Resources and Reflections on An Island Story Chapter 21

an island story

Welcome to my fifth installment of resources and teaching ideas for An Island Story. If you are looking for ideas on earlier chapters of the books and you’ve missed a post, I have a landing page that is a collection of these posts with more to come soon! So, go check that out!

This collection of ideas and resources covers just chapter 21, the life of Edward the Confessor.  I have made the decision to only cover this chapter in this installment for two reasons.  (1) If you are using Ambleside Online, this is the end of their year one schedule. (2) My thoughts and reflections are lengthier than they have been, and I would prefer to break my posts into shorter, more manageable help and reflections upon how we used this book.

Edward the Confessor

Edward was Edmund Ironside’s brother. He was a son of Ethelred the Unready, who was raised in France, but became the king of England. Unfortunately, he did not love England or the English people, but had many of his liege lords and court brought over from France. He even made the promise that one day, his cousin, William of Normandy, could become the next King of England.

This is an outlandish promise for an Englishman to make to a French duke, and we would consider it to be the height of treason.  There were voices to the dissent of this, and the loudest voice was Harold Godwinson, the earl of East Anglia (future Earl of Wessex) and brother-in-law to Edward.

We are not told how (and scholars actually speculate), but Harold manages to be kidnapped by William of Normandy, and is not released until he swears that William will be the next king of England.  This chapter of An Island Story ends with Edward’s death in January of 1066, and really sets us up for a penultimate battle over kingship for England.

Despite the soap-opera type goings on with kidnappings, treasons, wives unloved and secret oaths, that wasn’t the part of the story that we really focused on.  We realized that we needed to take the time to have a simple geography lesson. In the chapter before, the children hadn’t even realized that there was a country called Hungary, and they were getting confused over where the Danes invaded from versus where on earth Normandy was.  The additions of various names for earls of provinces, etc. didn’t make things any easier.

The easiest thing for us to do was to just pull up Google maps and discuss the countries.  We found out how far from England Edmund Ironside’s children were exiled in Hungary (and I also had to explain to my two year one students that they traveled by boat and land, not by airplane). We learned where Normandy was in France and how England was divided up. We learned where the Danes actually came from. This was a good grounding in the places that are important at this point in An Island Story.

The other issue, geography wise, that I needed to deal with was my ten year old (year 4) daughter’s misunderstanding about states and countries.  She didn’t understand why promising the throne to someone in Normandy would be a big deal because she considered them both to be states in Europe. So, we discussed the difference between states and countries, using a video to get the basic definition.  We also watched the video on whether or not the European Union is a country how Europe is unified now than they ever have been since the fall of the Roman Empire in the west.

All this geography talk, however, did not stop my six year old from referring to Hungary as “the planet Hungary.” <facepalm>



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