School Programs – Bringing Social Sciences to Life

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Overview Festival of Chivalry educational demonstrations

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.

  • Interactive Talks
  • Apprentice Workshops

Arms, Armor, and 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 and 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.

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 and the Knights of the Round Table in Lore and 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.
Castle Life image

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.

Schedule a Presentation (or ask questions) Now!