Making a Masterpiece for Medieval Guilds

Our most recent dive into Medieval History has brought us to learning about the Guilds and how the Guilds drove business and trade during the Middle Ages.  I wanted to give the kids a taste of Medieval Business so we read about what it would take to become a Master Craftsman. 

First, several years were spent being an Apprentice, then a Journeyman, then a Craftsman, and finally a Master Craftsman.  In order to be approved to hang out a sign and begin a business, we learned that you would first need to get a "Masterpiece" approved by the Guild.  This sounded like we could create an exciting activity around it.  So, we began our Medieval Trades Activity (seen in the image below).

The kids chose a trade.  Then, they followed the Masterpiece activity suggestion for their trade.  For instance, to be an Armorer, you would need to create a shield or helmet (cardboard works great!) Here is my young Armorer, hard at work on a Shield to present as her Masterpiece:

She had to get her Shield painted and ready to present to the Guild (her teacher) and it was proclaimed an approved "Masterpiece".

Now she has confirmed herself to be a Master Craftsman at her trade.  She is now ready to prepare a sign that she can set up, showing off her Tools of the Trade, or a product that explains what she is skilled at. 

She chooses a Sign Page, and off she goes. 

This is always a fascinating study for children who are already reading or are beginning to learn how to read.  For of course, in Medieval Society, few could read and all signs must be designed for an illiterate clientele.  We have create the basic sign sheets (see below), ready to be designed with the "Tools of the Trade" or whatever image the children come up with that they feel most accurately depicts what they do. 

In the case of my little Armorer above, she is drawing an armored hand to depict her Trade.

Upon completion of her Sign, she was ready to start up work as a Master Craftsman Armorer!  What fun!

Everything needed for this activity can be found in our most recent product, Medieval Signs and Subtleties.

Not only are the Sign Sheets, the Guild Information, and the Medieval Trades Activity (above) included in this great packet, but we also include a lesson on how to create a Medieval Subtlety from Marzipan, one of the few delicacies of the Middle Ages.

Keep following us for more fun historical projects that help kids enjoy each facet of the learning process.  In the meantime, you can check out this latest product, Medieval Signs and Subtleties, in our Store. 

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