My students have loved learning about the Middle Ages! Today we added William the Conqueror to our MLBs. We heard the story yesterday from The World of Walls (my Middle Ages webpage on the site contains a full list of all of our resources) and made a makeshift diorama with a few household items arranged on the living room floor so the children could better follow the Battle of Hastings as I read about it.
King Harold was played by Zac's little dog hand puppet, standing proudly on top of Senlac Hill (our toddler sensory beach bin of white cornmeal and seashells). King William was our vase of pencils for school, down in the valley below with his vast army all around him. And yet, despite his apparent strategic disadvantage, King William won! The diorama may have been silly but it worked, as I saw by how well the students recalled the story today.
Moulin Roty hand puppet
"Julius" from La Grande Famille
We then used some ideas from a BBC lesson plan: The Battle of Hastings and the Baxeux Tapestry. We looked at pictures of scenes from the Bayeux Tapestry, added several illustrations to our main lesson books (one child chose a map of the battle location and the other child chose a knight on horseback), and we played journalists from two different sides relaying the events of the battle of Hastings. One student was relaying the battle news from the point of view of the Normans, the other the Anglo-Saxons.
Here was what they wrote. The Norman perspective is first (King William); the Anglo-Saxon perspective is second (King Harold):
Breaking News 1
Who will win this exciting battle?
We'll Never Give Up!
King Harold's soldiers are on top of Senlac Ridge, tired but impatient, and ready to win!
Breaking News 2
Soldiers pursue the sinners of England. God is on our side.
The Normans are attacking. An arrow whizzes past my ear. Hey! You're not supposed to hit me!
Breaking News 3
Our Firepower is Useless!
The Angles cover themselves with shields.
In a firm line the Angles made a wall of shields. Protected at last!
Breaking News 4
Rumors are flying that Wiliam is dead! Will we win??? We are losing faith.
William's dead! The soldiers behind their sheilds scream for joy!
Breaking News 5
William is Still Alive!
As the Angles have been tricked into chasing us, we might win.
Some of our men are too impatient! Our ranks charge down the hill to their death!
Breaking News 6
William Shows Life!
We have circled the Angles. We have the advantage over this little group!
He's still alive? We are doomed! Retreat! No, we must stay firm. God is on our side. But our little group of soldiers is being killed!
Breaking News 7
We have fake retreated! We will take their entire army if they chase us!
The Normans are retreating. We must catch them! Attack!
Breaking News 8
We Turned Around!
We will chase them back to that hill and kill everyone left.
The Normans turn around and circle around us! I'm now the last reporter standing! Normans are ready to attack our shattered row of shields.
Breaking News 9
Harold is Dead!
Harold has been killed and so has a lot of their army. We have no doubt we will win.
Harold, our king, is dead. We still have to identify his body. We're losing!
Breaking News 10
WE HAVE WON!
The land is ours. William is going to be crowned King of England. Amazing! Thank you, God!
All is LOST!
The families comes to bury their loved ones, overcome with grief. Bodies are everywhere. Our new King will destroy us...