Last week, we had a small-but-fun program called Knights of the Round Table. My boss is a history buff, and when he found out that my son was also a history buff, an historical reenactor, and a sword collector, he just knew there had to be a way to include him in some programming. He came up with the idea of the Knights of the Round Table. Unfortunately, our back-to-school crowds tend to be on the small side, and this program was no exception. We only had five kids, but they had a blast!
To open the program, my son did a PowerPoint presentation on different types of swords. Now, that might sound like a total snooze fest, but we had to do it that way because he wasn’t allowed to bring actual swords in to show. He was very interactive with the kids, and used a foam sword to demonstrate the different types, show why there were different types, and show how they were used. I know that you’ll think I’m biased, but all the adults were fascinated, and the kids were glued. Did you know that a two handed sword could stop a charging horse in its tracks, and that they were considered so deadly that they were outlawed in Europe? Did you know that cavalry swords are not sharp? (They didn’t need to be because the speed and weight of them when used on horseback were more deadly when the swords weren’t sharp). Did you know that as recently as WWI, sword bayonets were issued to infantry because they were considered more deadly in close combat than guns?
See? Totally cool stuff.
After his presentation, we had two crafts for the kids. Using the craft ideas from Pop Goes the Page, we had the kids create shields and swords.
Construction: I precut sturdy cardboard rectangles, used pencil to divide the shields into quarters, and used an Exacto knife to cut two small slits along each center line. I made duct tape fabric straps, and cut slits in each end. The kids used longish brads to go through the slits in the cardboard and then looped the duct tape straps and put the brad through the straps, and spread the brad ends out. Then, we duct taped over the brad ends so that they didn’t cut anyone. This gave us a plain shield with sturdy arm straps in the back.
Decoration: I precut different colored construction paper rectangles the same size as the shield quarters. I pre-printed the heraldry from Pop Goes the Page. We gave the kids glue and scissors and let them choose colors and heraldic symbols, and let them decorate their shields however they chose. We also had colored electrical tape that they could use on the shields.
As kids finished their swords, the fighting broke out! They LOVED getting to beat on each other with the swords. We might have had a problem if it wasn’t such a small group, but it was just rowdy fun. We got them all corralled, and then the real fun began.
Both my son and my husband were fencers, so they gave a fencing demonstration and let the kids touch all the equipment (except for foils, which couldn’t be brought in because technically they’re weapons.) Once again, they used foam swords and showed how important footwork is to the sport of fencing. They taught lunges, parries, and ripostes. They had the kids get in line and do some of the beginning exercises that all fencers do. The kids ate it up with a spoon!
As we ended the program, the kids were still excited and doing their exercises. (We had to tell them firmly not to fight outside the meeting room). One of the young ladies saw us in the parking lot as we were leaving and immediately started demonstrating her footwork exercises for us.
My boss was so thrilled with the program that he wants to do it again when we can get a bigger crowd. If you would like to replicate this program, you might be able to get someone from a local fencing club to do a demonstration. Or, if you’re in the Richmond, VA area, you might be able to convince my son to replicate the program for you!