Magic Tree House Adventures – Knights!

January 23, 2013 at 1:40 am (Education, JARS) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The Kingfisher Atlas of the Medieval World

The Kingfisher Atlas of the Medieval World

(… Castles! And Medieval Times!)

the-knight-at-dawnToday we read up on everything Knights and Castles we could get our hands on in our house.  We started with The Magic Tree House #2: Knight at Dawn then moved onto the Research Guide Knights and Castles.  While I read these two easy readers aloud to the kiddo, she perused The Kingfisher Atlas of the Medieval World, mostly staying on the page on European castles in between jumping on my bed shouting our Feudal System chant.

“A Feudal System has four parts! From top to bottom it goes: King, Barons, Knights and Serfs!”  Sadly, I’ve already forgotten the tune to which we were singing/chanting this bit of information, maybe one day it will come to me again, or maybe we’ll find a new tune.  Either way, munchkin was climbing in and out of the laundry basket this morning singing,  “King! Baron! Knight! Serf!” so I win.

magic-tree-house-research-guide-2-knights-castles-mary-osborne-hardcover-cover-artIt was at this point that I decided: in addition to reading through this pairing and prepping kiddo’s future education (when she’s old enough to tackle these projects properly with crafts, writing assignments, and vocabulary tests), I’m going to blog our prepping routines… separate from the Weekly Low Down on Kids Books installments.  I know I will find it handy for when we repeat this reading exercise in a few years, but maybe someone else can find it handy now.

I can’t wait to take the kiddo to Medieval Times. I’ve always enjoyed the place and once she is old enough to go, I think it would be a great way to end an educational adventure.  As she’s only two and today’s reading was somewhat (though not completely) impromptu, I took her to the closet thing to a castle we have readily available.

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The Spring Community Playground, part of Liberty Park looks like a giant, wooden castle to me.  It has several keeps, a palisade, horses to ride, and all sorts of castle/fortress styled fixtures.  According to the park’s website:

This playground was built by the Spring community for the betterment of the Spring community ultimately for the enjoyment by our children with community donations and community volunteer labor. It was built in 5 DAYS from January 29th to February 2nd 2003 with over 900 community volunteers. A large majority of the volunteers were parents, grandparents and friends of students from Hirsch, Smith and Jenkins Elementary Schools. We also had volunteers from Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, Kingwood, Conroe, Laredo, and Mexico.

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Obviously, there’s a huge difference between this and an actual castle! But it’s fun to walk the park and read the engraved pieces of wood that tell who donated what.  I want the kiddo to grow up with a strong sense of community… our neighborhood is our manor, and all that.

When she’s older, we’ll be able to spread the study over the course of a week and add more books and activities. For instance, on day two we could read The Time Warp Trio: The Knights of the Kitchen Table over breakfast.  I like the idea of making a lap book with artwork, tabs, and pop-ups out of a manila filing folder afterward.  (Visit this pin: http://pinterest.com/pin/118923246380148367/)

This unit would also be a great opportunity to spend the week going through one Sir Cumference book a day for the start of math lessons.

For lunch, I’ll take the opportunity to serve “feast foods.”  I found an entire web page dedicated to recipes of the day, and I love to eat to match our educational themes.  Plus, I want my daughter to know her way around the kitchen before she goes off to college, unlike me.  So as she gets older, we’ll be making all our meals in the kitchen together – themed or not.

I would definitely try to work in her first horseback lesson during this week if she hadn’t started them already, after all knights, caballeros, Ritters, and chevaliers, are all just soldiers on horseback, as the MTH Research Guide will tell you.

lapbooking

Click image to visit a lapbooking tutorial website.

For the most part, though, we will spend our days reading, making lap books, journaling what we’ve learned, playing dress up, and gearing all our artistic energy at the topic.  Homeschool Mom and Blogger of My 2 Small Boys has images of her kids’ notebooks on Knights and Castles here: http://my2smallboys.blogspot.com/2012/01/middle-ages-knights-and-castles.html.

When the weekend roles around, if the study lands in the summer, perhaps we will go to the beach and build sandcastles;  If in the fall, maybe we’ll head out to the Texas Ren Fest.

Knights and Castles Library List
Saint George and the Dragon (a great precursor to have on hand for Spenser’s The Faerie Queen, we’ve already read it quite a few times)
Castle Diary by Richard Platt
The Knight at Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne
Knight by Christopher Gravett
Knight ~ A Noble Guide for Young Squires
100 Things You Should Know About Knights and Castles
by Jane Walker
If You Lived in the Days of Knights by Ann McGovern
Castle: Medieval Days and Knights by Kyle Olmon
Knights in Shining Armo by Gail Gibbons
Knights and Castles by Seymour Simon
The Usborne Book of Castles by Lesley Sims and Jane Chisolm
What If You Met a Knight? By Jan Adkins
Imagine You’re a Knight by Meg Clibbon
Take Care, Good Knight by Shelley Moore Thomas
The Knight and the Dragon by Tomie DePaola
In the Castle by Anna Milbourne
The Castle That Jack Built by Lesley Sims
The Tournament by Heather Amery

Some more ideas: http://www.angelfire.com/dc/childsplay/castleunit.htm

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How Alcott Raises Little Women

December 24, 2011 at 7:35 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Title: Little Women

Author: Louisa May Alcott

Publisher: Little, Brown

Genre: Young Adult Classics

Length: 502 pages

Buy Now!

I don’t remember learning to read, as I did it from such a young age.  I do, however, remember the first books I fell in love with and the first books I read that were difficult for my limited vocabulary.  Laura Ingalls Wilder I fell in love with first, I read the entire series several times by the end of first grade.  Little Women, however, I fell in love with and learned from in second grade.  Little Women taught me new words and phrases, culture, and how I wanted to live.

Josephine March has been one of my heroes since I was seven and first read about her chopping off all her luxurious hair.  As a young girl, I identified quite well with her “one beauty” (that amazing hair) and tomboyish ways.  I myself, was a ruddy, freckled girl, often found either playing tag football with boys at recess or perched in an oak tree reading a book, hair flowing every which way that my mother did not allow me to cut.  My first significant hair cut, I donated two feet to locks of love, and who else was on my mind? Jo March.

I re-read the book multiple times before I left elementary school, getting more and more out of it each time as my reading skills improved.  And despite cherishing it always, I set the book aside and did not read it again until my twenty-seventh year, this year, to my one year old daughter.

I opened it up a week or so before Christmas, not realizing it would spur a desire to re-read it every Christmas with my kid for the rest of her life if she likes it as much as I do.  It’s such a great Christmas book!  Upon this fresh re-read, I also discovered many other things that my brain had forgotten, but my soul must have internalized.  For instance, the girls are all distraught and Hannah, bless her soul, “came to the rescue armed with a coffee-pot.”

Like every good American, I am wholly addicted to that black magical brew, it’s in our veins and culture, look at how well Starbucks has taken off.  But my family did not keep coffee readily available, my dad won’t touch the stuff and my mom’s mother died of cancer the doctors blamed on her caffeine intake so she never kept it around growing up.  So part of me wonders if Alcott played a role in my introduction to it, as I don’t remember a time when I did not love it.  I remember sneaking cups of it from the employee break room at the bus barn where I waited with my bus driver between routes in elementary school.  In hindsight, I believe it was the reverence that writers hold for it, the way it is talked about in books, that drove me to love it so much, and it very well may have begun with Little Women.

Then, there is Theodore Laurence.  I believe every guy friend’s worth that I ever had my whole life was measured against the character of Laurie.  He is whimsical, gallant, a rascal and a gentleman.  Theodore Laurence is handsome, a friend, and all around a good time.  Every girl needs a Teddy-Dear in her adolescent life and if you can’t get one in the real world, its time for yet another read of Little Women so you can live vicariously through Jo!

Jo March taught me to love, to read, to pursue life with a fiery passion, and how to pick my friends.  It was Jo March that sparked the first desires in me to be a writer.  It was Little Women, and the romance of Jo and the Professor, that set the stage for me to fall in love with the art of Jane Austen and the Brontes.  It was the pen of Louisa May Alcott that taught me how to really enjoy books and the thrilling life they have to offer.

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