Chivalry Today's History Festival school program lets 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 is a listing of interactive demonstrations of historical crafts and skills, perfect for the athletic field or multipurpose room. Classroom Talks is a listing of 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. But 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 Idylls Of The King or the Works of William Shakespeare; library summer reading programs; summer camps with a "knights in armor" theme; or Scout troop meetings or jamborees.
Contact Chivalry Today 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.
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 chronicles.
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.
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 above).
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.
What is that marvelous smell? Yes, it's the aroma of fresh bread, hot out of Chivalry Today's authentic medieval wood-fired oven!
Students will get a chance to see, smell, and even taste a morsel of bread baked from a medieval recipe, as they watch a portable brick oven in action. This provides a marvelous chance to learn about the importance of "daily bread" as part of medieval diet, as well as other aspects of medieval dining and diet. A medieval feast wasn't as messy or flavorless as you might think!
Student Interaction: Volunteers will be called upon to help with the mixing and kneading of a loaf of bread as it is prepared for the oven. All students will have the chance to sample a morsel of bread under the supervision of Chivalry Today's licensed food handler and baker.
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.
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!
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 maybe 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.