We finally got around to learning a little bit about Europe. My girls love fairytales that feature kings, queens, knights and princesses so I thought I would capitalize on those interests in our study of Europe by focusing on castles and monarchies. This post contains affiliate links.
The Usborne book, In the Castle by Anna Milbourne, was a great way to introduce our castles for kids unit. This story begins with the question, “Have you ever visited an old, tumbledown castle and wondered what it was like to live there, long, long ago?” It then goes on to show, through text and illustrations, what castle life was like in the Middle Ages.
We also read the Magic Tree House book, The Knight at Dawn, my girls were really enjoying this series and it is a fun way to learn a lot of interesting facts but shortly after we began reading these books Kooks started having nightmares so they are on hold for a while. She tells me that she thinks she’ll be ready to try them again when she is four which will be in two months time.
We explored a couple of fun websites:
- Castles for Kids: This site has some great kid friendly information about what castle life was really like. It also describes the different parts of the castle and what they were used for as well as the different people who lived in a castle and what their jobs were. I skipped over some of the information as I wasn’t quite ready to explain murder holes to my three and four year old but we found lots of other interesting information on this site.
- Kids’ Castle: We also really enjoyed exploring this castle. You can click on any part of the castle and read a description of what happens there.
I wanted to impress upon the girls that monarchies are not just a thing of fairytales and once upon a time so we learned that a monarchy is when one person is the head of a country and that when they die usually their son, daughter or other relative becomes the monarch. We used this list of modern day European monarchies to see where in Europe there are still active monarchies. Since our jellybean distribution map was such a hit, we decided to cover each country that has a monarchy with a gummy bear. I probably should have found smaller candies since the bears were larger than some of the countries on our map but it was a really fun way to play with mapping and of course gave us a treat to look forward to.
Arts and Crafts:
I surprised the girls with construction paper princess hats one morning and they had so much fun decorating them with jewels and glitter glue. I followed the directions at First Palette and used part of a dress that Kooks had outgrown for the veils.
I had the girls tell me what they would do if they were the queen and I wrote their answers down on these printable scrolls from Teaching Ideas. Of course Boo told me that actually she was the king! They dressed up in their princess hats and took turns “reading” their scrolls.
We watched this funny video from Mr. Histor on Medieval Times.
I also showed the girls the highlights of the Royal Wedding. I thought they might find it a little bit boring but they loved it and asked to watch it again. Nothing like seeing a real life prince get married and Prince William really did look straight out of a fairytale in his military uniform.
Song of the Week:
The song of the week had to be “I’m Not Ready To Be A Princess” from Sofia the First. It’s one of my girls’ favorite shows. They got the movie for Christmas and have been singing this song regularly ever since. I thought it might be fun to watch the movie and talk a little bit about fact vs fiction but when I realized that my three and four year old firmly believe in flying horses I decided that I was really okay with that and dropped that lesson for the time being.
If you want to go big you could do what one reader from the Isle of Man did for a princess party and make a play castle out of cardboard. I’m sure my girls would have preferred this to our puppet sized version. Isn’t it cool? It even has a working drawbridge! Thank you to Princesses Izzy, Lucy, Shannon, Vicky, Sophia and Graihagh for sharing your creation!
We have been invited to a local harvest festival at the end of May by a Zambian princess. The girls are so excited to meet a real princess and it has added an interesting element to our monarchy studies as we discuss what to expect and the similarities and differences between Zambian chieftaincies and European monarchies.
Did you watch Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding?