5 Day Class 1/23/2016

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now we have been immersed in the Middle Ages, examining everything we can think of relating to castles, dragons, unicorns, queens, kings, knights and ladies of the court. Just as when we were talking about the Wampanoag, we know that there were no cell phones, cars, computers or credit cards back then. Last week we sent home the treasure boxes everyone made and had filled with the gold coins and precious medallions that would have been our money. We have done lots of dressing up with the armor, dresses and capes in the Coop collection. We stamped our names and titles (Queen Lila, King Kai, etc.) on the crowns we made. We’ve spent a couple of days water coloring pictures of heraldic creatures that might have been used on a coat of arms: dragons, lions, unicorns, a phoenix. We also planned how we would paint our own banners after studying examples of shields with horizontal, vertical, and diagonal stripes or chevrons or a cross. Painting each section in the chosen color took a great deal of self-restraint and commitment to the “plan”.

One day last week we thought of all the magic words we could come up with and then used them to start the process of turning card board boxes into big blocks of stone to build our own castle. Together we mixed up stone colored paint—adding all the colors together—poured in some glue and started slathering it on the boxes. When the boxes were coated with paint the children transferred them to bins with sand from the sand table and poured that over the wet paint and glue. It was spectacularly messy (thank you, Mike Caballero, parent helper that day, for being such a good sport and able “stone mason”). The result, however, is a “castle” that we can rearrange simply by moving the boxes.

On Friday we took an inside field trip to explore the castle-like elements of the First Baptist Meeting House. We began with a list of things to look for: arches (and the keystone), stained glass, wooden rafters, a tower and the massive stone blocks the church is built of. We took a very roundabout way that led us up a winding staircase, through passageways and eventually into the sanctuary where we could examine the huge doors, stained glass windows (one of them has the Greek letters Α and Ω), the gilded decoration on the walls, many arches, and outside, the bell tower and gargoyles.

We’ve done many castle themed puzzles, played a great problem solving game called “Camelot” and frequently partnered with another child to complete a “quest”. Those tasks have included such things as writing each other’s names, painting a picture together, sorting and counting all the knight’s horses, locating and checking off the different castle pictures tacked up around the room, or finding hidden treasure boxes.

Books have included There Is No Such Thing as a Dragon; Fritz and the Beautiful Horses; The Paper Bag Princess; Rumpelstiltskin; The King, the Mice and the Cheese; and many others. We’ve sung and marched to The Grand Old Duke of York and learned Humpty Dumpty and Pussycat, Pussycat, Where Have You Been?

Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been?
I’ve been up to London to look at the queen.
Pussy cat, pussy cat, what did you there?
I frightened a little mouse under her chair.

We have a few more things planned and then we’re off to something new.

Kathy Mitchell

January 24, 2016