Literature Studies: Chaucer – A Retelling of a Knight’s Tale?


The first tale I chose to focus on was the Knight’s Tale because it is the tale from which Shakespeare took his inspiration for ‘The Two Kinsmen’ and ‘A Midsummer night’s Dream’.  We will be studying Shakespeare for a whole year and ‘A Midsummer Night’s dream is my very favourite play of his, and probably the first we will study in any detail.  It could make a nice comparison study if the children enjoy it enough.

During their two weeks off the children made their way through the Chaucer resources I had kindly provided for them!  They read from the picture books and cartoon books, as well as watching an animated version of The Knight’s Tale:

I also read a fairly detailed summary of the tale, after which I popped on Hegeland’s A Knight’s Tale:

I wanted them to write a casual, comparison piece on the two tales.   This was to be their first activity linked to Chaucer and it was a bit of a tongue in cheek one.  A Knight’s Tale may be very similarly named to The Knight’s Tale but there the similarities end.  Or do they?  I wondered what the children might make of this.

I saw an opportunity for a quick feudal system revision, so we went back over our work on feudalism and brought up my photos of their diorama.  I got them to place the characters they remembered from both the book and the film into their correct level.  I might just get a tiny bit excited when something we have learnt in the past crops up in our present day studies!  Here is our modified diorama:

dsc_0315feudal system

Not only was this helpful revision, it was also useful to show some of the parallels between the original story and the film.

Next we re-read one of our books together (shown middle in the picture below), stopping and chatting along the way when we saw something that might compare with the film.  Ribbet collage chaucer
Then I drew out a Venn diagram on our white board, labelled it and asked for suggestions of similarities and differences.  Ways such as these help my children (my son in particular) order his thoughts and enable them to write a much clearer essay.  Depending on the type of essay we use key word diagrams, spider diagrams, mind maps or Venn diagrams.  Here is our completed diagram comparing the film A Knight’s Tale and Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale:

DSC_0161knights tale

Together they wrote a piece comparing the two in a critique about the film.  I asked them to pretend they were a man from the middle ages and so he needed to have a medieval perspective on it.  It was typed up using Old English type and completed by the addition of a black and white picture:

DSC_0164knights tales

DSC_0165knights tale

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At the end of the six weeks this will be photocopied and pasted onto our home-made newspaper we are making to contain all of our Chaucer work.