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Learning About Castles Around the World

During the last few weeks students have been learning all about castles around the world.  First our VIF teacher, Mrs. Harlow taught second grade international club students and Mrs. Todd all about castles in England.  The International club students learned about the beginning castles and their history. They labeled parts of the castle then over spring break they had the castle challenge.  Students and families had a fun time designing and building their own castle.  The last meeting of international club students shared their project and voted on the top three castles.   

The following weeks all students had the opportunity to learn from their classmates and Mrs. Todd things they had learned from Mrs. Harlow.  They made connections to books with castles such as Harry Potter and Magic Tree House books to video games with castles. Many made connections to Walt Disney and movies that used a castle as the setting like one built in France and Europe.  Students had a good time learning how to draw a castle using various shapes of rectangles, squares, cone, and cylinders.  The students were amazed to see castles in India, Spain, Germany, England, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Japan, Russia and even more modern ones like those found in the United States.

Here are some things they learned…..

Castles were built mainly for protection against invaders during medieval times in Europe.  Originally castles were built with wood which didn’t stand up to the invaders so they switched to stone. They were also built for the wealthy kings, queens, lords and ladies.  When cannons and gunpowder came into use castles weren’t built as often until the 18th century when they became popular again by this time it was not for protection but as homes.  The first thing that distinguished a castle was the moat or ditch filled with deep water.  The only way to cross a moat was on the drawbridge.  The walls were very thick and built of stone with a wooden drawbridge and doors.   At the entrance was a gatehouse where a strong door could be closed.  In front of the door was a strong, metal latticed portcullis with pointed ends to help keep the invaders out of the castle.   From the towers knights and soldiers could keep watch outside the castle walls.  The Keep of the castle was the highest point and center of defense.  The strongest and most secure place in a castle was in the center or heart of the castle walls.   The battlements “gap tooth” areas on top of the castle walls allowed the knights to shoot arrows between them.  Inside the castle wall there was a big kitchen where meals were prepared. Foods were gathered from the castle gardens and cooked over a open hearth-fireplace.  The great hall was the place they all sat at long tables to eat. Court jesters often sang, juggled and told stories to entertain the lord and his family since there was no electricity, television, computers or video games other types of entertainment was needed.  The servants slept on the floor in the great hall.  Stables housed the livestock.  There were other small houses built inside the walls for people to stay. Castles were often cool, dark and damp places and were heated by fireplaces.  19th and 20th century castles changed a lot in how they were built and why.   Fifth grade students recently took a field trip to one of a North Carolina castles called the Biltmore built in 1895.  Many of the items in the home came from other places in the world they learned.

Mrs. Harlow’s native home of England has many castles one of which is Windsor Castle.   In fact there were over 1000 castles built in Europe during the medieval times.  Through her help students at Rocky River were able to learn about United Kingdom’s castles.  They were able to make connections with books, movies and video games they were familiar with.

Written by: Brenda Todd - Global Studies/21st Century Skills/Technology Teacher
Posted: Apr 23, 2015 by Brenda Todd

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