When Luther penned his Ninety-Five Theses, he didn't have a computer at his disposal ... or even a ball point pen. That document, like other documents of the era, would have been inscribed letter by letter using a quill and ink. Despite the seemingly primitive method, monks of the era took great care with their writing. It was not uncommon for handwritten manuscripts to be decorated with intricate "illuminations" -- richly-illustrated initial letters and borders. (Click here and here to see examples of this art form.)
Encourage students to try their hands at writing with a quill dipped in ink. If the task proves too challenging for them, they may want to return to gel pens and/or colored pencils to "illuminate" their manuscripts.
Coat of Arms
During medieval times, knights used shields decorated with a coat of arms to identify themselves. (After all, one knight in armor looks very much like another knight in armor!) Both the design and the colors used had meaning. For an overview of these meanings, along with templates to create your own coat of arms, click here (off-site link).
Throughout the Middle Ages, dried herbs and flowers were believed to have medicinal properties. People filled their pockets with sweet-smelling substances and tied sachets around their necks in an effort to ward off diseases such as the Bubonic Plague. One of the more commonly-used substances still available today is lavender. Make your own lavender sachets by placing a tablespoon of tried lavender in the center of an 8-inch pre-cut tulle or organza circle. Gather the fabric tightly around the lavender. (A rubber band works well for this purpose.) Decorate with ribbons, beading, and/or silk flowers.
Tear the edges of a sheet of paper. Crumple. Unfold and smooth. Lay paper flat on screen rack (window screening tacked to a 1 x 1 frame works quite well). Pour coffee or black tea over the paper and allow it to dry. (Use a heat gun or hair dryer on a low setting if you need to speed up the process.) Once paper is thoroughly dry, write a message on it in your best handwriting, roll the scroll up, and tie with ribbon or cording.
For a more direct Reformation Day tie-in, consider using one of the scriptural passages that spurred the Reformation (Romans 1:17, Romans 3:28, Ephesians 2:8-9) or a stanza of "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" (called the "Battle Hymn of the Reformation") as your message. You may also wish to decorate the message using the illuminated manuscript art form of the era.
Stained Glass Wall Hanging
One common art form during the Middle Ages was stained glass. Churches especially were known for their intricate glass work. Although actual stained glass art is beyond the scope of the typical classroom, young children can create wall hangings that resemble stained glass by carefully coloring window designs with crayon (heavy coloring works best), dipping a cotton ball in oil, then rubbing the picture with the oil-soaked cotton ball until it becomes translucent. Once pictures are oiled, wipe down with a paper towel to remove any excess oil and allow to dry. Finished designs may be hung on the windows.
For printable patterns, click below:
Stained Glass Window #1 Stained Glass Window #2