.