Renaissance Fair Project Ideas

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Hosting an in-class Renaissance fair can be a fun and memorable experience for students. These project ideas will help you design and organize a fair that works for your class.

The Renaissance Fair

Renaissance fairs are popular forms of entertainment, and it's not hard to understand why. There's food, music, crafts, and people in fun costumes. Since many students are familiar with the concept of a Renaissance fair, this can be a fun tool for getting students more deeply engaged in learning about actual history. This project is centered around the idea that you will host a Renaissance fair in your classroom. Exactly how you do this depends on the amount of time and resources you want to commit to the project. The following project ideas are meant to be mixed and matched so that you can select the elements that will work best for your class' Renaissance fair.

Craft Booths

A centerpiece of most Renaissance fairs is handmade crafts. For your class, break the students into small groups and have each research some of the handicrafts, arts, and products that artisans would have worked with in the late medieval period. You can ask students to actually produce these or to make simplified paper-cutout models that require less technical skill. Each group will set up a booth to sell their craft, present it, and explain how this craft was made/used historically. You can also consider giving students each a small bag of fake gold coins so that after all the booths have presented, students can go around and purchase goods from each other.

Music

What is a Renaissance fair without music? If your class is musically inclined, consider distributing recorders and basic sheet music for simple late-medieval tunes. Gregorian chants are also fairly easy to teach students with little musical experience, as they can be performed in a call-and-response format. You can also ask each group to find a recording of Renaissance-era music to play at their booth.

Competitions

If you feel that your class can handle some athletic games and competitions without getting too wild, then consider trying the following:

  • Break the class into small groups, or teams, and let each design a banner. Provide each group with a stick horse and a yardstick.
  • Set up a few posts with strings between them. From these strings, hang three rings of different sizes. Each set of three rings will correspond to one long lane (try to set up at least 4 lanes). When you say go, the rider from each team will run down their lane towards the rings and try to get their ''jousting lance'' (the yardstick) through one of the rings. The largest ring is worth the fewest point, while the smallest is worth the most. Students must keep running, cannot slow down to lance the ring, and must keep the stick horse between their legs as they run. After everyone has gone, the team with the most points wins.

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