Medieval Wrap Up

We finally wrapped up our unit on the Middle Ages! The students did a phenomenal job on their unit test. I find that this is always the best test of the year and I truly believe it is because of the lap books that we create. It is constant reinforcement of the material that we learn – we discover information through a PowerPoint, we create a mini book based on that information, and we review the information again when we put our lap book together. They love it and it creates a wonderful keepsake for this fun unit.

Last week a parent came in to help me spray paint the castles the students built. We opened up all of the windows, put tarps under the castles, and draped sheets over the computers to keep them spray paint free. They turned out GREAT! It took us 10 cans – way more than we originally thought – but they look awesome and the class was so excited about them. The next day the students brought in Lego and Playmobile figures to “decorate” their castles with – we have lots of knights, dragons, and kings and queens.

Check them out!

Another exciting activity we did was one that a classroom parent came up with – banana jousting! The class was split into two teams and the current “jouster” on each team was given a poncho as armor, a shield made out of thick foam core, and a banana. The students would take turns making a pass at the other knight, trying to touch their poncho with the banana. One point was awarded for banana being smeared on the poncho and one point was awarded to whichever knight had the longer banana after the round was over. It was an enjoyable activity that the kids had a blast with!!

To close out our unit, we enjoyed a fun medieval party. I set up three stations throughout the room – coloring, computers, and Wii. For the Wii station, I brought in my Wii and borrowed Medieval Games (http://www.amazon.com/Medieval-Games-Nintendo-Wii/dp/B001S86ISG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1337188714&sr=8-1_) for the Wii from a parent. This is a fun game, especially with four players, that allows the students to joust, sword fight, compete in archery tournaments, and much more. The kids of course loved it and did really well! For the computer station, I created an internet scavenger hunt based on a website I found with interesting facts about medieval times. The students had to answer questions based on what they found on the website. Finally I copied pictures of religious stained glass windows from a coloring book I have. The students used marker to color the stained glass and we rubbed vegetable oil on the other side to make it transparent – they looked awesome! I also had parents send in some yummy food to enjoy, such as cheese and pepperoni, grapes and watermelons on sword-shaped toothpicks, and pretzels. One parent even made some mead for the kids to try!

Overall, our medieval unit was tons of fun and it’s always sad to see it draw to a close. My goal was for the class to come away with a deeper understanding of this time period, including the role religion played, the importance of feudalism, and how our world has changed since then. I am already looking forward to next year!!

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Number the Stars

One of my all-time favorite books to read with my class is Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.

I love the drama, the foreshadowing, the cliff hangers, the character development, the chapter titles, the plot, the ending, and so much  more. It is always one of my students’ favorites when we discuss the best books at the end of the year.

My only issue with teaching it was the lack of background information I was giving my students on what was happening in the world at the time of this novel.

It is SO incredibly important for the students to understand who the Nazis were and why there were controlling the Jews. This is not developed in the book, except for random facts here and there, so I knew I needed to do something to help my students get a grasp on the events that were happening in the world at the time.

So of course, I went to trusty PowerPoint 🙂 After doing a bit of research on my own, I created a PowerPoint presentation on World War II, Adolf Hitler, the Nazis, and the Holocaust. I think that it does a good job of presenting the information in a “kid-friendly” way, with photographs and important details.

Last week, I went through the presentation with my kiddos, and I swear they have never been so quiet, interested, and attentive! I’m not sure if it was because they were interested in the material or were horrified at what actually happened in our world not that long ago, but whatever it was, they now understand what was happening to the Jews in the 1940s. We talked about how we can learn from the past and pray that something so terrible is never repeated. We thanked God for His grace and mercy to us!

If you are interested in using this in your classroom, check it out on my TpT store: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Introduction-to-Number-the-Stars-by-Lois-Lowry

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this wonderful novel. What kinds of activities do you do with your class to enrich the story??