Traditional English arts and crafts are easily modified for use with children. Many skills now considered crafts were once necessary for every day existence. Some textile crafts, such as weaving and embroidery, were used for the making of cloth. Butter making was essential in days before grocery stores. Boys and girls alike will enjoy recreating a medieval shield from foamcore board. Crafts can be fun, educational and make functional objects.
English women made butter in a butter churn or, as it was called in Northern England, in a butter kirn. However, you can make butter without one. Allow whipping cream to reach room temperature for about 20 minutes. Fill a jar half full with whipping cream. Jumpstart recommends including a marble in the jar, but this is optional. Tighten the lid. Hold the jar and shake it for about 30 minutes. The butter may form faster or slower. "Mother Earth News" says that many factors are involved in the time it takes to make butter: the whipping cream's temperature, how hard you shake the jar and the size of the jar and the amount of whipping cream.
Embroidery or Cross-stitch
Embroidery was used to decorate fabric items, such as clothing, in the days before fabric could be printed with images. There are many embroidery or cross-stitch kits that can be purchased. Hoops and embroidery floss are available at craft and fabric stores. Cross-stitch is easy as it involves forming an "X" with the floss. Children can turn their embroidery and cross-stitch projects into simple eyeglass cases, purse tissue covers, bookmarks, sachets, door hangers, wall decor, dishtowels, pillowcases and throw pillows, aprons and articles of clothing.
Weaving was necessary to make cloth, such as wool, in England. To emulate this, children can make cardboard looms. Weaving involves feeding yarn in and out of rows of yarn to form rows of "woven" yarn. The rows "stack up" above each other, pressed firmly together, until a length of textile is formed. Make a loom from a piece of 8 1/2-inch wide by 11-inch long cardboard. Cut a 1/2-inch long slit every 1/4-inch across the top and bottom (8 1/2-inch ends) of the cardboard. Cut a 48-inch long piece of yarn. Tie a yarn end around the outside top edge and first top slit. Wrap the yarn over the loom's front, through the first bottom slit, behind the cardboard and out through the second bottom slit. Wrap the yarn over the front of the loom and through the second top slit. Repeat in a back and forth pattern until the loom is covered with yarn rows. Thread a plastic needle. Tape the end of the yarn to the back of the cardboard. Feed the needle/yarn under and over the rows of yarn until you reach the last row. Wrap the yarn/needle around the last row and begin a second row beneath the first woven row of yarn. Continue until the loom is full of compressed rows of woven yarn.
Shields from the Middle Ages were decorated with a knight's Coat of Arms. The Coat of Arms identified the knight's family and thus the army the knight was fighting for. Use an online coat of arms designer (see Resources) to allow children to choose symbols for a fake coat of arms. Draw or use a template to trace a shield design onto foamcore with a paper outer layer and cut it out with a utility knife. Have the child paint the shield with acrylic paint and allow it to dry. Print coat of arms symbols from paper and glue them to the shield, or paint symbols on the shield. Use a plastic ring from canned sodas, taped to the back with duct tape, for a shield handle.