Interactive activities during day-long Medieval Fair improves students’ retention of their Middle Ages lessons

Antimony Berkeley used bingo to help students remember and retain their Middle Ages vocabulary lessons. Photo courtesy Woodland School District
Antimony Berkeley used bingo to help students remember and retain their Middle Ages vocabulary lessons. Photo courtesy Woodland School District

The day was filled with a variety of activities capitalizing on the students’ lessons throughout the unit culminating in a medieval market

Fourth graders at North Fork Elementary School took part in a day-long Medieval Fair capping off their study of the Middle Ages. The day was filled with a variety of activities capitalizing on the students’ lessons throughout the unit culminating in a medieval market where students sold their own homemade arts and crafts for currency earned throughout the unit.

During the Medieval Fair's student store, students sold homemade arts and crafts for currency earned during their lessons. Photo courtesy Woodland School District
During the Medieval Fair’s student store, students sold homemade arts and crafts for currency earned during their lessons. Photo courtesy Woodland School District

Students also engaged in numerous writing opportunities with a focus on writing fictional narratives, grammar, and morphology. “During our Middle Ages unit, students were asked to engage in rich conversations about the world around them and build their background knowledge to comprehend a variety of complex texts,” said Matthew Kamel, a fourth-grade teacher at North Fork. “As a whole, students critically analyzed what life was like in the Middle Ages, then compared and contrasted different roles of the feudal system.”

The teaching team also expanded on the lesson plan with more elaborate projects and lessons. “As a team, we followed the lesson structure, but also wanted to bring the Middle Ages to life, so we also used videos correlated to the lesson; presented opportunities for students to provide feedback and discuss what they learned; and students also analyzed the differing architecture between castles made of motte-and-bailey and those constructed from stone,” said Kamel. “Additionally, students made stained glass art, practiced calligraphy, and created their own coat of arms, all methods of incorporating activities to help students understand, engage, and bring their learning to life.”

Kristy Haagen demonstrated and taught students the calligraphy used in Middle Ages books and letters. Photo courtesy Woodland School District
Kristy Haagen demonstrated and taught students the calligraphy used in Middle Ages books and letters. Photo courtesy Woodland School District

On the day of the fair, each teacher selected an activity that incorporated content taught throughout the unit with students rotating from one activity to the next:

  • Kamel enjoys teaching math, so he introduced students to the Roman Numeral system used during the era.
  • Kristy Haagen used her expertise in handwriting to demonstrate how writing looked in the Middle Ages to students.
  • Jamie Churchman used the arts to help students create silhouette pictures.
  • Finally, Antimony Berkeley brought excitement to the stations with medieval bingo using appropriate vocabulary.

The medieval market spawned from an existing student store concept. “Our student store has always been a fourth-grade tradition,” explained Kamel. “As long as we use this curriculum, we will plan to turn our student store idea into a learning experience by having an annual Medieval Fair.” However, organizing and planning the Medieval Fair required the teachers to collaborate and intentionally use the weeks leading to winter vacation to prepare students for the event.  “We also realized creating the decorations used during the fair would be too time-consuming for just us to do,” said Kamel. “So, we reached out to parents and were lucky to have a team volunteer to help transform the hallway with banners and other decorations.”

Matthew Kamel taught students how to perform mathematics using Roman numerals in the style of the Middle Ages. Photo courtesy Woodland School District
Matthew Kamel taught students how to perform mathematics using Roman numerals in the style of the Middle Ages. Photo courtesy Woodland School District

Some of the more popular lessons from the unit included learning about the different social classes that existed during the Middle Ages. “The way they made connections to their own lives was fascinating to hear,” said Kamel. Students also enjoyed learning about the Black Plague and were able to relate this tragic time in history to similar events they faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Learning is all about making connections,” said Kamel. “Studies show that students learn content knowledge more comprehensively when those lessons incorporate interactive learning.”

Learn more about how Woodland Public Schools educates students and serves the community by visiting the dedicated news webpage at www.woodlandschools.org/news/wsd

Information provided by Woodland School District.


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