Wednesday, April 12, 2017

ART - Cathedrals

Tuesday, April 14th

Cathedrals are beautiful, majestic structures that were designed to make people think heavenward. BUT.... they also have a dark side. Most Cathedrals hold a burial ground, often within the interior, with bodies buried down in a basement crypt or even in the floor you would walk on! Cathedrals also hold a rather creepy tradition of displaying the skull of a famous saint or bishop in a glass box; these skulls are almost considered spiritual good luck charms.

We also discussed the creation and specifications of GARGOYLES that came about with cathedrals. These stone statutes held both a practical purpose and a spiritual purpose. These statutes were an artistic gutter: a pipe would run through them and out their open mouth to allow rainwater to pour out and away from the walls of a cathedral, preventing corrosion of the stone walls. And though some could be beautiful or even comical in design, most of these gargoyles were ugly creatures designed to scare away evil spirits from the Cathedral.

Since next TUESDAY, APRIL 21 will be our last class before presentation, please be sure to have all the following with you:

-Finish and bring in CATHEDRAL
   -Painting must be completed!
   -A cardboard or Foam board base for your Cathedral to sit on; the Dollar Tree sells a great basic foam board. This is not absolutely necessary but highly recommended to make your Cathedral easier to present for final display.

-Research and print off 4 to 6 interesting FACTS about the history of your Cathedral. 

-Bring in Cathedral folder with all your additional paperwork we've collected over the semester. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Art - Cathedrals

Tuesday, April 4th

The Cathedrals are amazing structures of design, but also a treasure chest of art. The interior of a Cathedral holds a vast array of art- from stain glass and frescoes, to statutes and tapestries. Due to the amount of classes being cut down this semester, we did a crash course of what all can be found inside.

John Ruskin was an artist from the 1800's, but his creative design of sketch and watercolor resulted in pieces of art that look very contemporary. We looked at a few of his pieces that were done on Cathedrals, using his style as inspiration for our project. Students took the image they brought to class of their favorite art piece from their cathedral, and recreated it to be featured on the sign for their individual Cathedral.


The Dark side of the Cathedrals...
Please research the following:

- Does your Cathedral have any GHOST STORIES?
- Does your Cathedral have any creepy RELICS? Does it have a CRYPT? If so, are there any interesting people buried there?
-What is the history of GARGOYLES?
   - PRINT OFF and BRING IN a photo of a gargoyle from your Cathedral. If your Cathedral does not have Gargoyles, pick another stone carving on your Cathedral, and bring in an image.

CONTINUE  finishing work on Cathedral. Complete details and spray painting; these will need to be brought in the final Tuesday class on April 18th. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Art: Cathedrals

It is so much fun watching all the different Cathedrals taking shape! Class time was spent fine tuning the box shapes that began last week.

As we head into the final weeks of preparation for final presentation, it is important that students follow through with their homework assignments.

- Finish and Spray Paint Cathedral
    -Any final details should be completed on Cathedral; it is up to students how detailed they would like to go. But be mindful that there is a "Cathedral Competition" so stakes are high!
    -Cathedrals do not need to be brought in to next class of April 4th
-Research what art is found in the interior of your Cathedral
   This can include anything from stained glass, statutes, frescoes, paintings, tapestries, etc.
-Choose your favorite piece of INTERIOR art found in your Cathedral and print off a clear image of it; Bring photo to class next week.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Arms & Armor - Siege Engine Tournament details

Siege Engine Tournament!!!
Reminder: On 4/18, the last day of regular co-op classes, our history class will be hosting a siege engine tournament.  (The next 3 weeks are classes (4/4, 4/11, 4/18) and presentation day is 4/22 @ 2:00pm.)

Assignment: bring a catapult, trebuchet, ballista, or other completed siege machine to class and demonstrate its capabilities.  These can be homemade, kit, borrowed, or anything else.  Make this project as simple or as elaborate as you wish. 

Please note that the "rock" that we made in our first class does NOT need to be your projectile.  We originally considered having a standardized size and weight for all siege engines, but realized just how impractical that was for this age group

There will be prizes for:
  • accuracy
  • distance
  • height
The kids have been working hard to learn about the various machines, and most have a general idea of which one they want to build.  Remind them as they begin to design that the finished product must fit into your car and be easily assembled on the day of the tournament.  These projects take time to perfect, even with detailed plans, so I encourage you to start early and allow time for tweaking the design.

Here are a few ideas to get you started -

Build your own:

Full size siege engine plans:

Work from a kit: 
Amazon has many ready to assemble kits - including this one inspired by Leonardo da Vinci

My kids have had great success with the Pitsco kits.  They are simple but effective.  The only thing you will need to purchase in addition to the kit is a bottle of wood-glue.

We will be outdoors for most of our class period on the 18th, regardless of the weather, so please dress accordingly.  Parents are welcome to join us for the festivities, and the youngest classes may come out also, so save the pretty white shoes for another day.

I look forward to seeing what the kids bring in!

Sheryl G

Arms & Armor - Defensive Clothing

March 28, 2017

Protection has always been a high priority among warriors.  Armor started with simple boiled leather, and improved, as weapons improved, to mail.  Gradually small pieces of iron were added to protect vital organs.  As more and more plates were added a full suit of armor, complete with intricate joints became standard.  Plate armor continued to remain prevalent until the advent of gunpowder.

In class activities:

  • Learned about the evolution of armor from a historian
  • Continued work on our bows
  • Learned how to make soda-tab chain mail 
  • Discussed plans for our year-end siege engine tournament
Art class with Mrs. Comrie

 Week 14: We studied the artist; Parmgianini and looked at his artwork. Then we painted a lovely birch tree scene using masking tape for the white space and credit cards to apply the black part of the bark.

Week 15: We looked at paintings by Bruegell and painted a snow scene using watercolor resist and sand for texture.

Feb. 14:We watched videos on glass blowing and read about Murano glass.  We made some paintings that were intended to help us with color mixing. The glass bottles were meant to be overlapped to show how the colors blended.

Feb. 21: We watched the short video again on Medieval art and took notes. This was to try to recall what the main art forms were. The children made lists of these. We did a painting that showed warm and cool colors.

March 7: We read about Gutenburg and reviewed the importance of the printing press for literature as well as Artwork! We used the art of printing to print with real fish on t-shirts! So fun!

March 21: We used the art of printing to carve our own design into styrofoam and make a nice design using our own prints.

Monday, March 27, 2017


Tuesday, March 21

What took the gothic builders about 100 years to build, we tried to conquer the basics of in 90 minutes with a pile of recyclable items! Students cut, glued, taped, and shaped cardboard boxes into the basic shapes of their cathedrals. Thank you to everyone who brought in the great collection of boxes and containers for us to use!


-Students MUST BRING IN their cardboard Cathedral they built last week in class
-Print off and bring in detailed PHOTOs of the outside of your cathedral, that capture any architectural details such as spires, towers, carvings, arches, etc.
-Please bring in any toothpicks, long pasta (such as spaghetti, linguine) or flat pasta shapes, and yarn. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Arms & Armor - Projectile Weapons

March 21, 2017

Projectile weapons include any objects that use force to throw an item at an opponent. 

Recurved bows made of thin strips of wood stiffened with strips of horn and strengthened with glued-on layers of cattle sinew were the first major improvement in bow technology. The development of the crossbow started in ancient times but was perfected in the Middle Ages.  Interestingly, it was the English longbow, introduced to European battlefields in the 14th century, that truly made the arrow a formidable battlefield projectile. 

In class activities:

  • Briefly overviewed the importance of music in communication and instilling fear during battle, so much so that instruments such as drums and bagpipes have often been banned entirely
  • Enjoyed a bagpipe song played by a classmate, and discussed what such a song (Amazing Grace) could tell warriors on the battlefield
  • Discussed multiple projectile weapons including the atlatl, bow, and crossbow
  • Diagrammed the Bodkin point and learned about why it was so feared
  • Listened to a classmate explain the parts of a bow & viewed a modern bow
  • Discussed the advantages of longbows vs. crossbows
  • Began constructing our own bows
  • Completed our own arrows


  • Choose which kind of siege engine you will be building for our tournament
  • Practice your timeline

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Arms & Armor - Bladed Weapons

March 7, 2017

Throughout history, the sword has been one of the most beautiful, and deadly of all weapons.  Though its material make-up and style has evolved over time, the use of a blade for slicing and stabbing remained an important element of warfare until the modern age.  

In class activities:
  • Learned about the history of metal
  • Looked at blades discovered through archaeology from various time periods
  • Detailed the differences between knives, daggers, and swords
  • Discussed the advantages of both single and double bladed swords
  • Examined the parts of a bladed weapon
  • Made our own paper and duct tape swords


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

ART: Cathedrals

Why were Cathedrals always built West to East? It is believed this was based on the Jewish tradition of praying facing the East. You would enter the Cathedral at the West end entrance, so once inside, you would be facing East as you worshipped.

Today in class we looked at the BLUEPRINT of our cathedrals. Most of these floor plans are very similar- all are based on a large rectangle shape as they are meant to hold a large group of people. Cathedrals were not only places of worship, but also served as town meeting halls and even marketplaces. A large percent of Cathedral blueprints were based on a cross shape, following the tradition of incorporating Christian symbols and measurements.

In the period when the cathedrals were built, the blueprints were drawn on wet cement. A powder was then spread across the cement slab, filling in the crevices of the drawing; the powder was blown off, leaving a clear image of the blueprint.

Students sketched out the blueprint of their personal cathedral today on the prepared art scratch paper we had made in the previous class. Our appreciation for architecture and all the fine lines certainly grew!

- Each Student needs to print off and bring in exterior photos of their Cathedral from all sides: front, rear, and sides. (If students already have these images printed off, please just be sure to have their Cathedral Folder with them!)
-BOXES! We need lots of boxes! Here are specifically some we are looking for:
       -Small Shoe Box size boxes
       -Pasta boxes, particularly the long spaghetti size boxes
       -Seltzer/Soda boxes
       -Oatmeal Boxes
       -Toilet Paper Tubes/ Paper Towel Tubes
       -Coffee Cans

-Hot Glue Guns for use in next weeks class.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

ART: Cathedrals

Tuesday, February 21 Class

Soooo... who exactly paid for these massive Cathedrals? It was usually the Bishop of the church who decided he wanted a cathedral built (it was actually a big competition for many!); so the bishop would often put a percentage of his money toward the building of his cathedral. But from there the financing could come from many areas:
- On rare occasion the Head Church would sponsor a portion, if they deemed the current church in need of renovation.
- Other workers in the church (from priests, monks, to even janitors) would be fined a fee if tardy, sloppy in dress, etc...
-Rich citizen's would donate funds to the building, often in exchange for a say in the design or even a statue put in the cathedral in their honor
- Citizens of the city could offer free labor as penance for their sins
- Holy Relics could be viewed or were taken on tour for a fee
-Any local trade could be taxed for a portion of funds

Masons (Stone Workers) probably made up the largest portion of a Cathedral's work force. Often on each stone that a mason would cut and place, they would mark with their own special mason's mark. This was not for pride in their work; it was to insure that they got paid for each stone they placed. 
Students made their own stone and Mason's Mark in class.

-Bring in a Ruler
-Find and Print off the BLUEPRINT of your Cathedral
-Find and Print off all outside views of your Cathedral (front, rear, sides)
-Bring in box/boxes that fit the basic style of your cathedral structure (square, rectangle, etc). Nothing needs to be done to the boxes yet.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Arms & Armor - Staff Weapons

February 21, 2017

A staff weapon, or polearm, is a close combat weapon in which the main fighting part of the weapon is fitted to the end of a long shaft, typically of wood, thereby extending the user's effective range. Typical defense against these weapons in the early European Middle Ages were round shields with light, non-splitting wood like linden, fir, alder or poplar, usually reinforced with leather on one or both sides and occasionally metal rims, encircling a central metal boss. 

In class activities:
  • Listed many different forms of staff weapons
  • Discussed the importance of soldiers working together, in particular the Greek Phalynx formation
  • Examined the use of horses in warfare & discussed lances
  • Labeled the various parts of a halberd
  • Made our own foam and duct-tape shields

Saturday, February 18, 2017

FAITH Timeline - ALL Elements

This video contains ALL elements of the FAITH timeline: ancients to modern. Happy practicing!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Cathedrals - Marvels of the Medieval Time

Tuesday, February 14th

Cathedrals were amazing feats of architecture from the medieval period! To jump start our elective session, and to give the students as close of a visual as possible of these giants, we watched a wonderful documentary on Cathedrals. In this film, students saw how these architectural wonders were created by simple tools but yet ingenious ideas from engineers of that time. We also learned that many of these cathedrals were built using "secret formulas" from numbers in the Bible.

After viewing the film, we discussed the various jobs that were needed to build these cathedrals: these consisted of simple laborers from the city to the master builders brought in to oversee all the work. Students learned how most of these skills were learned through apprenticeships. To bring this concept to life, students picked their "career" and filled out a contract of their Apprenticeship Agreement.

Students MUST select a Cathedral to be their Cathedral they will be working on throughout this semester. Here are some good resources to help students select the Cathedral of their choice:

Cathedrals by Country

Cathedrals by Image

Students can pick their Cathedral by whatever method they desire, perhaps by a favorite country or just by how it looks. PLEASE try to select a Cathedral from the Medieval time, between about 1000 to 1600 AD.

-The Full Name of the Cathedral
-City and Country the Cathedral is located
-Name or Names of the Designer/Builder
-Time Period in which the Cathedral was Built

*Please start setting aside shoe boxes (or other boxes about this size) and good cardboard as we will be needing them for the constructing of our cathedrals. Also, students will eventually need a large box to keep together and bring all of their Cathedral art work and pieces back and forth from Art Class.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Arms & Armor - Percussion Weapons

February 14, 2017

Many of the weapons that we think of as belonging to the Medieval Period actually originated in antiquity.  Primitive tools for hunting and land cultivation were used aggressively by warring factions.  Of these early weapons the first were percussion implements, designed for blunt striking. Examples include the rock, stick, club, and mace.

In class activities:

  • Discussed the first recorded fight in history, that of Cain and Abel, and brainstormed which weapons were used
  • Looked at images of percussion weapons
  • Discussed the difference between the club and the mace
  • Examined changes in the shape of the mace and discussed (in very basic terms) why force directed to a single point is more damaging than force spread across a wide area
  • Learned about the first forms of protection in battle 
  • Made our own leather arm-guards
  • Attempted to throw light & heavy objects at a target and discussed the results
  • Made our own foam "rocks" for use with our siege machines.

  • Look up the term "siege engine" (Older students should come to class with a written definition, younger ones may just verbally discuss the term with parents)
  • Examine images of the many different types of siege engine machines
Parents - Please SAVE your child's foam "rock."  This is the ammunition for their year-end project.  Over the course of this class, homework will be focused on walking children through the process of researching and building their own siege engine.  They will probably want to jump straight into the building stage, but I encourage you to enjoy the research process first.  

For future reference:  Our final class will be a siege engine tournament.  Children will bring their completed machines and compete to see who can shoot the highest, farthest, and most accurately.  These projects can be as big or as small as you would like, but just remember that it needs to shoot the assigned ammunition, and fit inside your vehicle.  Parents are expected to help with design and testing, but projects should be primarily kid-built.  I will eventually include links to several sources for step-by-step building instructions to help with the design process.  

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Art: Pathfinders and Navigators

Tuesday Class, January 31

ILLUMINATED LETTERS are considered one of the largest collections of art from the medieval times still in existence. Illuminators were mostly monks who created these large letters, often full of color, design, and pictures. They would close themselves into a scriptorium, a lone room set aside in a church or monastery, for this decorative art. This art was only done after the intensive, long, and boring work of the scribe who was responsible for the script that would surround these letters of art. Though the illuminator certainly had the more interesting job, it was actually a long process of about 13 steps!

Here is a link to a great pdf that explains the history and process of illuminated letters with pictures:
Illuminated Letters

Two weeks ago when we met for class, students did step one of our illuminated letters: Gluing yarn onto cardboard in the shape and design of their large letter. This last class we finished the letters by first wrapping the cardboard in foil to create the "gilded" look often contained in illuminated letters. Using our fingers, we pressed the foil around the yarn to make the letters pop with an embossed appearance. Finally, students let their own creativity take over by using permanent markers to color in their letter how they wished.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Gutenberg - History 1&2, Explorers and Trailblazers

January 17, 2017

During the Middle Ages, the time consuming process of copying books by hand made the spread of new ideas very slow.  People often worked very hard to solve problems that had already been solved, but they had no access to that information.  

Johann Gutenberg’s invention of the moveable type printing press was one of the main factors that created the explosion of ideas known as the Renaissance, a revolutionary period in the arts and sciences.  Faster and cheaper printing made books available to many people for the first time.  This spread of knowledge led to a new fascination with the learning that swept through Europe. Ideas became more realistic and less dominated by religion, sometimes creating conflict between scientists and the church. 


In class activities:

  • Assembled and printed using our own moveable type
  • Explored Renaissance leisure activities and practiced walking on stilts
  • Discussed the time consuming process of creating machines by hand
  • Considered the changes to the Church and to society in general as books became increasingly available
  • Added to our Medieval notebook


For additional information on this subject:
  • Read Ink on His Fingers by Louise A. Vernon (127p.)
  • Watch an animation of how the printing press works
Assignment due 1/24
  • Practice your timeline
  • Read history cards 26-32

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Black Death - History 1&2, Explorers and Trailblazers

January 10, 2017

The plague, also known as the Black Death because of the dark sores that it caused, was one of the worst diseases in history. This illness carried by rats and fleas resulted in the death of 1at least /3 of the population of the Middle East, Asia, and Europe.  

For years the disease would disappear during the winter, when fleas were less active, only to reappear again to the horror of both rich and poor.

Unfortunately, this tragedy shook many people’s faith in God.  It led to the collapse of the economy, changes on the battle field, and ultimately to the end of the already weakened feudal system, completely changing the medieval world. 

In class activities:
  • Learned about the impact of disease in the medieval world
  • Discussed the various methods used to "prevent" and “cure” the plague
  • Mixed up some of our own cures (chocolate spiders etc.) and tasted our creations.
  • Discussed the cycle of the plague
  • Added to our Medieval notebook
  • Read Run Far, Run Fast by Timothy Decker

Optional lesson extension activities:
Assignment due 1/17/1017

  • Read history cards MA 24-25
  • Practice your timeline

Art - Pathfinders & Navigators

Tuesday, January 10

As art progressed through the Rennaisance and Medieval time, it often got bigger and grander. But not all churches were cathedrals, and had little or no money for art; but yet art was still important. So one of the arts that was created was QUILLING.

It was started by nuns in France and Italy; it simply used strips of paper, coiled into spirals and shapes to create a bigger design. Some of this work was so intricate and detailed, it mimicked the beautiful iron scroll work often featured in the cathedrals. Since gold was very prominent in church works, the nuns even went through the step of stripping the guilded pages of books of their gold edges to feature this in their quilling work.

Students created quilled creations, rolling paper strips into their own designs.

-View images of ILLUMINATED LETTERS (Google, Pinterest, etc)
-Bring to next class: Piece of Cardboard (about paper size)
                                 Yarn (if you have any around the house)