Just a quick sneak-peak for you today of the living history event we have planned for this week. The kids were eager to try on their costumes and do a little role-playing before our big event.
We’ll be joining with friends in our homeschool group and kicking off our studies in the Middle Ages with a two-part reenactment.  
**UPDATE: See all the official pics from our big day HERE! 

First up: the fall of Western Rome to barbarians!

The toga-clad girls will gather their baby dolls and Roman possessions, and will set up within a roped-off area which we’ll be calling the Western Roman Empire.  

Camped all around them will be tribes of barbarians–Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Vandals, Anglos, Saxons, Gauls, OH MY!  The Pre-K – 2nd grade boys will play barbarians dressed in costumes made of…wait for it…potato sacks!  Picked these up a while back for $1 each, and they were so large, I was able to cut about 3 costumes per sack.  Add a rope belt, some play weaponry, a fierce growl, and you’ve got a barbarian.  

The boys will attempt to enter the roped-off area and steal the baskets of treasures, foods, etc, we will have set up in the circle.  If they are tagged by a Roman before reaching the “treasure,” they have to leave the Empire.  At first we’ll keep the circle very small, so the Empire will be easy to guard…
But, as Rome expanded, larger and larger, it was unable to defend itself from its enemies.  And so we’ll increase our roped-off area until the Romans within cannot possibly tag each and every barbarian who enters to steal.
And so, western Rome will indeed fall to barbarian attacks.

Part two will be more of a detailed study of the Celtic peoples of early Britain.

After we review the big ideas, we’ll send the boys off to be transformed into Celtic warriors.  They’ll have their bodies painted with blue swirling designs, will spike their hair with mud (…er, mousse) and will each don a patterned or solid colored cloak.  They’ll each spend time creating their double-headed axe.  These have been pre-cut from foam, and the boys will wrap them with electrical tape to give them a metallic appearance.  

Meanwhile, the girls will transform into Celtic women with simple costumes and cloaks.  They’ll spend some time making elaborate “metal” brooches, headbands (cardboard painted with metallic paint) and beaded necklaces made from metal-looking beads.

Once everyone is ready, we’ll end our reenactment with a mock battle between two Celtic tribes, and explain how some tribes began recruiting help from the barbarians–namely, the Angles and Saxons, who began sailing over to Britain in such number, that eventually they pushed the Celts off of their own land.  Some Celts made peace and lived with the Angles and Saxons, while others moved North to live by themselves.  These Celts settled in the areas we now know as Wales, Ireland and Scotland.  And of course, in the south, Angle-land is the land we now know as England.

Lots of great info will be reviewed and there is no better way to drive it all home than with role-play.  

My kids are super excited.

More costume details
My daughter’s Celtic dress was sewn in about 30 minutes with a large white curtain panel from Ikea, and the brown corset-type piece was from my scraps.  My daughter designed the x’s going down the front using scraps from the curtain panel.  
All the cloaks that will be used tomorrow are simply pieces of plaid, checked, or solid colored fabrics.  Mine comes from one sheet that was torn into sections.  

The foam weapons are made just like I have done for our Greek and Roman reenactments…I draw weapons onto a large piece of insulation foam (1/2″ to 3/4″ works well) and cut them out with a utility knife.  The foam weapons are always a HUGE hit with the boys, and I like using them for reenactments because you don’t have to worry about anyone getting hurt (too badly!).
I’ve spray-painted the foam before as well, but I actually prefer how they look when they are covered in duck tape.  

I’ll post pics later this week of our big day, and how it all turns out.

And for all you Story-of-the World’ers out there who may be interested in doing something similar, here are the BIG IDEAS we’ll be covering and reviewing with this Living History Event.  Some of these were taken from the SOTW text, and others from research I did in preparing for the learning experience.

CHAPTER 1 (Fall of Rome) BIG IDEAS
  1. Rome, the great empire of the Ancient world grew and grew and grew. Dioceltian divided the Roman Empire into 2 Kingdoms- Western Roman Empire and Eastern.
  2. However, the Empire was simply TOO BIG and because of this, it could no longer protect all of its borders from the many tribes of BARBARIANS that lived in and around the empire.  
  3. Barbarians were wandering, war-like people who were not loyal to Rome at all!
  4. For years, these Barbarian tribes attacked the Empire, particularly in WESTERN ROME.  Over and over, the Romans tried to push them back.
  5. Since there were too many Barbarians to fight, the Romans began paying SOME Barbarian tribes to fight against OTHER Barbarian tribes.  This did not work very well because the Barbarians wanted land and money and Rome’s riches, and they did not remain loyal, even after they were paid in land and gold.
  6. Eventually, Western Rome fell to (was defeated by) Barbarians.
Chapter 2 (Early Britain-The Celtic Peoples, Anglos, Saxons) BIG IDEAS
  1.  Britain is an island west of Rome. During the days of the Roman Empire, a people group called the CELTS lived on the southern part of the island.
  2. They were a fierce people who often warred with the Romans, and for many years, the Romans took control of their island and forced them to pay taxes, give up land, etc to Rome.  
  3. The Celts hated the Romans, and often battled them.  They were fierce warriors who spiked their hair with mud and painted swirling designs all over their bodies before they went to war.  Over and over, the Romans defeated these Celtic uprisings.
  4. BUT when Western Rome fell to the Barbarians, the Celts finally drove the Romans off their island!
  5. Although there were many tribes of Celts, they did not all have one king.  Each tribe had their OWN leaders, and so often, the different tribes of Celts would fight each other.  One Celtic king began to ask for help from 2 groups of Barbarians across the sea–the Angles and the Saxons–he told them they could come over to Britain and have some land if they would help him fight off other Celtic tribes.  
  6. This worked–for a while.  But soon, more and more and more Angles and Saxons sailed over the North Sea until there was a new problem for the Celts–the Angles and Saxons were taking over their land!!  The poor Celts-things got so bad that after a while, some of them just gave up and began marrying and becoming friends with the Angles and Saxons, while others moved to the northern parts of the island to live alone.  Today, the areas where the Celts settled are called Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
  7. The island of Britain was divided up into 7 kingdoms, and after a while, it became known as Angle-land, or England, which is what it is called today.

Happy Hands-On History Learning!

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