4th Grade at Cambridge: Knighted to Serve
By: Nan Woods, 4th Grade Unit Teacher
Kings and queens and knights, oh my!
It's full of war, death, and despair. Yet through it all, we see God’s handiwork and influence on the people who lived during this time.
One of the most strategic games created during the Middle Ages was chess. As the game of chess teaches us, the king and queen are at the center and the most important pieces on the board. On either side of them are the bishops which represent the church. The knights are next, and their primary job is to protect the kingdom. On the corners of the board are the castles (rooks), placed as defenses to protect the borders. The pawns on the front line are the peasants who are the first to die in battle. This is the life of the Middle Ages we study.
One of our favorite events in fourth grade is our feast. We study how health and nutrition were poor during those days, yet the king was always excited to throw a feast. The students prepare and make some of the food themselves then dress as a member of society. There’s a king, queen, princesses, knights, monks, and even jesters who entertain us with song and dance. Only at this feast, we ALL eat like royalty!
The center focus of every town in Europe during the Middle Ages was the church. Saints Benedict, Gregory, and Francis become familiar to us, and we examine the architecture, layout, and importance of a cathedral. We visit the sixth largest cathedral in the world, Washington Cathedral, where we are amazed by the size, history, and beauty.
In the spring, we compare and contrast two kings, King Arthur, and, the greatest king of Israel in the Bible, King David. The legend of King Arthur and stories of The Sword in the Stone, Round Table, and Siege Perilous have been told for generations. King Arthur was a Celt; they were known for their skilled fighting and strength.
Today, across the world, and in the fourth grade at Cambridge, we celebrate the Celtic culture with the Highland Games. The students dress as Celts, blue paint and all, and toss their cabers.
In our final unit of the year, we learn about Islam. A religion founded during the Middle Ages, it is often compared to Christianity for its similarities. As we examine another religion, we dig deeper into our own faith through The Lord’s Prayer, Apostles’ Creed, and among other readings, John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had known who I am, then you would have known who my Father is. From now on you know him and have seen him!”
One of our favorite activities of this unit is having “Muhammad” visit us to explain, teach, and answer questions about his faith as we are dressed in Islamic attire and sample Middle Eastern foods.
To culminate the fourth grade, the students have to complete a quest. Our previous studies of King Arthur are an example to us as he sent off his knights on year-long quests to help, serve, and protect those in need.
We go on a quest of our own to help and serve those around us. The students learn how difficult a quest can be, the many steps involved, and even the time and dedication it takes to help others. Once the quest is completed, they are knighted and are ready to serve and carry out God’s mission for them.