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Hideouts and Strongholds

Castles and Keeps

Castles may be the ultimate hideout—and certainly the ultimate stronghold. Whether they are alone, surrounded only by water or mountains, or looming above the center of a busy city, they capture our imagination. Today, we’ll take a look at how castles evolved over time, check out some of the world’s most impressive and imposing castles, and even see how these incredible structures were built hundreds of years ago. Put down the drawbridge, guards—we’re marching in.


what you’ll need



        Ask About Today

        What’s one part of a castle that you learned about today?

        Skip the Ads

        Unfortunately, online videos often start with short advertisements. Remind your campers to click the "Skip" button as soon as they can to move ahead to the video.


        90-120 minutes


        What’s a Castle, Anyway?

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        How is a castle different from a fort, or a stone palace? When did people start digging moats around them? Were they always made out of stone? Find out in this video from Free School.

        Remember: Online videos often start with advertisements. (Annoying, we agree!) Click the "Skip" button as soon as you can to move ahead to the video.


        The World’s 10 Largest Castles

        They sprawl over mountaintops, tower over cities, and sometimes contain whole cities and villages themselves. Get a look at the world’s 10 largest castles in this photo gallery from Touropia.


        How Did They Build Castles?

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        In this amazing documentary series, you’ll watch a team of historians, archaeologists, and builders construct a castle using only the tools, materials, and techniques that people of the 13th century would have used. The series includes five 1-hour long episodes. Settle in and watch the first one with us!


        Castles of the Samurai

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        When you hear “castle,” you might picture towers, drawbridges, steep walls, and Medieval knights. The castles of Japan had many of the same defensive features as European castles, but evolved in their own distinctive way. Check out this 20 minute video to see what Samurai castles looked like and how they changed over time.


        Explore Edinburgh Castle (Kinda)

        Take a virtual tour of one of Scotland’s most famous castles with Google Arts and Culture as your guide.


        45-60 minutes


        Construct Your Own Castle

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        You’ll need a few supplies, including a cardboard box, a good pair of scissors, some empty toilet paper or paper towel tubes, and paint—but you can adapt the design if you only have a few of those items. Follow along with the video and pause it as you complete the steps.

        Ask for Help: Younger campers may need some help cutting and assembling the cardboard pieces

        For younger explorers

        Let’s Draw a Castle!

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        Follow along with this video to draw your own castle. Once you’re done with the outlines, add color, flags, and other features.


        15-30 minutes


        Castle Defense Practice

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        If you’re going to defend your castle, you’ll need to know a few good martial arts moves. Learn some and practice mastering them with this short workout. You may want to repeat it a few times!