“Can we read it again tomorrow? Please!”

Success! Anytime my kids leave a book searching for more, I know that our reading has been effective.
(Caution: Extraordinarily long post.
If you aren’t a teacher and you are reading my blog just cuz’ you love me,
feel free to ignore everything below.
It is long enough to make your eyes bleed.)
The kids’ book group studied “The Door in the Wall” by Marguerite D’Angeli this summer. A fictional tale set in the middle ages, this was a different kind of

story for my little ones. Metaphorical and heavy with classic european dialect, it was certainly a stretch for young readers, but the historical setting made it very approachable and fun. Below is the (slightly messy, grammatically incorrect, and poorly organized) outline of fun activities, lesson ideas, and field trips that I came up with. It is certainly not pretty, but it is chock-full of ideas, games, crafts, and links that we enjoyed.

The Door in the Wall”

by Marguerite de Angeli

10 week Summer Literature Adventure Group

book available free online at


Lego castle kits: 7948 and 7946 Kingdoms series.

Feel free to print the memory verse cards, timeline figures, etc.

– just double click on the icon then hit print.


At Home

Examine the cover & predict what the book may be about

Look at vocabulary & memory verse (wk 1-5 = Mt. 7:7)

Read Chapter 1

Discuss Robin’s attitude & Create your own thankfulness list

Watch beginning of “Newsies” (example of church helping the poor)


Listen to cockney accent


Begin Lego castle – 7948 bag 2 (tower) – plus 2 people for Robin & Luke

Group Discussion

Memory verse review & prayer

Discuss Se

tting = England (London & Thames river)

map of medieval england at http://files.homeschoolshare.com/docs54478/robin_hood/01%20Medieval%20Britain%20Map.pdf

locate on map & compare to US – locate London & Thames River

place Edward III on timeline 1312-1377

play heraldry game online at


Diagram Robin’s attitude (p 22 “novel unit”)

Symbols: heart = love, flag = country, door in the wall = opportunity

view coat of arms artifacts (in use) online at http://www.tudorbritain.org/joust/heraldry.asp

Group Activity

England lapbook elements at


Read “Harold the Herald: A book about Heraldry” by Dana Fradon

Read shield section of Treasure Chest

Create own Coat of Arms (symbol for a family)

Template on SOTW2 AG p72

heraldry lapbook element at


create coat of arms online at this site http://www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/microsites/british_galleries/designa/coat_of_arms/coat_of_arms.html

Week 2 – PLAGUE

At Home –

Look at vocabulary & memory verse

Read Chapter 2

Listen to Story of the World 2 ch25 (the plague)

Listen to Story of the World 2 ch 37

Compare kinds of wood

Begin small carving project using plastic ware & soap if not ready for knives & wood yet

Continue Lego castle – 7946 bag 2 (drawbridge & portcullis)

Group Discussion –

Memory verse review & prayer

Surnames & name meanings

Plague video at http://videos.howstuffworks.com/hsw/12188-the-medieval-era-europes-bubonic-plague-video.htm

Medicinal use of herbs

Bookmaking (v. briefly – ctd. next week)


Group Activity –

Memory verse review & prayer

Read “The Plague and Medicine in the Middle Ages”

by Fiona MacDonald

Make edible poltice & other “medicines” (Story of the World 2 AB p.223)

Myo. “Ward off the Plague” necklace

Begin making parchment for next week. Directions at http://www.allsands.com/home/crafts/papermakingcra_azk_gn.htm

Listen to chanting “Chant Wars” or “Medieval Monks & Trubadors”

Plague craft (Story of the World 2 AB p.25)

plague cycle p 147 student p 104 on cardstock

“find the fleas” game (raisins in eggs)

lapbook element at http://files.homeschoolshare.com/docs54478/robin_hood/14%20healing%20tab%20book.pdf


At Home –

Look at vocabulary & memory verse

Read Chapter 3

Listen to Story of the World 2 ch3

Dictate a letter using correct format

Continue Lego castle – 7946 bag 3

Group Discussion –

Read “Marguerite Makes a Book” by Bruce Robertson

“Make Your Own Book” kit by Matthew Liddle

Memory verse review & prayer

Patience & Anger (Ecc 7:8-9)

Bookmaking –

Watch bookmaking video




photos of process at


Group Activity –

Make quills from turkey feathers

Make brown and blue ink (Story of the World 2 AB p14)

Write Robin’s daily schedule on parchment using quills & ink

Illumination activity p 13 or 144 – copy poem p 199


At Home –

Look at vocabulary & memory verse

Read Chapter 4

Listen to SOTW2 ch 3 (monks)& 18(crusades)

Continue carving project & ask kids to consider giving it as a gift

Continue Lego castle – 7946 bag 1 (people)

Group Discussion –

Read “Sir Gwain and the Green Knight” by Michael Morpurgo

“A Medieval Cathedral” by Fiona MacDonald

“A Medieval Monk” by Giovanni Casell

Memory verse review & prayer

Guilds & craftsmen – feudal system

Monks – Making History – hard life of monks video

Church – http://www.youtube.com/user/MrZoller#p/u/8/tdA8DMISJ1o

Edward III – info at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_III_of_England

History of Romans in Britain (Hadrian’s Wall)

Map Holy Land

Group Activity –

Use legos to set up feudal town

servants game (Story of the World 2 AB ch.16 also p.137)

Vow of silence

Sew robe (McCalls pattern 2854 view F)

Make clay Cross necklace

Select topics for presentation at next meeting – “what do you wonder about” “what is the best part” “are you curious about something in this book?”

Outing –

go fishing

Week 5 – THE ARTS

At Home –

Look at vocabulary & memory verse

Read Chapter 5

listen to medieval instruments online at http://www.music.iastate.edu/antiqua/instrumt.html

experiment with recorders & medieval songs

listen to songs and study types of medieval music at http://www.empire.k12.ca.us/capistrano/mike/capmusic/medieval/medieval.htm

Continue Lego castle – 7946 bag 4

research disabled athletes (or better, volunteer w special olympics)

Group Discussion –

Memory verse review & prayer

AUTHOR/illustrator, her choices, her research

Research the author using http://www.deangeli.lapeer.org/lessons/webquest/index.htm and


Chanting & Medieval Music


Activity –

Listen to “Love a garland is” and “Lament of a Lass”

Write a poem about medieval times and sing it to “green sleeves”

music available online at http://www.empire.k12.ca.us/capistrano/mike/capmusic/renaissance/renaissa.htm

Create sketches in the same style as the author/illustrator

view illustration at http://newberryproject.blogspot.com/2008/06/door-in-wall.html

Drawing instruction (start at minute 5)- part 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OwezLgGvaI&feature=watch_response_rev

part 2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_6BFf1-xeA&NR=1

(if have more time, the entire series is excellent!)

Outing –

go on a hike with lunch/snack “food tastes particularly good”


At Home –

Look at vocabulary & memory verse (wk 6-10 Revelation 3:20)

Read Chapter 6

Discuss choices “novel units” p 25

Write diary entry about the men at White Hart from Robin’s point of view

view knights armor at http://www.metmuseum.org/explore/knights/title.html

dress knight online at http://www.ictgames.com/knightinarmour.html

read about the crusades at http://jeru.huji.ac.il/ef1.htm

Listen to Story of the World 2 ch 17

Continue Lego castle – 7946 bag 5

Group Discussion –

Read “You Wouldn’t Want to Live in a Medieval Castle!”

by Jacqueline Morley AND/OR

“You Wouldn’t Want to Be a medieval Knight” by Fiona MacDonald

“Lift the Lid on Knights” activity box by Straum Reid

“The Making of Knight” (paige – knighthood) by Patrick O’Brien

“Sir Cumference and the 1st Round Table” by Cindy Neuschwander

“Knights: usborne internet linked” by Rachel Firth

Memory verse review & prayer


Psalm 121:5-8

Were the English really the “good guys?” – Welsh vs. Scottish

Would you want to live in the middle ages? (p. 3&4 “novel units”)

watch crusade origins at:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ae8GSOUjOYw or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fu2UG2IRu0o

best one for the very young – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgVDGdexXvY&feature=related


Crusades page (Story of the World 2 AB ch.18)

Knights (Story of the World 2 AB p.17)

myo golden spurs p 99


At Home –

Look at vocabulary & memory verse

Read Chapter 7

Lapbook elements – horses

jousting game online at http://www.tudorbritain.org/joust/index.asp

read about jousting at http://www.nationaljousting.com/howto/learnto.htm

Continue Lego castle – 7946 bag 6

Group Discussion –

Memory verse review & prayer

Watch Punch & Judy video – this one is clean


Contrast the friendly welcome to the castle by Sir Peter

with the behavior of Punch

Romans 12:4-8 “place in this world”

1 Cor 12:14 – 26

Group Activity –

Make puppets

Make foam swords & spears & pretend to host a jousting tournament

illustrate interior castle rooms

Week 8 – CASTLES

At Home –

Look at vocabulary & memory verse

Read Chapter 8

Read Story of the World 2 ch16

Continue Lego castle – 7946 bag 7

Group Discussion –

Memory verse review & prayer

Read “Castle” by David Macaulay

“A 3 Dimensional Medieval Castle” by William Tong

“Castle Diary: The Journal of Tobias Burgess, Paige” by Richard Platt

discuss “crooked legs vs. crooked spirit”

discuss why the townspeople ran to the castle – protection

Listen to: “My Brother, The Knight” -Tumble Book audio

Castle Terminology: http://www.castlewales.com/casterms.html Pick one area to focus on (we chose the keep)

Photos of Castles: http://www.electric-image.co.uk/castles.html

Label a Real Castle: http://www.heritageexplorer.org.uk/web/he/interactivesdetail.aspx?crit=&ctid=68&id=1216

Bake a Bannock – http://www.dltk-kids.com/recipesdb/view.asp?rid=35

Watch NOVA Building a Trebuchet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9lhcjupnzk&feature=related

Group Activity –

Build a simplified catapult


Fog experiment

continue illustrating castle –

keep, tower, turret, dungeon, bailey, moat, portcullis, drawbridge, gatehouse, inner wart, outer ward, courtyard

Build castle out of edible marshmallow clay (or cereal treats)

Outing – swimming

Week 9 – SIEGE

At Home –

Look at vocabulary & memory verse

Read Chapter 9

reinact the battle of hastings online at http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/normans/launch_gms_battle_hastings.shtml

build catapult online at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/lostempires/trebuchet/destroy.html

Continue Lego castle – 7948 bag 1 (catapult)

Group Discussion –

Memory verse review & prayer

Read “Siege! Can you Capture a Castle?” by Julia Bruce

what is a siege?

Hardships & Trials change us

Jeremiah 29:11

Romans 8:28

James 1:3, 4, 12

Romans 5:3

Group Activity –

Plan Medieval Feast menu for next week

Plan entertainment for feast

Week 10 – FEAST

At Home –

Look at vocabulary & memory verse

Read Chapter 10

Lapbook phases of the moon

Label British isles

Finish Lego castle – 7946 bag 8

Group Discussion –

Memory verse review & prayer

Read “A Medieval Feast” by Aliki

Discuss significance of “the door in the wall”

Discuss symbolism of bells

Discuss how the story would have been different if Robin was a girl

Write the next chapter – what will Robin do next?

Make timeline for the book

Group Activity –

Watch “Castle” PBS DVD by David Macaulay

Enjoy Medieval Feast (recipes p 15 of SOTW2 AG)

Lentil Soup

Crusty Bread

Cheddar Cheese

Apples & Pears


Apple Cider

Outing –

picnic on grounds of local “castle” (We happen to be near several, but an imposing library or university building would do)

Phew . . . not done yet. Below is the vocabulary list for The Door in the Wall. It is daunting. I chose only a few each week and allowed the rest to just roll on by. The kids understand most words by hearing them in context. Oh, you will notice that the list is in varying degrees of completion. That is because it is cobbled together from many, many, many sources. My original intention was to fill in all the blanks, but it got the best of me. For what it is worth, here is the list:

Chapter 1

coverlet (7) – bedspread; outer covering for a bed

Nones (7) – a religious service said at 3:00 p.m.

clamoring (7) – a loud noise

vexation (7) – annoyance

gentil (7) – well-bred; refined

liege (7) – faithful; loyal

mailed (7) – flexible armor made of interlinked rings

solar (7) – private or upper chamber in an English house

plague (8) – this disease is caused by a germ that fleas transmit from rats to humans

fletcher (8) – arrow-maker

joust (9) – combat with lances between two knights on horseback as part of a tournament

shire reeve (9) – a mayor of a town or district

putrid ( 9) – decayed; rotten

coif (9) – cap worn by women covering the sides of the head like a small hood

Cockney (9) – a kind of English spoken by certain people

Norman (10) – a person born in Normandy in France

wheedling (10) – persuading, cajoling, coaxing someone to do something

victuals (11) – food fit for human consumption

grotesque (11) – odd or unnatural in shape or appearance


bosses (11) – a raised ornament of silver, ivory or other material on a flat surface

corbels (11) – short horizontal timbers supporting a wall or doorway

embrasure (11) – inner sides of a window

carters (11) – a person whose work is driving a cart

retainer (12) – a person who works for someone else

Vespers (12) – a religious service said at sunset

friar (12) – a monk who goes outside the monastery to bring religion to people

hospice (12) – a building where travelers can obtain rest and food

cloisters (15) – a covered walkway running along the inside walls of a building

pallets (15) – a bed of straw or any small bed

woefully (15) – sad; sorrowful

tethered (16) – a rope fastening an animal so it can only move within certain limits

jennet (16) a small horse

dost (16) – to do

hosen (16) – close-fitting garment, like tights that covers the body from

the feet to the waist

frock (16) – a robe worn by a clergyman

sedately (17) – quiet and calm

curfew (17) – specific time after which people cannot go outside

habit (17) – to always act in a certain way

habit (clothing)

postern (17) – a back or side entrance


Chapter 2

hawthorn (18) – a hedge of roses

clamored (18) – a loud noise

procession (18) – persons marching or riding

devotions (18) – private worship or prayer

breviary (18) – a book containing hymns and prayers


pilgrims (19) – are people that goes on a special religious journey

minstrels (19) – musical entertainers

almonry (19) – church building set aside for food and shelter to the poor

whittle (20) – to carve






mutton (20) – the meat of a sheep

seethed (20) – to be soaked

awry (21) – to be twisted or slanted


bowsprit – (21) ropes attached to a ship to help steady sails and masts

pennant (21) – a flag

retainers (22) – a person who works for someone else

weathered (22) – worn or stained seasoned by the weather

keepsake (22) – a souvenir or memento you keep forever

proportioned (22) – equal size

pumice (23) – a light porous rock used as an abrasive and polish

scriptorium (23) – a room set aside for writing and copying of important documents

psalteries (23) – ancient musical instruments

parchment (23) – the skin a sheep prepared for use as a writing material

illumined (23) – to bring light

crookshank (24) – someone with crooked legs

impertinent (24) – to show disrespect

conduit (24) – a pipe which transports water from a river

Chapter 3

abated (26) – to make less



refectory (26) – a large dining area


chapel (26) – a place set aside for worshiping God

trundle cart (26) – low wheeled cart

chisel (27) – a tool with a sharp cutting edge

slivers (27)

litter (27)

acrid (27)

plane (27)

mason (28)

evaporated (28)

reassured (29)

quill (30)

parchment (30)

minstrel (30)

attend (31)


tonsured (31) – the shaved part of the head of a monk

minced words (31) – to speak in a way that tries to hide the truth (not straight forward)

Chapter 4

hovel (32) – a small house

crusaders (35) – people who fight a battle to protect their religion


droned (36) – to make a humming or buzzing sound like that of insects



fasting (36) – not eating

jerkin (37) – close-fitting jacket or short coat, usually sleeveless

habit (37) – clothes worn by a priest or monk

hosen (37) – close-fitting garment, like tights, that covers the body from the feet to the waist

lectern (38) – a reading desk in a church

missal (38) – a book of prayers or songs


chantry (38) – the part of a church where the choir gathers to sing the hymns of the mass

weir (39) – very high diving board

fervently (40) – a warm feeling


guild (41) – a group of people who are involved in a special craft or trade of making things

Chapter 5

cassock (42) – loose long coat or gown that reaches to the feet, worn by people who sing in a choir

cotta (42) – short white vestment worn by people who sing in a choir

verger (42) – usher in a church (somebody who shows you where to sit and collects money)





alternating (42) first one and then the other

saddler (46) – one who makes or repairs saddles and other equipment for horses





ironmonger (46) – seller of iron and objects made from iron (like horseshoes)

quench (46) – to stop a thirst

pilgrimage (47) – a religious journey to a holy place

refuge (47) – a shelter or protection from danger

lay (47) – a song sung by a minstrel

cutpurse (48) – a pickpocket, thief

roisterer(48) – a noisy person

crook (48) – a shepherd staff (much like the Bishop has)

cowl (50) – a monk’s cloak with a hood

galled (51) – made sore by rubbing

fuller (51) – a person who cleans and works with cloth

crop (52) – to cut the grass

brocaded (52) – a heavy curtain with a woven design

punky (52) – dry spongy rotten wood used to start a fire

tinder (52) – material that catches fire easily

Chapter 6

intervals (53)

heartily (54)

ale (54)

thatch (55)






slatternly (55)

noggins (56) – a small cup or mug

unyielding (56)



scornfully (59)

louts (59)

scuffling (60)

granary (61) – a building for storing grain



Chapter 7





particolored (62) – many colors

caparison (62) – decorative horse covering






lombards (63) – sellers of goods or trader of goods

hospitality (64) – friendly

flagon (65)- large drinking bottle


serf (66) – a worker or farmer of the land

ingrate (66) – an ungrateful person (someone who doesn’t say thank you or always complains)

pease porridge (66) – thick cereal or soup

emissaries (68) – someone sent on a mission or errand to do a good deed






keep (71) – the most secure part of a castle (for locking up treasures or protecting people)

bannock (73) – oatmeal cake

newel (73) – pillar at top of winding stairs


Percheron (73) – large and strong horses originally from France

yeoman (74) – a poor farmer of lower class (a freeloader who depends on others to live)

Chapter 8

bowman (76)

tracery (77)

turret (78)





flageolet (79) – a small flute with four finer holes









largess (79) – a generous gift or gifts

farrier (79) – a blacksmith (works with iron) – makes horseshoes and metal tools

tapered (79)

bailey (80) – courtyard within the walls of a castle

flambeaux (82) – flaming torches

fripperies (82) – colorful ornaments

trestles (82) – a wooden structure used to support a tabletop

portcullis (85) – iron grate that hangs over the entrance of a castle which is lowered to prevent entrance or exit

Chapter 9


catapulting (86) – to throw something





















garrison (87) – a group of soldiers defending a fort

sally port (90) – entrance to a fort

benedicite (91) – a word which means Bless You

lancers (99) – soldiers armed with lances (a knife at the end of a gun)

drovers (99) – people who herd sheep

cumber (99) – something that is difficult to carry and weighs you down (cumbersome)

priory (100) – a religious house run by a monk or priest


pikestaff (103) – a wooden staff with a metal point

windlass (103) – a wheel with a rope used for pulling things

Chapter 10


sacristan (104) – a person in charge of the property in a monastery or church



belfry (105) – part of a tower in which a bell is hung

turrets (105) – towers or rounded peaks of a castle

deliverance (106) – to be set free

routed (107) – a road or path to take you some place







viol (111) – a musical instrument similar to a violin

banners (115) – a type of flag or sign

dais (118) – a raised platform or stage set up in a large room



doublet (118) – a man’s close fitting jacket

realm (119) – a kingdom or region ruled by a king

See – I told you it was a long post. :o)

The Door in the Wall – literature adventure lesson plans

8 thoughts on “The Door in the Wall – literature adventure lesson plans

  • August 18, 2010 at 9:43 PM

    Wow!! Thanks again for sharing!! This is great!

  • August 19, 2010 at 5:56 AM

    Oh, well done I say! (We've just read this book – perfect for a unit study like you've done.) Followed your post over here from WTM

  • August 29, 2010 at 9:30 PM

    Awesome! Nice work, I must say! The kids will love it =)

  • May 27, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    Thank you for sharing your literature unit! We'll be utilizing it this fall with our studies. It was a blessing to have it all laid out.

    Thank you!

  • January 20, 2015 at 8:07 AM

    I used this book (one of my favourites) with my students for the first time this year. One thing not mentioned is what happened to Robin if he didn’t have the plague. From the description, my guess is polio. My students last year did an exploratory unit on polio in relation to a short biography of Itzhak Perlman, and one thing I did which worked out even better than I’d anticipated was to require them to find someone who’d been alive during the polio epidemic of the 1950’s and ask them what it had been like. They discovered that their older relatives (or friends) had known people who died or were crippled, remembered not being allowed to go swimming, or had parents who were afraid/concerned. It really helped to bring it home.
    We also talked about the polio prevention workers who are risking their lives, and indeed have been killed, in the developing world even now.

  • Pingback: 19 Apps that make learning Human Anatomy Fun - Liberty Hill House

  • Pingback: Turn Any Book into a Unit Study - Liberty Hill House

Comments are closed.