Behold, Yon Shield

sword and shieldAdventure calls! But before you gallop off into the wild woods, arm thyself with a sturdy shield and magnificent foam sword! We made these as part of To Be Continued, our story time for 6-8 year-olds. The book we read? Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke (Chicken House, 2006).

On the eve of her twelfth birthday, Igraine’s biggest problem is that she’s never had an adventure and will therefore, never become a knight. But danger is about to descend upon her home, Pimpernel Castle. Osmund the Greedy and his castellan, Rowan Heartless, have declared war. They want to capture Pimpernel Castle and claim its magic singing books. Igraine’s parent (who are both tremendous magic-workers), could typically handle such an intrusion but…they’ve accidentally turned themselves into pigs while finishing Igraine’s birthday gift (an enchanted suit of armor). Now Igraine must sneak past an invading army, gather the ingredients for the reversal spell, and return to save the castle!

There’s also a Ancient Greek variation for this project. Just scroll to the bottom of the post to check it out!

You’ll need:

  • A 10″ x 14″ rectangle of corrugated cardboard (I used a cake pad)
  • A selection of
  • 2 strips of heavy-duty poster board (approximately 1.75″ x 12.5″)
  • Hole punch
  • A box cutter
  • 2 brass tacks
  • 1 shield emblems template, color printed on 2 pieces of 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • 1 foam sword (more on that below)
  • Scissors for construction
  • Hot glue

First, use the colored tape to decorate one side of the shield. If you don’t want to use tape, simply use markers (or use both). Cut the desired shield emblems from the template, and hot glue them to the shield.

To make your shield’s arm straps, circle both strips of heavy-duty poster board around your forearm. Don’t make the straps too snug! You want your forearm to be able to slide in and out of the straps easily. Tape both of the loops closed, then punch a hole in the middle.

arm loopUse the box cutter to cut two slits in the front of your shield, right in the middle. Push brass tacks through the slits.

front of shieldSlide the holes of the arm straps onto the brass tacks, then open the brass tack’s prongs to secure the straps in place.

back of shieldFinally, use masking tape to cover the prongs and secure the arm loops.

taped shieldAll you need now is a foam sword, and you can find instructions to make a super easy (and super inexpensive) foam sword right here.

We did an Ancient Greek variation of these shields at a Lightning Thief event. I purchased bulk cases of 16″ cake circles. Kids used metallic ink pads, shape stamps, and metallic markers to decorate them. The arm straps were rigged in exactly the same way as the knight’s shield described above.

shield tableWe called the table “Story Shields” and used the art activity to introduce hoplites, the citizen-soldiers of Ancient Greece. A soldier’s armor typically included a helmet, breastplate, greaves, sword, spear, and a circular shield called an aspis or hoplon. Often, the shields were colorful and emblazoned with family symbols, tributes to the Gods or heros, or they bore the symbol of the hoplite’s city-state

We invited kids to design their own personal shields. The activity was wildly popular…we went through over 750 cake circles!

greek shieldLooking for more connections? Lightning Thief fans can try this game of Mythomagic, or these awesome pan pipes. Brave knights can find dragons, herbal amulets, or how about a comedic sidekick?


castle shotAh, a lovely group shot outside the castle.

The above image is not Photoshopped in any way (seriously, I went outside Firestone Library and took the shot with everyone throwing me curious glances. That’s dedication folks!).

These lovely finger puppets were prizes at a Fairy Tale Boot Camp program at our library. As families entered the gallery, they were greeted by a Court Jester who asked them to guess the characters from six fairy tale riddles. Identify them all and you won your choice of three puppets (which I ordered from Oriental Trading Company). You were allowed endless hints, so everyone eventually won of course.

finger puppetsHere are the six riddles, written by me and student Kay Zhang:

There once was a girl in red,
who visited Grandma in bed.
But something was wrong:
Grandma’s nose was too long!
This little girl had been very misled.
Answer: Little Red Riding Hood

There once was a boy who was clever
He wanted to stay young forever.
Find pirates and caves,
and Indian braves,
in the land they call “Never Never.”
Answer: Peter Pan

There once was a girl in a tower,
who took a long time to shower.
Why you may ask,
so lengthy a task?
Just to shampoo took her an hour!
Answer: Rapunzel

There once was a house made of candy.
To us that may sound rather dandy.
This house has a glitch.
It comes with a witch!
So, keep a smart sister handy.
Answer: Hansel and Gretel

There once was a boy made of wood,
He told lies whenever he could.
To fulfill his dream,
he learned not to scheme.
His nose finally stayed as it should.
Answer: Pinocchio

Salt, sugar, butter, and flour.
Cook in the oven an hour.
The cookie’s ready to eat,
But be fast on your feet!
He runs on super horsepower.
Answer: Gingerbread Man

Other activities at the program included making castle blueprints (and learning some Medieval architecture in the process), taking a crash course in magical creature identification, breaching a castle wall with dodge balls (complete with heckling knight), deciphering Latin spells (from a certified wizard who also happened to be a University graduate student), searching the gallery for a hidden unicorn, making crowns and fairy wings, and examining utensils, tools, and objects displayed by the Society for Creative Anachronism. We also watched two knights whomp each other repeatedly in battle.

knightsLooking to do some sword fighting yourself? Perhaps these would be of interest.