Thursday, 28 August 2014

Corfe Castle Field Trip

We had a big trip out today, to Corfe Castle. Grace has been working through a "Knights and Castles" sticker book, using each page as a "jumping off point" for other work; creative writing, maths and technology so far, but with other possibilities. This morning she did some sums based on the page she completed today, and then we went to Corfe as they have a month long Medieval Village camping in the grounds at the moment, so it was a fantastic opportunity to understand how knights actually lived.

We started off by having lunch at a cafe which was overlooked by the castle, and spent some time talking about the geographical landscape; thinking about the purpose of the dry moat (we still need to find out whether the moat once had water in it!) and the reasons why castles were often built on hills. We noticed the arrow slits in the remains of one of the towers, and discussed the bridge over the moat and whether or not it was a drawbridge (it wasn't).

Arrow Slit window in the tower
We then looked around the medieval village, and saw the blacksmith making some armour. This was very exciting for Grace, as an earlier page of her sticker book was based at the blacksmiths. She was able to name most of the tools and was very interested in the techniques. We also looked at the many foods available; I was quite shocked at the range of eastern spices which were apparently traded through Venice. I had no idea that medieval food was so diverse.

Grace asked whether there was a "Tilting Yard" at Corfe; a large open space used for holding tournaments. There isn't - apparently tilting yards were usually only found in Royal palaces, and Corfe, as a defensive castle , had no flat land large enough for a tilting yard. When we had exhausted the camp with our questions, we went to look around the castle ruin itself. We looked through an arrow slit window, and Grace was amazed at how much you could see through it from the inside, compared with how narrow it was from the outside. We climbed as high as we could in the castle, and got a clear understanding of how much of an advantage being inside a castle on the top of a hill was in terms of defense. We could see all around us for miles from the highest point!

Inside an arrow slit window
When we got home, Grace decided to read one of a reading plan series we were given a couple of days ago. I think they are going to prove popular, as they are short enough in one sitting and repetitive enough to really cement the words in Grace's head (she doesn't really manage phonics well, so we are focusing on whole-word recognition).  Meanwhile, I helped Jude do another page of her sticker book.

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