Children are the future of the HFS. I can think of few things which are as touching as seeing a child exhibit courtesy and good manners. However, your children are your responsibility. The HFS offers many wonderful activities for children to participate in – however; they are rarely geared towards the very young. This leaves the parents of young children to fend for themselves. Well, you can create a more enjoyable environment for your young children with just a little planning. I can guess what you may be thinking. It’s not possible to take your young children to an event and still enjoy yourself. YES, it is possible! The High Fantasy Society BEFORE children was just a matter of packing for yourself, but now you need to gather another carload of items just for your children. This can be a daunting task and if not thought out it can leave the parents and children frustrated and unhappy. Unfortunately, the HFS loses many promising members because of this, but it just does not have to be that way! By addressing a few simple things you and your children can enjoy HFS events as a family
==  Things to keep in Mind==
1. You are Responsible for Your Children: The HFS is not a baby sitting service and just because there are other parents on site does not mean they wish to supervise your children. If you find that your children wish to spend time with other children, go introduce yourself to the other parents. You may find yourself making new friends and finding someone you can trust with your children for a bit. When your children are playing in someone else's campsite, be sure they are welcome and check on them frequently. It is rude to expect them to come get you when your child has worn out their welcome
2. Do Not Make Your Children Go To Events: If they don't want to be there, they are not going to have fun. It will just irritate those who want to be there. To combat this, encourage children to get involved by learning a skill or helping out. However, you must supervise your children at all times or arrange for supervision.
3. Every Child Should Know the meaning of “HOLD!’’: Hold is the word used in HFS to make anyone freeze. It is not just used for fighters on the field. Even toddlers can be taught "Hold", just use it every time they start to reach for something that they should not touch, such as a hot oven. (This also helps children learn to distinguish between "No" as something you don't want them to do and "Hold" as being something they don't want to do because it hurts or is dangerous.) Hold is used universally in HFS, so when your child wanders into danger any adult who sees them can yell, "Hold" and avert a disaster. Try to play freeze tag with older children but yell "Hold" instead of freeze.
4. Teach your Children Please and Thank you: Being courteous and polite is part of what HFS is all about, so make sure your children know the basics.
5. Do Not Touch Without Asking: Children should learn to ask before they lop off their fingers by grabbing someone's dagger.
6. Tell Them When They Are Good: Children who are behaving properly should be told. Sometimes we forget, as we have to correct them. A simple "Hey, you did a good job" or "Well done!" when they are good is worth far more than the promise of a cookie if they will just behave for an hour. 7. Children Need Rest: Even older children need to have a break from work or play once in a while. Sometimes we forget they need a quiet place or time to relax and wind down. Set aside a quiet corner of camp for your children. Allowing children some private time can eliminate a lot of whining and crying.
Nap Time – Don’t forget to bring a blanket and small pillow for your child to rest on. It can be very hard to get children to nap at events so a familiar blanket and pillow can be comforting. If you use the same items each time then the child will associate them with naptime, which increases the likelihood of you getting them down for a nap. 8. Ask An Adult: Teach your children to ask or tell an adult if they are hurt, scared, bored or confused.
9. HFS is Supposed to be Fun: Do not forget the fun part, that is why we are here.
10. Court – No one wants to hear a child fussing during court – especially not the parent holding the child. Finding a spot at the back of the room where you can spread out and let your children play with toys would be perfect. You can keep them entertained and have easy access to the door should you need to whisk a child out for any reason. If this is not possible then you may want to find someone to watch your children. (See next section.) Above all, remember you’re not the only one! Get to know the other parents of young children. You can be a support team for each other. Share event tactics – not to mention toys and garb that your children have outgrown. If possible gather children together and form an event playgroup. Parents can take turns hosting this group. This will allow parents to take turns attending classes, participating in martial activities, enjoying feast, dancing, or attending court. Once you have formulated a plan that works most of the time and established a routine, you will find that attending events with small children becomes easier and more enjoyable for you and your children.
Dressing the Part:Edit
Children should also have garb. Children work well in layers of simple tunics with one heavy cloak or pinned blanket for cool weather. Sportswear cotton is heavier than broadcloth and comes in a wide range of colors. It washes well and wears very well. Older children can easily make their own tunics and coifs if they wish. A child dressed in beautiful period garb is always a wonderful sight! If you have the time, money, and the know-how then this is most definitely the way to go. However, children grow so fast so it can be difficult to keep them clothed. When they are so young is might be best to just make simple tunics, pants and tabards. If you have girls and you want them to look like little ladies you can make their tunics longer or make a gathered tie string or elastic waist skirt to go with a simple tunic. Hand-me-downs are also great source of garb (more about this later). REMEMBER - Young children have accidents! Always bring extra shoes and socks, clothes, garb, and underclothes/diapers and large zip-lock bags for the dirty clothes and “toxic waste”. Better to be prepared than sorry – I’ve been there… it is not fun.
Medieval and Renaissance Clothing to AvoidEdit
One very period thing that I recommend against us doing is using swaddling clothes for infants. Even in period there were serious questions about the advisability of the practice and with what's known now about child development and human decency, it's right up there with foot binding and wasp-waist corsets.
Quick and Easy Medieval and Renaissance Clothing Edit
I recently read an article on making baby and children's garb. I agree with you that children should be in garb at events. I did make a few things for each of my nieces, and had great success with two ideas that I had for evening and morning.
Make a large tabbard for evening when dealing with an infant. Put the child in footed pajamas, cover the legs with a blanket and put the (my bad here) fleece tabbard over the top to keep the baby warm and the modern clothing hidden. It is easy to do the same thing for an older child with a long nightgown or loose robe.
If you can find a white cotton shift or dress, that works well for a baby that can't crawl yet. Find one that's actually too big for your baby so that the skirt is quite long. If you can find one that is sleeveless, this works well for summer. Put a long-sleeved cotton shirt under it when it gets cooler. You couldn't tell unless you looked close. If you can find a christening gown that isn't too frilly, that works too. Another suggestion, find a solid-color sleeper or gown, and decorate it. There are shirts that fasten between the legs that could be worn over solid-colored pajama bottoms (to cover up the snaps at the waist). You could make a bonnet/hood/coif to match, maybe add trim or embroidery (don't disturb the stretchiness of the material, if any). You might put a household badge on the front of the shirt.
Children should have their own toys or activities at events. Kids want toys at events. Brass, wooden, and cloth playthings can be found, and if you keep them hidden except for HFS events, the child will be more interested in playing with them. I keep ours in a basket. I have seen brass bells which can be hung from the handle, a cloth rattling ball, a couple of wood rattles (being made in New England and currently available), a tiny Mexican box, two wooden Japanese dolls, Persian brass horses with wheels, and a few other little things. Check garage sales and used baby-things stores. Consider non-toys like napkin rings (for stringing like beads, and a fat cotton cord for that), wooden coasters, small dishes (pewter saucers, wooden relish bowls, metal shot glasses), and sturdy model boats for older children. Small animals in brass, wood, or carved stone might be used if they're not too small or too pointy. Check import shops. Use your imagination. Mundane toys should be confined to campsites. Wooden or cloth toys can be wonderful additions to period encampments and children can help make them. Do not forget coloring books, crayons or pencils. They are wonderful ways to keep people occupied. Crayons should be stored in resalable and waterproof plastic bags in the cooler at hot events. (This saves a great deal of clean up later.)
Toy weapons should be confined to boffer weapons with the appropriate foam padding. They should also be marked in a way that clearly indicates that they are a child's toy rather than a field legal weapon. I suggest writing the child's name on it as well. A large basket or plastic tub full of favorite toys is perfect. Because other children may want to play with you child’s toys, mark them indelible marker or fingernail polish. This will help you identify which toys are yours and which belong to someone else. If you buy a coordinating play set (such as the Little People Castle and Accessories sets) you are more likely to remember what belongs and you won’t have many mix-ups. Children love to listen to stories so bring age appropriate books and have a story time. This might be perfect right after a snack and before naptime.
Please try to avoid aluminum strollers and plastic carriers whenever possible. A willow laundry basket makes a pretty cradle. Beware of split bamboo and other splintery baskets unless you have lots of padding. I've been guilty of a blue plastic mechanical swing, but I tried to keep it covered with cloth or inside a small cloth pavilion. If you use a high chair or hanging seat at a feast, cover it with washable cloth (this also makes the clean up go faster).
Parents generally forget that they teach their children what to like when it comes to food. If you expect the child to like it, they will and if you expect them to turn their nose up at it they will. There are many different types of period food, which are appropriate and appeal to children such as sausages, fruit, bread and cheese.
Snacks and Lunch====
Make sure you have your child’s favorite snack and drink on hand. If they are in daycare during the week then they are used to having breakfast, a snack, lunch, and another snack at school and then dinner at home. It is a good idea to continue this on the weekends to keep them on their schedule. Snacks can be whatever you and your child can agree upon, of course. Lunch is pretty simple. Most children like meat, cheese, crackers, and juice.
Well, this can be a little tricky. Small children are not always willing to try some of the “interesting” things that our wonderful feast stewards create. If it looks funny they might not give it a try. If a children’s feast is offered, sign up your child. They are more likely to serve something that your child is more familiar with. If not, then be prepared to offer your child something from you own cooler such as items from their lunch and snack menus. If you have ever taken your child to a sit-down restaurant where the dinner may last an hour or more, you know to bring small toys or crayons to entertain your child. Feast is no different and can be even longer. As you know, a child’s patience is rather short. If possible, plan on taking turns with someone to routinely take the child for a walk if they appear to be becoming too “antsy”.
HFS events occasinally have planned youth activities. Check the event advertizments to be sure.
When Running Youth Activities:====
Don't be shy of asking other individuals who enjoy teaching all adults to share their knowledge with your young attendees - guest teachers may be able to offer new learning experiences in their particular area of expertise.
Plan for volunteers ahead of time, when you can: ask for help on e-lists (Kingdom, local, or for other children's officers), talk to your local group, advertise in your local group's newsletter, or work with parents who are willing to help. Older kids may want to help out with the younger ones, so consider letting them plan an activity, offer ideas, or provide some hands-on help. Also, you can ask parents to give some time in assistance if their children are attending activities.
Finally, be flexible, prepared, and easy-going - the key element is to have fun! Bring back-up activities along in case one or two doesn't last as long as you had planned, and be open to allowing an activity to run longer if the kids are really enjoying themselves (just keep in mind the end time for the session so parents know when to retrieve their children).
Outdoor games can include activities such as bocce, quests, scavenger/treasure hunts, running games, and archery. These outdoor options can provide a fun opportunity for children to enjoy their boundless energy between indoor or stationary activities. Indoor games like chess, checkers, or mancala provide great opportunities for socializing and offer a nice change of pace from more structured activities. (These are especially good as a cool down activity before lunch or dinnertime.)
Volunteering opportunities can be a lot of fun, especially when children can offer services collectively. Some ideas are water-bearing, list running, kitchen help, feast service, or for younger children, making decorations for high table, or making gifts for the Crown or the parents.
Performing Arts make for wonderful activities but can also provide entertainment for an audience. Kids may enjoy basic music classes, such as learning the recorder or drums, European or Middle Eastern dance classes, learning to sing period songs, puppetry, theater (which can be expanded to building sets and props, costume making and performance), or story-telling.
Displaying Arts and Sciences====
Displaying Arts and Sciences in the HFS are nearly limitless. Young people can make jewelry, learn calligraphy and illumination, embroider and cross-stitch, try their hands at leatherworking, woodworking, or sewing, or learn age-appropriate variations of mosaics or stained glass.
HFS-appropriate or medieval history classes====
HFS-appropriate or medieval history classes can easily be juiced up with fun activities. Kids can learn the different areas and functions of a castle while building a scale model, learn precedence and protocol through play-acting or by creating "crowns" and other regalia, or study a culture though specialized activities (Viking classes could include making a model long ship, playing the Viking game Hnefatafl, or enjoying a "pillage" quest, for example).
Banners and/or Garb====
Using fabric scraps, treat them with Heat 'n Bond before the event. Allow the kids to cut out shapes for a tabard or banner for themselves; an adult could then iron them on to pre-made tabards or banners. Or have an artist draw the device of their local chapter on a piece of material and then let the children color it in with permanent markers.
Coloring is an activity that kids of all ages enjoy. Supplying colors and/or markers with pictures of medieval related scenes, objects, people and heraldry is fairly cheap and easy to do. This activity can be centered on teaching classes. As the kids color pictures of knights, talk about the concepts of honor and chivalry. As they color shields, teach them about heraldry. As they color pictures of castles, talk about how castles were made, and what life was like, living in a castle.
A children's champion tourney====
Have each child select a fighter to be their champion and have a tourney where the fighter's fight to earn things for the kids. Maybe the winner earns the right for the child s/he is the champion for to lead a game. To get the fighters involved, try staging a free-for-all tourney, where each fighter picks a child to fight for. Rope off a small "tourney box" area for the children to stand and have them make little "favors" earlier in the day to give to their fighter. Encourage them to cheer for "their" fighter. This works wonderfully in place of a simple fighter's demo. The same process could be used for Archery as well.
Let the kids create a battlegame====
Let the kids create a battlegame for the kids to play with the soft cored weapons...they are very good at coming up with elaborate plots based on the tools they have!
A child's tourney====
A child's tourney (Warskill) using weapons with soft core (like daggers with water hose as the core) There are a wide variety of tourneys that can be done for kids. By making "boffer" or nerf-type weapons and objects, a lot of fun can be had while teaching kids the importance of safety and of chivalry, courtesy and honor. Amongst the type of boffer tournaments possible are Axe Throwing, Spear Throwing, Knife Throwing and Combat Tournament. For use in the thrown weapons tourneys, velcro, duct tape, or other substances may be added to allow weapons to stick to a target. Set up an appropriate target such as stacked bales of hay, archery target, old suit of armor, etc. Weapons are thrown for accuracy. For the combat tournaments protective gear may be recommended (just in case someone gets too enthusiastic). Such possible protection might include fencing masks, bicycle or motorcycle for head protection. Possible other protective equipment such as gorgets, elbow and kneepads, kidney belts, and gloves could be worn. This not only protects the kids, but also allows them feel that they are learning to use amour, just as the adults do. This also acclimates them to safety issues. Speak with your local Knight Marshall and Kingdom Superior about any regulations concerning such boffer tourneys. Let the kids run their own tourney with adult supervision and assistance. Age and/or size categories can be set up to keep the really small kids from having to match the really big kids.
Chinese Court Dragon====
Chinese Court Dragon: For an Oriental-themed event, during the course of the day, have the children constructed a Chinese paper parade dragon. Then for court, allow them to precede the Royalty, with all the children inside the Dragon. (Get Their Royal Majesty's permission for this, before the event.)
Castles made from Popsicle sticks, castles from egg cartons, colorful bead necklace making, design-a-shield color pages (make a page with a blank shield and let the kids design a device!).
The pig has swallowed the family's jewels! Help us get them back! Big rewards for returned jewels! Get a piñata that resembles a pig, lots of sandwich bags, and a half dozen different colored stones (one for each prize) to represent the jewels. Cook up spaghetti and use food coloring or sauce to make it pink or red. Cook up oatmeal. (Use your imagination! This is supposed to be the innards of a pig after all! :) Let all food cool and stuff into the sandwich bags along with the stones (one per bag). Stuff the bags into the piñata until its full. Close up the piñata. (Yet another use for duct tape!) Place the pig into the center of a field or pigpen and have the participants arrange themselves in a circle. A marshal will call "lay on" or other appropriate phrase and stand well clear. The participants destroy the pig searching for the stones. Stones must be returned to the judge who should stand well clear of the pigpen. Stones may be captured, lost, etc., on their way to the judge. Advertise this as a very messy game and suggest participants bring old garb to wear during the game. Access to showers or at least running water is also a nice feature!
This game is like hackysack. You have a small leather ball (filled with beans, corn, etc) and the players use their hands (only) for batting the ball and trying to keep it in the air.
Hawk Amongst the Hens====
This Tag-like game is an old African game. Two long lines of children (the Hens) are formed with about 20 feet or so between the two lines. One person is selected as "it" (the Hawk). The hens must scamper back and forth between the two lines continually. The Hawk will try to tag them before they get to the other line. If they make it to the other line before they are tagged, the Hen is safe. If the Hawk tags the Hen before they get to the other side, they must sit out. The last Hen left is the Hawk for the next game.
Hot Pot Game====
Hot Pot Game: I have found that "hot pot" usually keeps the kids going for a long time. You simply gather up some fabric scraps and make the 'hot pots'. They are just a stuffed bulb shape with streamers of various colors attached. The children then play a game very similar to tag with them. You throw by holding the streamers (which are the 'flames' of the hot pot) the receiving person must either dodge it or catch it by the streamers. If you are hit by it you are on fire and out of the game. Kids seem to enjoy it.
This is sort of a reverse Blindman's Bluff game. One person is selected to begin the game as Jingles. A necklace or arm/leg band with very jingly bells is placed on Jingles. (Belly-dance coin belts, Christmas bells, cow bells or anything that makes a noise upon movement will work.) All the other players are blindfolded. Jingles must slip in and amongst the blindfolded players without being caught. The person who touches Jingles is then "it". This game must be refereed to preventing people from walking into walls, trees, etc. while blindfolded."
Loot the Knight====
Use a cutout figure of a knight with knight regalia which was knights chain, white belt, spurs, sword (all fakes of course) for each team of children. This was a team event where you had relays and were timed. The team to kill Sir Knight from a distance with a javelin or combat bow and arrow or here you could use a bean bag and it had to be a good kill and then the race to bring all his stuff back one article at a time and the team with the best time wins. A reverse of this game is also popular, called Arm the Knight. In a relay race, the teams try to equip the cutout figure of the knight with his regalia (one piece at a time). the team that gets the knight equipped first wins. [Cardboard pieces with velcro works well for this game.]
"Fighters" in "full armor" (could be made out of cardboard or other found materials) without helms carry a maiden around an obstacle course. Race is timed. Best time wins. The maiden is a large rag doll appropriately dressed and very durable.
Make a Village====
Get a huge peace of paper and have them draw a village or a castle. For little kids draw in some of the main roads or castle and then let them fill in the rest. This activity will work for older kids also. ( It is not recommended that kids under 5 working with older kids on this.)
Make masks using paper plates. Cut the plate into halves and then use a craft stick (shaped like the stick from a popsicle) to provide the handle. These masks are easier for kids since they are less like to limit vision (They just hold up the mask when they want to wear it) Provide construction paper, glue, tape, feathers, glitter, etc.
While possible not historical, this is a fun game for children. It requires 2 adults or older children to start. You need a "Cat", and lots and lots of "Mice". The two adults (the trap) will hold both hands, with arms raised so the "mice" can pass underneath in a continual stream. The Cat will stand so that he/she cannot see the mice or trap. As the mice pass in and out of the trap, the cat will suddenly shout "SHUT". Down go the Trap's arms. Any mice caught in the trap are then recruited to be part of the trap (they join the link, making more places for mice to enter and exit.) The last Mouse left becomes the next Cat.
Host a children's activity based on medieval painting (may be best done by an experienced scribe). Start with where did the illuminators get the paint.... Knowing that Wal-Mart was not an option in those days let the children suggest ways that medieval painters made paint and what from. End with a free for all painting session for everyone. The paint was made the same way as period paints were, with a slight twist. Mix the medieval binding medium glair (whipped egg whites and a little water. Made at home 2 days ahead of time and carried to the event in a jar.) with pigments (kool-aid). This gives you paint similar to a watercolor, not to mention it smells good. The children choose what *flavor* pigment they want and mix it themselves. Most scribes use a paint called guache. It contains a small amount of white pigment that gives it opaqueness rather than the transparency of watercolor. The modern recipe for non-toxic homemade guache:
1 Tablespoon white vinegar mixed with
1 Tablespoon baking soda (yes, it bubbles) Wait until it stops and add
4 Tablespoons of corn starch,
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup, and food coloring.
Add water as needed for consistency. Pour it into plastic medicine cups and make about 15 different colors. The remarkable thing about this recipe is that it can be dried out and reconstituted like the store bought kind. Make it ahead of time and take it dried to the event. The children...and adults... got to see why modern tubes of paint are more convenient and accurate in color. They all got to see the differences between watercolors and guaches. And they got to paint pretty pictures to take home with them. Not only did they have a good time, but also they learned something in the process.
Red Lion Game====
One child is "It", the lion, and has a den. The runners come away from the base near the den and chant "Red lion, red lion, come out of your den; whoever you catch will be one of your men," after which the lion chases to catch. Whether a tag or a catch is required depends on the age and disposition of kids, and on the terrain, and on the disposition of the parents to let the kids play rough or not. The "it" team grows, and the last runner caught is the new lion.
Make up a list of items to be found on site. Fun items include: a peer, a scroll, a stuffed animal in chain mail, a broadsword, a coronet, a ruler, etc. If an item can have more than one connotation, you can discover just how creative some people can get. A coronet could be a metal circlet or it could be the local royalty!
Make simple scroll blanks (perhaps Xeroxed) to be COLORED by the little ones. In court, the Royalty can hand out the proper scrolls to the proper child. Being called in court is exciting for everyone, even the little ones.
Cut small shields out of plywood, sand them, put handles on the backs, and prime them with a coat of paint. The idea is to let the children create a device to paint on them. Then fill a large bucket with water and then put sponges and sponge balls into the bucket. The kids should hid behind their shields from the inbound missiles and have fun throwing them a each other. If you reuse the sponges after they fell on the ground, everyone will be a dirty mess, so be sure to advertise an activity that will require clean up! This is a great activity for a hot afternoon.
Blindfold one person, who's 'it', who then tries to touch one of the un-blindfolded folks surrounding them. Everyone else can tease the person who's it by touching their clothes, making noise, etc. If the Blind person touches one of the other players, they then become the blindfolded person.
Take an old plain blanket and appliqué simple shields on it. Make up flattish bean bags with matching devices and use it as a toss game. Can toss for matching charges, tinctures etc. The bean bags are a great way to use up fabric scraps.
Viking Ship Building====
Materials: many colors of construction paper, tape, glue, crayons, and scissors Teach the children about Viking longships, then let the kids craft their very own Viking Ships. Then give each a random number. The ships can be displayed and voted on by the event attendees. We've used a token/cup voting system with success. Give a prize to the one with the most votes and something nice to everyone who competed. (The "competition" can be divided into age groups, if desired.)
Make a set of Medieval GI Joes. Use the standard GI Joe bodies, but sew Tunics, pants, capes, and the like. They also have swords, shields, and even a rapier or two. Also look for small plastic horses that can be "barded." A "village" to defend would also be a good addition. Many of these can be purchased extremely cheaply at garage sales.
Wooden Building Blocks====
Have those wood workers sand down their scraps and throw them in a box. Bring them to an event and let the kids at them! Any shape will work and enhance creativity.
Wooly Wooly Wolf Game====
Wooly Wooly Wolf Game: Wooly Wooly Wolf is similar to Red Lion. The difference is the signal for running isn't the end of a jointly-chanted verse, but it's this bluff by the leader of the sheep (runners): "I spy the wooly wooly... DOG" (anything besides wolf is a false taunt and the wolf can't run). "I spy the wooly wooly BEAR" or whatever, until finally he says "I spy the wooly wooly WOLF and the wolf comes out and catches some to be wolves with him."
Children have made banners for the feast hall, the older ones have served as heralds in our courts, and the little ones have made tabards and acted as guards. Older children should be allowed some responsibility. Hands in the kitchen are hands, whether they are big or small. Use them as errand runners, but make it official. Kids take their responsibilities more seriously when they are "official". Baldrics really help.