Class IV Castles Rising to New Heights
In preparation for their study of the Middle Ages, Class IV students start the winter term with a unit on European geography, learning at least twenty-five countries in Europe. Beginning with an examination of the Vikings, we then venture to other lessons on feudalism and manorialism, and a favorite, castles. Students learn why castles were built, how they were built, and the various parts of a castle, complete with a knowledge of the offenses and defenses.
This brings us to a favorite tradition of Class IV, castle building! How many older students and parents remember their castles? This year’s Class IV students looked forward to the unit with the same enthusiasm! With inspiration and information from professionals, daily curriculum plans, videos created by their teachers, and supplemental reading, students tackled their castle-building at home. The study of castles was supported by teachers, Mr. Toren, Ms. Smith and Ms. Williams, and the students adeptly learned from weekly history plans. This array of information led students to a strong overview of this spectacular time in history, the medieval times.
Armed with a solid understanding of the crucial aspects of a castle, students made a rough draft plan of their ideal castle design. They sent their ideas to be approved, and sought materials from around their own homes for completing the castles. The architecture was as varied as the children themselves! With open parameters of time, size, and resources for castle building, our students’ imagination, curiosity, and creativity soared!
In the past, the size of a student desk provided guidelines for castle size, but this year, due to our circumstances, size was not mentioned and the students took their castles to a new level. At times, the suspense was too great, and the students would show us a quick preview of their masterpieces during our remote learning.
Over the years, the teachers have stood in awe at the various materials used to create the perfect castle. From the drawbridge and portcullis to the inner courtyard, chapel, stable, and keep; the parts of each student’s castle came to life. Labels were created for at least 15 parts of their castle to pinpoint those locations on their individual creations. The castles were designed using cardboard, cereal boxes, ceramic tiles, computer parts, candy, and gingerbread to name a few.
In addition to creating the castle itself, students were asked to communicate about their castle with a digital photo album, presentation, or video. Again, their individual presentations were amazing endeavors, and watching students raise the bar on this last step of remote learning was heart-warming.
This year’s project took on a life of its own, as not only students, but families gathered around to see the castles that were adorned with moats that carried water, or drawbridges that pulled upward, or artful displays of toy dragons and people which dotted the great halls and courtyards. We saw castles made in large ceramic pots, computer-generated imagery, and ancient builds that were so large, they needed to be contained in a garage. We viewed in amazement, as their rough-draft sketches came to a magical culmination. This year, the sky was truly the limit, and we saw our students rise to new heights.
Watch the Class IV Castle slide show here: