Children learn to picture the Middle Ages by participating in this extensive, activity-based unit study. Designed to be used for grade levels 4-8, this resource book is loaded with such a variety of activities that it is hard to do it justice. Twelve chapters divide studies into key areas such as "The Town: Craftsmen and Guilds," "The Monastery: Monks and Nuns," and "Making Costumes and Armor." The entire study is based upon the imaginary medieval world called Higginswold, created at the Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts. A huge fold out picture of Higginswold is included, as well as a timeline; patterns for costumes, shields, helmets, and breastplates; maps, illustrations of coats of arms, banners, and guild signs; and recipes.
Students study literature, the arts, and history, including the oft-neglected church history. The vocabulary and writing assignments, together with supplemental reading are extensive enough to replace other language arts curricula. Of course, you are free to pick and choose from among the wealth of options.
The authors suggest allowing five to eight weeks to complete the study. It is designed to culminate in a Medieval Festival, complete with tournaments (academic), games, a play, a feast, and a fair.
The unit study will work best with a group. It might be worth forming a special group for this purpose even if you don't already have one. There is still plenty to do if a group is not possible.
If you want to extend the study even further, additional resources are listed for each chapter. Among these are some of the Jackdaw Portfolios of Historical Documents. (See separate review.)