Castle in the Countryside

Castle in the Countryside lesson plan

Imagine you lived in a castle in France, Germany, or Italy during the Middle Ages. What crops would you grow on the land? Grapes, of course!

  • 1.

    Research information about the architecture of castles in Europe or other areas of the world. Find out what crops were grown on the castle lands, and the kinds of climates necessary for growing them. Then prepare to make a replica castle—and perhaps life-size grapes or other crops! Small groups might work together on this project.

  • 2.

    Sculpt the castle. On a clean, washable surface, roll out a large, thick piece of Crayola® Air-Dry Clay. Cut it into a rectangle. Use a toothpick or craft stick to crosshatch the two ends. Roll the slab into a cylinder for the castle keep. Slightly wet one side of the cross-hatching with your finger. Press ends together.

  • 3.

    Use a toothpick to create a stone-like exterior. If you wish, add a door or window. Make turrets by adding squares at the top. Include more walls, a gatehouse, a moat, or other parts of castles, too. Attach these pieces in the same manner with cross-hatching and wetting slightly.

  • 4.

    Shape grapes. Roll clay between your palms into several small balls. Attach grapes to each other by pressing slightly after lightly wetting them. Sculpt a stem and leaf if you’d like.

  • 5.

    Air-dry your castle and grapes for at least 3 days. Castles were often whitened with lime, but you may want to paint your structure or the grapes for a more realistic look.


  • Students research the architecture and agricultural products of European countries during the Middle Ages.
  • Students research the climates that are best for growing grapes or other crops.
  • Students sculpt a replica of a castle and one crop that might have been grown on the castle grounds.


  • Keep the lid on the handy self-storage clay container. If clay feels stiff while working it, just add a few drops of water. Paint completely dry sculptures with Crayola Tempera Paint.
  • Compare relative sizes of the grapes and castle. What other huge or small objects could be made that relate in similar proportions to each other? A tractor and an ear of corn?
  • Study other countries and typical constructions and crops, such as adobe buildings in Mexico or wooden homes for Maine lobstermen.
  • Assessment: Ask students to explain their construction process and label castle parts. Describe the climate in which grapes thrive. Present information about life in a castle during the Middle Ages.