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School Programs - Bringing Social Sciences to Life

ChivalryToday.com Festival of Chivalry educational demonstrations

Chivalry Today’s History Festival school program helps educators bring their Medieval and Renaissance Social Sciences units to life, creating an interactive, immersive enrichment experience for students – like a field trip to an English castle or battlefield reenactment, without ever leaving your campus!

The History Festival allows you to create a memorable educational experience for your students, tailored to your facilities, focus of study, and budget. The descriptions below give you a menu of possibilities to choose from, whether your goal is a one-hour classroom talk, or a day-long multi-station event.

  • Live Demonstrations - demonstrations of historical crafts and skills, perfect for the athletic field or multipurpose room.
  • Interactive Talks - more traditional "lecture style" presentations, better suited to a classroom, library, or theatre.
  • Apprentice Workshops - get your students in on the action, letting a whole class discover a hands-on craft or activity.

 Our History Festival is intended for 7th grade classes studying the European Middle Ages and Renaissance, and is intended to help teachers meet California Dept. of Education Content Standards 7.6.1 through 7.6.9

These presentations and demonstrations provide an exciting, engaging look at medieval history for students of any age, and are great for homeschool coalition groups; elementary school classes reading tales of Camelot; high school classes taking a more in-depth study of medieval culture, or reading literature like  or the ; library summer reading programs; summer camps with a “knights in armor” theme; or Scout troop meetings or jamborees.

Contact Chivalry Today now to see how easy and affordable it is to bring our History Festival to your campus, and give your students a memorable learning experience stepping back into the Age Of Chivalry.

  • LIVE DEMONSTRATIONS
  • INTERACTIVE TALKS
  • APPRENTICE WORKSHOPS
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Deed of Arms: Knights in Action

This presentation allows students to witness a demonstration of a knightly “deed of arms” — a contest of martial skill in which armored knights showed their fighting technique and sense of honor before an audience of their peers. 

This demonstration of historical martial arts is not a scripted performance, and there is no play-acting of “hero” or “villain” roles. Instead, students will witness a real “passage at arms” based on descriptions of such encounters in 14th and 15th century historical chronicle.

Student Interaction: In this demonstration, several students will be called upon to serve as “judges” for the Deed Of Arms contest, applying their knowledge of the skills of armored dueling, and the principles of chivalry, as explained by Chivalry Today’s knights in armor.

Deed of Arms Learning Objectives

  • Gaining a realistic understanding of medieval arms and armor, and the martial skills used in jousting, duels, and warfare based on historical source material rather than Hollywood adventure movies;
  • Understanding the ideals of chivalry described by medieval authors, and how these ideals were applied in aristocratic society in the Middle Ages;
  • Considering how the ideals of chivalry are still applied in competitive encounters today, from business and sports to the modern battlefield, and why the restrictions of a code of honor are still necessary in today’s world.
Catapult War Machine

Catapult: The Medieval War Machine

In this presentation, students will get to see an impressive piece of medieval artillery in action, as they learn about the design, engineering principles, and tactics of a type of catapult known as the trebuchet.


Student Interaction: Two teams of four students will have the opportunity to help Chivalry Today’s “master of artillery” operate an authentically built, 18′ tall scale-model siege engine (as pictured here).

Catapult Learning Objectives

  • Understanding the history and development of artillery (catapults) on the medieval battlefield, as part of the tactics of siege (castle) warfare;
  • Learning the engineering principles that make these machines functional, such as leverage and inertia;
  • Understanding the rules of warfare and the laws of chivalry that governed the building and use of war engines, and seeing how such rules still apply to warfare and battlefield conduct in the modern age.

Falconry: Hunting with Birds of Prey

Students get to experience live birds of prey up close as they learn about the medieval art of falconry with Chivalry Today’s licensed falconer. 

This educational presentation provides a focus on the social and practical aspects of hunting in the Middle Ages, and on the parallels between the code of chivalry and ethical conservation practices.

Student Interaction: Volunteers will be called upon to assist our falconer in working with some of the equipment used in falconry (lures, cadges, jesses, etc.) and demonstrating training practices used with the birds.

This presentation will include a demonstration of free flight, weather and other conditions permitting.

Falconry Learning Objectives

  • Understanding the traditions and practices of hunting with birds of prey in medieval culture, and the importance of hunting as a social activity;
  • Experiencing the skills and necessary knowledge of a master falconer, and seeing some of the training methods used to impart these skills to a young apprentice falconer;
  • Understanding how falconry practices work in concert with natural cycles and behaviors, and learning how modern environmental practices reflect historical resource management and the ideals of chivalry.
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Blacksmith

No town or village in the Middle Ages would have been able to function without a blacksmith (or several!) to craft many of the basic necessities: nails, hinges, flatware, chisels, and other items made of iron and steel.

Students will get to see the skills necessary to forge iron into useful items, and learn about the practice of trade for medieval blacksmiths, and other talented artisans of the period.

Student Involvement: Students will get to see and handle several items forged by Chivalry Today’s blacksmith team, such as functional hinges, lengths of chain, cooking pans, and flatware. Student volunteers maybe asked to help demonstrate the function of tools like tongs, bellows, and hammers, as an apprentice blacksmith would do, under the close supervision of the master ‘smith.

Blacksmith Learning Objectives

  • Witnessing the skills of forging basic items out of iron stock, and discovering how the blacksmith might work in concert with other artisans, like carpenters, leatherworkers, or stone masons, to create tools and other products;
  • Learning about the business practices of a medieval artisan, and the expectations and requirements of working in a trade and being part of guild structure in a medieval town;
  • Understanding the requirements of ethical business practice, as documented by trade guild rules, and seeing how ethical standards are still upheld by modern businesses.

Medieval Music

Few experiences match the delight of listening to an ensemble of talented musicians playing lively tunes on historically accurate instruments.

Students will enjoy learning about medieval instruments like the crumhorn, the shawm, and the hurdy-gurdy, as they get to listen to, and even sing along with, Chivalry Today’s talented court musicians.

They will also discover the importance of music and musicians in medieval culture, from performances at royal feasts and knightly tournaments, to town festivals and holiday carols.

Student Involvement: Students will get an up close visual and audible encounter with several reproduction historical musical instruments. They will also get to sing along with one of the pieces of medieval music played by the ensemble – which maybe more familiar to the students than they expect!

Music Learning Objectives

  • Discover several pieces of medieval music, while learning about historical musical tastes, styles, and opportunities for public performance of music;
  • Learn about several medieval instruments used by 15th century musicians, and understand the place of these historical instruments in the development of modern variants, such as the trombone, the guitar, and the violin;
  • Understand the value of musical performance in medieval community, among clerical, aristocratic, and working-class audiences – and consider how song and music still bring people together in today’s world.
Medieval Cookery

Medieval Cookery

Despite the common perception that medieval food was bland, tasteless, and often spoiled or rancid, the fact is that medieval diets were generally healthful, seasonally varied, and overall very tasty!

In this presentation, students will get a look inside a medieval kitchen, learning how meats, vegetables, and pastries were prepared, seasoned, and cooked.

Student Involvement: Students will get a chance to sample mixes of medieval spices in order to understand the medieval “flavor palate,” along with a tiny piece of a historical “seasoning” that was generally reserved for royalty: caked sugar!

Several student volunteers will also get to demonstrate medieval table manners as they use their fingers to show how diners would have shared a meal without making a mess!

Cookery Learning Objectives

  • Discover the dishes enjoyed by people at various levels of medieval society throughout the year, and the iconic mixes of spices used to flavor meat, fish, eggs, pastry, and other recipes;
  • See various medieval cook ware, and understand how it was used to by medieval chefs to cook dishes of roast meats, delicate pastries, sweet and savory soups, and glorious (edible!) table decorations;
  • Understand the customs of medieval table manners that were observed by people who ate primarily with their fingers rather than utensils, and consider how and why they are (sometimes extremely) different from manners used at the modern dinner table.

Commedia dell'arte

Students will get to experience one of the most delightful and lively forms of live performance from the Italian Renaissance as they see a Commedia dell’arte performance put on by San Diego’s acclaimed Chronos Theatre Troupe.

Time permitting, students will also get an opportunity to discuss some of the “stock characters” from this theatrical tradition, and may even be called upon to try a little improv themselves under the guidance of Chivalry Today’s performers.

Student Involvement: Students will laugh along with the antics of characters in a traditional Commedia dell’arte style scene in performance, and volunteers will be called upon to try acting in their own improvised scene of Renaissance-style comedy (time permitting).

Commedia Learning Objectives

  • Watch and understand the characters and situations in a Renaissance-style comedy performance;
  • Discuss improvisation based on “stock characters” and discuss characters in current TV shows and movies that maybe based on the Commedia tradition;
  • Understand elements of Commedia performance, such as masks, props, postures, and situations, as a means of appreciating Renaissance theatrical tradition.
Arms, Armor & Chivalry

Arms, Armor, & Chivalry

Students will get an up-close encounter with medieval knightly arms and armor as they come to understand not just the military function of highly specialized battle and jousting equipment, but also the elements of fashion represented in Late Medieval armor, and the symbolic aspects of a knight’s harness, which came to represent the various ideals of the code of chivalry.

Student Interaction: In this talk, students will get to see museum-quality armor reproductions up close, and even handle several items to get a sense of the weight, strength, and functionality of items of armor made of steel plate and iron mail.

Arms & Armor Learning Objectives

  • Gaining a practical knowledge of the military function of armor, and how the design of armor evolved throughout the period of the Middle Ages to address different tactics and dangers on the battlefield;
  • Understand various non-military aspects of medieval armor, including its use in the sport of jousting, the changes in armor design based on taste and fashion, and the regional differences in armor design;
  • Recognize the application of armor in military and law enforcement in today’s world, and understand the necessity of the ideals of a code of honor among modern elite warriors.
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Vigil: The Making of a Knight

Literature and chronicles from the Middle Ages describe an elaborate ceremony surrounding the dubbing of a young knight.

This classroom talk will focus on an important part of the ceremony, the meditative period known as the vigil, as a means of understanding the role of knights in medieval society and the values of the code of chivalry they were expected to follow.

Student Interaction: Several student volunteers will be called upon to help demonstrate the function of knightly equipment such as the shield, the lance, and the gauntlets, as a means of considering how the practical use of these weapons and pieces of armor, reflected the symbolic meaning of various principles of the code of chivalry.

Vigil Learning Objectives

  • Understanding the origins and development of the status of a knight through the period of the Middle Ages, from simple soldier, to a position of prestige and responsibility in medieval European society;
  • Know the important role that women played in the ideals of chivalry, knighthood, and the literature of courtly love, and discover how and why women could (occasionally) become knights in the Middle Ages;
  • See the parallels between medieval ideals of chivalry, and principles of ethics and honorable behavior in today’s world in sports, business, and family life.

Knights & Chivalry in the Works of William Shakespeare

Knighthood, chivalry, and the customs of courtly love can be found in many of Shakespeare’s plays, from “Romeo and Juliet” and “Twelfth Night,” to “Henry V” and “Hamlet.”

Students will get an understanding of knighthood in Shakespeare’s time, and how the lore and language of knights and armor can enrich our appreciation of these works of literature.

Student Interaction: Students will be called upon to read various passages from the Works of William Shakespeare in order to highlight the language of knighthood and chivalry used in the plays.

Shakespeare's Knights Learning Objectives

  • Understand terminology of arms and armor, knighthood, and chivalry found in crucial passages in plays such as “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Macbeth,” and “Hamlet.”
  • Learn about the skills of jousting, fencing, and combat on the battlefield, as described in plays like “Henry V” and “Romeo and Juliet.”
  • Recognize the underlying principles of chivalry demonstrated by iconic characters like Hamlet, Sir John Falstaff, Henry V, and various other comic and dramatic characters in Shakespeare’s works.
King Arthur

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table in Lore & Literature

Working with award-winning San Diego storyteller Marilyn McPhie, Chivalry Today shares traditional tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table with students as a means of experiencing this important aspect of English literature, and appreciating the value of lore and legend in understanding the ideals of the code of chivalry.

Student Interaction: Students will stretch their vocabulary and imaginations as they listen to a tale told by a talented storytelling artist, and discuss similar characters and themes in modern books, movies, and other media in follow-up discussion sessions.

Tales of King Arthur Learning Objectives

  • Discover the tales of the Knights of the Round Table and their chivalric adventures with characters like Sir Gawain, Queen Guinevere, Merlin, and King Arthur;
  • Experience the joy of hearing stories told through live performance, by an acclaimed storytelling artist;
  • Contemplate the values of chivalry demonstrated in medieval literature, and consider similar heroic principles in modern lore, such as Star Wars, Harry Potter, and The Lord of the Rings.
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History and Design of the Medieval Castle

The massive fortresses built in the Middle Ages are icons of medieval culture.

Students will follow the history and development of castle design, with visual examples from existing English castles, as they learn about life in and around castles in the Middle Ages, in both peace and war.

Student Interaction: Students will discuss the design elements of medieval castles, such as moats, drawbridges, battlements, hoardings, catapults, and donjons, as they learn about siege warfare and life in and around English castles from the time of the Norman Conquest, through the Crusades, to the end of the Hundred Years War.

Castles Learning Objectives

  • Learn about the rise, development, and ultimate decline of castles as part of medieval culture, politics, and warfare;
  • See photographs of several iconic medieval castles, presented with an eye toward understanding the practical function of various defensive elements: moats, gates, walls, and towers;
  • Consider how the laws of chivalry were applied to siege warfare, and how laws of military conduct and justice used by soldiers at war today are founded in the principles of chivalry and humanity.

Chivalry Today’s Apprentice Workshops get the whole class involved learning a particular skill or craft! Because of the highly interactive nature of these workshops (every student in the class group takes part), there may be restrictions or limitations on the number of students that can be involved, depending on the activity.

Please contact Chivalry Today to learn more about any of these hands-on educational opportunities for your students.

Math on the Counting Board

Math on the Counting Board

Students will learn how to use a specialized medieval abacus called a counting board to do basic mathematical functions.

Every student will get a printed board, and use small markers called jetons to add, subtract, and even multiply, just as clerics and bankers would have done to keep track of sums and accounts in the Middle Ages.

Student Interaction: Every student will learn to manage mathematical functions on a counting board, and will be given a series of simple math problems in Roman numeral form, to be solved using their counting board skills.

Counting Board Learning Objectives

  • Learn the history of Roman and Arabic numerals, and how these different number systems were used in the Middle Ages;
  • Discover how to use a counting board to effectively solve several basic arithmetic problems.
Dancing on the Green

Dancing on the Green

Students will learn to take part in several historically accurate dances, under the guidance of Chivalry Today’s dance master.

Dancing and music were important elements of courtly life, and festive holiday celebrations in the Middle Ages, and students will participate in multiple group dances (all students taking part) representing both courtly (aristocratic) and country (folk) dances of the period.

Student Interaction: Students will all learn, and then participate in a variety of dances with Chivalry Today’s dance master.

Dancing Learning Objectives

  • Understand the role of music and dance in medieval society;
  • Learn multiple dances performed to recorded historical music, with historically accurate dance steps;
  • Discuss the importance of dancing, festivals, and courtly culture with relation to the ideals of chivalry.
calligraphy

Calligraphy

Students will learn the basics of the medieval style of artistic handwriting known as calligraphy.

Students will learn the basics of a medieval lettering system, and begin using the specialized calligraphy pen to write their names, and several other words in the style of a medieval manuscript.

Student Interaction: Each student will follow along with Chivalry Today’s calligraphy master, using their own calligraphy pen, to learn to make calligraphic writing.

Calligraphy Learning Objectives

  • Understand the specialized skill of calligraphic writing, and how it was learned and employed by clerics and scribes in the Middle Ages;
  • Experience the difficulty of learning to write the precise style of calligraphy by hand;
  • Understand the importance of the skill of writing, and the value of the production of a manuscript as a work of art in the Middle Ages.
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Heraldry

Students will learn the art of heraldry, or designing and describing a knightly “coat of arms,” in this interactive workshop.

Students will learn to create the escutcheon (shield outline) and the proper way to blazon (create and describe) a coat of arms within the proper rules of heraldry. Then each student will create their own individual coat of arms, representing their own interpretation of the ideals of chivalry.

 

Student Interaction: Students will design, draw, and color their own coats of arms, following the rules of heraldic design, under the guidance of Chivalry Today’s master herald.

Heraldry Learning Objectives

  • Learn the rules of heraldry that govern proper design of a medieval coat of arms;
  • Draft and draw a unique, individualized coat of arms;
  • Recognize the graphic design elements behind medieval heraldry, and see how they are still put to use today in company logos and other examples of popular artwork.