Middle Ages Project Ideas

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

These group project ideas will help teach your middle school students about the Middle Ages. They will use their creative and analytical talents to better understand the characteristics and events of the time period.

Why The Middle Ages?

Today in schools, the Middle Ages are also known by the term post-classical history, and can be referred to as the Dark Ages or medieval period. From knights and their code of chivalry to the harsh life of peasants, the era was markedly different than modern times. The following real-world hands-on project ideas, to be conducted by your middle school students in groups, will enhance your students' comprehension of the often complex economic, political, and social structures of the Middle Ages.

The Middle Ages Clothesline Timeline

Materials: clothesline, clothespins, color-coded index cards, Internet access, markers

The Middle Ages was a time period that ran from roughly the years 500-1500, although many historians still dispute those dates. For this project, your students will create a clothesline timeline featuring many of the key dates of the Middle Ages.

First, divide your students into six groups, and assign each group a different color for their index cards. Then have each group find one dozen interesting facts about the Middle Ages. Each time they discover a fact, it is to be placed on a card along with the corresponding date. While they are researching, go ahead and string the clothesline across the room diagonally.

After the research is completed, each group is to place their index cards in correct chronological order from earliest to latest date. Start stringing the cards on the clothesline in order. If a duplicate date is called don't point it out, but instead allow your students to uncover that fact. When all the index cards are on the clothesline in the proper order, allow your students to walk the length of the clothesline reading the cards aloud, one time forward and once in reverse.

Lastly, have each student write a one-page paper recapping what they learned in this project about the Middle Ages.

Discussion Questions:

What one event should mark the beginning of the Middle Ages, and what one event should mark the end of the Middle Ages?

What one event stands out as the most significant of the Middle Ages?

Art, Literature, and Music in the Middle Ages Giant Mural

Materials: colored markers, pencils, and pens; Internet Devices; mural paper roll; scissors; tape

Despite the Middle Ages also being coined the Dark Ages, the era produced many examples of quality art, literature, and music. In this project, divide your students into three large groups. Group One will be Team Art, Group Two will be Team Literature, and Group Three will be Team Music.

Now allow your students to research their respective topics while you tape the mural paper to the classroom walls. When they are through researching, allow them to both draw and write on the mural paper. Groups will record information they uncovered while researching their topic. Encourage creativity and the use of drawings, colors, and interesting facts.

Artists from the Middle Ages include:

  • Cimabue
  • Donatello
  • Lorenzetti

Literature from the Middle Ages includes:

  • Caedmon's Hymn
  • The Decameron
  • The Divine Comedy

Music from the Middle Ages includes:

  • Cantigas de Santa Maria
  • Gregorian chant
  • Ordo Virtutum

Then have your students conduct a debate as to whether the art, literature, or the music of the Middle Ages was superior. As an ongoing supplement to the project, have each student write a two-page paper about these various works from the Middle Ages.

Discussion Questions:

  • What were the greatest works during the Middle Ages, and who were the greatest artists? Why?
  • Can you define the vocabulary terms guilds, polyphony, and courtly love?

Design a Medieval Fair

Materials: colored markers, Internet access, writing implements

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