Friday 10 July 2020

Middle Ages History resources

We have just finished a year studying the Middle Ages. This is our second visit to the Middle Ages as we also spent a year learning about this time period five years ago. (For anyone who  wonders we do a four year history cycle but spent an extra year learning about Ancient civilisations).

My younger two, who are home educated would be in years 6 and 8 if they were in school. These are the resources that we have used this year and below, I will put a list of resources that we used previously.

  • Story of the Middle Ages by Christine Miller. This is updated from older books by HA Guerber. We used this book as a read aloud in morning time. Reading one chapter per day, it lasted from September to the beginning of June. We liked this book. The chapters are short and it covers French history as well and English. The major downside of this book is that it is American and not small so postage would be an issue. We have a print copy from days when exchange rates were more favourable but Nothing New Press sell an ebook which would probably be my choice if I were buying it again.
  • Story of the World volume 2: The Middle Ages by Susan Wise Bauer. I used this with my son who is 11. This book is well written and popular with the children. It also gives a balance of World history as opposed to just Western European and American history. It comes from a liberal Christian stable and Reformed Christians might would to add a bit to her explanation of the Reformation. 
  • Galore Park History for Common Entrance: Medieval Realms Britain 1066-1485. My 13 year old used this book. This book includes many written exercises including those where sources need to be compared. In fact, we sometimes selected exercises when a chapter seemed to be ending with three essays! The book is well presented although we did add videos to this. I just googled the relevant time/character plus KS3 which generally brought up short videos. I pre-watched these. The other issue with this book is that it doesn't begin particularly early in the Middle Ages so was out of synch with our other reading for a fair while. Sometimes the content was rather thin and more research was really necessary.
  • Veritas Self Paced: Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation. I used this, with my youngest, as they have a special free access for lockdown for a couple of months. We had used this before with his older sister. This is engaging but expensive. As we had almost finished the year, it was  fun but not something that we decided to continue. This is definitely worth considering at the start of a year and they often have offers which make the cost a bit less.
  • Sketches from Church History by SM Houghton is my go to church history for older children. It works well in morning time.
  • Secrets of the Castle is a series of five videos about modern day reconstruction of a castle in France using traditional building techniques. 
  • Richard III: the King in the Car Park is a documentary about the discovery of the body of Richard III. This had us talking for days. There is a Richard III Society which feels strongly about Richard III and his reputation and they spearheaded the dig for his body. This documentary is more suitable for older children who can cope with skeletons and discussion of battle injuries.
  • |The Sprig of Broom by  Barbara Willard. This is part of the Mantlemas series and is historical fiction about the end to the Middle Ages/beginning of the Tudor period. This ties in well with learning about Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth. Again, this is more suitable for older children. 
Activities and resources which we used to study the Middle Ages when the children were in years 1 and 3.
  • Veritas Self Paced. 
  • I wrote about the books that we used here. In retrospect, I think that the David Macaulay books, Castle and Cathedral, would probably work better at a slightly older age. I pulled them out again recently.
  • Medieval feast. We took inspiration from the book by Aliki, A Medieval Feast. This involved cooking, dressing up, art and music.
  • Trips out. A castle and abbey are the obvious field trips for the Middle Ages and if you live within reach of Battle, visiting the site of the 1066 Battle between Harrod and William, is definitely worth doing. 
Anyway, we have enjoyed our investigation of the Middle Ages. There is so much more that we could have done but hope that these ideas may be useful for others.

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Thursday 2 July 2020

Home Educating in Unusual Tiimes

We have been home educating for over eleven years now. Like everyone else, our lives have changed over the last few months. 

Early on, our home education group made the decision to plan for a term of online activities. I must say, that this has been a real blessing. 

In the days when we met in person, we had a meeting once a fortnight with groups for different ages running concurrently. This doesn't work for online meetings. In addition, the free version of Zoom, which we use only allows meetings of 40 minutes. We have gone for four meetings a week of up to 40 minutes. Three of those meetings are for age specific groups and one is for children to give presentations.

I have been amazed at what has been possible due to the ingenuity of parents and children. Please don't think that all these ideas are mine-they aren't! These are just some of the activities that have taken place.

  • scavenger hunts
  • book clubs
  • science lessons
  • poetry teas
  • cooking sessions
  • brownies from the cooking session
  • quizzes
  • watching and comparing film clips
  • games such as the Bible character 20 question game 
  • a concert
and far more.

At the beginning of lockdown, there was a plethora of free online activities. We tried a couple but found that we really needed to continue with the work which I had already planned. Lockdown has had a strange effect, in that we are at least a couple of weeks ahead of where we would usually be at this point in the year. We plan to do some slightly different activities for the last fortnight of term. 

One activity which we have added recently and plan to keep as part of our day is BSL Club. This is run by a friend from church. One of the children has already learned some BSL so this is more revision for her but new learning for my youngest and me. The videos are short so we practice what we have learned before and play a video in morning time.

It has been, and continues to be, a strange time but not without encouragements. 

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