Knights and dragons, castles and battles, lords and ladies, no time period is quite as whimsical as the middle ages. At least where fairy tales are concerned.
Of all the historical eras, my son is most interested in the Medieval era. He actually knows quite a lot about this time in our world’s history, but there is still a lot to learn. Creating a European Middle Ages unit study seemed to offer a fantastic opportunity to paint a broader backdrop for the things he knew about castles, knights, and conquest, while giving him an opportunity to share something he loves with the rest of his family.
Planning the Unit Study
Every unit study I plan begins with my planning template. I go into more detail about how I plan, as well as offering my planning template as a free download in this post.
Sometimes it’s helpful to see how someone else puts everything together in a schedule. You’re welcome to look at these for ideas or follow them as they are. Either way, here are my unit study lesson plans for you to download for FREE.
I’m pretty picky when it comes to our unit study read alouds. I like to cover different genres, pick good books to build great family memories, and they need to be appropriate for a wide age as my kids range from 3 to 11 years old. It can be a tall order.
- Castle Diary: The Journal of Tobias Burgess is a book I’d read before. I think it’s actually a great book to read independently. Journal or diary style books have never really held up well as read alouds. This one is done so well I thought it might work better but it ended up being just OK as a read aloud. The kids didn’t dislike it, they weren’t clamoring for more either.
- Robin Hood – One of the best things about using a book like this is that Robin Hood is really a legend. This means each retelling of the story varies a bit, both in perspective and events. It was fun to compare the versions my kids were familiar with this new-to-them take on the story.
While Robin Hood was a good choice for us, if I had things to do over again, I would have pulled out our family favorite Roland Wright: Future Knight and the rest of the trilogy. Even though we’ve read them before, it’s been a while and the kids really do enjoy them. Re-reading books is great because the kids are already excited, and as they grow they pick up on different things they might have missed in the story before.
After all of our read alouds I have the kids write a little book report using these forms from Teachers Pay Teachers. This is the only time we do book reports in our homeschool. In this case, we would also add these to our history binders, so the kids can see when these stories happened in history and what else was going on at the same time.
This was primarily a history unit for us, so I opted not to have a science spine. I wanted us to really be able to dive into the history portion of things.
We used Usborn’s Medieval World as our spine this time around. We didn’t get thought all of it, but it was a great fit for us. I like going deep, but I find that when the information in non-fiction books is too dense, my kids just kind of zone out. On the other hand, when there’s just enough information to pique their curiosity, it makes them ask questions. We end up searching for answers and the learning is so deep and rich.
One thing I particularly like about Usborne books is that many of them are internet linked. We really enjoyed some of the videos and websites linked to the things we learned about in Medieval World. Something to note about this particular book is that if you already have the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History, you don’t need to purchase Medieval World, as they are the same pages in the Medieval section in the main encyclopedia. I did like having a dedicated book so we didn’t get too distracted, but it isn’t necessary.
This is actually a running playlist I have for my Middle Ages loving kiddo. I’m always looking for more things to add and changing things around a bit, but there are some great videos here. These are appropriate for younger ages, which can sometimes be difficult with resources from this time period.
Instead of having one large project this time around, I created a workbook with different activities we could do each day. What I loved about this approach is that it was much more low key than our project last time around. Aside from planning ahead for our big feast at the end, there was nothing we HAD to do on any particular day, or at all for that matter. The beauty of this is that things were ready to go for us every day, but if we were having an off day or if we went down rabbit trails from our morning basket time, we could follow those paths guilt free and without being rushed.
While it isn’t polished by any means, I have decided to provide all of the worksheets I made for this unit to you as a free PDF download. They are all included in the unit schedule and you can use what you want and leave what you don’t. Find out more and get the free download here, and feel free to watch the walkthrough below.
Writing, Grammar, and Vocabulary
- Grammar Galaxy – I used the lessons in grammar galaxy as a guide, and whenever possible, pulled passages from our read aloud to help us see the grammar concept in action.
- Word of the Week – As usual, I pulled some fun words from our read alouds and the kids (generally) enjoyed exploring their picks. I think laden and fletching were the favorites from this unit. You can get the worksheets we use for FREE right here on Ticket to Learning.
- Intentional Copywork – I’ve been taking the Roots Entwined class from Rooted in Language, and am learning how to more effectively use copywork in our homeschool. We work with one passage from our read aloud per week and use this as an opportunity to apply what we are learning in spelling and grammar. With my oldest, we have a four-day rhythm:
- Day 1 – A comprehension activity or focus on a literary element
- Day 2 – Word study with a focus on spelling, and word parts
- Day 3 – Grammar and mechanics
- Day 4 – Copywork (Copy the passage).
This was the first unit in which I tried to fully incorporate math. I’m glad I picked such an easy one to start with as the Sir Cumference books make a fantastic base. These are the resources I used:
- Math On the Level – This is my base math resource. It helps me keep track of the concepts covered, gives hands-on-teaching ideas, and lets me build tailor made practice and review sheets.
- Sir Cumference Book Series – I remember when these books first came out and the topics covered continue to grow. They follow Sir Cumference and his family and friends through amusing math adventures that cover more basic concepts like counting by tens, to more advanced geometry concepts like the area of a circle.
- Sir Cumference Math Extension Lessons from Math Geek Mama – This resource was well worth the money as it was truly the glue that helped me to easily expand on the ideas presented in the Sir Cumference Series.
If you’d like to see all the activities I planned, you can download my Middle Ages Math Planning Sheet here:
Book basket books are books I set out for my kids to look through on their own, or for me to read to them. We set aside at lest 15 minutes a day to look through the basket, and I rotate the books regularly. If there’s a topic my kids want to know more about, I try to find books on that topic to add to our basket.
To see many of the books we enjoyed in this unit, check out my full blog post and video with over 50 Medieval books.
Including Younger Learners
I’m trying to make a point to include my littlest in our unit studies in a more explicit way. Of course, there are lots of activities she can easily join in, but I wanted to add some things just for her. I found these two fun FREE printable packs that made it easy to pull a few things from time to time.
- Knights and Castles Pack from Beth Gordon
- Viking Printable Pack from Kindergarten Worksheets and Games
We like to include a trivia game and a logic game as part of our morning basket, so I’ve included those here. For this particular unit we also had a fun field trip planned to a Medieval Dinner Theater. Unfortunately Covid foiled our plans, but I’ve still included links to some of the extras we planned to use on our travels, but ended up using as part of our morning basket as well.
- Walls and Warriors Logic Game – This was a fun logic game as well as a present play board for the little one. This one didn’t come with solutions as there is supposedly only one solution for each puzzle, but a solutions book still would have been helpful.
- Professor Noggin Medieval Times – We were able to move on to the advanced questions this time around. Trivia games are a fun way to get our brains working as we start homeschool each day.
- Usborne Little Transfer Book Knights – This was a favorite in our homeschool. The kids loved how it was so difficult to tell which parts of the pictures they added and which were already there.
- Life in a Medieval Castle and Village Coloring Book – Dover has several coloring and sticker books about the Middle Ages. This one was our favorite, but we didn’t try them all.
Day in the Life
Sometimes it’s fun to see all the resources other people use, but I often wonder how they put it all together. This is a random day in the life of our unit study. As you can see, I was struggling on this particular day, but I decided to film anyway. Not every homeschool day is easy. I still felt it gave a pretty good look at how we do our unit studies, so I decided to include it here.
This was our favorite unit study so far! I love that there were so many fun things to do – variety is great – but there wasn’t a lot of pressure to accomplish anything in particular. We just got to learn and fully immerse ourselves in the Middle Ages.
If you were to make an interest led unit study for your kids, what topic would you pick?
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