Medieval Adventure Comes to Tualatin Valley Academy

May 01, 2018 | Rachel Blackburn

Students in Kimberly Clifton’s fifth-grade class at Tualatin Valley Academy in Hillsboro, Ore., got to combine learning with a lot of fun this school year thanks to her innovative teaching style.

This spring, Clifton’s students read The Door in the Wall, a book set in medieval England. It is the story of a young boy named Robin who overcomes adversity and finds strength in his weakness throughout his quest to be recognized by the king.

Using the book as a jumping off point, Clifton took her class on a medieval adventure for a week, tapping into the areas of social studies, math, science engineering and art.

The classroom was turned into a castle, complete with a coat of arms. Groups of students also designed their own coats of arms for their desks. Students studied medieval social structure, were assigned a position in that structure and then made hats to go along with that position.

Learning about fractions without seeing how it applies in real life situations can be difficult, so Clifton had students apply their knowledge of fractions to set a banquet feast table. Her class also learned about how disease spreads by doing a Black Death simulation through which students "traveled" to different cities and tried not to catch the plague.

The week ended with one last activity that was truly a blast: building catapults and firing them to see whose would fire a pompom the farthest. This STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) activity challenged each student to create their own unique catapult using popsicle sticks, rubber bands and plastic spoons, teaching them engineering and physics skills in a fun, new way.

Clifton makes learning fun. These lessons are not only building blocks for future learning, but they are also memories her students will carry with them forever.