Summer School 2018

This summer has been super busy, but we still made some time for summer school. Not as much as I would have liked (we didn’t get to nearly as much of the book stuff as we usually do!), but we did get to go on some really cool field trips. We saw some great medieval illuminations, visited Medieval Times, and went to an event at the St. Louis Science Center. We also got to hear a Renaissance quartet sing, tried some medieval recipes, and created our own shields.

As for the stuff we didn’t get around to…well, we’ll be studying the medieval period in history this year, so we get another chance. Maybe we’ll even get around to the other craft project I had planned at some point!

Tasty Tuesday–A Medieval Feast

One of my favorite things about summer school every year is having an opportunity to cook something new and interesting that relates to the theme of our studies. Coming up with a medieval-themed menu was a bit challenging, but we tried a few new things, and we actually liked everything! On this year’s menu were mock mead, pottage (a vegetable and barley soup), beef and bacon pie (the bacon took the place of marrow, which would have been a common medieval ingredient), and baked spiced pears for dessert.

I will confess, we did use modern dishes and silverware (although I did consider using bread trenchers for the pie!), and the cooking methods weren’t exactly medieval, but at least it was an approximation of food people might have eaten during the Middle Ages!

First Friday at the St. Louis Science Center

Last night, for the first time, we went to a First Friday event at the St. Louis Science Center. What is First Friday, you might wonder? It’s an opportunity to learn about the science behind science fiction. And why did we finally go last night, when we’ve been talking about it for a couple of years? Because they were focusing on Arthurian Legends, which was the perfect final field trip for this year’s medieval-themed summer school!

It was a really fun event. We got to learn the science behind defending a castle (the focus was on simple machines, and Chickadee even got to help!), see a sword-fighting demonstration, hear a harp, make shields, participate in a scavenger hunt, write with an actual quill, hold medieval weapons, and see lots of people in really cool costumes. There were other events that we didn’t make it to, including tractor jousting, a lecture about medieval noblewomen at war, and the highlight of the evening, a showing of Monty Python and the Holy Grail in the Omnimax theater. And of course there was a fun photo opportunity!

I really enjoyed this event. It was fun to see so many people with interests similar to ours there and having a good time. Next month, the theme is Harry Potter, and we’re already looking forward to going back!

An Unexpected Field Trip

Kantorei Kamp is always really fun for the children, and they also always learn a lot. It’s not every year, though, that one of their activities happens to coincide with our summer school studies!

For the second year in a row (at least), Kantorei Kamp fell during Make Music Day. This year, the choristers had the opportunity to go hear a quartet from the Greenleaf Singers in concert. This was especially timely because the Greenleaf Singers are a Renaissance group, from the music they sing to the costumes they wear. Yes, I know we’re studying the medieval period this summer, but let’s face it…there’s is some crossover during those two periods, and the music we heard was very similar to that on the medieval CD I purchased for this summer. And as a bonus, we recognized on of the Spanish pieces from our Rick Steves’ European Christmas CD…and Chickadee was the first one to point it out! It was definitely a fun experience for everybody!

Medieval Times–The New Show

We were all so excited to go back to Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament when we were in Chicago last month! I’d been planning on a return visit ever since I came up with the idea for this year’s summer school at the end of last summer, but the visit was even more anticipated once we learned that Medieval Times had debuted an entirely new show!

Some things were the same. There was plenty to see and do before the show started, and lots of opportunities for photos:

But it didn’t take long to spot the biggest difference…there is now a queen ruling over the castle!

In honor of her, my girls wanted their picture taken in the castle’s thrones:

The meal was the same…tomato soup and garlic bread, roast chicken, corn on the cob, and roast potatoes, with pound cake for dessert. I tried the castle’s signature drink, the “Royal Knight,” as well.

Just like last year, we cheered for the Yellow Knight from the Kingdom of Navarra.

There were spectacularly trained horses, a falcon, contests, and jousting…all the highlights we enjoyed from the last show.

But the Queen was clearly in control, and demanded mercy in her castle. There was a surprise twist in the story, which I won’t share for fear of spoiling the show, but I was very pleased with how it was handled.

In the end, the black and white won, and while he wasn’t our champion, he was one of our allies, so that was fun.

This is such a fun activity, and the children are already asking if we can go back again someday. I’m tempted to check out the Medieval Times in Orlando when we visit Florida this summer, to see how the castles are different, but I don’t think I’ll be able to make that happen on such short notice. We may find ourselves back at the Chicago castle in the future, though, because it’s such a good time!

The Medieval World at Our Fingertips: Manuscript Illuminations

It was a real treat to get see a special exhibit entitled “The Medieval World at Our Fingertips: Manuscript Illuminations from the Collection of Sandra Hindman” when we visited the Art Institute in Chicago last month. We managed to visit just a few days before the exhibit closed, and it was another great addition to our summer school studies. There were about 30 illuminations on display, ranging from tiny to quite large (as far as illuminations go). Bunny, in particular, is fascinated by this art form, and we’re looking forward to creating our own later this summer!

Renaissance Art, Arms, and Armor

When we visited the Art Institute in Chicago two years ago, Turkey was very excited to see the arms and armor exhibit, as was I…it was always one of my favorite things to see when I was a child. You can imagine our disappointment, then, when we discovered that it was closed for renovations. Well, this year, we made it right, and I have to say, it was worth the wait…the new exhibit is fantastic! We especially liked how the horse armor was displayed, and were interested to see child-sized armor, which the docent told us would be given to medieval children of the nobility in the same spirit we give children sports jerseys today!

This was a great introduction to our medieval-themed summer school!