Want to know about the Middle Ages? You’ve come to the right place! I’ve collected a wide assortment of resources for this unit study on Medieval Times with a focus on Europe. While our Live Education Waldorf homeschool curriculum for grade 6 includes several lessons on this time period from other areas in the world, I’ve decided to split up this time period and focus this unit primarily on Europe followed by a unit I’m calling “The Silk Road” which will focus on other areas of the world. And while I do use our Live Education curriculum as a resource, I don’t use it exclusively. And while I may supplement with some resources when doing a Main Lesson Block, it’s clear by the volume of resources this time around, that I have more than enough material for a massive unit. I’ll share the resources I love and the ones you can skip. I’ve included a number of kits and projects, as well as activity books and cookbooks into the mix because I believe that rounding out a unit with these materials not only makes the unit fun and memorable, but increases the educational value of the unit and the other resources. By far the most memorable lessons were the ones which involved food! For your family it may be the field trips or the stories or the projects. Whatever it is, know that these undervalued educational opportunities are usually the ones the children will remember longest and with fondness.
A lot goes into putting together a unit study, so I want to break down my process so you can get a better idea. I know at first it can be overwhelming, especially since I’ve listed so many topic areas, so chose the ones that resonate with you the most.
When putting together a history unit, I look for books/resources in the following topic areas:
History (famous people, timeline history, historical events)- this will serve as your history resource. You can either read from the book or prepare lessons. Often our Live-Education Waldorf curriculum serves this purpose.
Biographies (picture books work great for biographies)-Once your unit is on its way, you may learn of different historical figures who made a difference (good or bad) and you may want to explore and learn more about that person. Biographies in the form of picture books are ideal for all ages. In my experience, I find them to be well written, informative, engaging and not overly heavy. If you want to assign a book to your child, you can also find biographies at all reading levels.
Geography (a single atlas book does fine)-I have yet to find an atlas I love or a set of maps I like, but I know having something printed will help the student visualize what’s going on. I find this useful starting from about 4th grade on.
Historical fiction (a great way to get your history/culture in a fun book)-Historical fiction is a great way to learn about history in a story format. While not all historical fiction are good or accurate, I feel adding them into your unit will help solidify historical events and give context to the greater historical period. These types of books do a wonderful job setting the stage of a time period. You can learn a lot about the culture, people, geography and customs in historical fictions.
Culture/food/clothing (cook up a dish from the time period, sew a garment)-By far the best most memorable lessons are in the kitchen. While I’m not always historically accurate with our meals, it’s the spirit of the lesson which I’m looking for.
Audio books/songs (music from the time period is fun to listen to)-You may find that you don’t have time to read all these awesome resources. That’s okay! Use audiobooks and other audio resources when you can’t, don’t have time or aren’t prepared!
Projects/Activities (pre-made kits are a go-to staple around here)-One of things I’m most grateful for these days in the education world is the volume of pre-made activity kits. They are fantastic! Practically every unit we do has at least one hands-on project. I know it’s challenging to make time and space for projects, so rather than collect the materials yourself and DIY the project yourself, try sourcing pre-made kits. While I’m a big DIYer, I do really appreciate a good kit. You can also try kit subscription services like Kiwi Crate, too.
Games (Professor Noggins are our favorite)-I love games. I couldn’t wait till my children were old enough to play board games with me. While we started with Monopoly, Chess, Scrabble and card games when they were young, we upped our game as they got older. I can’t say how much I love the Professor Noggins games. They are trivia based card games that are simple to play. They are a great opening activity to start off your day.
Workbooks (use sparingly or skip and do narrations)-While we don’t use workbooks often in our homeschool, there are so many wonderfully written workbooks that can supplement a unit. I don’t have any strong recommendations, but I only suggest you use them sparingly.
Picture books (surprisingly informative & fun)-By far the most undervalued of the resources in my opinion. I find picture books to be of tremendous value because I usually find them well written, informative and are accompanied by illustrations. I also feel all ages benefit from a good picture book. While you still have young students in your homeschool, be sure to add these in because your older students will love them, but may not ask for them.
Activity and project books (Lauri Carlson has several)-While there are many activity books, I do love the ones by Lauri Carlson best. They are simple, easy and make use of material you probably already have around the house!
Science/math (adding other subjects rounds out your unit)-Often but not always, you may be able to find math and science books related to a time period. Snatch those up and use them! It’ll be a great way to round out your unit.
Two more things I use for lesson planning are full back Post-its sticky pads and a pencil. I write notes about each book/resource on the sticky pad and stick it on the front cover of the book for easy lesson planning. This helps the next time I do a unit since I may not use all the same materials.
When starting out our unit, I often set up our material in an inviting way on a shelf or on top of a short bookcase. I also tend to do at least one chalk drawing per unit, and often I do more. For this unit, I did a chalk drawing I hope to keep for our Middle Ages unit as well as our Silk Road unit.
I’m drawing on my 4’x6′ slate chalkboard which I painted with chalkboard paint in 2017 when the slate had smoothed out and wouldn’t hold chalk well. I’m also using my Sargent Art Square Chalk Pastels I got from Dick Blick.
For artistic and educational inspiration, I’m using the Live Education Waldorf homeschool curriculum for grade 6, the Middle Ages main lesson book. Art inspiration for the mosque came from an online search. I made pencil sketches first, but that sort of proved useless as I didn’t refer to them.
This chalk drawing took 75 minutes to complete not including the time it took to make touch ups (maybe 20 minutes).
Originally, I drew the Blue Mosque in Turkey as inspiration for this unit as well as for Ramadan 2018, but I ended up erasing it in the fall to make room for a new drawing. You can still check out that video here in case that chalk drawing suits your unit better.
Since I’ve done this Middle Ages unit before, there are supplies we’ve had for a while that were loved before and so we’re using them again. Additionally, we are making use of new material, too.
Here is my preliminary Lesson Plans:
Here is a fairly complete list of the materials we have right now:
The majority of the books and projects were purchased from Rainbow Resource.
The majority of the handwork material was purchased from A Child’s Dream.