Adventures as Annie: The Knight at Dawn
Magic Tree House Adventures is BACK! Thank you to everyone that has emailed and/or commented about the previous programs. I loved hearing your feedback. For those of you who are new here, Magic Tree House Adventures is a monthly public library program for ages 5-8. Each session is themed around a book in the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne in which there is a whole lot of history, science, activities, crafts, and plenty of fun. And I dress up as Annie. Braids and all.
For the first session we went back to the time of Knights and Castles as Jack and Annie did in The Knight at Dawn.
First… A Special Guest!
During the warmer months in Lawrence, I’ve seen a few men dressed in medieval wear practicing sword fighting in the park. I had no idea how to find these mysterious fighters, so I put it out there in the Twitter-verse, asking if anyone knew who they were. I received a reply within minutes. Thank you, Twitter. They’re a part of the Society for Creative Anachronism, and the Shire of Carlsby is located in Lawrence, Kansas. What luck! I reached out to them and one gentlemen agreed to visit the program and talk about what it was like to live back in the Middle Ages; the type of armor a knight wore, and what it was like to be a knight during that time. He brought helmets and chainmail, which he graciously allowed the kids to handle and pass around. It was awesome and they loved it. I’m so grateful they were able to make it.
Where Are We? Who Are They?
A Magic Tree House Adventures staple. “Where Are We? Who Are They?” is a 10-minute slideshow presentation/discussion where I flash a picture up on a projector and ask the kids what is going on in that particular image. For example, for this session the first picture was a picture drawn during the Middle Ages and I asked, “What year was this picture drawn? And what is going on in the picture? Do you think it was made last year?” We discussed The Middle Ages, the Feudal system, castles, parts of a castle, knights, tournaments, and battles.
Marshmallow Catapult, Castle Construction, & Sword Making
After “Where Are We? Who Are They?” the kids were divided into three groups and rotated between the various activities. These activities were marshmallow catapults, castle construction, and sword making.
I talked very briefly about catapults and the physics of a catapult during the “Where Are We? Who Are They?” discussion. I told the kids to imagine a spring. When you press down on the spring that is called “potential energy”. It’s stored energy waiting to be released. When it is released and the spring bounces up, that is called “kinetic energy”. The result is movement. It is the same with a catapult. Press down (potential energy) and release (kinetic energy). What better way to test out what was discussed than flinging marshmallows at a castle? I created our own version of storming the castle using homemade catapults and poster board castles. I created several popsicle stick catapults using this guide. We used books and audiobooks to experiment with different shooting heights. I found it worked the best when the catapult was on a slope.
The only problem was that it was so fun that they didn’t seem to want to take turns. It was a hit.
Another activity station was “castle construction” where the kids created 3-D castles using colored construction paper, tape, scissors, and paperclips. The idea came from the images on K8Art First, the kids cut or drew battlements (gaps on the top of a castle wall), then they rolled the ends of the paper together into a cylinder and taped it. The towers were secured together with paper clips.
Sword Making Station
There were three rules for the sword making station: 1) No hitting 2) No hitting 3) No hitting. If someone did decide to hit a peer, the sword would be taken and never returned. Needless to say… There was no hitting! This station was a little more difficult for the younger kids, but everyone was able to get their sword finished in the little time we had.
Here is how we made this craft..
We used polyethylene pipe insulation (similar to what pool noodles are made of) purchased from a hardware store and cut into the length of a little less than a yard. The only other material needed for this craft is aluminum foil. I pre-cut sheets that were about a yard before hand, so the kids wouldn’t have to bother with it.
We wrapped the foam using a sheet of foil and squeezed it together afterwards so it would be secure. I only used one sheet of foil for each end of the foam sword.
After that is complete, the handle of the sword was made by folding a sheet of foil the size of the sword enough times so that it is the same width of the sword.
Position the folded piece of foil on the sword where you’d like the handle to be.
Then twist the folded foil around the foam sword couple times.
Mold into a handle as you see fit. All I did for this example was fold in the edges.
Just like in the past, when the program was over each child received their own Magic Tree House Adventures Journal. These journals are meant to mimic Jack’s journal, listing facts about the program. They also have worksheets found on the Magic Tree House website. Here’s a preview of a few of the pages. If you’d like a copy of this journal, let me know in the comments or shoot me an email and I’ll send you a PDF copy.
It felt good to be Annie again and travel back in time again with the library kids. Next month we’ll be heading off to a deserted island in Pirates Past Noon. ARR! As always, if you have ideas of what has worked in the past with your students or patrons regarding Magic Tree House lessons/programs, please share!
image source: middle ages artwork