We’ve all enjoyed at least one story set in the Middle Ages, with dashing knights, fantastical dragons and a towering castle or two. But what was life really like in medieval Europe?
The medieval period, or the Middle Ages, was a time in European history before the modern era, it refers to the period of time between approximately 500 CE to about 1500 CE—a period of 1000 years. Many important changes occurred in society during the Middle Ages, including the emergence of new forms of political, social, cultural, and economic organisation. Although the existence of dragons may have been a myth, the Middle Ages was still a pretty exciting period of time in history!
Patrons of all ages can use Britannica Library to learn more about this medieval period of European history, including castle design, what the (real) knights were like, the Black Death and more!
Recommended “Middle Ages” Resources
These resource packs contain curated articles, videos and images from Britannica Library. The content is appropriate for kids and teens and provide a great starting point when researching the Middle Ages.
Resource Pack Links:
Britannica Library (Australia) Kids resource pack↗
Britannica Library (Australia) Teens resource pack↗
Britannica Library (New Zealand) Kids resource pack↗
Britannica Library (New Zealand) Teens resource pack↗
Activities for Kids
Print out these activities for children to complete on their own or in groups, using Britannica Library and the instructions provided. Worksheets can also be downloaded, shared and completed online.
(i) In Medieval Europe, the castle was a common type of stronghold that provided both protection and living quarters for the king or lord of the land in which it stood. Explore their design, architecture and construction. Complete the mind map. (Tip: You can use Britannica Library to look up information on castles!)
(ii) Use your research from part I to create a model demonstrating the features of a medieval castle. Label and describe the essential features.
A Knight’s Shield
The walls of a castle were not their only line of defence. Knights also fought hand-to-hand battles to protect the Kings, Queens and nobles who lived in castles.
Examine some Knights Shield designs used during Medieval times. Use the designs to help you create your own shield design.
Activities for Teens
Complete an investigation into Medieval Europe (can be completed in pairs or as a group) using the suggested resources from Britannica Library, or from other sources.
Tip: Make this activity extra engaging by sharing the findings and research via a museum display within your library! Ask your young patrons to imagine that they are a museum curator preparing a display on the Middle Ages. Their display must portray the various aspects of the life and times of the period. It should include an assortment of media, such as photos, posters, drawings and models etc.
Medieval Life and Times
Review images and videos on Britannica Library that depict elements of the life and times of Medieval Europe. Then complete the table illustrating your observations! Remember, your museum display should show materials that represent your learning from this question.
The Black Death
(i) In Medieval times, poor living and sanitation conditions led to disease. Between 1347 and 1351, an outbreak of disease known as the Black Death ravaged Europe. How did the disease spread? What were the symptoms and treatments? Complete the mind map to brainstorm your ideas. (Tip: You can use Britannica Library to find factual information and media on the Black Death.)
(ii) Create a newspaper article reporting on the Black Death outbreak in your town. This will be included in your museum display.
Featured Image from BRITANNICA LIBRARY: A medieval fortress overlooks the city of San Marino, in the country of San Marino. Alaexis / Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 (Generic), Accessed 08 Nov. 2022.
These activities and resources have been created using content from Britannica Library, the go-to site for safe, comprehensive research for all ages. Find out if your library already has access or set up your own free trial.
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