For the past few years, at the Kingdom Arts and Sciences Championship, a youth champion has been named as well as an adult one.
Some of youth projects have included illumination, pouches, inkle-loom weaving, brewing (root beer), and hats. Many children love to create items they can use or wear at events, or take pride in making art or things for others to display or enjoy. With a little bit of parental guidance on the documentation side, they can end up with a nice entry for the championship.
Encouraging kids to participate as artisans, in general, can keep them interested in what the adults are doing. Even if they don’t wish to enter a competition, they can learn a lot about the Middle Ages with gentle help from an adult in completing a project. Reading about how things were made or used in period is especially interesting when those items or objects were used by children hundreds of years ago: namely, toys.
For example, a number of kids in our camp at Pennsic enjoyed playing with a simple leather ball filled with linen scraps. Many of these have been found in the archaeological record, and they are easy to make with thin leather (easy to sew) in just three pieces.
Other documented toys include tops, carved figures, a toy Viking ship, game boards, and marbles. Many of these – including a pattern and instructions for leather balls – are covered by R. Hadley in CA #139 “When Work is Done: A Medieval Child’s Guide to Playful Pastimes.”
Besides artifacts, children can also be encouraged to cook period foods (mac-n-cheese can be documented and was entered into Ice Dragon by a youth), play instruments such as recorders, perform plays, or write or paint scrolls. Older youth may be more interested in heraldry for their fighting gear, or producing their own garb.
Documentation is needed for projects entered into the championship, but it need not be extensive, nor necessarily typed in by the youth directly. That is, the youth needs to be able to talk about the project to the judges and understand its various aspects. Some written material is expected, but that might be typed by an adult as the youth plans to explain it, thus having it in his or her words (and the document would indicate the level of assistance provided by the adult).
In short, any youth who would like to serve as Youth Arts & Sciences Champion is invited to enter, and with (or without) an adult’s guidance may well have a good time working on their project, be proud to show it off to the judges and discuss it with them, and treasure it for quite some time whether or not they end up being chosen as the champion.
A number ideas for Children’s Arts and Sciences Projects for Competitions were suggested in THL Maggie Rue’s article in the Æthelmearc Gazette.