Over the next couple of weeks I’m getting together with Erin over at The Usual Mayhem to share our King Arthur units. This is a fun bit of homeschool history we briefly covered last year, but I check out two million books from the library, to have some more fun with it over the next few weeks. We’ll start with what every good knight needs, how to make a knight’s shield.
As a side note, this series of posts can also work very well, and I’ve thought to use at one point or another with King Henry, the Middle Ages, and a few other topics. So, it’s a versatile set of activities.
A short history of shield shapes (as told with LEGOS)
Let’s take a short look at the different shapes of shields and their uses, and what makes a knight’s shield.
First we have the tower shield. This is what most of the Roman infantry used, and it is an integral part of a good shield wall, as demonstrated in LEGO Small Arms Combat. This nearly impenetrable wall protects your infantry from the arrows of the enemy, and allows you to strike back while still protected.
Next the round shield. This is your standard issue shield, notice Captain America carries a round shield. This is also what you’ll see most Vikings shown as having. This is quite a bit lighter than your tower shield, and more maneuverable. This is designed for single combat, and for soldiers who are moving around a fair amount. It’s usually made of wood (stronger ones will be bound with metal), or leather over a wooden frame.
The buckler, a dinner plate masquerading as a shield. Great for personal duels, and easily moved around, but it’s not designed for protection as much. A common shield of choice for duels, hence why I chose someone in nicer clothes. I don’t actually have a LEGO buckler shield, so I used a lunch box as a stand in. It mostly worked.
Kite shield, this is what most knights had. It’s a tear drop shape, designed to protect you from infantry on the ground, and protect your major organs (I could not find our actual kite shield, so this had to stand in).
Finally there’s a heater shield as we know it today, it’s the vaguely pentagonal shape like the original Captain America shield.
The story that inspired making knight’s shields
The Kitchen Knight is the story of a young man who asks to serve in King Arthur’s court for one year and then be made a knight. During that time most of the knights treat him well, but one in particular treats him horribly. At the end of the year he is given leave to champion a woman who came to King Arthur for aid, and is told if he does well he will get his own coat of arms (hence the activity here). Throughout it all, the kitchen knight behaves honorably despite being given many chances to not behave so. You’ll have to read the book to see all of the great deeds he does.
How to make a knight’s shield
First, how you make this is pretty similar to the Roman shield project we did earlier. So for step by step instructions check that post. Instead we’re going to concentrate on the design.
Each knight had a crest of arms, something they personally stood for. This would also be their war banner if they were going to war at the head of an army. So, I challenged the kids to think about what they would make as their coat of arms.
The kids thought for a not so long amount of time, actually before I’d finished talking about Superman had already declared “I’m drawing a Creeper head!”
So, they happily went at it cutting up their shields, and painting, and then I realized I really should have put the handle on BEFORE having them paint, because the kids didn’t want to wait for the paint to dry before heading out for jousting.
Well, Superman as I said made a Creeper crest of arms. Then Batman, being rather obsessed with bats, decided to draw a bat on his shield. Princess painted a cross with a white background. I chose to paint a book with a cross above it. All in all, they looked spectacularly amazing.
For about five minutes, then we started the jousting, and in very short order they were destroyed and covered in paint, and the kids were happy as clams.
More information on making knight’s shield, and shields in general
Next Monday come back and see our great and glorious jousting fields. It’s really hard to get good pictures when young children are running at you enthusiastically with pool noodles.