Kids LOVE castles. They are full of adventure and mystique while also being solidly unbreakable. The four castles we visited in Scotland this summer were a definite highlight of the trip for my kids. They were interested in castles already, and now they have some fantastic first-person experience to draw on as we continue to learn together. Today I am sharing the best resources I have found for teaching kids about castles. I am including toys as well as books, because I find that pretend play helps children solidify learning and explore problems. Play is also simply wonderful for children’s emotional and social well-being, and I believe that it should therefore always be encouraged.
The Best Resources for Teaching Kids about Castles
Why learn about castles? These incredible edifices play enormous roles in medieval history. They provide a tangible reference point for all sorts of historical lessons. Castles can also serve as fun introductions to studies of architecture. You can often see architecture evolve across the centuries as a castle is added on to.
Teaching Kids About Castles: Books About Castles for Kids
Everything Castles is a quick read introduction to castles with lots of fun facts and great photos.
Cross-Sections Castle gets kids thinking about the many things that go on inside a castle’s walls.
A Year in a Castle provides a less-detailed look at a life inside a castle across seasons.
DK Eyewitness books are beautifully put together (we own several). Castle is no exception. This book alone creates a fairly extensive castle curriculum. Pair this book with Medieval Life and Knight for a truly impressive look at medieval times. All three books include clip-art CDs for creating your own printables.
Medieval World teaching kids about local living in Medieval time as well as journeys that were made around the world by Europe-based knights, adventurers, and crusaders.
Follow Lord Robert and Lady Margaret as they move throughout the castle in Look Inside a Castle. This book contains many details about castle life, and I like the connection to specific characters throughout the story.
Castle Crafts and Activities for Kids
Here are some fun ways my kids create and play around a castle theme.
Teaching Kids About Castles: Build a Castle
You can build a castle using regular wooden blocks, LEGO bricks, DUPLO bricks, Magna-Tiles, or castle blocks. Manzanita Kids makes an amazing modular wooden castle that my kids love. Recyclables are also wonderful for building castles! I particularly like this cardboard castle from ikatbag. Activity Village has a cute fuse bead pattern for making a castle using Perler beads (or your favorite alternate fuse bead brand).
Through building about castles, children think about the details of castle structure and what roles they want the castle to play. Will it be a proper fortress like Edinburgh castle, or more of a relaxed retreat, like Craigmillar Castle?
Teaching Kids About Castles: Play Dress Up
Dressing up encourages children to develop empathy through role play. I have tutorials on this blog for sewing a simple knight or king costume, princess dress, and felt crown. You can also purchase dress up outfits, like this knight costume and this medieval lady outfit.
Teaching Kids About Castles: Draw and Color
Design the castle of your dreams with a simple pencil and paper! Or, listen to an audio book while coloring in pages about Life in a Medieval Castle and Village. The Horrible Histories Terrible Tudors recording is a popular choice. Or, if you prefer a gentler approach, read aloud from Volume 2 of The Story of the World.
Teaching Kids About Castles: Sticker Books and Activity Books
Usborne sells a number of fun castle-themed sticker books and activity books! Here are our favorites:
- Sticker Dressing Knights
- Little Children’s Knights & Castles Activity Book
- Build a Picture Castles Sticker Book
We like Usborne sticker books because the drawings are always highly engaging. The stickers work well without destroying furniture, should they accidentally land there instead of on the page.
Teaching Kids About Castles: Learn Through Play with Castle-Themed Toys
We adore Playmobil, and this castle is a fun set! It has a functioning portcullis and drawbridge, as well as defensive cannons. In spite of these precautions, there is a weak spot where attackers can break through. A secret trapdoor provides additional protection in case this happens.
I love the way this wooden castle folds out to encourage all sorts of play. It is large enough for several children to play together. Pair it with this knights and dragons toob or – for larger scale play – this bulk set of knights and dragons for hours of pretend play. While dragons didn’t really exist in medieval times, they did play a large role in medieval storytelling. Don’t care for mythological creatures? Here is a tub of knights and horses. Melissa & Doug also sells a set of castle figurines, but my kids for some reason do not like this style of doll.
Schleich sells a range of detailed knight figures that you can use for more focused pretend play.
Do you have any resources for teaching kids about castles that we should look into?