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Investigating Castles: Part 1

Saturday, January 18, 2014

This investigation has really been a fun challenge for me! I have never had a group of kids desire to study castles and the Medeavil days before so we are all learning new things together! I went into Christmas break starting my own investigation on how to teach this subject and integrate the standards and came out more excited about this inquiry than any other!  The amount of standards that this investigation will cover was staggering! I was as excited as the kids to get started!

We started by figuring out how we could find out information about castles, since we didn't know very much!  They came up with Google, videos, books and going to a castle (I wish!).  I didn't have any books about castles so I went to the library and gathered a collection. We started reading a few of them to get some general information and some discussions started.  We watched a video of the 10 most beautiful castles from YouTube.  The kids were very curious about where the countries were that the castles were located in. They requested that we find out and create a map showing where the castles were so that is now on our agenda! ( I love it when they come up with the ideas that I hoped they would come up with on their own!).  Right away, they started investigating castles on their own during exploration time. 

We looked at the castles and pointed out the different shapes. This got the discussion started on the difference between 2 dimensional and 3 dimensional shapes. They learned that 2D shapes are flat and 3D shapes pop out. We created castle drawings to reinforce the qualities of 2D shapes and painted them with water colors. 

Many started building castles using 3D shapes during exploration time! We will be focussing on the names of these shapes a lot this quarter.

These two are trying to figure out how to add a draw bridge over their moat that can pull up!

Next we looked at all of the different parts of the castle. We learned that the Keep is a tall tower that housed the nobels. Castles had stone walls to protect those inside the castle. They had doors with a portcullis to keep out attackers. They had a drawbridge and a moat to keep enemies out. They also had small houses for the people who worked and protected the castle within the castle walls. We learned that over 1000 people could live within the castle walls! We also found out that the invention of the cannon brought the end of the age of the castles!

We learned that building a castle took many years and many people. The Master Mason came up with the plan and design.  He was he leader of all the workers. Masons were stone workers who shaped the stones. Blacksmiths worked with metal and made the portcullis, chains, tools, weapons and armor. Carpenters created scaffolds to stand on and anything made out of wood.  The kids took on these jobs to create a castle entrance in our hallway. 

These are the masons working on the keep and the stone wall. 

Here are blacksmiths creating chains to act as a portcullis for our doorway.

They needed to measure the chains by comparing them to the length of the doorway! Some decided to use unifix cubes. Others noticed it took 24 links to be the same size as the door. Others had us hold the chains up to the door and estimated how many more they would need. I love how they all come up with different strategies! 

We had carpenters create a drawbridge.

Some kids were ditch diggers and made a moat.

Here is what we have up so far. It is not finished yet! As we investigate further they will add more. 

This will be where we will document our journey as we learn.

They want our room to be the inside of the castle with a great hall for dining!  As we have investigated how they built the castles and the workers that built them, we have been having a lot of discussions about how things were different in the Medeavil days compared to the present. This is one of the main underlying themes of this study. They are seeing that everything from the the way workers did their jobs to entertainment to what they ate were very different back then! We have a lot more investigating to do so stay tuned to find out what we learn next!


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