Oh, hear ye, hear ye! We have finally finished our chapters on all things castles! I know, exciting, right? And even more exciting than reading about them is building one! I mean really, what says homeschooling more than building a miniature medieval castle on the kitchen table...brick by tiny brick?
Yes, the ole brick'n'build.
See, when we had our children's store we sold this kit where kids could build their own medieval castle. It involved mixing up the brick material (a version of plaster of paris), pouring it into molds, waiting for them to dry, and well, essentially, making bricks...approximately 200 bricks...give or take.
Well, we didn't end up selling all of those kits by the time we closed the store so we brought one home with us...and saved it for when we might someday be homeschooling and studying medieval brick laying...
and who saw that day coming...
yet here we are, nearly two years later, making tiny medieval bricks...lots and lots and lots of bricks. It took about a month...or maybe it was 6 days...I don't know...it seemed endless. We're talking tiny bricks here, people!
BUT, once the bricks were made, oh the fun began! Building 101, for little people. This kit comes with architectural diagrams...how to lay the bricks to make strong walls, how to create the windows and doors, and how to add the tower tops. Very cool! And a most excellent, educational, and rewarding (and yes, somewhat endless) project...
Which required patience...and a lot of glue (and A&W Cream Soda)
Little Gypsy Girl helped (ok, supervised mostly, but somebody has to, right?) while Older Gypsy Girl layered each brick on top of the other, gluing and gluing and gluing, layer after layer after layer.
And then, it was done! And oh the joy! There was dancing and weeping. And the little pet shop critters were finally able to move in. What a glorious day!
Yes, lower ze drawbridge!
Storm the castle! Throw down the gauntlet! Take no (is that a Christmas tree?) prisoners!
This project is definitely going into our crafty hall of fame...though I imagine what took a month to build will only take these pet shop critters a few days to destroy. I suppose that's the medieval way of things.
We continued our castle journey with a few art projects as well. We've been working on perspective in our art studies so I decided to have the girls work on castle drawings using similar perspective techniques.
The goal was to show a castle in the distance, by creating fields and hills in the foreground.
One girl chose to paint hers with watercolors, the other decided to use textured rubbings and crayons. Unique versions of the same assignment.
Another fun project idea, which we got from a book called Days of Knights and Damsels: An Activity Guide, which BTW, is a brilliant resource if you're studying this time period, was to create a triptych.
We took 3 pieces of chipboard (you could also use poster board or cardboard) and cut them into the 3 pieces/sections, then taped them together.
We found some spare ric rac trim pieces and glued those around the edges and painted them with gold paint.
Then the real fun began (for those of us who think drawing and painting is fun, that is). The girls created their castle-y perspective-y pictures to go inside the triptych. I had to tape two long pieces of white paper together to get the size right, then we traced the outline of the triptych onto the white paper to get an idea of how big their drawing area was.
Then they got to work sketching and drawing.
And then painting...
And then gluing...
They turned out quite well, I think! Definitely a keeper project from a great activity book! We went on to do at least a half dozen more of the projects in the book during our studies. I think the triptych was my personal favorite, though.
A now it's time for a field trip to our local Renaissance Festival!
PS: You'll find the link to the castle building kit here. If you read the reviews, the biggest complaint is the time it takes to build the bricks. My response to that is, yes, it takes time, but should every project our kids set out to do be quick and easy? Shouldn't we be teaching them the more time and effort a project takes, the greater the reward for finishing it? What's the rush, eh? Age range is probably best for older 8 to maybe 12?
Enjoy the journey, folks!