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Demos-f-Chldn-art - 1/17/11


"Demonstrations for Children, Schools, Youth Groups" by mistress katherine kerr.


NOTE: See also the files: demos-msg, Demos-as-Evts-art, SCA-Demos-art, children-msg, child-books-msg, Toys-in-th-MA-art, Horsey-Toys-art, child-gam-msg.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



NOTE: See more of this author's work on her website at: http://webcentre.co.nz/kk



Demonstrations for Children, Schools, Youth Groups

by mistress katherine kerr


We are regularly called on to provide demonstrations for schools, Scout groups and other organizations. Here are some tips and approaches I have developed over the years to help get people engaged.




Don't forget to ensure you - and anyone working with you - knows the following:


Where is it being held? 
From when and until when? 
Is there a particular theme or focus they want covered? 
If a school, what is the age group? 
Has a fee been agreed on or offered?


Typically we don't ask school or Scout groups or other educational non-profit groups for anything, though often they will provide koha. People contacting us for commercial demos are usually told there is an appearance fee depending on what they want us to do.


Performance Demos


This is the most common kind of demo we give. The heavy fighters and fencers demonstrate their styles of fighting, usually with an introduction to the types of weaponry, armour etc. Occasionally we'll also have demonstrations of other activities such as dance or singing, but everyone usually wants to see the fighting. We haven't tried the "dress a lady" approach, though it might be a useful one for media.


Ideally it should have an intro where the Barony is mentioned, the aims of chivalry and courtesy are stressed, the international nature and longevity of the SCA is noted.


The more interaction with the crowd you can get, the better.


Pick people out of the audience to act as "pages" and "squires", to help carry kit, hold shields and helms, buckle up straps etc. Have someone hold a banner or standard.


Kids like to be on sides so split them up to cheer for the different fighters. Emphasize that they should be cheering their fighter, not booing the opponent - stress that this is different from boorish rugby behaviour.


Have a herald or marshal explain what the general approach to fighting is. Pass around a sword while the fighters are gearing up, and talk about the reason why there are no edged weapons in this combat.


It's not usually worth getting into too much detail regarding SCA fighting rules. And probably not worth taking legs or arm blows as that can look very Monty Pythonesque.


Station Demo


This tends to be more static - a booth or set of tables with lots of different items on display or, for schools, a set of SCAdians rotating through a series of classrooms or class syndicates to talk on different topics.


You need to have people who know what they are talking about for the individual topics, whether its leather-working, woodcraft, armouring, everyday life, illumination, embroidery. Having something physical to pass around or demonstrate is useful (eg drop spindling, armour, juggling etc ), as is giving them something they can do or take away (eg braiding, illuminated page to colour in etc).




If you can, get a poster-sized copy of Young Folk at Play, a painting by Peter Brueghel from 1560. It has 80 play activities, 200 children; 20 games. Or just talk about the games that it shows such as:


     Knuckle Bones


     Blind Man's Buff

     Tug of War

     Leap Frog


     Follow the Leader


     Nine Pins/Skittles/Bowling

     Battling Tops

     King of the Hill

     Dwyle Flunking


What do you play? Any of these? (No, I don't know what Dwyle Flunking is!) [1]


Why do you think these games are still known and played? 
Easy to do, suit kids, minimal or simple equipment required




Take along some kid's garb if you have access to some and it's good period style and materials. There may be some in loaner garb you can use.


How is it different to what is worn now?


Colours - mostly plain and dark, no neons
Materials - wool, cotton, linen (nothing synthetic)
Length - how long are the skirts/tunics?
Type of clothes for boys and girls -- in the 1500s, boys wore girls' clothes until they were 7-8; how would they feel about that?


Take a look at this site (http://www.modehistorique.com/elizabethan/kids.html ) for some info and ideas on kid's clothes and see if you have some suitable pictures in whatever books you might have:


Even something simple like hoods can be interesting. Learn how to demonstrate the many and varied silly ways of wearing hoods and talk about how fashion makes us do odd things!


Persona Stories


If appropriate and you can carry it off, tell your persona's story. Here's an example from Avacal's demo handbook:


Good day, my name is Natal'ia Volkovicha. My mother says I was born the year before my father, Prince Vladimir of Kiev, converted to Christianity. Papa expected that all citizens would also convert, but when he deserted his concubines in favour of his new Christian wife, my mother vowed I would learn the traditions of our past as well as the new religion from Byzantium. I was married at fifteen, and widowed when my husband died less than 4 winters later. My father has just passed away, and left his vast holdings to many of my brothers, and I am now under pressure to remarry.


A little racy perhaps, but be sure you pitch the story for the audience. This can sometimes be a good way to get people to ask you questions about what your life is like, what you eat, etc but you have to be prepared for that! Kids are fascinated by the idea that you might have married young, drunk beer instead of water, not be able to read.




Divide the class according to medieval class patterns:


     90-95% peasants

     1-5% townspeople

     1-5% nobles

     1-5% churchmen


Split them into two groups and "kill" one group, explaining they didn't make it through childhood because of the child mortality rate. Pick out the remaining girls and "kill" half to three-quarters of them "in childbirth". Pick out the remaining boys and "kill" half to three-quarters of them in a war, and so on, until only about 10% of the original group is left. This visual example of mortality rates is far more effective than a class discussion of the same facts. (From Avancal demo ideas.)


For a quicker approach, kill off one-third as the Black Death has hit their area.


Setting the Table


Lay out a typical feast setting. What's on the table?


     wooden/pottery bowl

     pewter plate

     candlestick and candle

     dagger or eating knife (keep an eye on it!)

     spoon (a medieval one with the broad bowl shape, or a horn spoon)

     drinking vessel (metal tankard, leather jack, silver goblet, drinking horn)

     trencher (cut a loaf in half horizontally)

     napkin (should be a big Perugia towel style, or a white tea towel if you don't have one)


What is missing? 

What's used then that isn't now? Why?

Fork - strange idea from Italy that took a long time to catch on; at first with only 2-3 tines like a modern roasting fork or toast fork

A plate - if you've got a bread trencher, leave the plate out; trenchers were given to the poor to eat afterwards.

What's the dagger for? Hint: not for poking your dinner companion! 

What is different and how? Look at the materials used. No plastic, crockery of a different kind.


What kinds of food would you have eaten 500 years ago, 1000 years ago? 

No potatoes, no tomatoes, no sweet corn, no pineapple, no bananas - why?

Lots of meat, but not on certain days or at certain times of the year - why?

Catholic schools understand about Lent, others are likely to need educating about non-meat days. Seasonal variability is probably a safer topic - how do you keep meat fresh? What if you had no fridge?


Rules for the Dinner table


Here are some rules from a period book of manners. There were lots of books written from around the 12th century on to tell people how to behave, how to write letters, how to ask nicely for favours etc. These ones concern things you should and shouldn't do at the dinner table:


At dinner, press not thyself too high; sit in the place appointed thee. 

Sup not loud of thy pottage. (Pottage is like a soup or stew - no slurping!) 

Dip not thy meat in the salt cellar, but take it with a knife. (Got a salt cellar at home?) Belch near no man's face with a corrupt fumosity. 

Eat small morsels of meat; eat softly, and drink mannerly. 

Corrupt not thy lips with eating, as a pig doth. 

Scratch not thy head with thy fingers, nor spit you over the table. 

If your teeth be putrefied, it is not right to touch meat that others eat. (Bad teeth were a real problem before dentists. Queen Elizabeth's teeth were black because she ate too much sugar and they rotted!) 

Wipe thy mouth when thou shalt drink ale or wine on thy napkin only, not on the table cloth. 

Blow not your nose in the napkin where ye wipe your hand. 

Chew with your mouth closed.


Go through the list -- explain them if you have to! 
Have they heard any of these rules before from their own Mum or Dad? (Let's hope so!)


A Day in the Life of a 16th-Century Boy and Girl


Say you're going to call the roll and work your way down the list of names. It's unlikely you'll have any takers for the first 2-3 names (and lots of giggles), but by the time you get to the bottom you should have identified at least one boy and/or girl that have Ancient and Royal names that have been in use for 1,000 years or more. It's good if you can mention something about the king or queen with whom they share their name.
















































You can stand your selected kids in front of the class and then talk about what their life would be like. Here are a couple of approaches:




You're a merchant's son. You're father is a glover and a member of the town council. You're quite well off - everyone wants gloves, especially nice embroidered perfumed ones (and that's just the sales to the gentlemen of the town!) Shakespeare's dad was a glover.


You have six brothers and sisters, though three have died already; one older son had the same name as you.


Your morning routine:


5am: get up, say prayers, wash face and hands, comb your hair, brush your teeth with a twig (yes, a twig!). Your servant brushes your clothing to make sure it's clean,and makes your bed.


6am: School begins. What time do you start school now? Do you learn any of these languages/subjects now? Latin and Greek. Grammar, rhetoric and logic arithmetic, astronomy, geometry and music


9am: stop for breakfast (15 minutes): bread, beer (maximum of three glasses!)


11am: dinner for 1-2 hours, go home for that as it's the main meal of the day.  Why is it the main meal? then back to school


3.30: break (15 minutes)


5.30pm: school finishes




You're the Duke of Norfolk's daughter. You have one brother, aged 9 - he has lessons, also practices combat, but you don't see him much as he has been sent to be fostered by another noble household.


You're getting ready to be married next month, though you won't live with your husband - he's 11 - until you're much older. Your parents think it's a useful way to combine some lands the families own up north.


You are being taught embroidery and herbal medicine and singing by your mother. Like most of your friends, you can write your name, but nothing else, and you haven't been taught to read.


While you practice your stitching, one of the ladies reads out from the Bible, or from some of the French romances which are much more fun with their tales of King Arthur and Sir Lancelot.




These Include lots of bureaucratic stuff, but also general advice handy for people new to demos:


Antir demo handbook
: (http://avacal.antir.sca.org/officer/chat_files/principality_demo_handbook.pdf )


Drachenwald's Display, Appendix 1
: (http://www.drachenwald.sca.org/files/chatelaine/index.html )


East Kingdom Chatelaine Handout : (http://www.eastkingdom.org/chatelaine/handouts/handbook.doc )



[1] "Dwyle Flunking" is an English Tavern Game.  See this Florilegium file: http://www.florilegium.org/files/ENTERTAINMENT/Dwyle-Flonkng-art.html



Copyright 2010 by Vicki Hyde. vicki at webcentre.co.nz. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited.  Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org