Thursday, November 19, 2015

Homeschool Highlights: The Feudal System

We had a great time reading chapter 16 of The Story of the World, Volume 2 and learning about the feudal system. Of course, the first thing we did after reading it was go make the castle mentioned in the activity guide. It was a great hit. (An an excellent use for leftover Halloween candy!)

Later that week I pulled out a booklet from Windsor Castle that I bought years ago when I visited there. (If you don't happen to have a booklet from Windsor Castle, there are plenty of articles and pics online.)
William the Conqueror started building Windsor Castle in 1070, just four years after becoming king. He chose its location because it was on a bluff overlooking the Thames, and it was originally a motte and bailey castle. It is both medieval (because William the Conqueror initiated its construction) and modern (because the royals still live there). When I visited in the early '90s we saw Queen Elizabeth leaving, and she waved to us on her way out.

Windsor Castle is a great option for teaching kids about medieval castle construction. The round tower used to be the keep--it was expanded in the 1800s.
The gate features slits in the wall so boiling water or molten lead could be poured on invaders. (Wowzers! Glad I didn't live back then.)

It was fun to show all these things to the kids and help them understand medieval castles a bit better. After that we read St. George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges. It provides examples of a knight owing service to a monarch--an easy way to demonstrate how the feudal system worked.

A few days later Abby informed me that she was building Windsor Castle out of blocks.
  She made sure the gate had slits for the transfer of various boiling liquids
and she put a keep in the middle of the courtyard. A pretty good rendition for a first grader!

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