Last Friday we took the kids to the Medieval Fair in Norman, Oklahoma. We had been studying The Middle Ages earlier this year, so the kids were excited to go.
When I was researching which fair we wanted to attend, I quickly discovered the difference between a Medieval Fair and a Renaissance Fair. King Edward III, along with his Queen Philippa and their sons Edward (The Black Prince) and Richard I, held court at the Medieval Fair. On the other hand, the Renaissance Fair will have the court of Henry VIII and also the French Court of Charles. Knowing the difference is important if you want to prepare your students for the history and customs of the time period they will be visiting.
The Medieval Fair was held at at a large park near the University of Oklahoma campus. It was a beautiful day: Elizabeth’s girls all dressed in character. Admission was free (parking was $5) and I thought this was a great deal, but I quickly realized that at least two thirds of the tents were vendor tents. The educational interactive style areas were few and far between.
The King’s court was very cool: In fact, Joel and Leif were knighted, and Stormie, Faith and Cadence were made princesses. The Scottish bagpipe show was awesome, and the Barely Balanced acrobats put on quite an impressive performance. There was also a really cool bird show, and several of the kids got to hold and pet an owl.
The kids all had a great time (although we all got sunburned). We plan to attend the Renaissance Festival next month, and then I can do a better comparison of the two events. I remember attending the Renaissance Festival about six years ago: The venue is at a “castle” and is set up like a village, which made the atmosphere much more authentic. Although the ticket price is $15, the vendor-to-educational booth ratio is much better.
If you are considering attending either type of fair with your children, you’ll want to be aware of the costuming and modesty issues when workers and guests take their costumes to the extreme. However, many fairs offer a student day, which can be more tasteful. If they don’t offer this, then I would suggest morning visits.
Download Our Free Homeschool Field Trip Planner!
Anytime you take a field trip, it is a good idea to prepare and note pertinent information in advance, such as location, dates and times, price, parking, etc. We’ve created our own homeschool field trip planner and student report template for this purpose. You can download it for free here. The student report page captures your child’s experiences after the field trip and can be included in a subject study notebook or field trip notebook. Whenever you start a new subject, you can look back at previous field trip reports to see what destinations can be visited again for new information gathering and learning.
Have you ever visited a Medieval or Renaissance fair as a homeschooling experience? If so, what were the highlights? What other ways do you incorporate hands-on homeschooling with history? Share your experiences in the comments below.