Following on from our recent castle visits, I wanted to help the children understand how the castles, that we saw, went from being fit for a king to dusty, old, broken walls. In a fun way, of course. I thought of using the wooden blocks to build a castle, but I knew the focus would shift from discussion to demolition, in the blink of an eye. It always does.
Time to bake cookies.
I didn’t have a castle or shield cookie cutter (great for St George’s day too), so I drew the outlines on a piece of black construction paper and used these to cut out the cookies. I used the Rainy-Day biscuit recipe from Nigella Bites.
Once baked, we lightly coated each biscuit in strawberry jam. Edible glue as it is now being called by AJ. Rolled out regal icing to the thinnest that we could and still handle. Using the cookie template we cut out the icing. Icing was then put on top of the edible glue jam.
I didn’t have any new paint brushes and no way was I going to use any of the old ones. I needed a different kind of paint brush. Preferably a food quality brush. Then the solution came to me. Mini marshmallows on cocktail sticks. Obvious really. The end can be left as a blob or shaped to a point.
TF is taking great pride in colouring in pictures at the moment, so I should have seen this one coming. Instead of the delicate dabs, he carefully covered all the icing in red. We also used an icing tube.
In retrospect, I probably should have just given them the cocktail sticks and there may have been less food colouring on each cookie. Live and learn, I hope! The mini marshmallows were fun.
We ended up with 15 castles and half a dozen shields. Next stage, after they had dried, was to tell the story.
Borrowing the only knight we have in the house. He has lost his sword and his horse, by the looks of him, but his stance added to my story. We discussed how only the richest and most powerful people could build castles. They had to be on the right side of the king or leader of the country.
Or else the king or leader, like Cromwell, would throw cannon balls at the castles and try to knock it down.
At this point the children took a bite out of their cookies.
With the roof damaged, the wind and rain began to crumble the walls.
Over the centuries the weather, lack of repair, plants growing in the walls and birds roosting meant that the walls became unstable and fell.
They took more bites.
Finally, local people collected the fallen stones and built their own houses.
So that’s how a castle turns into a ruin.
If nothing else, the children enjoyed this project. Lots of laughter. Lots of discussion.
(Probably make smaller castles next time!)