A Unit Study of the Middle Ages

This can be an incredibly fascinating time period to study. You can make it as complex or as simple as study as is appropriate for your child/student. You can make is as long or as abbreviated as necessary to suit your schedule.

This study is also easily adjustable to suit almost any learning-style. I’ve included hands-on activities, research, fiction and non-fiction reading, and suggestions for including music into your study. Do not discount studying this period because it happened so long ago. It is a very important era, it was the one which birthed the Renaissance and Reformation Era.


Time and again I mention Teacher Created Materials’ thematic unit series. The selection “Medieval Times” uses Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest by Ann McGovern, Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Jane Gray, and The Door in the Wall” by Marguerite de Angeli to frame this interesting thematic study. There are recipes for medieval foods (wassail, bangers, and scones) as well as a projects on archery and murals. (ISBN 1-55734-291-1)

Good Apple has an activity book entitled “Kings, Queens, Castles and Crusades” by Zelma Kallay. Designed for grades 5-8, it is scaleable for the younger or older student. Lots of information in this one. (ISBN 1-56417-666-5).

TS Denison’s Time Traveler Series has a selection called “Knights & Castles”. Written for grades 3-6, it is scaleable for the younger or older student. Be aware however, that this series focuses on thinking skills and may be beyond younger students development stages. It also comes with 170 award stickers. (ISBN 513-02192-2-8)

Choosing Your Way Through the World’s Medieval Past: Students are the central characters in these fictional but historically accurate story lines extending from the era of Anglo-Saxon England to the explorations of Vasco da Gama. Reading level: grade 5. Interest level: grades 6-10. Bibliography. Answer key. Illustrated. Spiralbound. 207 pages. ©1992.

Days of Knights and Damsels: By Laurie Carlson. Try a trencher of cabbage stew and dumplings. Wear poulaines (pointy-toed shoes). More than 100 easy-to-do arts and crafts projects. Sidebars provide fascinating facts (medieval pockets were looped over a belt because pockets sewn into clothing hadn't been invented yet), and simple line drawings illustrate project steps. Grades 2-6. 174 pages. ©1998.

Fabulous Feasts: By Madeleine Pelner Cosman. From fried artichokes to spiced tripe, medieval food and drink reflected the social class, intellectual and emotional states, and spiritual condition of the people in Chaucer's era. The book includes over 100 recipes, plus an extensive bibliography.

Knights and Castles: By Avery Hart and Paul Mantell. Projects include crafting dioramas, baking rose petal bread, building castles and catapults, playing games, writing ballads, putting on plays, designing coats of arms, and making a knight's helmet and sword. Grades 1-6. Web sites. Bibliography. 96 pages. ©1998.

Medieval Simulations: These unique simulations immerse students in European culture between the fall of Rome and the start of the Renaissance. As they take part in all aspects of medieval life, students see how the events and problems of that time relate to those of the modern world. Grades 4–8. Teacher Created Materials. 96 pages. ©2000.

Picture the Middle Ages: Use the simulation from this all-inclusive curriculum unit year after year and watch students respond with ever-fresh ideas. Notable for its ease of use, the unit contains all the motivating materials needed to immerse students in a medieval world as they assume the roles of the tradespeople in town, nobles and servants at the castle, monks and nuns in the monastery, and peasants of the manor, as well as re-creating their heraldry, clothing, music, dance, art, and literature. Copiously illustrated with maps, diagrams, patterns, music scores, and two fold-out charts (a poster and a timeline), the reproducible six-week unit (culminating in a festival) is complete with background text, activities and worksheets, discussion topics, and teaching instructions. Grades 4-8. Spiralbound. 162 pages.



Webquest: http://www.richmond.edu/~ed344/webquests/crusades/Tkateed.html

Literature Unit:

On-line activities:


At this location is a “feudal game.” It is a simulation and roll playing game created by a teacher. Check under the “social” heading for this one. http://www3.sk.sympatico.ca/stelern/index.htm

Here’s a massive site full of teaching resources for the Middle Ages http://members.aol.com/TeacherNet/Medieval.html

Was King Arthur Real?

Robin Hood

Medieval Manuscripts

The Black Plague

Introduction to the Medieval World

Medieval Life and Times

A Guide To Medieval and Renaissance Instruments

(free software): http://www.yourchildlearns.com/castle.htm
(free software): http://www.yourchildlearns.com/heraldry.htm

A wonderful site from about.com on Medieval history. Includes the multi-part series “The Medieval Child”

The Magna Carta http://eawc.evansville.edu/anthology/magnacarta.htm

Life in the Year 1000 http://www.cbc4kids.ca/general/time/millennium/y1k.html

Medieval Domestic Life – has excellent selection of additional links on medieval life http://www.millersv.edu/~english/homepage/duncan/medfem/domestic.html

Feudal Life http://www.learner.org/exhibits/middleages/feudal.html

A great site put together by Gander Academy. Multiple links to sites pertaining to useful information on the Middle Ages including information on clothing, food, knights, famous individuals from that era, etc. http://www.stemnet.nf.ca/CITE/medieval_times.htm

Here’s another truly outstanding site to gather information for your unit study. http://home.tampabay.rr.com/gifted/medievallit.html


There are several good ideas for using the “across the curriculum” approach with a study of the Middle Ages at this site: http://users.netonecom.net/~clchoponis/outlines/curriculum.html

Participate in a Thinkquest: http://library.thinkquest.org/10949/main.html http://library.thinkquest.org/3708/medmain.htm http://tqjunior.thinkquest.org/4310/

Study the Arthurian Legends: http://www.ops.org/lang-art/arthur.html

Create puzzles to go along with your study of the Middle Ages: http://puzzlemaker.school.discovery.com/

Put together your own Medieval costume. Fabric stores such as JoAnne Fabrics and Mae’s have patterns and materials which you can use for this purpose. Also check out this link: http://www.costumes.org/pages/medievalinks.htm

Try and live an entire day or week on a medieval diet. To help you plan, follow some of the ideas at this site: http://users.netonecom.net/~clchoponis/outlines/mfoods.html

Critique some films that are set in Medieval times. A short listing can be found at this link, in addition to a short form for critiquing: http://users.netonecom.net/~clchoponis/outlines/filmcritique.html

Make a Fire Breathing Bookmark. Use colored pencils to draw the head of a dragon rising from the bottom edge of a strip of construction paper. Put a dot of felt-tip marker ink in the dragon’s open mouth. Set the strip in a jar filled with about a half inch of water. Watch the dragon’s fiery breath appears.

Study Merlin and his place in Arthurian Legend. Make a Glitter Wand (adding a little bit of the scientific principle of viscosity). The directions for this activity are: http://www.themestream.com/gspd_browse/browse/view_article.gsp?c_id=322187


For reviews and possible selections to add to your unit study, peruse this site called “Medieval History in the Movies”. It has a great deal of useful information and will help you weed through everything that is out there. Even has a listing for the worst movies about medieval history: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/medfilms.html

Castle by David MacCaulay. For more information on this video, check here: http://catalog.socialstudies.com/c/@JVUkrzg9ucjpg/Pages/product.html?record@TF13377


Alexander, Lloyd. The High King. New York: Dell Publishing Co., Inc., 1980.
Barron, T.A. The Lost Years Of Merlin. New York: Tom Doherty Associates, Inc., 1996.
Barron, T.A. The Merlin Effect. New York: Tom Doherty Associates, Inc, 1996.
Chadwick, Elizabeth. First Knight. New York: Pocket Books, 1995.
Cushman, Karen. Catherine Called Birdy. New York: Harper Trophy, 1994.
Cushman, Karen. The Midwife's Apprentice. New York: Clarion Books, 1995.
de Angeli, Marguerite. The Door in the Wall. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers, 1990.
Doyle, Debra, and James D. MacDonald. Knights Wyrd. San Diego: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1992.
Dumas, Alexandre. The Three Musketeers. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1941.
Gilbert, Lela. The Quest for the Silver Castle. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 1993.
Levine, Gail C. Ella Enchanted. New York: Harper Collins, 1997.
Matthews, Rodney. King Arthur. Tulsa: EDC Publisher, 1995. McCaffrey, Anne. Dragon Drums. New York: Atheneum Publishers, Inc., 1986.
Napoli, Donna Jo. Jimmy, The Pickpocket of the Palace. New York: Penguin Putnam, Inc. 1995.
Paterson, Katherine. Parzival. New York: Lodestar Books, 1998.
Pogue, Charles Edward. DragonHeart. New York: Boulevard Books, 1996.
Scott, Sir Walter. Ivanhoe. New York: Scholastic Book Services, 1968.
Stephenson, Robert Louis. The Black Arrow. New York: Books, Inc., Sutcliff, Rosemary. The Sword and the Circle. New York: The Baker and Taylor Co., 1981.
Turner, Ann. The Way Home. New York: Crown, Inc., 1982.
Twain, Mark. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurs Court. White, T.H. Camelot - The Once and Future King. New York: Berkley Publishing Corporation, 1968.
Yolen, Jane. Hobby. San Diego: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1996.
Yolen, Jane. Merlin. San Diego: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1996.
Yolen, Jane. Passager. San Diego: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1996.

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