Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Medieval and Renaissance Life

How fun it was to attend the Renaissance Faire while we are in the middle of studying that time period in our history lessons! I thought I'd share just a few of the books and movies we've enjoyed in the past month, or so.

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices From a Medieval Village is a gorgeous, thoughtful book. It contains 19 monologues and 2 dialogues, each from the perspective of an inhabitant (child) of a medieval village. Will, the plowboy. Isobel, the lord's daughter. Nariot and Maud, the glassblower's daughters. Giles, the beggar. Pask, the runaway. Jack, the half-wit. Simon, the knight's son.... When needed, the author includes background information on subjects such as falconry and the three-field system. This time around, we are treating it as a read-aloud, but I would love nothing more than to have a group of kids each choose a monologue and put on a simple production. I hope to give that a try on our next history rotation. Fabulous book!

The Making of a Knight follows a boy from 7 year-old page, through 14 year-old squire, and onto knighthood at the age of 21. This is a beautifully illustrated picture book for younger children.

I'm not sure how, but I came across a series of books by Gerald Morris, retelling the Arthurian legends. I started with The Squire's Tale and am looking forward to proceding through the others. The writing is surprisingly effortless, fresh, and witty. I was quite drawn in. I think my boys will particularly enjoy this series when we revisit Medieval history on the next go-around.

A Knight's Tale is one of our favorite family movies. I'm happy to have it finally fit in with our lessons, so we can watch it during school hours (grin). (Warning: some language, nudity, and romance. There is one scene in particular that I fast-forward through for the boys.)

We've been enjoying various non-fiction books on knights, arms and armor, and medieval life.

Castle Diary is one of my favorite books on medieval life for children. Do try to find the oversized hardback edition for the full-page color illustrations. They are fabulous. The story itself is humorous and chock-full of details about life in a castle over the course of a year from the perspective of an eleven year-old boy.

While at the library the other day, I stumbled upon this most excellent retelling of Don Quixote. It is a hefty 350 pages, but very straightforward prose with hilarious illustrations. Levi and Russ were laughing out loud as I was reading. Extremely entertaining, the humor particularly resonating with boys (small and large). (Speaking of the illustrations (brilliant, I tell you), something about them felt very familiar. It suddenly dawned on me that Chris Riddell also illustrated the above Castle Diary.) I realize that Don Quixote is not set in medieval times, but there are so many references to the 'age of chivalry' and 'knights errant' that I certainly think it qualifies!

Cinderella meets Leonardo da Vinci... I've loved the movie Ever After, and now is a perfect time for re-watching it. I can't wait to begin our studies on Leonardo da Vinci, especially after seeing the traveling da Vinci exhibit at OMSI earlier this year.


Jilly said...

Who did the adaptation of Don Quioxote? I have read about half of it, but although I enjoyed the humour and the characters, the translation I have is quite tedious, so I didn't finish it.
My oldest son is obsessed with the middle ages and knights right now (and I have been on and off for about 25 years now) so thanks for the book list!

Heidi said...

The retelling of Don Quixote is by Martin Jenkins. I'm looking forward to finishing it up and feeling like I finally have a grasp of the story. It might be quite some time before I get around to the original. :)

Kimberly said...

I've been a reader of your blog for awhile. I especially enjoy reading about homeschooling. I just started this year with my 5 yr old and so far I'm enjoying it. We plan on doing The Story of the World for history when the time comes and I'm very excited about it. All of these books you just mentioned, are they listed in the activity book that accompanies SOTW or are these some you found on your own? They all sound great and I didn't know if I should keep a list or not. Thanks for sharing about all the great books you find. I've read a few of them and I've really enjoyed them!

K-Sue said...

I loved "Good Master! Faire Ladies," and look forward to rechecking it from the Library because we are studying the Middle Ages! Thank you for sharing these book recommendations. They all look like great fun.

Lora @ my blessed life said...

Sounds like fun! Have you thought of watching *The Princess Bride*? Its one of our faves and I think there's only one swear word at the end~very clean.

Dana D said...

I can't wait to work through some of these with my boys! And, the Renaissance Faire looked amazing!

Aja Jenise said...

It hadn't even occurred to me to use these movies as well. I am looking forward to this school year with Mt Hope Academy, as we too, begin with a 2nd/3rd grader, and a kindergarten ready for beauty school it seems.

I must say the boys school pictures showed an amazing growth in the last couple months... they look so much older than they did at the beginning of summer. They are precous Heidi!!

For a synopsis of this summer, we just moved to Kentucky from Kansas, and I am struggling to enjoy it away from dear friends. Your blog has seemed to bring a bit of the familiarity back to me... a sincere thank you... truly.

You have brightened this Sunday Sabbath with cheerful, artistic, and inspiring notions... thank you again.

Enjoy your lovelies... as I think I will take a sip of your notions, hoping to cure some homesickness for our Kansas friends and homeschool group.