Knights in Training

Books to Share

Come to the Castle by Linda Ashman
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz
The Making of a Knight: How Sir James Earned His Armor by Patrick O’Brien
Medieval Arms and Armor by Jim Whiting
Merlin and the Making of the King by Margaret Hodges
Mrs. Frizzle’s Adventures: Medieval Castle by Joanna Cole

Books to Show or Booktalk

Castle Diary by Richard Platt
Castle Under Siege by Andrew Solway
The Kitchen Knight by Margaret Hodges
Knight by Christopher Gravett
The Knight at Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne
SIEGE! Can you Capture a Castle? by Julia Bruce


Knight in Training

Copy the nametag pattern provided at the end of this program. Clipart copyright © 2010 by the University of South Florida, Florida Educational Technology Clearinghouse.


Sword in the Stone

Create a Sword in the Stone display. For a stone use a box or a piece of Styrofoam and paint it gray. Then glue on sand and rocks. To create a sword, obtain two old rulers. Shorten one ruler and lay it parallel to the other ruler in order to create the hilt. Glue the rulers together. Wrap the sword and the hilt in aluminum foil. To create extra support, take black thread and wrap it around the sword and hilt. Cut a slit in your stone and glue the sword point halfway down into the stone.


So You Want to Be a Knight?

In order to qualify for knighthood, kids must demonstrate their skills in three different areas: physicality, craftsmanship, and mental acuity. According to their efforts they will be awarded denari, or silver coinage that was commonly accepted in Medieval Europe. Judges can award coins at the completion of each task to the kids for displays of superior skill, creativity or chivalry, i.e. sportsmanship.

Prior to the contest, create multiple denari by folding small pieces of aluminum foil into rough circles. Recruit judges from the community for each task. Establish a system for awarding the denari. At the end of the program hold a dubbing ceremony for the knights. Give out awards for the top earners.


Mighty Sword Pens

Oriental Trading offers inexpensive sword pens. For a cheaper, but more time consuming prize, consider printing and assembling the free paper Neuschwanstein castle from Paper Toys.

Stories to Tell

The Battle of Agincourt (by Megan Clark)

In the midst of the Hundred Years War, Henry the V leads his English troops to battle against the French. Henry knows that it is unlikely that his army can win. He is outnumbered five to one. His army is physically exhausted, having marched 260 miles in two and a half weeks with very little to eat.

In an effort to rouse the men to fight for their lives, the King makes a speech. No one knows exactly what Henry told his men that day on the battlefield. However one writer wrote a fictional speech that is now famous around the world. In the speech, the King tells his exhausted and disheartened men that they are fighting on the feast of Saint Crispin, an English holiday. He tells them that in years to come they will proudly remember this day as the day that they courageously fought against a stronger enemy and won.


King Henry:

O that we now had here But one ten thousand of those men in England That do no work to-day!

What's he that wishes so? My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;… The fewer men, the greater share of honour… No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England…. Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host, That he which hath no stomach to this fight, Let him depart… We would not die in that man's company That fears… to die with us. This day is call'd the feast of Crispian… He that shall live this day, and see old age, Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours, And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.' Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars, And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day’… He'll remember, with advantages, What feats he did that day…. And Crispian shall ne'er go by, From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remembered- We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother… And gentlemen in England now-a-bed Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day. (Excerpted from Henry V , Act 4 Scene 3, by William Shakespeare. Adapted by Megan Clark.)

Whatever the real King Henry said, the English put up quite a fight. History records that Henry’s men drove long, wooden stakes into the ground with the sharp ends protruding out at an angle. As the French knights attempted to charge they were easily knocked off their horses by the stakes. Furthermore, with the fall of heavy rain, the battlefield was turned into a sea of mud. The French knights, weighed down by 50 pounds of armor, were soon overcome with exhaustion as they waded through thick mud up to their knees.

Also, despite having fewer men, the English had a deadly weapon that the French did not. The English longbow, measuring six feet in height, was able to hit a target 200 yards away, or the length of two football fields. A good medieval archer could fire 30 arrows per minute, and Henry’s men rained thousands upon thousands of arrows down on the French army.

At last, after three hours of fighting and with thousands dead on both sides, the French surrendered and Henry the V of England claimed victory.


3D Paper Castle

(Design by Megan Clark. Clipart copyright © 2010 by the University of South Florida, Florida Educational Technology Clearinghouse)

Photograhic of a completed project of the 3D castle A photographic of the 3D castle close up on the cut-out knight fighting the dragon

  • Castle template at the end of this program
  • White or colored paper
  • Scissors, glue, hole puncher
  • Twine and/or ribbon
  • Construction paper
  • Colored pencils

Print or copy the castle template provided at the end of the program on white or colored paper. The castle is approximately 9 inches tall, has a functioning drawbridge, and is engineered to be able to stand firm while made entirely out of paper. However, if possible use cardstock to create a stronger castle.

Cut out the front gate. Fold all three flaps forward or towards the center of the castle so they make a 90 degree angle. Cut out the drawbridge on three sides but do not cut the bottom of the drawbridge. Punch two holes in the drawbridge in the indicated spots.

Cut out the east wall and fold the bottom flap up making a 90 degree angle. If desired, use the end of a paper clip to punch out the arrow slits. Glue the east wall to the side flap of the front gate as pictured.

A photograph of the east wall being glued the front gate
A photograph of the castle standing witht the four walls

Cut and glue the west wall and back wall in a similar fashion. Remember to punch holes in the indicated spots. The castle should now have four walls and be able to stand on its own.

Glue the interiors of the drawbridge and the back wall to the castle. If needed, trim the drawbridge to so it easily fits through the archway. Re-punch the two holes in the drawbridge and the two holes in the back wall. If desired, trim the back wall to ensure a perfect fit.

To make a functioning drawbridge, cut a long piece of twine or ribbon. Tie one end through one of the punched holes in the drawbridge and knot firmly. Then, making sure that the drawbridge is in the down position, tautly pull the thread through the archway and out through one of the punched holes in the back wall of the castle.

On the outside of the back wall tie a loose knot. This knot will prevent the thread from slipping through the hole. Cut the thread, leaving about five inches of spare thread. Repeat this process using a different piece or twine or ribbon for the other side.

To draw the drawbridge up, simply pull the knots on the outside of the castle.

A photo of the riboons as they look poking out of the back of the wall
A photo of the ribbons and the drawbridge on the castle wall

Next, cut out the tower piece and fold the three flaps forwards towards the center of the castle making 90 degree angles. It should look like this.

Photographic of bottom flap being glued to the castle
Photograph of side flaps of the castle being glued
Photograph of completed castle with cut out unicorn and princesse

Glue the front flap of the tower piece inside the castle just above the drawbridge. Glue or tape the side flaps to the inside of the castle.

Cut out the castle floor and glue to the bottom flaps of the castle. Glue the entire castle to a piece of blue or turquoise construction paper. Color, cut, and glue the knight, dragon, princess, or unicorn pieces into place.

  • Popsicle sticks, regular or colored
  • Wooden clothespins
  • Rubber bands
  • Plastic spoons
  • Miniature marshmallows
  • Construction paper
  • Glue (use tacky glue if possible)

A photograph of the completed catapult project

Photo and arwork Megan Clark


To create the catapult’s platform, lay eight Popsicle sticks next to each other in a row. Take two more Popsicle sticks and lay them perpendicular on top of the eight sticks. Glue the two sticks to the eight. After the platform has dried flip it over.

Photograph of popsicle sticks platform painted blueTo create the catapult mechanism, take two large wooden clothespins and stack them on top of each other. Rubber band the bottom handle of the top clothespin to the top handle of the bottom clothespin. Then rubber band the end of a plastic spoon to the end of the top handle of the clothespin. Glue the catapult to the platform and wait for the glue to completely dry.

To launch the catapult, place a round, soft object (miniature marshmallows or pompoms work best) in the spoon. Then push down the handles of the clothespins and let go.

Games and Activities   

Jousting Tournament

Create a simple lance using a long, thin cardboard tube like the ones used for wrapping paper rolls. Set up targets by blowing up balloons and attaching them at different heights. Clear an area for the kids to throw the lance at the targets.

Sword Play

Purchase or create inexpensive plastic or foam swords. Also purchase inexpensive plastic rings. Many stores sell inexpensive glow sticks that can be fastened into circles. Divide the kids into teams of two. The partners should stand a fair distance away from each other; closer together for the younger kids, and farther away for the older kids. One knight should toss their rings towards their partner, who must catch the rings on the tip of their sword.

How to Capture a Castle

(By Megan Clark)

Early History of Castles

The first medieval castles built in Europe were made out of wood. When William the Conqueror invaded Britain in 1066 he needed to quickly build strongholds for his soldiers. His army was occupying a foreign land, and if they stayed in the open without protection they could easily be destroyed.

The castle design used by William the Conqueror was similar to fortifications built by the Romans. The motte was built by digging a large circular trench and packing the earth that had been dug up into a large mound or pile. At the top of the man-made hill a tall wooden tower would be built. At the bottom of the hill a tall fence, or bailey would be made out of the trunks of trees.

This castle design ensured that even if the attackers were able to break through the bailey, they would still have to travel uphill to reach the wooden tower. The attackers would have to climb the steep motte (on average about 10 feet high) while defenders could easily rain down arrows at them.

Not only were mottes-and-baileys easy to defend, but they could also be built in a relatively short period of time. The castle at Dover is said to have been built by a group of men in just eight days. For both of these reasons, mottes and baileys sprang up quickly all over Britain. It is estimated that in just 20 years, William the Conqueror and his army built over 500 castles. That averages to one castle being built every two weeks.

However, due to the threat of fire, wooden castles were eventually replaced by stone castles. As stone was a stronger building material, castles could be built taller and thicker than the early motte-and-bailey castles. William the Conqueror built one of the most famous stone castles in the world called the White Tower of London, which still stands today.

Photograph of the London Tower castle

Tower of London, photo by Thomas Gun, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Photograph of motte-and-bailey castle

Motte-and-bailey model, photo by Urban, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Extension Activity

Copy the How to Capture a Castle Chart found at the end of the program. Pass out the chart and a pencil to each kid. After learning about the history of European castles, explain to the kids that they must devise a battle attack plan for two types of medieval structures. They will choose the weapons they will use in their attempt to capture the castles.

Using the books listed in this chapter, show pictures and photographs of each weapon choice to the kids. Explain how each weapon functions. Give the kids time to devise their attack strategy. Then explain the positive and negative aspects of each weapon choice.


Show the St. Crispin’s Day speech in Kenneth Branagh’s 1989 film Henry V. (137 minutes)

Web Sites

Heraldic Clip Art - large clip art section that kids can use to design their own coat-of-arms.

Castles of Wales - several diagrams and modern day photographs of mottes located in Wales.

Professional Resources

Arms and Armor by Michele Byam - This is a visually stunning book from the Eyewitness series.

Castle by Christopher Gravett - Also from the Eyewitness series, this book is an excellent resource for in depth information about castles.

Henry the V by William Shakespeare - Shakespeare’s dramatic play about Henry V of England contains the infamous St. Crispin’s Day speech.

Kingfisher Knowledge: Castles and Forts by Simon Adams - This juvenile nonfiction book takes an exciting look at the history of castles from around the world.

Knights and Castles by Philip Dixon - This book contains detailed information as well as sleek, computer generated illustrations.

The Chivalry Bookshelf - offers the full text of the St. Crispin’s Day speech by William Shakespeare.

History Learning Site- contains a short readable history of medieval castles in Britain.

Oriental Trading Company - company sells inexpensive craft supplies and party favors.

Paper Toys -This website has a number of free 3D paper crafts that are available for printing.

Knights in Training Nametag

Print out this file of the Knights in Training Nametag (PDF) and photocopy for use.

3D Paper Castle Templates

Print out these files of the 3D Paper Castle patterns (PDF) to cut and build.

Front Gate

Back Wall

Castle Floor

East Wall

West Wall


Interior Drawbridge (with Knight and Dragon)

Interior Drawbridge if Using Colored Paper (with Princes and Unicorn)

Interior Back Wall

How to Capture a Castle Chart

Print out and cut these charts (PDF) to rate how to capture a stone castle and how to capture a motte castle.

Page last modified: October 31, 2018