Guess who needs more practice with her manuscript?  ME!  Can you find the typo?  :O

As I was looking ahead to the next couple chapters in Story of the World, I thought I’d share where we’re headed next and some of the hands-on things we have planned.

The next section in Story of the World covers Christianity spreading to Britain via Augustine, who became Archbishop of Canterbury.  The chapter discusses Monasticism, why the Dark Ages were considered to be dark (at least in Europe), and how these learned men whose lives were committed to learning, reading, praying, working with their hands, and serving the poor, preserved by hand-copying countless biblical manuscripts during an age when reading and writing was a privilege enjoyed by few in Europe.  

I found a cute child’s monk costume for $8 online and figured it could double as a jedi costume once we’re done with this unit, so I bought it for my boys.  I’m actually working on  piecing together 2 more monk costumes for the boys in our home school group using some fabric from my stash and this costume as my template.

But seriously–how adorable is “Brother Joshua?”  Hehehe. 

He got a real kick out of this simple costume, and acted way sillier than any real monk should. 😉  Be serious, Brother Joshua.

As I was planning, I remembered a friend of mine had given me a quill pen, ink and natural paper set (purchased in historical Williamsburg, VA) and I figured it would be fitting to pull it out and use it for this chapter in history as well.

I did a bit of practicing yesterday, and oh man, I can’t wait to let my daughter (2nd grade) try it this coming week!

On one hand, it was easier than I thought.  It’s truly so much fun to write with a quill pen, and the powdered ink that came with my set was really nice and smooth.  

But it is also messier than I realized–the ink can splatter if you are not careful as you make your brush strokes, and it stays wetter longer, so there is a higher chance of smearing it as you work. Notice all the oopsies in my work below (including that typo!!).

Still, it will be a lot of fun to try this week with the kids, and today I even picked up a few extra craft feathers to see if we can’t make our own quill pens–perhaps one for each child in our homeschool group that meets later in the week. We’ll see.

Along with making quill pens, another thing we’ll be creating this week in history are the beautiful illuminated manuscripts like the ones made famous by the monks.  So what is an illuminated manuscript, you ask?  I’m sure you’ve seen them before–
Per Wikipedia: An illuminated manuscript is manuscript in which the text is supplemented by the addition of decoration, such as decorated initials, borders (marginalia) and miniature illustrations. In the most strict definition of the term, an illuminated manuscript only refers to manuscripts decorated with gold or silver, but in both common usage and modern scholarship, the term is now used to refer to any decorated or illustrated manuscript from the Western traditions. 
So there ya go.
We will probably use the children’s names and illuminate / decorate / embellish the first letters.  I may try doing a scripture verse as well if we have time.  I played around with Eden’s name using the quill pen.  So much fun.
There are many beautiful inspiration photos to be found online, and I’ll be showing my kids a few of these before we do our own illuminated manuscripts.
 In true illuminated script fashion, I got some gold leaf as well as gold acrylic to try on our artwork. Here is a neat before and after pic I found:
 This one is SO beautiful too:
Oh my, and check out this miniature illuminated book!  Talk about amazing (and expensive!)

What I’ll probably end up doing is lightly drawing the kids’ names with pencil, then I’ll let them go over it with the quill pen, and add their own embellishments to decorate around their first letter.  Then we’ll color or paint them.  I’m pretty certain they are gonna love this activity.  I’ll update this post later this week with our finished pieces.

Finally, there is nothing like a great story to bring home what you’re learning in history, and this week we’ll be reading the Newberry-winning book A Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli. Have you read it?
Here is the Publisher’s description:

Ever since he can remember, Robin, son of Sir John de Bureford, has been told what is expected of him as the son of a nobleman. He must learn the ways of knighthood. But Robin’s destiny is changed in one stroke: He falls ill and loses the use of his legs. Fearing a plague, his servants abandon him and Robin is left alone.
A monk named Brother Luke rescues Robin and takes him to the hospice of St. Mark’s where he is taught woodcarving and–much harder–patience and strength. Says Brother Luke, “Thou hast only to follow the wall far enough and there will be a door in it.”

Robin soon enough learns what Brother Luke means. And when the great castle of Lindsay is in danger, it is Robin, who cannot mount a horse and ride to battle, who saves the townspeople and discovers there is more than one way to serve his king.. 

Doesn’t it sound great?  I couldn’t resist starting it this past weekend, and we’re a few chapters into and the kids are enjoying the adventure.  It’s set a bit later than where we’re at currently in our history timeline, but it fits well enough.

Well, that’s it for now. 
Three big history posts in a row, oh man.  You can’t tell we love it, can you? 😀

  Happy Hands-on History Learning! 

…and back to work, Brother Joshua! 😉

Linking up with:

Trivium Tuesdays

4 thoughts on “Monks, Monasteries & Medieval Manuscripts

  1. Angela Morse

    My goodness, I don’t even know what to say! Your photos have left me speechless. What an amazing job you are doing homeschooling your kids. I have just recently started homeschooling my son. He survived almost half a year of kindergarten and then I came to my senses and realized “I can do this!”. Your blog is inspirational 🙂 I don’t know if you’re on Facebook but I just started a fb group page called “A Beautiful Education” to show others that you can teach a child without confining them to a desk all day. Check it out if you’re interested or join the group, the more the merrier! …

  2. Amy Maze

    This reminds me a lot of what we did for Reformation Day last year! We had a little party and my son dressed up like a monk and one of our ‘stations’ was writing/decorating illuminated letters. We won’t be to this time period in school for a while, but hopefully we will have some fun like this for Reformation Day again!

    PS That quill set looks really fun!

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