Monday, September 28, 2009

Maces, Chain Mail, and 4-Year-Old Knights

Last Friday's co-op class was great fun. We talked about the Middle Ages and knights, which lasted for all of about 6.5 minutes, which also seems to be the attention span of a group of seven boys between the ages of 4 and 7.

The first thing we did was try on chain mail and a full-size helmet, generously lent to us by another mom in the co-op.

T modeling the chain mail.

Next on the agenda was making maces. I'd thought about making flails, but the chain seemed too iffy, considering that young kids would be doing the work. One nice thing about these maces was that they were too delicate to whack. So the boys carried them reverently home instead of swinging them willy nilly out in the parking lot.

Our "authentic" mace. Looks pretty good, doesn't it? This one was made by a 6-year-old.

Here the maces stand (paint drying), like bizarre torturous flowers that Roald Dahl might find lining a lush green yard.

This class is turning out to be a hoot. Granted, we hang by our fingernails on the edge of mayhem just about every minute we're in there, but our fingernails are mighty strong. Actually, the first 3 or 4 minutes are pretty calm, when the kids pick out the country we're studying on the world map and tell me all about what they know about it. So that only leaves, say, 57 minutes or so of hot glue, duct tape, sticks, whacks, and scuffles. No problem.

Surprisingly, it's difficult to find a craft for weapon making for this age group. The craft needs to do 3 things: 1) be doable for 4-year-olds, 2) look reasonably authentic, and 3) be safe. You'd be amazed at how hard it is to come up with something that meets all those requirement that you can do in an hour.

S's turn to model the armor and helmet. Can ya dig that warrior grimace?

So, did you guess yet how the maces were made?

Candy corn, along with wooden dowels, styrofoam balls, and metallic paint. Pretty clever, huh?

Our not-so intimidating unpainted maces. Now these look like they were made by 4-year-olds!

If you liked this post, you might enjoy Casualties: 1 ... and Counting.


  1. What a fun co-op! I'm looking forward to delving into medieval times/middle ages later in our school year.

    Was it genuine chain mail? That's heavy stuff! The maces are a great craft.

  2. No, I completely believe that it is hard to satisfy all three requirements. Especially because boys this age seem to believe that the less safe a weapon is, the more fun it must be!

  3. Awesomely clever! If the balls were popcorn instead of styrofoam, I would have eaten the whole thing before anyone had a chance to paint it, lol :)

  4. I really appreciate the maces! That's one to log into my memory bank of great ideas. Making chainmail would be a good project for kids old enough to handle pliers - and also they would need to be able to handle the monotony of weaving chainmail. . .it's a tedious process. However, that's one class that I hope to offer soon for local homeschool groups - how to make mail - oh. . .and if someone says, well what about the girls. . .there is some very interesting chainmail inspired jewelry that just might be of interest!