This is our second time through history. (We follow the four-year Classical education cycle of studying each Ancient, Medieval, Early Modern, and Modern History for a full year. The plan is to make this cycle 3 times with ever-deepening reading by high school graduation. We use a combination of Story of the World and Sonlight. We love this history- and literature-rich education.)
This year, we are studying medieval history for the second time. The last time we studied this era, Vivienne was in 2nd grade and Lia was just a little pre-Ker. Now they are in 6th grade and 3rd grade! So, when I pulled out the tupperware bin labeled “Medieval History: SOTW Vol. 2” I felt a bit like the Pevensies when they returned to Narnia in Prince Caspian. There I was in the dusky basement, pulling out plastic swords, dusting off tiny shields, and rediscovering plastic helmets that now fit our daughter who didn’t even exist when I packed them away four years ago.
I set the dress-ups on a bench in the school room to greet the children on First Day of School Morning. They were thrilled with the simple “Medieval Photo Booth” that greeted them. In no time, our home was visited by a knight, a princess, a maiden, and a Joan of Arc.
The biggest cheers went up when the children discovered that I brought up the Medieval Playmobil Castle. Four years ago, this was by far the best curriculum investment that we made during our medieval studies. We gave it to the girls for Christmas and I was amazed to watch them take everything they were learning during our read-aloud time and “practice” it through playing. With no prompting from me, boys were trained into chivalrous knighthood, kings and queens ruled with discernment, stews were cooked, criminals prosecuted (it’s quite a dungeon…), and arts and crafts were taught amongst the villagers.
Now, four years later, I am seeing the same thing: all of the day’s work flows right into the hours (and hours) of play.
The vocabulary and themes that we read and discuss during the history lesson are reviewed, practiced, and experienced through this delightful, creative, and limitless toy.
I don’t require worksheets or tests – or even projects – when I can see and hear that the children are processing, remembering, and internalizing the medieval ages through play.