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A fun way to get medieval: Create a Coat of Arms Activity! FREE Printable

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This coat of arms creative activity is the perfect way to study medieval times, or grow strong character and self-awareness in your children. Or both! Printable included! (Affiliate links included in this post; I earn from qualifying purchases). Original Publish Date: 9/2015


“I am a KNIGHT in shining armor!” my three year old declared. And ever after… so he was. Both the boys have been obsessed with playing knights, fighting dragons, and building castles out of my couch cushions. And of course, my toddler begged me for a Knight In Shining Armor Birthday Party this past summer.

Knights of old are certainly exciting to read about and play make believe. There are so many ways we’ve included knights in our crafts and homeschooling activities! Especially because, as a Classical Conversations family, we study medieval history every three years!

A fun way to get medieval is to have each child create a coat of arms. This crafty activity involves a little cutting and gluing and a little coloring. Best of all, it helps children begin to understand symbolism, and express their own personalities and understanding of self.

Short History of the Coat of Arms

A Coat of Arms was the image, icon, or “herald” of each family back in medieval times. Families would choose symbols and colors that held certain meanings for their history and reputation, and these would appear on their clothing, banners, shields, crests, and other important objects.

Colors were important and could reveal whether you were royalty, or in the military.

The shapes, stripes, chevrons all had meanings too, but that was a bit too detailed for my little boys at the preschool age, so we stuck with colors and symbols. (In later years, we did purchase this book, and it was a fantastic tool to expand on this activity! Highly recommend 5 out of 5!).

How to Create a Coat of Arms Activity

Of course, I always recommend starting with a good book! You can check out my medieval history book list and pick out a few of the titles for younger ages.

I created a printable with twelve symbols that I thought would hold strong meanings for kids, like: bear, fox, eagle, lion, heart.

First, we discussed the symbolic meaning of each symbol. Even though the boys were three and five, they could easily grasp that a bear meant “strength” or “fierce.” (You can modify the word choices for the age). I expanded on some of the symbols a little bit as long as they were interested.

The colors also have meanings, which you can go into if your kids are interested.

Then the boys selected four different symbols they thought fit their personality, and a favorite shield (or crest) shape, and cut these out. After coloring each symbol. we colored the background of the shield, then glued the symbols down in each corner.

Then we mounted the shield onto a larger piece of construction paper. Voila! Coat of Arms!

My son chose the owl for wisdom, the arrow for protection, the bear for fierceness, and the eagle for strength. He colored his shield green, blue, and gold (hope, loyalty, generosity).

Creating a coat of arms is a simple project. You could let your kids color while you read them some medieval books! Or do this as a family bonding activity. It’s also a great literacy start towards teaching symbolism in literature and art.

A Knightly Quest – Extending the Learning

In our reading of knights and castles and days of yore, my boys were enchanted by knights on horseback and their shining armor. But more so, they were amazed by knightly deeds of valor like fighting dragons and rescuing princesses. 

I realized my little boys’ interest in knightly deeds was a great opportunity to teach them about manners and character! 

So, we extended the connection from the symbolic meaning on our crests to real-life action. First we discussed:

  • What does it mean to be strong?
  • When might you have to be strong?
  • What is generosity?
  • Who can you show generosity towards?

Once the kids understand the meanings, we embarked on a knightly quest for good deeds!

For our ongoing quest, we used a checklist of Knightly Good Deeds (included in the printable!)

We played with palace puppets and talked about how knights helped people during medieval times. The boys play-acted a few scenes about helping others using wooden play figures.

We talked about how they could be brave, strong, and true like knights of old. And how finding ways to serve others is a quest we can go on every day, looking for opportunities to help others.

Knights in stories are often found fighting dragons, jousting tournaments, serving… Together, we translated these ancient brave deeds into modern tasks my boys could accomplish. 

Kids of any age can learn to be chivalrous and show generosity through good deeds towards others. A historical topic like knights in shining armor adds high-interest value to your discussions and activities.

I used question prompts like

  • “What would make someone smile or laugh?”
  • “What could you do to show you are a good friend?”
  • “If someone was sad, what would you do to help?”

It was eye-opening coming up with ideas together. They had unique ideas for giving like handing out balloons and stickers! Or giving hugs! 

The Knightly Good Deeds List

Here’s our full list of Knightly Deeds! They all represent some expression of valor, integrity, honor, and servitude, at a level toddlers and preschoolers can grasp.

We spent the week after my son’s birthday party on a quest to complete as many of these “knightly deeds” as we could. The boys helped out around the house, created thank you cards for their swim instructors, delivered flowers to their Grandma, and learned how exciting it is to make someone else smile! (Plus, any time you can put a Knight costume on, that just adds to the delight!).

It’s never too early to teach children to be brave, strong, kind, and true. Building off a child’s interest to help them help others makes helping out memorable and exciting for little ones. 

Use our list, or create your own list of kindness deeds together, then go on a quest to do each one, maybe one each day or each week!

I always think it’s great when kids can connect history learning with real-life outreach activity!

Grab your FREE Coat of Arms Printable!

Our coat of arms activity turned into a wonderful hands-on learning experience. Get this FREE Printable packet to do this same activity with your kiddos!

Since writing this original post, I have UPDATED the printable. So it looks a little different than in the photos, but still works! PLUS now it includes more pages:

  • 6 shield patterns
  • 12 symbols
  • Key to Symbols & Colors
  • 1 Knightly Good Deeds List
  • 1 Tracing Picture
  • 3 Coloring pages

FIlL OUT THE FORM to get instant access to your file – it will open in a new browser window.

Tell me your ideas for more knightly good deeds! When have you connected history to real life for your kids? I’d love to hear your ideas!

PIN THIS activity to your homeschool or education boards to save for later!

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