This year our five year old has caught a popular passion amongst boys of his age for Knights and Castles, armour and swords. As both his sisters, elder and younger, have been easily convinced to join in with the charade we have been making all things medieval. The castle was first, we pored over books on the subject from the library before attacking our large supply of cardboard boxes and tubes and setting about building our very own chateau fort.
The pictures show an unfinished version. In it's finished state (picture very soon I promise) the castle has a working drawbridge! It works with a nifty pulley system involving a screw, a wine cork and some string. This bit of engineering was supervised by my husband but the rest is truly their creation.
The shields we made one grey day when I needed something for them to do. They are made from cut up cardboard boxes with a cardboard loop attached at the back with glue and sellotape for extra sturdiness. They are decorated with a mixture of paint, ink stamps and drawings. While creating them we discussed and researched the symbolism of medieval heraldry and discussed the characteristics we would wish to possess and to present on our shields. Of course this was all over the head of our two year old and even a bit deep for Noah but Maya, nearly 9, really enjoyed exploring the different significances of animals.
Swords are a tricky issue. I can't say I was keen to promote weaponry but it seems a fact of childhood that I cannot ignore that children love to create arms for themselves. Our choice has been to stick to hand crafted versions and we currently have an impressive bow and arrow, some cardboard daggers and various wooden sword attempts in differing degrees of completion.
All in all so far it has been great fun to watch this passion and interest being explored through books, films, fantasy play and creative endeavours. As with all autonomous learning it is hard to predict what each child will take away and remember from it but I do hope they'll keep a sense of the fun in learning and discovery that we have all shared.