Medieval residents did not enjoy the paved parking lots that we take for granted today. Horses were the preferred mode of transportation. As travelers shopped, visited friends, and went about their days, they would hitch their horses to posts. These were often adorned with varying colors to indicate class and wealth. The first component of this activity included decorating our “posts” with colorful pipe cleaners and yarn. Each child selected a variety of pipe cleaners that they were to “attach” to their preferred post. This fostered fine motor skills as it involved your little one twisting and fastening the pipe cleaner to make it adhere to the tree. The second component involved dramatic play. Here, your little one rode around on their own horses, exploring their medieval villages and parking their horses when they needed to rest. Dramatic play provides a host of social skills for your little one to practice. When they engage in pretend play, they exercise their negotiation and cooperation skills. They are encouraged to share and dictate roles. As they relate to one another, they foster their problem solving abilities and impulse control. Lastly, they learn to appreciate each actor’s role in the play. These all contribute to building important life skills.
Cobblestone roads have been used to fulfill transportation needs since ancient times. They appealed to medieval residents because of their durability in harsh weather. Though they were poorly maintained, they provided an integral component to medieval life. To facilitate our understanding of what a cobblestone road is, we created our own! Using cardboard for our roads, glue, and wood pieces as our “stones”, your little one constructed their own version of a cobblestone road. By fabricating their own roads, your little one was applying their awareness of what a cobblestone road is, and how it functions. Doing this also enabled them to practice a variety of skills imperative to their educational repertoire. By manipulating the “stones” they were practicing physical and cognitive skills. As they arranged them within the scope of a predetermined shape, they were learning spatial skills, logical and mathematical skills. Lastly, it encouraged creative thinking on account of the planning that was involved.
The people of the medieval ages did not enjoy water as we do today. Most citizens received their water from wells and other communal sources. This water was almost always tainted with bacteria, caused by human waste and poor sanitation. To compensate, people would add alcohol, honey, and other fruits to the water to make it “cleaner” for consumption. Using honey, limes, and water, we created our own version of mead. Before we began this activity, we discussed what germs were and how important it is to exercise proper hygiene. Your budding historian also learned about why medieval water was so dirty, and how they can ensure cleanliness in their own lives. When young children are active in creating their learning experiences, they foster meaningful connections between new information and their understanding of it. This is an important component in the capacity to problem solve. As they add and manipulate levels of ingredients, they amplify their ability to think creatively, as they create new and unique combinations of ideas and materials.
Medieval shields were designed to protect a knight or “soldier” from their enemies. They were also used as weapons throughout the middle ages. Learning how to manipulate a shield required years of training, aimed at increasing skills such as strength and agility. These weapons of war were also decorated with symbols that served to identify the knight, both in tournaments, and on the battle field. Using foil, cardboard, and glue, we created our own shields! This activity hosted a variety of developmental skills. As your child placed the foil on the cardboard, they practiced their fine motor skills and hand eye coordination. As they arranged the foil on the shield, they engaged their ability to manipulate space.