Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Duchess Bakes a Cake

We are finally back to Five in a Row after the holidays and readjustment to school. This may have been our favorite week ever. We read The Duchess Bakes a Cake by Virginia Kahl, which is a funny book about a Duchess who puts too much yeast into a cake with disastrous results. 

The kids were really excited to study castles and princesses. Before vacation was even over, they pulled out Knights and Castles: 50 Hands-on Activities to Explore the Middle Ages and built a catapult out of tp rolls. 

The manual suggested that we act out the book, and the kids were very enthusiastic about this idea. We ended up doing a full production with costumes, memorized lines and many rehearsals, so many that we probably read the book more like fifteen times than five.
We performed the play on Monday when Daddy had the day off work, and they did great. Mabel played The Duchess and did a marvelous job balancing on a stack of couch cushions for the dough. Beatrix was the baby Gunhilde and pulled off fake-crying with ease, and Ella was the Duke, the King, the Queen, the cook, and the General, which required many accessory changes and catapulting bean-bags at her sister, which she enjoyed immensely.

For history, we learned a bit about the Feudal system and read a lot about the Middle Ages. From the Knights and Castles books, we also made medieval dioramas. They were supposed to represent The Four Alls: Serfs, Knights, Royalty, and the church, but we didn't quite finish the church. Instead, Trixie made her own free-form diorama. If your kids are creative, a low-temp glue gun and a big bag of wood bits are amazing fodder. Throw in some old tissue boxes, some fabric and ribbon, and lots of sticky sparkly foam. They turned out great. I was only called on to do a little bit of needle-felting when we ran out of little wooden people for the king and queen.
For language arts, we're adding in some lessons from the Brave Writer curriculum. The kids were really excited about narrating stories while I wrote them down. We are also loving doing poetry tea-times. On Thursday, the kids decided to bake a cake. They began this project with daddy before I got out of bed, so it was a little crazy that morning, but it tasted great and was a great math lesson. We did not end up reading the poetry in the picture.We actually read Good Masters, Sweet Ladies: Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz. When I checked this out of the library, I thought it would be a little too frank for the kids. These poems do not sugarcoat any aspect of medieval life, but they were really interested in each character's story. For art, we learned about the color wheel and complimentary colors.
After the performance on Monday, we had a medieval feast. 
Though we didn't end up sewing together a suckling pig and a capon, as suggested in A Medieval Feast by Aliki, we did make our own trenchers out of bread dough and ate without forks.We listened to medieval music while we baked.
The kids decorated loaves of bread that were flavored with rose water. 
They helped Brent chop apples and make a faux mince-meat pie for dessert.

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