Knights, Castles and the Armor of God
This week we took break from our usual school routine in honor of Ian’s birthday. Instead, we spent the week focusing on one of his favorites subjects: knights! It seemed like a good tie-in to the armor of God, so I combined the two, anachronistic as that might be. Our memory verse was “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:11 (I just focused on the bold part, but Ian picked up a lot of the rest due to the memory songs on our playlist (see below).
Rather than focusing on one book this week, I kept out a whole basket of books (both fiction and non-fiction) related to our theme. Some I purchased; some were from the library. Here’s my booklist:
- The Armor of God by Dandi Daley Mackall. (Not bad, but not fabulous. Just the only book I could find on the subject.)
- Castles (Usborne Beginners) by Stephanie Turnbull(Highly recommended. Lots of great information kept Ian going back to this one.)
- I’ll Be Your Hero by Kathryn O’Brien (Great book about character traits we want to encourage.)
- Knights in Shining Armor by Gail Gibbons (Another wonderful book packed with information yet simple enough to read aloud to Ian without being over his head)
- In the Castle by Anna Milbourne (A great introduction, especially for younger kids with shorter attention spans)
- Will: God’s Mighty Warrior by Sheila Walsh (Fun story to introduce the armor of God, but didn’t go into any specifics about the different parts.)
- Saint George and the Dragon retold by Margaret Hodges (I thought this would be too wordy for Ian, but he loved it. I think the beautiful illustrations were what sold him.)
- Brave Young Knight by Karen Kingsbury (A nice idea, addressing the important qualities of a true knight, but the story seemed a bit too contrived and predictable to me. I preferred the next book.)
- The King and the Seed by Eric Maddern (I really liked this story about a simple young boy who becomes king because of his honesty.)
- Medieval Knights by David Nicolle (Too advanced to read with Ian yet, but I got it for a quarter and it was well worth more just for the pictures. I’m sure he’ll appreciate the info later.)
- The Bravest Knight by Mercer Mayer (Fun story, even if there’s not much substance)
- Good Night, Good Knight by Shelley Moore Thomas (Silly beginning reader. Ian liked that he could read it with me after a couple times through.)
For his workbook I printed off mazes, dot-to-dots, and some of the printables from Homeschool Creations. Included in those were some pattern cards (Ian surprised me with how well he did–something has clicked since the last time I tried patterns with him) and Ian’s favorite item: the game. I guess you’d call it a folder game, but I didn’t put it in a folder. I just laminated each side separately and then used packing tape to connect them. The first time we played we used jelly beans for markers, but I decided I didn’t really like handling them so much before we inevitably ate them so we switched to different coins. So it was a great math lesson all around as we identified the coins, counted the dots on the die, and counted the spaces as we moved.
I also printed and laminated the Armor of God cards from 1+1+1=1‘s Raising Rock Stars page. Elijah played with these for 20 minutes the first time! Sometimes he would hold them up one by one for me to read, then he’d go through them himself for a while, then come back to me and so on. I think he really wanted to memorize them. Totally unprompted. (To be honest, I hadn’t included him in my objective for the week. I usually just plan for Ian and count on Elijah coming along for the ride when he’s interested.)
I had planned on making a set of “full armor” as described at Danielle’s Place, but we were so busy all week we never got around to it. We did have fun making our own shield and sword. For the sword, I folded a piece of of cardboard around a stick, added the handle from a milk jug, and bound it all together with lots of duct tape. Ian loves blue, so I used some blue painter’s tape on his so we could easily differentiate between the boys’ sets.
The boys enjoyed watching “Knights are Brave and Strong” from The Backyardigans Season 1 (streaming on Netflix and Amazon). For our Bible notebook we dressed up a paper doll in the “Armor of God.” (Yes, we lost a shoe.)
Most of our memory work came through our iPod playlist (which also had several poems this week):
- “Put On the Full Armor” from Sing the Word from A to Z by the Harrow Family
- “Armor Of God (Eph 6:10-17)” from Scripture Rock Vol. 3
- “Armor of God Part 2) from Scripture Rock Vol. 3
- “Knights and Ladies” from When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne (We love the complete box set of Pooh Classics audio CDs.)
- “Armor of the Lord” from The Singing Bible
- “The Knight Whose Armor Didn’t Squeak” from Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne (also in the complete box set of Pooh Classics audio CDs.)
- “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus” from 100 Ways to Know God Loves me & 100 Songs to Love Him Back
- “Knight in Armor” from Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne (complete box set of Pooh Classics audio CDs.)
- “Battle Hymn of the Republic” (I wasn’t wild about the version we had, so I won’t recommend it.)
- “Bad Sir Brian Botany” from When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne (complete box set of Pooh Classics audio CDs.)
- The Impossible Dream (my favorite recording by Colm Wilkinson in Stage Heroes)
Most of those activities came to a screeching halt on Thursday, when Ian opened his birthday present. This Playmobil Lion Knights Castle (thank you, credit card rewards points!) became our sole focus for the next day or two. The boys had lots of fun acting out everything we’d been reading about. (It has now taken up semi-permanent residence in the boys’ room on their train table.)
We finished out the week with two birthday celebrations. First, we went to Medieval Times to see a jousting tournament and lots of other things we had read about this week like falcons, various weapons, etc.
Then tomorrow we’re having a small party at home with our extended family. There were lots of fancy castle cake ideas online, but I get easily frustrated when it comes to frosting cakes, so I decided to keep it simple. Well, fairly simple. I really liked the idea of using ice cream cones for towers, but I wish I’d doubled the cake recipe so the main part of the castle was taller. Oh well. He’s four. And he thinks it looks great. And it’s not like it’s going to stick around that long anyway.
Whew! I’m tired just writing about our busy week! It will definitely be one of our more memorable “preschool” experiences!
Additional note: The Armor of God notebook page was a hit, and we did it again a couple years later, only this time we used pictures of the kids themselves: