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King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

by Benedict Flynn

Teacher Guide by Becky Harvey

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our Middle School ELA Category!

King Arthur Lesson Plans

Student Activities for King Arthur Include:

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is the legend of one of England’s most famous, and arguably most beloved, kings. Though there is no direct evidence to prove his existence, the folklore surrounding his life is extensive. Generations have heard many tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, as well as those of his trusted confidant and protector, the great and powerful Merlin. Other stories relate the tale of Arthur’s love for his queen, Guinevere, and the rivalry for her affections between Arthur and his friend, Lancelot.

Camelot, the kingdom which Arthur built, has been the backdrop to many great stories and is now synonymous with idealistic and lost times of virtue and benevolence. Whether the tales told have any footing in reality or not, the stories of King Arthur deal with truths of human nature.

King Arthur Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Plot Diagram |King Arthur Summary


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A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a story. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and help students develop greater understanding of literary structures.

Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a work with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the book in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.



Example King Arthur Plot Diagram

Exposition

Arthur, son of the Late King Uther Pendragon, pulls a sword from a stone. This act proves that he is the rightful king of England. At sixteen, Arthur is crowned king and Merlin becomes one of his most valuable advisers.


Conflict

Arthur's half-sister, Morgana Le Fay, threatens Camelot and Arthur with sorcery. After facing many battles to protect his throne, Arthur must defend his throne and prove that he is worthy of leading Camelot and England. He battles all of the would-be kings and nearly falls, but for the aid of Merlin’s magic. Morgana’s evil works against Arthur in the battles, but Merlin is more powerful.


Rising Action

King Arthur institutes the Knights of the Round Table after marrying Guinevere. Only the most worthy of knights may sit at the enormous table created by Merlin. Sir Lancelot becomes one of the mightiest champions for Queen Guinevere. Also, Arthur and Guinevere foster Mordred, the son of Arthur and his half-sister Morgana Le Fay.


Climax

Morgana tells Mordred that Arthur is his father and that Mordred is heir to the Camelot throne. Morgana poisons his mind against his father. Mordred begins to conjure up ways to destroy Arthur and claim the throne for himself. Mordred and Morgana plan to strike while many of the knights are on a quest for the Holy Grail.


Falling Action

Mordred is able to prove that Lancelot and Guinevere are having an affair. Arthur is heartbroken. Guinevere is sentenced to burn at the stake, but is saved by Lancelot.


Resolution

Mordred and Arthur wind up in a vicious battle. Though Arthur succeeds at killing Mordred and foiling Morgana’s plan, Arthur, too, is mortally wounded and so ends the fairy-tale existence of Camelot, Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.


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Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of King Arthur.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  3. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
  4. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.
  5. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.



(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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King Arthur Vocabulary Lesson Plan


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Another great way to engage your students is with storyboards that use Arthurian vocabulary. Students can list part of speech, pronunciation, and definition along with a visual representation of the word and a quote that uses it. Here are a few vocabulary words from the book, and an example of a visual vocabulary board.


Example Vocabulary from King Arthur

  • raiders
  • heir
  • strife
  • vagabonds
  • parchments
  • anvil
  • pommel
  • grail
  • coronation
  • sorcerer
  • scabbard
  • enchantment
  • thatch
  • Pentecost
  • crucified
  • summons
  • quest
  • oarsmen
  • prow
  • whirlwind
  • billowed
  • treacherous
  • lance
  • parapets
  • canter
  • parley
  • tufts
  • perilous
  • laurel
  • moat
  • hermit
  • salve

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of the vocabulary words in King Arthur by creating visualizations.


  1. Choose three vocabulary words from the story and type them in the title boxes.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary.
  3. Write a sentence that uses the vocabulary word.
  4. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
    • Alternatively, use Photos for Class to show the meaning of the words with the search bar.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.



(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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King Arthur Fact or Fiction? Activity

For many years audiences have enjoyed learning about King Arthur, Merlin, the Knights of the Round Table, Guinevere and Lancelot, and more. It is true that the legend of King Arthur is fascinating, but what is real and what is myth?


Using a T-Chart labeled with Realistic Elements (or Historically Accurate or Factual) and Mythical Elements (or Fictional), students should choose different events or elements that illustrate parts of the story that could have actually happened, and those we know could not have happened. Many of the tales about King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table are folklore or based on speculation.

Historically, certain things did occur, and others are possible, even if they are not exactly like Arthurian legend. Other elements, like magic spells, dragons, and the holy grail are myths we can mark as definitely fiction.


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King Arthur Coat of Arms Graphic Organizer

Coats of arms and family cests were important in medieval society and Arthurian legend. Heraldric shields helped identify knights on the battlefield, and were often symbols of their personality. The pentangle on Ser Gawain's shield, for instance, represented his incorruptibility and power over evil.

While this activity does not adhere to the complicated and strict rules of medieval heraldry, it gives students an opportunity to reflect on their values, and how they would like to express themselves in the world.


Instructions for a Coat of Arms/Family Crest

To make a coat of arm, start with a regular 2x3 storyboard. Find the background (Scenes > Patterns) that have the swoops with which to make a shield shape. You will need to use the flip tool to do one of the sides.

  • In the top left panel, select an animal to represents you or your strengths. Be sure to give it a textable label.
  • In the top right panel, depict yourself doing something you love. Also label this with a matching textable.
  • In one middle cell, show something you aspire to, or an occupation you'd like to have. In the other show an object that is important to you. Label both of these cells, too.
  • In the bottom left cell, find a symbol that shows something you love or something that makes you feel good.
  • In the bottom right cell, add a text box and write “My Motto:” followed by a phrase that you think represents who you are and how you think people should act.

The first five cells can be related, as in the example, but they don’t have to be. If you have many loves and interests, that is fine.

  • Finally, add a scroll from the textables and in bold letters, write out your last name.
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Scene Analysis in King Arthur

Have students choose a scene in the book that they feel has significance to the overall story. Using a spider map, students separate the scene into its most important points, using visuals and dialogue to bring these events to life. The storyboard should not only depict important elements from the scene, but also explain why it is significant to the story.


Here are some questions to get students thinking:

  • Is this scene a turning point for one or more of the characters?

  • Does this scene set up something important later on in the story?

  • How do the characters react to the events?

  • How do the events more the plot forward?

  • What important information is revealed in this scene?


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    King Arthur Character Map Graphic Organizer


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    As students read, a storyboard can serve as a helpful character reference log. This character map allows students to recall or record relevant information about important characters. When reading a story, small attributes and details frequently become important as the plot progresses. With character mapping, students will record this information, helping them follow along and catch the subtleties which make reading more enjoyable!


    Though there are many characters in the tales of King Arthur, this activity lists the most central. Each one is linked to King Arthur in a very different, yet special way. In this exercise, students will explain those relationships to Arthur. In the area titled "Defining Moment", students should use examples from the text to show how that character demonstrates their heroic or villainous ways. To increase the exercise's depth, it is easy to add more characters.

    (These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


    Student Instructions

    Create a character map for the major characters.


    1. Identify the major characters in King Arthur and type their names into the different title boxes.
    2. Choose a character from the "Medieval" or "Myths and Monsters" tabs to represent each of the literary characters.
      • Select colors and a pose appropriate to story and character traits.
    3. Choose a scene or background that makes sense for the character.
    4. Fill in the Textables for Character Traits, Relationship to Arthur, and Defining Moment.
    5. Save and submit the assignment.


    (Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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    Essential Questions for King Arthur

    1. Is there a hero/villain within everyone?
    2. What is the line between myth and reality?

    A Synopsis of King Arthur (Contains Spoilers)

    This version of King Arthur’s legend begins with the illness and death of Uther Pendragon, birth-father of Arthur. There is much unrest in Uther’s kingdom. Merlin, a great and very powerful sorcerer, takes Arthur from the king and promises that he will keep the boy safe from harm. He gives Arthur to a trusted lord of Camelot, Sir Ector, to protect Arthur, and the realm, safe from Morgana le Fay, Arthur’s half-sister, an evil and powerful sorceress. Sir Ector acts as Arthur’s foster father until Arthur turns sixteen.

    Since Pendragon’s death, there has been no king, only fighting over who is the rightful heir to the throne. One day, a great and beautiful sword magically appears, set firmly in a stone. On the hilt of the sword is engraved the message: “Whoso pulleth this sword from this stone, is born the true and rightful king of England”. Knights from across the land come to see if they can pull the sword and claim the throne.

    A great tournament is to take place. Among the knights competing are Sir Ector and his son, Sir Kay. Arthur, who is not known as a high-born, is jealous of Kay’s standing. Ector soothes him by saying he would make a fine knight, if he’d have been born of high-blood. In Flynn’s version of the legend, Kay is preparing for the tournament and realizes he has misplaced his sword. He tells Arthur to find one for him. Arthur recalls seeing the sword in the stone and runs to retrieve it for his adoptive brother. When Ector realizes what sword Arthur is carrying, he reveals to Arthur that his real father was Uther Pendragon and that Arthur is, in fact, the rightful heir to the throne.

    Arthur is crowned, and, shortly after, Merlin introduces himself to the young king. He informs Arthur that he has a deadly and mortal enemy in Morgana le Fay, his half-sister. Soon, Arthur must defend his throne and prove that he is worthy of leading Camelot and England. He battles all of the would-be kings and triumphs only by aid of Merlin’s magic. Morgana’s evil magic works against Arthur in the battles, but Merlin is more powerful.

    Before long, Arthur meets and immediately falls in love with a princess, Guinevere. Merlin warns that this beauty will be his ultimate downfall, and that of Camelot, should he marry her. Arthur is unswayed from loving her and eventually, they are married. She is hailed as the fairest lady of the land. Before the marriage, Merlin takes the young Arthur to meet the Lady of the Lake who possesses Excalibur, a magical sword, forged in the land of Avalon. Merlin tells Arthur that its purpose is to do Arthur’s bidding, and that all he need do is to ask for it. After Arthur takes Excalibur, Merlin gives him a magical scabbard in which to sheath the blade. It has the power to keep harm from Arthur for as long as he wears it.

    As a marriage present, Guinevere's father gave an ornate, round table. At it, all of the mighty knights who serve the king can come together. It is so large that there are places enough for a hundred and fifty men to sit. Uther Pendragon had commissioned Merlin to create the great table and it came to Guinevere’s father in the absence of a successor.

    The Round Table would become a cornerstone of Arthur’s reign. As knights became worthy enough to sit at the table, their names magically appeared on the backs of a chair. There was one seat though, at which none could sit. The word “Perilous” was written on the chair, and Merlin warned that only the most worthy of knights could sit there without risking death.

    Merlin informed Arthur that he had to go “rest” and that he would not be back in Arthur’s lifetime. He warned Arthur to be careful with those he loved most, for they were the ones who would hurt him most. Soon after, a baby boy was left at the castle. Arthur and Guinevere decided to foster the child and call him Mordred. Though they did not know it, Mordred was the son of Arthur, his child from a night when he had fallen under an enchantment of Morgana and her evil, sorceress sisters.

    Lancelot arrived in Camelot and earned his place at the round table by removing an enchanted shard of metal from another knight’s leg. No other knight had been able to pull the shard from the wound. He swore to defend Guinevere at all costs, and she allowed him to be her champion, giving him a scarf as a token of her appreciation and affection.

    A number of tales relate the adventures of Arthur’s knights, all of which explain how they are good men, but not the most worthy. Sir Gawain, who is taken in by a lord and his lady while on a quest to locate a Green Giant. The lady tries to seduce Gawain while the lord is out hunting. Gawain tells the lord that he has kissed her twice but doesn’t tell the lord that she gave him a magical green scarf that would protect him from harm. It turns out that the lord is actually the Green Giant and the seduction was a test of worthiness. Because Gawain told the truth about the kisses, the giant spares Gawain’s life.

    Another tale is of Lancelot being enchanted by a maiden, Elaine. She falls madly in love with him, but he is in love with Guinevere. With the aid of a love potion, Lancelot forgets Guinevere and marries Elaine. They have a child, Galahad. Before Lancelot can even learn of Elaine’s pregnancy, he is woken from the love spell by the sound of battling knights. He remembers the voices of his comrades, and is flooded by memories of Camelot and Guinevere. He returns to them without another thought for Elaine, or his life with her.

    Upon his return, Lancelot and Guinevere begin an affair. Morgana, tells Mordred that Arthur is his father and that Mordred is heir to Camelot. As Morgana poisons his mind against his father, Mordred begins to conjure up ways to destroy Arthur and claim the throne for himself.

    Yet another sword appears, this one stuck in a stone, in a lake. Its engraving says only the purest of knights can pull it free. Arthur is convinced it is not he, because he has Excalibur. Gawain is convinced that he couldn’t be the one because of his experience with the Green Giant. Lancelot knows he is not pure because of his affair with Guinevere. Many of the knights dismiss their worthiness for one reason or another.

    A group of nuns arrive with a young man, dressed as a knight, but carrying no sword. He is bathed in a golden light. He walks over to the Perilous seat and the nuns begin to tell the knights that he is Galahad, son of Elaine and Lancelot. Lancelot warns the young man not to sit, but as he does, the name Galahad appears on the seat in letters of gold. It is the last empty seat at the round table. Arthur says that he can’t be a knight without a sword, but they all watch as Galahad removes the sword in the lake with ease. They return to the round table, where Arthur knights Galahad. As he does, a gleaming light fills the hall and they all see the image of the Holy Grail above the round table.

    Many of the knights see this vision as a sign to go on a quest for the grail. Mordred informs Morgana that many of the knights had departed on this quest and she predicted it would cause the fall of Arthur’s Camelot. Galahad, being the truest of all the knights, finds the grail and is taken up to heaven with it.

    Mordred is able to prove that Lancelot and Guinevere are having an affair, which breaks Arthur’s heart. Merlin was correct in his prediction. Guinevere is sentenced to burn at the stake, but saved by Lancelot. Mordred and Arthur wind up in a vicious battle, and though Arthur succeeds at killing Mordred and foiling Morgana’s plan, he is mortally wounded. So ends the fairy-tale existence of Camelot, Arthur, and his Knights of the Round Table.


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