Tapestry of Grace Co-op: Building Castles (part 2) and Chess

We have learned more about castles this week.  The kids especially enjoyed an awesome pop-up book that I found!  It's called Castle: Medieval Days and Knights.  It has great descriptions and fun pop-up pieces on every page!

This page shows all of the different rooms found inside a castle and the keep.

Of course, my kids would like the room where the guying is going poop the best!  I feel sorry for the guy downstairs that had to clean this up.

We read that being a knight wasn't all about fame and glory.  It was a dangerous job too!

I really love the great pop-up scenes in this book.  Look at this king's feast where he is knighting someone.  Isn't that cute?

At co-op this week, the grammar students finished up their castles.  There was lots of messy paint so you know Rachel had a great time!

Ta-da!  The royal palace of Rachel painted in silver and turquoise, her favorite (although not realistic) colors.

For the dialectic students, I taught them how to play chess.  It is a great game for this time period.  It involves all of the medieval characters like pawns (peasants), castles, knights, bishops, kings, and queens but it also involves strategy like that which would need to be used in fighting an enemy during this time.  We have one chess set but two awesome friends loaned me sets so I had 3 sets total for the 5 kids to play with.  Nicholas played against me for the first round.

He was so intense and focused as we played.  We should really play this game more often.  There are lots of articles about benefits of playing chess like problem solving skills, mental acuity, emotional intelligence, and more.

I really played my best but Nicholas enjoyed winning the game.  We will have to have a rematch!

Before we were done with our chess games, the littles came in and watched for a while.  They couldn't wait for the big kids to be done so they could take their turn at chess too!

Tapestry of Grace Co-op: Castles and Knights

We've been learning castles and knights in our study of Medieval Times.  At co-op the grammar level students built a castle out of cardboard tubes and boxes.  What a great idea!  Next week they will paint them.  I can see little action figures playing all around the castles once they are done.  That will be fun! 

For literature, they read and discussed The Making of a Knight by Patrick O'Brien (affiliate link).  It is a great book to describe one boy's growth from a page into a knight.

It is a good book but Rachel got a little distracted playing with Rosie.

The dialectic students have been reading a version of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.  I love having this co-op time with friends so the kids can have real literature discussions about what they are reading.

Then they had to work together to build their own castle....out of a cake!  I provided them with a square chocolate cake that already had icing on it.  Then I gave them some Oreos, Kit Kat bars, mini Hershey bars, blue and chocolate icing, sprinkles, etc.  i enjoyed watching their team work and the castle came together.

They made a moat with the blue icing and a drawbridge out of the Kit Kat bars.  They used the mini Hershey bars for bricks on the castle and battlements on the towers.

There may have been some snacking along the way.  They added a Keep and a ship in the moat.

All done!  They had fun and I love that it was an activity and snack all in one!

Here is one final picture before all the kids, big and little, attacked the castle and ate it!

Nerf War Birthday Party

Nicholas recently had his 12 year old birthday party.  Unfortunately, this was many months after his actual birthday but it was a crazy summer and somehow the party just kept getting pushed back.  

But now he has had more time to plan what he wanted to do to celebrate and I think it turned out great.  He wanted a big Nerf war with his friends.  He chose a local park that has some nice trails but also plenty of woods so they could have some "cover".

We provided 800 Yosoo Refill Bullet Darts for Nerf N-strike Elite Series Blasters (affiliate link).  They were less expensive than buying real Nerf darts and no one had to worry about bringing their own and losing them in the woods.  Boys brought their own Nerf guns but Nicholas also brought several of his so there were plenty of weapons to choose from.  I picked up some canvas handyman aprons at Home Depot so the boys could have big pockets around their waists to store Nerf darts in.

The boys are ready!

Stuart had ordered 5 BaoFeng UV-5R Dual Band Two Way Radios (affiliate link). We use these ourselves for ham radio but they have a walkie talkie mode that let the boys communicate with each other and with us.  The radios were fun for the boys to take turns using but they were also reassurance for us in keeping in touch with everyone out in the woods.

Stuart and I walked around the woods while the boys were playing just to keep an eye on things.  For safety, the boys were supposed to always stay in pairs but sometimes they ran around as a whole team.  It was so much fun watching them and listening to them scheming on how to attack the other team or hearing calls to each other through the woods asking for back up because an enemy team was approaching.

Everyone had a smile on their face, especially Nicholas.  He loves Nerf guns and this was his ultimate birthday party!

Nicholas had several different games planned and after each game the boys came back to the table to refresh with cold water or restock on Nerf darts.

Here's a video snippet of what the battles were like.  These boys had a great time!

The boys had snacks and water and headed back into the woods!

We wrapped up the party with cake and opening presents.  We were all hot and tired but it was so much fun!

Happy Birthday Nicholas!  I don't know how you are going to top this party next year!