I've had a growing number of children asking me about Arthurian legends of late, so I decided to put together a program centered around the topic. I only played a part in half of the program, as I brought in a fencing instructor from the community to share some great weapons presentations. I love being able to tap the community for outstanding and interesting program content. Here's what the school-age program looked like.
Knights of the Round Table
Traveling back in time through swordplay
Storytelling: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is one of my all-time favorite Arthurian legends, and I've found that it's a lesser known tale to children just getting interested in Camelot. I told the story as oral storytelling--out loud, from memory without a book, just as the tale might have been told in halls and at feasts in King Arthur's time. I prepped for the storytelling by reading through several books on Arthurian legend from our nonfiction stacks; there are plenty of versions and editions of these tales available, and you can find one to suit your audience and timeframe. I love storytelling in my programs, as kids always get totally engaged in the story.
Activity: Creating Armored Shields and Straw Swordplay
Time for Further Questions and Materials Exploration
The fencing instructor was generous in supplying time and materials for this program. As the program was winding down, he made himself available for questions and his fencing equipment available for kids (and their just-as-interested caregivers) to touch. No children actually wielded a sword, but they got to feel how heavy they were and see their designs up close--plenty of excitement in and of itself. I also made available a bunch of books with Arthurian subjects. The Gerald Morris Knights' Tales series are a particularly easy hand sell thanks to their action and hilarity.
Have you worked with knowledgeable people in your community to put on interesting collaborative programs? Sound off in the comments.