Saturday, January 25, 2014

Investigating Castles: Part 2 (Comparing Past and Present)

This week was a short week due to a holiday and a snow day, but it gave us enough time to dive into how life was different in the Medieval days compared to today! Through our research, we have found out that things were very different in those days!  To show how things were different, we decided to turn the inside of our room into a great hall. We created a Then/Now T-chart to organize the differences we had learned. Unfortunately I forgot to get a picture of it. Then we used it to decide what we needed to create. 

The kids learned that in the Medieval days, they did not have electricity so they did not have lights. They created torches to provide "light" for our room. 

The torches are also providing us with "light" all over the inside of our room but it was hard to get a picture that truly showed the effect! They embrace our doorway, promethium board, and windows! Next week, they are going to add "candle" chandeliers in the kitchen and over the banquet table.  They will also make "candles" for the banquet table.

They made a giant fire place at the end of the great hall to provide us with warmth since we learned castles didn't have furnaces.

One group decided to turn our home living area into a Medieval style kitchen. We learned that instead of stoves like we have today, they used cook fires. 

We still need to find a pot to hang over the fire!  Our friend below is creating a soup.

They learned that instead of faucets and sinks, they used wells and buckets. They also learned that servants had to carry buckets of water warmed over the fire all the way up to the master bathroom to fill up the bath! Much more work than turning on a faucet! They also used ashes and sheeps fat for soap!  They created a well with a bucket for the castle kitchen so they would have water.

They have learned other differences  such as how they entertained themselves that we will explore further next week.

The kids also explored the people who lived in the castles.  The nobels were called lords and ladies.  They learned that the nobels were leaders and their job was to take care of their people.  They were the ones who worked to solve the problems as leaders are supposed to do! Nobel families had coat of arms with pictures that represented their families.  The kids created coat of arms, some for us to hang and some to use as shields as the knights did.

They studied how they dressed.  We learned that married women had to keep their hair covered. That is why they wore beautiful hats. The girls worked on beautiful princess hats and both boys and girls created crowns beautiful enough for kings and queens. They are in the process of creating bracelets also. 

They also learned that the servants and some knights also lived in the castle and we talked about some of their jobs.  They noticed that jobs were harder to do back then because they did not have the technology that we have today!

Here are some other things going on during our exploration time!

Castle building with these awesome casltle blocks a wonderful teacher in my building found for me at Big Lots! Thank you Brittany!

Because of the sub zero weather we are having, the clay on our window sill is as hard as a rock. We decided they would make good bases for wire sculptures to work those finger muscles! Someone asked what "sculptures" means! We discussed how paintings are 2 dimensional art because they are flat. Sculptures are 3 dimensional art because they pop out! Of course they made the connection to our focus on the difference between 2 dimentional and 3 dimentional shapes! 

The students created a small winter world area using materials I set out for them. They will add more to this as more materials are set out. 

Stay tuned as next week we will talk about entertainment, knights and castle defense!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Investigating Castles: Part 1

This investigation has really been a fun challenge for me! I have never had a group of kids desire to study castles and the Medeavil days before so we are all learning new things together! I went into Christmas break starting my own investigation on how to teach this subject and integrate the standards and came out more excited about this inquiry than any other!  The amount of standards that this investigation will cover was staggering! I was as excited as the kids to get started!

We started by figuring out how we could find out information about castles, since we didn't know very much!  They came up with Google, videos, books and going to a castle (I wish!).  I didn't have any books about castles so I went to the library and gathered a collection. We started reading a few of them to get some general information and some discussions started.  We watched a video of the 10 most beautiful castles from YouTube.  The kids were very curious about where the countries were that the castles were located in. They requested that we find out and create a map showing where the castles were so that is now on our agenda! ( I love it when they come up with the ideas that I hoped they would come up with on their own!).  Right away, they started investigating castles on their own during exploration time. 

We looked at the castles and pointed out the different shapes. This got the discussion started on the difference between 2 dimensional and 3 dimensional shapes. They learned that 2D shapes are flat and 3D shapes pop out. We created castle drawings to reinforce the qualities of 2D shapes and painted them with water colors. 

Many started building castles using 3D shapes during exploration time! We will be focussing on the names of these shapes a lot this quarter.

These two are trying to figure out how to add a draw bridge over their moat that can pull up!

Next we looked at all of the different parts of the castle. We learned that the Keep is a tall tower that housed the nobels. Castles had stone walls to protect those inside the castle. They had doors with a portcullis to keep out attackers. They had a drawbridge and a moat to keep enemies out. They also had small houses for the people who worked and protected the castle within the castle walls. We learned that over 1000 people could live within the castle walls! We also found out that the invention of the cannon brought the end of the age of the castles!

We learned that building a castle took many years and many people. The Master Mason came up with the plan and design.  He was he leader of all the workers. Masons were stone workers who shaped the stones. Blacksmiths worked with metal and made the portcullis, chains, tools, weapons and armor. Carpenters created scaffolds to stand on and anything made out of wood.  The kids took on these jobs to create a castle entrance in our hallway. 

These are the masons working on the keep and the stone wall. 

Here are blacksmiths creating chains to act as a portcullis for our doorway.

They needed to measure the chains by comparing them to the length of the doorway! Some decided to use unifix cubes. Others noticed it took 24 links to be the same size as the door. Others had us hold the chains up to the door and estimated how many more they would need. I love how they all come up with different strategies! 

We had carpenters create a drawbridge.

Some kids were ditch diggers and made a moat.

Here is what we have up so far. It is not finished yet! As we investigate further they will add more. 

This will be where we will document our journey as we learn.

They want our room to be the inside of the castle with a great hall for dining!  As we have investigated how they built the castles and the workers that built them, we have been having a lot of discussions about how things were different in the Medeavil days compared to the present. This is one of the main underlying themes of this study. They are seeing that everything from the the way workers did their jobs to entertainment to what they ate were very different back then! We have a lot more investigating to do so stay tuned to find out what we learn next!