Friday, 17 May 2013

Cross curricular project plan: Mysteries of the Middle Ages

Free lesson plan - Crime and punishment in the Middle Ages

The Middle Ages is probably one of the most turbulent time periods in all of history. It began with the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, as barbarian invaders formed new kingdoms across Western Europe. 

It is often referred to as the Dark Ages, because the barbarian tribes did not foster advances in art, literature and architecture as the Romans had. Religion became one of the biggest influences, and whether you were a peasant or a nobleman, life was dictated and overruled by the church. Rights were restricted, the fates of criminals often left to God to decide. 
The Roman government was replaced with the feudal system – thousands of small, regional governments wherein the local lord was in charge and held all the power.

It was the age of kings, lords, wars and rebellions, of great riches and great poverty, of repression, disease and famine… and yet it is often romanticised. Dashing knights, beautiful maidens and terrifying (but always in the end, defeated) dragons and monsters dominate film and literature. For Hollywood, the Middle Ages were a time of magic and mystery, and in some ways, they are right. Many myths, legends and fairytales we tell today originated in medieval times, and most of the time, it’s nearly impossible to work out where fact and fiction collide. 

What is real history, and what is purely legend? The Middle Ages and all its mysteries, therefore, have great potential for investigation and development across the whole curriculum.

Our latest issue of Creative Teaching and Learning included the project plan, 'Mysteries of the Middle Ages'. The project focuses on a combination of fact and legend from the Medieval Times. Who really was Robin Hood, we ask. What kinds of mythical monsters did people of the Middle Ages believe to be true? How would we lay siege to a fortified medieval castle? How fair was the medieval justice system?

The full plan is available only to subscribers (now also available to purchase here!), but since we are feeling generous, we have made one lesson plan open access - 'Crime and punishment in the Middle Ages'. The instructions for the lesson are shown below, along with links to where you can download the activity sheet.

Crime and Punishment Instructions (also available to download here)

Examining information to discuss aptness of punishments and comparison to today’s crime and punishment

Curriculum Focus
Communication – speaking and listening, reading, writing
Thinking skills - identify gaps and begin to build on existing skills, knowledge and understanding required for the task, suggest alternative processes; identifying  the learning and thinking strategy to be used

Activity sheets 7a and 7b, paper, pens

Four or five

Give out information sheet 7a. Read and discuss the contents with the pupils. In their groups, the pupils discuss the questions posed about law and order and then compare their answers to other groups.
Next go onto the crime card activity.
1.    Cut out the crime cards.
2.    Give copies to the pupils, enough so they can all read them.
3.    In their groups, pupils discuss the appropriateness of the punishments for the crimes committed.
4.    The pupils make a judgement as to whether they consider the punishments to be right.
5.    The pupils discuss the thinking processes they have used in drawing their conclusions. Were the thinking processes the same or different in other groups?

Click here to download Activity Sheet 7a: Crime and Punishment discussion sheet, and Activity Sheet 7b: Crime Cards.

To subscribe to Creative Teaching and Learning magazine, see here

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