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Title of Lesson: Life Inside Castle Walls

Grade Level:


Subject Area:

Language Arts/History

Instructional Goal:

Students use their creativity with the knowledge learned about the Middle Ages. A.D.400-1500

Submitted By:

Trudy Driskell


Supply List

Learning Strategies

Communicate Results

Performance Objectives

Computer Hardware and Software Required

Prerequisite Student Skills

Evaluation Procedures

Instructional Strategies


Time Frame

Set New Challenge


Related WWW Sites

Career Connections



Students understanding of another time in history allows them to compare their life style today.

Performance Objectives:

Students will learn about life in the Middle Ages.

Students will use their information and creativity to design a castle and a personal coat of arms.

Students will plan a medieval feast.


Instructional Strategies:

Background: The Middle Ages was a time of great castle-building in Europe. The peak years were between 1050 and 1350, and many of the hundreds of castles constructed during that time still stand today. After reviewing with students that in the unstable and war-torn years of the Middle Ages, castles were designed as fortresses. Feudal kings gave parcels of land to loyal noblemen, who in turn were expected to defend that territory. Castles offered shelter to the lords and their households, provided protection in time of war, and served as bases from which the lord's soldiers could launch battles or terrorize the people on a hostile lord's estate.

Students study the function and parts of a castle such as the moat, drawing bridge, outer curtain wall, main castle, portcullis, and the keep. Then in groups the students design their castle using ClarisWorks Drawing or HyperCard. The students after further study, could add a village outside the castle walls. Villages often sprang up near castle because of the protection they offered or a medieval tournament begin held in a field near the castle.

Design a coat of arms. The feudal lord depended on knights and foot soldiers to defend the castle and to wage war against his enemies. Knights were usually from aristocratic families because it was expensive to be a knight. The cost of a sword, shield, suit of armor, and warhorse would take 100 years to earn at a laborer's wage.

Since it was difficult to identify knights under their full armor, during the 12th century a form of identification known as heraldry developed. knights wore symbols of their ancestors on their armor and shields. After students research coats of arms and heraldry they should design their family's coat of arms. Some students may have a coat of arms to show the class. Personal coats of arms can be drawn relating to some things that the student is interested in such as sports or some hobby. Coats of arms should be printed and displayed.

When kings or lords and their knights weren't waging war, they were practicing their military prowess at tournaments on or near castle grounds. These exhibitions of battle skills were a popular form of entertainment, particularly from the 12th to the 14th centuries. Knights might fight as a team, called a melee, or alone. There were strict rules for the joust, and umpires were on hand to be sure the rules were followed.

Jousting is a state sport of Maryland and has been since 1692. The National Jousting Association in Mount Solon, Virginia, maintains a Jousting Hall of Fame and sponsors the National Jousting Championship in Leesburg, Virginia each October. Students can learn more about the history of medieval jousting from the National Jousting Association. PO Box 14, Mount Solon, VA 22843. Ask for "The Guide to the Ring Tournament".

Carousels came from the Middle Ages. Young boys from wealthy families were often sent to the castle of a king or lord to learn to become a knight. These would-be knights were trained to joust using wooden horses on pivots. The object was for the boys to spear a gold ring with a lance as they moved around the ring which conforms to the tradition of catching the brass ring on a carousel. Carousel history books are: Painted Ponies by William Manns, Zon International Press, 1986 and Art of Carousels by Charlotte Dinger (Carousel Art, 1983). Students at this point can create a multimedia presentation of carousel art or write a hypermedia story about a boy learning to be a knight.

Medieval Festival. In Medieval times there were knights and lords but also many others who lived in and around the castles. There was a clerk who kept the castle accounts, a steward who was in charge of the household, a priest who guarded everyone's souls, reeves and bailiffs who collected rent from the serfs who farmed the lord's land and lived under his protection, archers and cross bowman who protected the fortress, traveling jugglers, jesters, and musicians who entertained at large banquets. Servants kept the household running, cooks, meat carvers, and cupbearers prepared and served the food and drink. Often there was a taster who sampled all food before it was served, checking for poison. Spinners and weavers made clothing for the household, servants cleaned the castle, grew food, kept the buildings and grounds in good repair and cared for the lord's horses and other animals. After studying this period and learning more about life in the castle, ask each student to assume the identify of a castle dweller. Students might draw a job identity. Students will write an illustrated story about their life and job in the middle ages using ClarisWorks word process and by accessing the tool box to draw onto the word processing document. The students could be encouraged to use factual information with their own creative ideas of what it would be like to be a knight, food taster, weaver or musician in the medieval castle.

A medieval feast cam be planned by the students. Game such as venison, pheasant, partridge, hare cooked in a thick sauce, vegetables and fruit and apple cider for drink. Manners of the time would be used such as eating with fingers. Some of the students may take the role of musicians or jesters to entertain the others as they eat. To add a bit of drama to the meal, a student could play the official taster. There should be wandering poets and singers.

Using Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, a story about Hank Morgan, who has been hit in the head in the 19th century and awakes to find himself in the Middle Ages. The book has humor but is filled with the cruelty and chivalry of the times. This book adds to the research of the life in castles. Students can compare their life now with the life in the medieval times.


Teacher gathers resources for students research. Downloading web sites about the middle ages and castles using Web Whacker will help students see images of castles, coat of arms and carousels. Handouts can be made from site that have useful information for group study.

Supply List:

Examples of coat of arms, supplies and food for festival. The music of Camelot. Paper for timeline for walls of classroom. Pictures of coat of arms. Maps of Middle Ages.

Computer Hardware and Software Required:

Computers, printer, a multimedia authoring software package such as HyperStudio or HyperCard and an integrated software package such as ClarisWorks. Internet connection. Clip Art Package. Timeliner software package.


Castle by David MaCaulay, Houghton Mifflin, 1973

Great Books of Castles by John Monks, Rourke Enterprises, 1989

The Knights by Michael Gibson, Arco, 1979

A Medieval Castle by Fiona MacDonald and Mark Bergin, Peter Bedrick Books, 1990

Painted Ponies by William Manns, Zon International Press, 1986

Art of Carousels by Charlotte Dinger, 1983


Related WWW Sites

Grover Furr's Medieval History and Literature Page

This site has links to castles, churches, cities and towns in the medieval times. There is also medieval clip art, manuscript images, murals and frescoes, sculptures and tapestries. There is information about clothing, everyday life, food and drink, games, heraldry, royalty and nobility.

The Internet Connection to Medieval Resources


This site has links to castles, churches, cities and towns in the medieval times. There is also medieval clip art, manuscript images, murals and frescoes, sculptures and tapestries. There is information about clothing, everyday life, food and drink, games, heraldry, royalty and nobility.

Schloss Reichenstein

This is a great site that has a virtual tour of a very old castle in Germany.

Castle Pictures


This site has very many pictures of castles.

Medieval History Resources

SJ Welsh Middle School

This site has many great links for the study of the Middle Ages.

Knighthood, Chivalry, Tournaments Resource Library


There are links at this site to arms and armor and other heraldry links.

Heraldry on the Internet

Many great links to medieval sites are here.

WWW Medieval Server

This megaserver includes information about distinct regions of Europe and libraries of Middle English and Latin

Medieval Drama Links

This site has information on medieval dance, costune and theatre.

Learning Strategies:

Teacher presents topic to be studied. Students and teacher plan the study together. Projects to festival this lesson is engaging for students.

The traditional classroom is a visual image of the past! With technology in the classroom, the new vision of the class is one of students actively constructing their own knowledge about a topic of study. This is done independently and, most commonly, in cooperative learning groups. Technology gives students an opportunity to become more active, skilled and self-directed learners, assuming a greater responsibility for their own knowledge. In this lesson, after an invitation from the teacher to study the topic of the Middle Ages, students are using multimedia authoring packages, viewing Internet web sites about the Middle Ages, listening to music or conducting research about a topic that they are interested in pursuing related to the Middle Ages using CD ROM encyclopedias. The teacher should encourage creative uses of various technology which challenge her students to organize, analyze and synthesize information. Assessment calls for authentic assessment of the student's knowledge of the topic chosen to research. The teacher gives constant feedback and is the guide and facilitator in the classroom. In this lesson, students are only limited by their imaginations for their presentations.

Prerequisite Student Skills:

Computer skills using multimedia authoring program and ClarisWorks Draw. Students familiar with Timeliner software .

Time Frame:

Two weeks

Career Connections:

Writer, artist, historian

Communicate Results:

Make presentations to class during festival time.

Evaluation Procedures:

Rubric set up by teacher and students

Set New Challenge:

Some students may want to study the interesting topics at this site to continue their reseach.

Medieval Drama Links

This site is no longer being maintained, but will remain online for the use of educators.