Houghton Mifflin Social Studies
Across the Centuries
What Your Child is Learning in Unit 5, "Medieval Societies"
In this unit, your child will learn about medieval western Europe. He or she will compare medieval societies in Japan and Europe, and learn why feudalism lasted longer in Japan than in Europe. Your child will then examine the effect of religion on Europeans in the Middle Ages, and see how disagreements over religious authority led to a split in the Christian church. Lastly, he or she will learn about the Crusades, a series of wars between Christians and Muslims for control of the Holy Land.
Activities You Can Do at Home to Support Your Child's Learning
Chapter 10 Feudal Europe and Japan
- Both European knights and Japanese samurai had codes of conduct that governed their actions. These codes included courtesy, honor, defense of the weak, and loyalty to their lord. Work with your child to list codes of expected behavior among some different groups today, such as scouts, doctors, judges, or hockey players.
- Have your child make up a code of conduct for a club, school class, age group, sports team, or family group. Have him or her share the code, and explain why he or she chose it.
Chapter 11 Europe: Rule, Religion, and Conflict
- In school, your child learned that the ruler Charlemagne could not read or write.
It was not unusual during the Middle Ages for European kings to rely on clerks and
religious leaders to do the writing they needed. Have your child experience this by
giving up writing for a space of time, and coming to you for all of his or her writing,
no matter how personal. At the end of the time period, discuss the experience. What
were the advantages or disadvantages of having to depend on someone else's writing?
Cathedrals built during the Middle Ages were elaborate, enormous undertakings that could take up to 100 years to build. Encourage your child to read a book about the building of a cathedral. (David Macaulay's Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction would be one good choice.)
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