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Roger McKinney, from Shelby, Ohio, with the help of seventh grader Chelsey Williams (left) demonstrate the use of a coif (or chainmail hood,) worn in the middle ages. Before the demonstration began, Roger asked, "Is it ok to do something scary with you?"

Roger McKinney, from Shelby, Ohio, with the help of seventh grader Chelsey Williams (left) demonstrate the use of a coif (or chainmail hood,) worn in the middle ages. Before the demonstration began, Roger asked, "Is it ok to do something scary with you?"

Learning With A 'Point'
by Peter Wine

After studying the middle ages for four to six weeks in their classrooms, the seventh grade students at Ankeney Middle School get to enjoy demonstrations of what life was like during medieval times from a man they call 'Sir Roger', Roger McKinney from Shelby, Ohio. 

Mrs. Carol Brown, Language Arts Teacher at Ankeney says that this medieval fest is, "a culminating activity for our study of the middle ages, and it's integrated through language arts and social studies."

A photographer most of the time, Roger was approached by a friend 12 years ago to help bring the middle ages to life, and he's so busy he says, "it's become almost a full time job." It's easy to see why he's so busy. In a session with students, the time goes by quickly as Roger brings knowledge of the subject to a level that everyone can understand. "What would you do if you had no pockets in your clothing?" he asks. The answer is obvious, as soon as you hear him say, "So men and women carried some form of pouch or purse to carry their money or valuables in."

You can tell that even though he has on a suit of armor that weighs more than 50 pounds, he's having a good time, talking and sharing information. And then he brings out the underwear. The medieval underwear, actually. After getting some volunteers from the audience to hold them up for the group, he explains what they are. The grip on them becomes a little looser. Then he mentions the people of the middle ages usually wash their underwear once a week. Even though everyone knows that it's likely no one has really worn these garments, they get dropped to the floor, then reluctantly picked back up, with one hand, and turned back over to Roger.

He goes on to show other clothes from the period, and then moves to one of the iconic medieval items, armor.

But just talking about armor isn't his style, he gets another group of volunteers to wear the headgear as it progressed through time. Using drama to reinforce the learning, he explains why the armor progressed from the use of a coif (or chainmail hood,) worn by student Chelsey Williams, through one helmet, then another to finally being a helmet that most would recognize, with the flip-up visor (so you could get fresh air when not threatened.)

Then there was the "Law and Order" segment. After getting a group of volunteers, some are set as trusted agents and villagers, and some set as lawbreakers. The lawbreakers (after having their 'crimes' announced,) were placed in the stocks. It was then that Roger explained about the rotten fruit. You see, "if the villagers were really upset with the wrongdoers, they might throw garbage at them, they might throw rotten fruit. And we just happen to have a bag of rotten fruit." Well, the bag turned out to have foam balls that could be thrown as you might throw rotten fruit. But they got the idea, and that's the point. 

Mrs. Brown says there are other activities as well. "They've made family shields for themselves. ... They also do some web quest activities. ... They're building catapults and firing them, they are working with trebuchets on the Internet. They are also doing a Viking raid, and they design it, build their boats, take it on the trip, you know how much money do they want to spend, and they're told if they're successful or not. So they've been having a lot of fun."

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