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Scott Hrouda




Location: Minnesota, USA
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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2011 6:06 am    Post subject: Advice requested Teaching armour history to 4th graders         Reply with quote

A friend has asked that I help teach a segment in his (private school) 4th grade history class next week. I have been given one hour to talk about different armours, how its worn and why it changed/adapted through the ages. I have previously given short talks and hands-on seminars, but only to high school aged kids in advanced classes. When I mentioned my apprehension and the fact that I have huge gaps in my own collection, my buddy reminded me that these kids are 4th graders (10 years old). They will be more interested in the shiny armour, not what Im saying.

My plan is to keep it very simple and fun. I want to dispel the ugly weapon and armour myths (swords were heavy, knights needed a crane to get into the saddle, etc.), cover the very basics of armour and have enough time for the kids to try on various bits and pieces.

Has another member of this forum given a similar class to young children? How to you keep their attention, impart a little bit of knowledge and not bore them to death? I have young children of my own, but have never instructed a large group of kids before. Whats the best way to connect with them? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped. - Sir Bedevere
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Craig Shackleton




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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2011 6:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've done this lots of times. Honestly, I wouldn't worry too much. Bring in as much as you can that is useful to show and that you are willing to pass around. If you have one hour, you can honestly get away with saying "This is my armour. Who has questions?" and the hour will go by.

One thing I have found is that the weight thing sometimes gets lost on kids that age. Some of them get it, but to a lot of them, even a well constructed lightweight sword or piece of armour feels heavy. Some of them get it, but some of them don't.

One of my current lines is "My whole armour weighs about 50 pounds. That might seem heavy to you, but I have a friend the same height is me who weighs 75 pounds more than me. I get to take my armour off at the end of the day. He doesn't."

It also helps though that I have three pieces of armour that fit the majority of grade 4 students pretty well. The coat of plates is well enough made that kids can feel the weight disappear when it gets buckled and tied in place.

But the most important thing is, be willing to pass stuff around, and be ready to answer questions.

As always, YMMV.

Ottawa Swordplay
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2011 6:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh, they won't get bored! They'll keep the questions coming even after the bell rings. They will ALL want to try on helmets and anything else! (Be sure to wipe everything with oil afterwards, no joke...) Might be best just to do "show and tell" for about half the hour and then start passing stuff around.

My favorite age group to work with is 5th and 6th graders. They are old enough to follow most everything I tell them--in fact a few are surprisingly well-informed--and young enough to be enthusiastic and ask a lot of good questions. I'll go as young as 3rd graders, still a good crowd and I don't think they miss much or get confused too easily. Once you get into 7th or 8th grade, or into high school, suddenly the kids act bored and are too "cool" to ask questions!

If you've done any demos before, you won't have any trouble. "Armor Through Time" can be a little tricky because you can't possibly touch on everything, but scattered samples are still fine.

Have fun!

Matthew
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Sander Marechal




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PostPosted: Sat 07 May, 2011 4:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have done this, and I can echo the comments above. Just bring lots of gear and have plenty of time for everyone to try stuff on. Some tips:

- Bring other people. I don't know how big the class is, but there's no way you can help 30 kids try on armour at the same time. Last time my reenactment group did this we had 6 of our people and two school teachers for approximately 60 kids, and it was hard to control.

- If you're bringing other people anyway, you may as well give a short fighting demonstration. The only thing kids like more then people in armour is seeing people in armour fighting.

Here are some pictures of the last time our reenactment group did this. We had three hours. The first hour was us on stage giving some explanation, a couple of sword fighting demo's and a shieldwall (that is, we formed a shieldwall and let groups of kids trying to push us off Happy ). Then we had an hour and a half to try everything on. The last half hour was for questions.

The Knights Hospitaller: http://www.hospitaalridders.nl
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Philip C. Ryan




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PostPosted: Sat 07 May, 2011 1:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pass around a few small pieces as you talk (i.e. maille coif, gorget, plate gauntlet). Then let them come up to the table to try on helms or pick up simple plate pieces (arms, legs), or pick up shields. They can do that as they wait in line to let you help them try on a breastplate, or maille haubergeon, or look at weapons up close. I would advise not letting them hold a weapon as kids at that age still get overexcited and can quickly and unexpectedly swing a weapon and smack down another student. This is the general system I have used for many, many elementary/ junior high level demos.
Skjaldborg Viking Age Living History and Martial Combat
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Sat 07 May, 2011 5:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Theaching history in a efficient way is definitely tricky, especialy to young children.

One tip is to make a list of key "learning items" that you are going to cover. Basically, what you want them to remember after the leason is over.
For instance, what a knight is, what armour does, and why this is important to the way society worked in the middle ages.
Keep things simple, and relate them to things they allready know about; Modern society, or other historical stereotypes ("A knight was a bit like the sheriff in wild west, and the armour let him do his job. Kind of like a superhero suit...")
Learning is achieved by linking ideas togheter, and by using ideas the pupils allready have, you make them remember things.

Most likely, however, they will only pick up a set of loose asociation. Thus, the most important message shoul be that the middle ages are cool, so that they want to learn more. Wink

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Sat 07 May, 2011 10:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Make sure that the kids understand that armour didn't just disappear, it went out of fashion for a while and then came back. You have a coat of plates - show them how the coat of plates is very similar to the tactical vests that soldiers wear in combat today.
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Richard B. Price




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PostPosted: Sun 08 May, 2011 1:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It can't be over stated here, EXAMPLE EXAMPLE EXAMPLE, little people learn by seeing and feeling, keep it simple, but make sure everyone can feel and try on. And when they ask why armor was necessary a watermelon with a war hammer.
"We shall never know lasting peace until the last king has been strangled with the entrails of the last priest."
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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Mon 09 May, 2011 6:26 am    Post subject: History and kids         Reply with quote

Hi Scott

I do this quite a bit. The kids will be very interested and you should not worry about them being bored. As fourth graders they will be full of questions and stories themselves. I would suggest having specific times where you ask them if they have questions. as an hour is long enough you could do that in the middle and the end or even three or four times. But having a structured time to ask is good for this age group.

Also definitely have some items to pass around or at the end have them come up to a table and touch and handle items that are safe. If you have them do the active or interactive part first it is hard to get them to settle down and ask questions or listen so do those before the handling.

I would also suggest having some real stories of knights to describe and illustrate things. The specific will work better for kids this age to connect to. I usually also give a brief comment on the fact that it is a subject that does incorporate violence and while armor and swords are cool it is important to remember how and why they wore armor and had weapons. This is a good lead in to why the evolution of Chivalry as an ideal for the society was important.

Here are a couple of things that I usually use as talking points:

Armor is designed to enhance your protection but is not impervious. It does not make you superman :-)
Armor is often much lighter than people think.
It does not make it impossible to get off the ground if you fall down.
Most armor was worn by soldiers and was not full suits but bits and pieces.
Uses of armor today.
How hard is it to see out of a visor. (if you have a helm to use this works good but you can also have them make a view slot with their fingers and look around)

Good luck and I am sure some of their questions will give you good stuff to talk about as well.

Best
Craig
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Scott Hrouda




Location: Minnesota, USA
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PostPosted: Mon 09 May, 2011 8:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I thank everyone for your detailed and thoughtful responses. The class is this Wednesday and I now feel much better equipped after having received advice from people who have "been there and done that".

Richard Price and many others mentioned learning by seeing and touching. I will have plenty of armour bits, breastplates, helms, etc. for the kids to try on. I like the idea of relating historical armour and chivalry to modern day examples that they can readily identify with.

I wish I had the time and manpower to put on a presentation such as that which Sander shared. It was really quite outstanding and I'm sure those kids will never forget that day!

It's interesting to note that many of the same key teaching points were mentioned in the posts; I find this very reassuring. The punch-list that Craig provided will be very helpful. Happy

Of course, any additional thoughts are always welcome!

Again, Thank You!

...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped. - Sir Bedevere
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Larry R




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PostPosted: Mon 09 May, 2011 4:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott,

Congratulations on sharing your knowledge and passion with these kids!! Cool One thing though---please post after the big day and let us know, who had the most fun!! Big Grin
(You or the kids)
Larry
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Scott Hrouda




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PostPosted: Thu 12 May, 2011 8:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Larry R wrote:
Scott,

Congratulations on sharing your knowledge and passion with these kids!! Cool One thing though---please post after the big day and let us know, who had the most fun!! Big Grin
(You or the kids)
Larry


It's hard to say who had more fun! The class must have been a success as I've been asked if I could do it again. Happy The notes and advice provided in this thread were very helpful and I thank everyone who responded.

A few surprises were encountered along the way. I was not presenting to one class, but two! Over 55 kids and adults were crammed into one classroom. I gave the presentation in modern clothing as Mr. Hrouda instead of presenting in my 14th century clothing and persona. I must have missed that email. Blush

The children were very interested and well informed. The quality of their questions was really quite outstanding as they led me from one topic to the next in a natural fashion. They also enthusiastically shared their knowledge with me. The jousting death of King Henry II, historically correct information about Joan of Arc and "real Vikings didn't wear horns" were all facts blurted out by excited youngsters. Happy The last tidbit warmed my heart as our Minnesota Vikings (American football) mascot notoriously parades around the stadium in his horned helm.

Im awaiting photographs of the event and will post them here once they arrive.

...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped. - Sir Bedevere
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Scott Hrouda




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PostPosted: Fri 01 Jun, 2012 12:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We find ourselves a year older and, hopefully, a little wiser. Wink

I must have done OK last year as I was asked to return. With each presentation I find that it becomes a little easier. Happy

I wish to sincerely thank the contributors to this thread as I like to refer back to their thoughts. Your input was, and is, very helpful.


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...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped. - Sir Bedevere
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William P




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PostPosted: Fri 01 Jun, 2012 11:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i remember in year 7 i saw such a presentation

it was pretty awsome and, if i remember he used us strudents to demonstrate a shield wall/ phalanx having us stand in 2 rows of 3. pointing out that it works because if the guy in frnt is hit (i think it was me he chose to be the unlucky victim) the guy in the next line would get you anyway..

one question scott, how far back did you go in terms of armour history? just dark ages onwards or did you show a few bits from even earlier, ;like a roman helmet or something..
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Sander Marechal




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PostPosted: Sat 02 Jun, 2012 2:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
one question scott, how far back did you go in terms of armour history? just dark ages onwards or did you show a few bits from even earlier, ;like a roman helmet or something..


I'm not Scott, but I did something similar two weeks ago with kids aged 10-14. I covered weapons and armour from the roman era to the late 15th century. The basic line of my story is about how swords changed over the course of history. But swords don't change in a vacuum so I discuss some changes in armour and battle tactics as well.

I started off with the Roman gladius as a sword for stabbing. I told them that this was the first true sword. Before that you basically had really long daggers or really long knives (i.e. sax). I'm not sure if that's 100% true but I wanted to have a nice starting point.

Then showing them how the sword became a slashing weapon up to the 12th-13th century. As (maille) armour became better and more widespread, swords get more about piercing again. Then advance in plate armour makes shields disappear and you get longswords and harnishfechten. I end by telling how professional armies and farmer armed with 18 foot pikes end the reign of knights and I show them two-handed swords (really a shord-shaped spear) breaking pike blocks.

While I'm telling this and showing the weapons, other members of my group keep changing gear and acting as my opponent for various short demonstrations.

The Knights Hospitaller: http://www.hospitaalridders.nl
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Scott Hrouda




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PostPosted: Sat 02 Jun, 2012 7:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sander, I'm so glad to hear that your group is going strong and continuing demonstrations for children (and adults). Happy

William P wrote:
one question scott, how far back did you go in terms of armour history? just dark ages onwards or did you show a few bits from even earlier, ;like a roman helmet or something..


My buddy teaches at an elementary charter school, which in Minnesota is like typical elementary school curriculum on steroids. His school is named after DaVinci and concentrates on history and the sciences. I was asked to just do the typical "How a Knight Shall Be Armed" type presentation and cover roughly 1200-1450ish.

...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped. - Sir Bedevere
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William P




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PostPosted: Sat 02 Jun, 2012 8:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

well as i said earlier, when i had something similar in year 7 it was the best thing ever

(we were also encouraged to dress up for the event, i ran out of time so i grabbed a plastic sword and heater from kmart and pinned up a wide brim hat to look like a robin hood hat and had mum trim the base of a green t shirt in a sorta crenellation pattern)

it still ranks as one of the best days i had in high school

so its a real service i think to have guys like you who know as much as you do and have myArmoury to give you information, doing these things for kids..

and also, i think while some have the 'im too cool for this' attitude a majority of kids i think will still be somewhat enamoured with knights and swords and stuffbecause of all the movies so i get the feeling you wont run out of people to teach.

(i mean, archery clubs in australia got a massive surge of people wanting to try archery after seeing legolas being awsome on screen when lord of the rings first was released, so clearly this ancient stuff still gets kids interested)
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Scott Hrouda




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PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun, 2012 6:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you William, but I must assure you that there are many people on this forum that have more knowledge than I will ever hope to acquire! Rarely a day goes by that I don't learn something new. Happy

My main goal was to entertain the kids and dispel those nasty armour myths (needing a crane to get on your horse, horned helms, cant get up if you fall over, etc., etc., etc. Cry )

...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped. - Sir Bedevere
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Dan Rosen




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PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun, 2012 8:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you all for taking the time to bring our collective history to life for children. When I was in the fourth grade, a Revolutionary War reenactor came to speak to my class and for the first time it became real. I could smell the saltpeter and coarse ration grain, feel the heft of the musket and weave of his coat, hear the slick sound of a steel striker sliding across a piece of flint and throwing sparks up in the air... To this day it's a powerful memory and it's what sent me down the road of being a historical interpreter.

Thank you for all that you do

-Dan Rosen

"One day there will be no more frontier, and men like you will go too."
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