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.