Make your own free website on
Inquiring Minds...
A Middle Ages
Inquiry Unit


The Middle Ages is a term employed to identify the period of time in European History between Ancient and Modern times. The term applies to a period of history with an indefinite beginning and end. The Middle Ages were full of all kinds of intrigue and numerous dynamic changes, especially from 1000-1300. Kings fought powerful barons in an effort to unify their kingdoms; many towns and cities started to grow; Popes and kings often struggled with each other for political control; and thousands of people started trekking miles through the scorching desert to faraway cities. How did all of these events and developments come about? What was their significance? And how do we explain the fact that, while all the kingdoms of Europe were relying on some kind of feudal system to keep order during this time, each began to veer in its own direction?

The Task

You are part of a team of archaeologists who have uncovered the ruins of a Medieval society. Many of the artifacts that you have uncovered are in excellent condition and you have been asked to recreate the society in a museum exhibit. In order to do this effectively, you must research the various aspects of the culture. These would include: government, religion, daily life, military, housing, farming, education, trade, myths, and legends.

One of the artifacts your team has uncovered is a shield. You are unable to decipher the symbols on the shield. The following activities have been designed to assist you in deciphering the symbols. Each time your team successfully completes an activity, you will "uncover" another symbol on your shield. Each level of activities earns a certain type of symbol.

The Activities


10-1 Word Study
Find the word Crusade in the dictionary. Explain the meaning in your own words. Now research the Crusades of the Middle Ages. What were they? Why were they organized? What success did they have? Prepare a PowerPoint slide show to demonstrate your findings and present to the class.

10-2 Castle Parts
During the Middle Ages, the wealthy lived in enormous homes called castles. There were hundreds of castles scattered around the countryside. Castles were built in different styles but they shared many common features. Using a diagram or model, locate the important areas of the castle and discuss their function. Use the information to create a Power Point or ClarisWorks slide show presentation for the class.

10-3 Mapping The Way
On an outline map show the Trade Routes of the Middle Ages. You might use symbols to show the products of particular geographic regions.


20-1 Learning Legends
Wandering singers and storytellers told adventures of brave knights. Some of these legends were written down. In England, these stories were those of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Read some of the tales. Write a new tale of your own. Word process your final draft using ClarisWorks or Microsoft Word 97.

20-2 Schools and Study
Education became important during this period. Compare education during the Middle Ages with education today. Who went to school? What did they study? How were they taught? What other comparisons can you make between the educational systems? Prepare a chart showing your findings.

20-3 Religious Change
People had new ideas about religion and the church in the Middle Ages. Research the lives and works of Martin Luther and John Calvin. They were founders of the Protestant religions. Prepare a written report and word process your final draft.

20-4 Feudal Foods
Find out about foods and food preparation. Plan a dinner menu to be served at your castle. Be sure it is in keeping with the times. You might wish to prepare certain sample dishes for tasting. Use Microsoft Publisher to produce your menu with clip art and word art.

20-5 Knight Pictures
Draw a knight in full armor. Label the parts. Create a shopping list to equip your knight. What would he need and why?


30-1 Extra! Extra!
Write a headline and accompanying news article telling about some special or grand event at a particular castle. Use Microsoft Publisher to produce your Newspaper.

30-2 Using The Media
Select one of these topics and plan a short documentary. You may want to produce a short television program, make your own filmstrip, create a paper-roll film, a PowerPoint, or a HyperStudio Presentation. No matter what the media, stick closely to your topic. Here are your choices:

Life in a Monastery Life in a Castle
Life in a Serf Village Life as a Master Craftsman

30-3 And Then...
Make a time line. List all the major events you think are important through the Middle Ages. Arrange these events in order. Use illustrations for each event as well as a brief statement describing the event and the date.

30-4 The Manor
Plan, design, and sketch, or build a diorama showing a memorial village of feudal times. Include all areas of importance to its operation. Label each special area.


40-1 A Crusader
Pretend that you are a member of the Crusades forces. Write an account of your life as a participant in the Crusades. Give your reactions, evaluations, and hopes at this time. Describe your experiences and surroundings. You might prepare your report on parchment. Word process a written report or create a Web Page using Netscape Communicator detailing your account.

40-2 Learning A Trade
In the craft guilds, new trainees moved through planned training steps. First one became an apprentice, then a journeyman, and finally, a master workman. Explain each level of training. Compare this plan with training programs offered to modern craftsmen. Create a chart showing your findings and comparisons.

40-3 Fashion Design
Costumes and clothing were quite elaborate and at the same time quite simple. Sketch or design clothing of the barons, clergy, knights burgess, and peasant. Make finger puppets to use in an original puppet show. Dress your puppets authentically. Present your puppet show to the class.

40-4 Parts of the Whole
Draw a diagram of a knight in full armor as he might look in the year 2050. Consider the size, special problems, reasons for armor, etc. Present to the class and prepare an oral report to explain your knight.

40-5 Medieval Mascot
Do you have a school symbol or mascot? If so, give it a "Middle Ages" look. Redesign the basic symbol showing the artistic flair of the times. Create a "stained glass window" of your design. You will use colored plastic wrap, toothpicks, and tag board to make the "window".


50-1 Create A Hero
Create a new literary hero who might have lived in the Middle Ages. Write a story or book about the adventures of your new hero. Keep the setting and historical events as accurate as possible. Use illustrations/graphics and create using HyperStudio or create a web page using Netscape Communicator.

50-2 Once Upon A Time
Write an original story or book with Middle Ages setting and characters. Try using Old English for certain words. Use your best style to scribe your story. Illustrate your book showing appropriate scenery and clothing. Word process or use HyperStudio and present to the class.

50-3 Your Town
Imagine you live in a European town during the Middle Ages. What does your town look like? Who lives there with you? What work goes on there? Consider other details. Now imagine that you can break the time barrier. Write a letter to tell your friend in Modern America what life in your town is like. Word process your final draft using a font similar to Old English.

50-4 Medieval City
Make a table top display or diorama to show what life was like in a medieval city. Create a slide presentation in Power Point or ClarisWorks to accompany your project.


60-1 Life In A Castle
What was life in a castle like? Make a model of a castle and use puppets or dolls to show how the people lived. Have your "people" move about the castle as they might in their daily activities. Present your puppet show to the class.

60-2 Costume Mural
Make a costume scrapbook or mural. Show the dress of various groups of people during the Middle Ages. Use diagrams to show samples of this period's costumes. Also include brief descriptions. You may want to costume dolls instead of using drawings. Perhaps you can arrange your dolls with scenic backgrounds as they would be in a museum. Label each part of your display. Present your display to the class along with an oral presentation.

60-3 Crime and Punishment
Prepare a skit showing a "trial" during the Middle Ages. You might also prepare a partner skit to show how that same "crime" would be handled today.

60-4 Tools of Punishment
See if you can find out about various "tools" used in punishment of a person judged guilty. Make a chart to show such instruments. Give the purpose of each.


As a class, we will look at the following resources prior to and during the unit:
• Greenblatt, Miriam and Lemmo, Peter S. Human Heritage , A World History (textbook). Merrill Publishing Company, Ohio, 1989.
•Video - "Castle", David Macaulay, 1983.
•Video - "Cathedral", David Macaulay, 1985.
•Video - "Times Medieval", Cable In The Classroom.
•Video - "Knights and Armor", Cable In The Classroom.
•Video - "Crusades", Cable In The Classroom.
•Decisions, Decisions: Feudalism. Tom Snyder Productions, 1996. (This is a role playing software package that mixes computer software, background information booklets, and pencil and paper to create a dynamic cooperative learning environment).

While completing Inquiry activities, the students will use the following resources:


Bergin, Mark and MacDonald, Fiona. A Medieval Castle . Perter Bedrick Books, New York, 1990.
Brochard, Phillippe. Castles of the Middle Ages . Silver Burdett Company, Morristown, NJ., 1986.
Buehr, Walter. The Crusaders . G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1959.
Caselli, Giovanni. The Middle Ages . Peter Bedrick Books, New York, 1988.
Caselli, Giovanni. The Renaissance and The New World . Peter Bedrick Books, New York, 1985.
Gravelt, Christopher. Eyewitness Books: Knight . Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1993.
Macaulay, David. Castle . Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1977.
Ross, Stewart. How They Lived: A Crusading Knight . Rourke Enterprises, Inc., Vero Beach, Florida, 1986.

Internet Resources:

Medieval Sourcebook


Ian's Land of Castles

COLLECTION: Medieval and Anglo Saxon Recipes

Rules to Period Games

NetSERF: Internet Connection for Medieval Resources

Multiple Intelligences

Bloom's Taxonomy

Learning Advice

•Be sure to have paper and pencil handy by the computer to take notes when visiting the various web sites.
•Only work on one Inquiry Activity on the computer at a time! Use your time wisely - Know ahead of time what you will be looking for, and search only for what you need.


You will be evaluated on each activity that you complete. Final draft quality is expected on every written assignment and word processed document. A 6 point rubric will be used to score written work. Multimedia presentations will be evaluated according to the multimedia presentation rubric. All activities will be evaluated for completeness, neatness, and historical content and accuracy.


Now that you have completed the requirements for The Middle Ages Inquiry Unit, what do you consider to be the main differences between the way of life during the middle ages and how you live today? Consider the following when formulating your response: Be prepared to discuss your ideas with the class.


Choose one of the activities you completed and prepare a videotape presentation suitable to be shown on a 20/20 type television program. (See Teacher's Notes for explanation of Mountain Shadows Middle School's "The Cougar News").

Teacher Notes

Grade Level/Unit:

Grade Seven: Medieval and Early Modern Times: Medieval Societies


The purpose of this unit is for students to gain insight into the daily life of the people living during the period of time known as "The Middle Ages." Students study the economic and political structure of feudal society, including the growth of towns, trade, and technology.

At the end of this unit students will:

1. Identify, organize, and sequence tasks to complete an information based project.
2. Interpret history-social science data and
-put data into own words
-put information in context
-read and create a logical interpretation of data derived from many different kinds of sources, such as media, charts, graphs, timelines, maps, etc.
3. Relate historical events, people, and eras by
-showing similarities and differences
-drawing logical conclusions
-relating past to present
-using social, political, and economic concepts to understand the context in which information was created and used.
4. Analyze cause and effect by
-putting events in sequence
-showing multiple and related causes and effects.
5. Use multiple perspectives by
-taking the role or position of another and examining issues from that point of view
-make multiple interpretations from the same evidence.
6. Know many different kinds of presentation formats and the type of information they are best at conveying.
7. Select a presentation format which matches the information being conveyed and the audience for which it is intended.
8. Use writing, speaking, drama, and layout as needed to make an effective presentation.

Length of Unit:

Approximately 4 weeks


Those listed in the Resources section plus paper, art supplies, IBM PC and/or Macintosh™ computers, Netscape™ or other browser, and WebWhacker™ to download sites to hard drive and/or removable media disks such as a Zip disk.

Interdisciplinary Connections:

Language Arts, geography, art, music, computer literacy skills

Prerequisite Learning:

•Medieval history background information from textbook
•Information from videos
•Medieval Vocabulary
•Knowledge of Bloom's Taxonomy and Multiple Intelligences

Adaptations for Special Needs:

To adapt this unit to a variety of student needs, the teacher can use one or more of the following suggestions:
•Group students heterogeneously to have a mix of high and low reading abilities
•Use differential standards as needed when evaluating projects
•Recommend certain activities for both high achievers and students with learning disabilities, reading difficulties.

Background Information and Additional Teacher Resources:

Before beginning unit, make sure the class is familiar with Bloom's Taxonomy and Multiple Intelligences. I teach both of these at the beginning of the year in my Developmental Humanities Core Language Arts class.

Extension Activity Information:

Our school has cable in the classroom and the community has a local cable channel which is accessed at our site. We have a Communications Technology class which produces the Morning Announcements which are shown on the cable channel. Teachers can submit videos to be included with the announcements.