Prospecting For Treasure

Always prospecting for the next treasure of an idea.

Our Giant Medieval Paper Doll Project

This is Lady Maria. She is a noble woman.

For the last two weeks, we have been working on our Giant Medieval Paper Doll Project.  This is a group project that we do to learn about how the people of the middle ages lived.  I got this idea from the February/March 1997 issue of The Mailbox–Intermediate. 

Several times a year, I like to do something in the way of a research project with my students.  With 4th graders, this means I bring in the books, and we learn how to use the table of contents and index to find the information we need.  This year, with my new ventures into technology, we have also used the internet.  Usually I order a box of books about the topic, in this case — the middle ages, from our area education agency.  I also have a very large classroom library,  that I have collected over the years.  This year I also found some helpful websites, which I added to our  Read the Web class wiki.
As a class we learn about feudalism, and the impact this had on people’s lives.  I want my students to appreciate the freedoms they have to make their own choices about their lives, so I impress upon them the lack of free choice in the structured society of the middle ages.  Students sign up to study one group of medieval people.  Some ideas are:
  • A monk who lives in a monastery
  • A medieval peasant woman or man
  • A Lord of the manor
  • A medieval noblewoman
  • A knight
  • A jester or minstrel
  •  A merchant or guild master from the town
  • A child of the middle ages

Brother Lucas is a Monk.

I always begin by having the kids do some reading about their person.  We look for information about how the person lived, and what kind of  clothing they wore.  Here are the steps for creating the paper doll.
  1. Have one group member (usually the smallest) lie down on a large sheet of paper.  Bulletin board paper, butcher paper, or brown wrapping paper work well for this.  The other members of the group trace his or her body to make the outline of a giant paper doll.  I love watching the kids collaborate to do this. 

    Trace around one member of the committee to get the shape for your paper doll.

  2. Students research the follow information about their medieval person:  In what kind of home did this person live?  What did this person wear?  What did this person eat?  How did this person spend his or her day?  What hardships did this person face?  In what way was this person important to medieval society?  I provide each group with a folder (remember I love using manilla folders) with a note taking form that includes questions.  You can find some examples in the file cabinet.
  3. After the group has answered these questions, draw eyes, hair, and other facial features on the paper doll.  Decide on a name for their person.
  4. Work together to dress the paper doll by drawing clothing that matches the information gathered while researching.  Draw on  the clothing with crayons or markers.  Some people have even created a collage by adding paper or fabric scraps.

    Dress your medieval paper doll by drawing clothing and accessories.

  5. Cut out the paper doll.
  6. On drafting paper work as a group to write a letter from your person to the class. Use the information you have gathered to talk about your person’s life in the middle ages.  Be sure to write in first person.  Your person is helping the people of today to understand their life in the middle ages.
  7. Revise and edit your letter, and copy it on final draft paper.  I use paper made to look like a scroll, but you could use anything that you like.
  8. Display your letter and paper doll.

Elizabeth Esther Brown, The Merchant


May 6, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment