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Knights in Armor

Fascinated with medieval knights? Put on imaginary armor to recreate epic art depicting the English Middle Ages. A gilded frame makes this project worthy of display in a museum.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Much has been romanticized about the gruesome battles of European medieval times. Photography had not been invented yet, so our view of warfare and battles are based on its idealized portrayal in paintings. When England was being built into a feudal state, any man, landowner, or mercenary who fought on horseback was called a knight. After his warhorse, a knight’s armor was his most prized possession.
    2. Armor included a coat of mail, made with linked iron rings (sometimes as many as 40,000 hand-riveted links), and tailored to fit like a suit. The mail was flexible and allowed a knight to move easily. It weighed about 15 kg (33 lb). A padded garment of leather or cloth was often worn underneath the mail for comfort and additional protection. All in all, a suit of armor weighed less than a soldier’s backpack weighs today. Invite students to find out more about the ways armor was worn. Provide students with a variety of text and electronic resources during this research.
    3. Ask students to also explore how weapons were used to pierce or crush the armor. What methods did horsemen use to fight? How did they use their swords and lances? When cannons and then later handguns were invented, knights and their style of fighting were no longer used on the battlefield.
    4. Once research is complete, ask students to create their own medieval scenes. Here’s one way to illustrate their knowledge about knights in armor.
    5. Students cover their work areas with recycled newspaper. Choose a recycled wooden picture frame. To decorate the frame, attach string to it with Crayola School Glue. Air-dry the frame.
    6. Sketch a medieval scene (smaller than the frame) with Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils. Cut cardboard in the outline shape of the scene with Crayola Scissors.
    7. Layer Crayola Model Magic on the cardboard to give your scene depth and dimension. Use colored pencil points to incise details such as banners and steel plates into the modeling material. Shape two pieces of Model Magic as feet for the frame so it can stand up. Air-dry the modeling material at least 24 hours.
    8. Paint the frame and its supports with gold or silver Crayola Premier™ Tempera Paint. Air-dry completely.
    9. Paint dried Model Magic scene with Crayola Artista II Tempera. Air-dry.
    10. Glue feet to the frame. Air-dry the feet.
    11. To suspend medieval scene inside the frame, glue heavy string or a thin dowel stick to the cardboard back. Stretch and glue string to the back of the frame. Paint the string or stick to match the frame. Air-dry flat before displaying.
  • Standards

    LA: Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of grade level text's complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

    LA: Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; summarize or paraphrase information in notes and finished work, and provide a list of sources.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with pertinent descriptions, facts, details and examples; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    SS: Give examples of how government does or does not provide for the needs and wants of people, establish order and security, and manage conflict.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green; The Usborne Book of Castle Tales by Heather Amory

    Students research the training and lifestyle of horsemen of Medieval England. What was the purpose of their armor? How was it made? Is there any relationship between their armor and the uniforms/equipment of today's soldiers?

    Compare and contrast the life of a knight's life with that of his wife. What activities did she participate in on a daily basis? How did the wife lead the family in the absence of the knight?

    What was childhood like during the Middle Ages?

    Encourage students to attend a Renaissance Faire. Upon returning from the festivities, students report on historical inaccuracies as well as correct depictions observed at the event.

    Working in small groups, students compose an original story or play set in the Middle Ages. Students make original costumes and sets using recycled materials. What was life like during this historic period?

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