The Topic:

Easier - A castle was a large fort or group of buildings that are built strongly enough to repel attack. Castles were enclosed in thick walls with places to shoot arrows from. They were often surrounded by a deep ditch filled with water. The castle was the home of a noble, a king or queen (monarch), or someone important and loyal to the monarch.
Harder - The word castle comes from a Latin word meaning fortress. European castles developed from fortified camps built by the ancient Romans and from fenced villages of prehistoric Europeans. The earliest castles were built of earth and timber and placed on a constructed or natural hill, called a motte. Today the structures that most people think of as a castle were those built of stone in Europe between A.D. 900 and 1400.
In the Middle Ages, which lasted from the A.D. 400's to 1500, Europe was divided into many small states, and local conflicts were common. Castles played a central role in the political and military system of those times, a system called feudalism. Under feudalism, kings often granted land to nobles called vassals in exchange for military and other services. A castle was the home and fortress of a noble or monarch. A castle helped the king or vassal defend their lands and also provided a home for their family and servants. Castles also served as a barracks, prison, storehouse, armory, treasure house, and center for local government.
Castle Learning Center at Castles of Britain
Here you can learn about castles and their construction, furnishings, daily life , view drawings and photos, and lots more.
Castles on the Web
Castles on the Web offers castle links, castle photos, castle site of the day, castles for kids and more.
Not-to-be-Missed Section:
2) Glossary of Castle Terms
Ghosts in the Castle (National Geographic)
Poke around the rooms of a castle and see how it was both a home and a fortress for a lord and his family.
Medieval Seige at NOVA Online
Experts examine medieval war strategies, weapons, and castle design. See how the devastating giant trebuchet could smash castle walls!
After visiting several of the websites, complete one or more of the following activities:
Chart the Differences. After visiting several of the castle sites, create a chart that identifies the similarities and differences between a home, a castle, and a palace. One way to present your information would make a Ven diagram.
Build a Castle. Look at several castle designs. You might want to take a virtual tour at a site like Snayfwickby Castle. Next layout and construct your own castle model. You may want to go to Build a Medieval Castle to download their free software and instructions for building a model medieval castle, complete with towers, gatehouse and keep. Or you may select your own materials and design. Display your finished model.
Complete a Castle WebQuest. Follow or adapt the procedures found at the one of the following webQuest sites:
1) Castle Discovery (Grade 3-7) by Larry Taylor
2) Castle Fortifications Project
3) Castle WebQuest
As an alternative or challenge project and after viewing these webQuests, design a new and different webquest about castles.
Compare and Contrast Castles. Visit some of the castle sites and then pick two different ones. Identify all the alike and different things about your two castles.
Write a Castle Story. Pick a character who lived or worked in a castle; it could be a noble, a servant, a child, or even a mouse. Then write a story about their life in the castle. Include a major event in your story. Illustrate your story with original drawings. Share your finished work with your friends, family, and/or classmates.
Make a Knight's Helmet. You can get started with ideas and instructions that you find at Make Your Own Helmet from the Cleveland Art Museum.
Websites By Kids For Kids
Ian's Land of Castles by Ian Burns
Here you can find out why castles were built and other neat castle facts.
Journey Through the Middle Ages with James the Jingling Jester (1998 ThinkQuest Project)
This site has information about life in the Middle Ages including feudalism and society, castle life and structure, castle defense, education, jobs and trades.
Knight Quest (2000 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
Find out all about knights and their way of life, armor, weapons, castles, and dragons.
Legend of King Arthur (1999 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
This website teaches about King Arthur and Medieval times including castles, the round table, the legend of King Arthur, knights, glossary and a reference page.
Magnificent Medieval Times (2000 Silver Medal ThinkQuest Junior Project)
Journey back in time to learn about kings, queens, peasants, castles, knights, and more.
Medieval Fiefdom (1997 ThinkQuest Project)
This site shows life in England during the eleventh through fourteenth centuries including information about castles, medieval kitchens, peasant's homes, town churches, fortifications, and the social structures of the times.
Medieval Madness (2000 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
Learn of the people within the castle walls and what their role was to keep the castle running smoothly.
World of Castles (1997 ThinkQuest Project)
Here you can find photos and descriptions of castle life during medieval times, take a virtual tour or play a castle game, and even look at the real estate listings for castles currently for sale or rent.
More Castle Sites
Castles: Seen by the Light of a Thousand Candles
This website provides an overview of the methods of construction, layout, and defense and offense, as well as a glossary of terms.
Castles Abbeys and Medieval Buildings by Michael W Cook
The site provides a record of castles, abbeys, churches, manor houses and all types of medieval buildings in the UK.
Castles of the World
This reference for has information about castles, palaces and monasteries including: castle tours, medieval architecture, castles for sale, site of the week, history, armor and swords.
Kids' Castle
Explore each virtual area of this 1480 Nottingham Castle replica, meet the residents, and learn all about medieval castle life.
Vi-Ren Castle (A Virtual Renaissance Castle at Twin Groves Junior High School, IL.)
This tour includes information on the hall, the kitchen, the living quarters, the chapel, the garrison, and the hearth as well as include links so you can explore further into Vir-Ren Castle.
Online Castles
A&E America's Castles Travel Guide
Barholm Castle (Scotland)
Blair Castle (Scotland)
Castle Guide (England)
Castle Levan (Scotland)
Castle of St Geogen (Austria)
Castle Stuart (Scotland)
Castles in Germany
Castles of Britian (England, Scotland, and Wales)
Castles and Places of Poland
Castles of Japan
Castles of Tuscany (Italy)
Castles of the United States
Castles of Wales
Castles of the World
Château de Tennessus (Poitou Charentes, France)
Devizes Castle (Wiltshire, England)
Duart Castle (Isle of Mull, Scotland)
Durham Castle (England)
Edinburgh Castle (Scotland)
48 German Castles
Great Houses of Scotland  (Scotland)
Hever Castle (England)
Historic Irish Castles (Ireland)
Lancaster Castle (England)
Leeds Castle (Maidstone, Kent, England)
Peel Castle (St Patrick's Isle)
Skipton Castle (North Yorkshire, Enland)
Versailles (France)
Warwick Castle and (Warwick, England)
Welsh Castle Index
Websites For Teachers
Castles and Kings (Grade 6)
Using the writing process students will write a classroom newspaper which will contain narratives based on castles, kings, dragons, and the medieval period.
Contrasting and Comparing Japanese and European Castles (Grade 10) by Dave Landers
In this lesson, students will identify basic designs of a castle and their functions, see the similarities and differences of the typical Japanese and European castle, and summarize the development of the feudal Japanese castle.
Discovering Castles (Grade 6) by Candace Nixon
Here are lesson plans and resources for a unit on castles.
Kids in the Castle: Lessons, Activities, and Virtual Tours! at Education World
This curriculum article provides ideas for educational fun as students explore life in the Middle Ages.
Life in a Medieval Castle by David Meyler (Grade 5-9)
Five projects that integrate art and social studies are based on the medieval period of about 1200-1300, with the idea of a castle or cathedral providing a unifying element. Students make stained glass, design tapestries, create heraldic shields, and perform a mystery play.
Medieval Siege: Fling It! at NOVA Online (Grades 5-12)
Here is a lesson that integrates science and social studies. Students construct a working trebuchet to demonstrate how a lever works.
Medieval Math (Grade 5-7) by Shannon Schlosser
This lesson lesson plan integrates social studies and math by having students make a medieval banner or flag using measurement skills
great hall
Middle Ages
medieval life
bow and arrow
battering ram
wattle and daub
Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 1/99
Updated, 7/00