Milk Jug Knights

We made these sets of knights’ armor out of milk jugs to go along with our medieval history studies.  I needed three milk jugs for each child . . . at our house that’s a lot of milk jugs. {6 boys!  Do the math!!}  Oh, the things I’ll do to have an army of milk jug knights swarming through my house!


The Helmet

First we made the helmets.  There are two styles, either the kind that has a face mask or the kind that leaves your face uncovered.  Both styles use the same basic line to cut along, you just cut eye holes in the face mask  and wear it backward.

Here’s the way you draw the line along which you will cut your milk jug.

If you want the face mask style, put the helmet over your child’s head, so his or her face is covered and mark where the eye holes need to go.  Take the helmet off and cut out the eye holes.


Here is how the helmet looks finished.

Here’s the helmet sans face mask.  You can take the label off yours (oops).

The Chest Armor

We also made chest armor.  For this you need two milk jugs, a hole punch, and some string.

Cut out two corners of one milk jug for the shoulder pieces.

Cut out two sides of the milk jug–opposite the handle– for the chest and back piece.  Do this twice; once for the chest and once for the back–so you’ll need two milk jugs.

When you’re done cutting out you will have four pieces that look like this.

Now punch holes in the top corners of the chest and back armor and in two of the corners in each of the shoulder pieces.  Tie the pieces together with yarn or string as shown.

All done!  Now slip the chest armor over your head, don your helmet, and fight for truth, justice and the American way . . . no wait, that’s Superman . . .

Swords and Shields

Bonus.  Tim made the shield and sword, cutting out and carving them himself . . . of course Tim did that, Tim is always scheming and building and creating things.  It’s the Timmy way.  If you want a sword and shield of your own you’ll have to talk to Tim, but I can show you how he put together the back of the shield so it can be carried on one arm.

Additional Layers

  • The knights in full suits of steel armor that we imagine and see portrayed in story books and movies were from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.  But that’s very recent in the history of the world.  Earlier knights and soldiers wore armor too, but usually it was chain mail with bits and pieces of solid armor, maybe on the forearms and shins and in the helmet.  Most soldiers used thick woolen garments covered with stiff leather for protection in battle.  And others fought naked, or nearly naked–enough to frighten me off, that’s for sure.  Learn more about the history of armor.
  • In most cultures it is the men who go to battle, but not in all.  Ancient Indian women fought alongside the men.  Sometimes the Celtic women fought in battle and they were known for their prowess and ferocity.  And of course modern women often go to battle.  What do you think?  Should women go to battle alongside the men?  Are there certain times when they should or should not?  Why?  Find out more about those ancient female warriors.  Why did they go to battle?
  • Today soldiers still wear armor in battle, just not steel plates.  The crossbow made steel armor obsolete since the bolt was powerful enough to pass right through the armor and crossbows were simple enough for every foot soldier to use with a decent amount of prowess.  Body armor today is made of Kevlar and a full suit is about as heavy (and hot) as the medieval armor of knights.  But it’s purpose is not very different.  New types of armor are constantly being developed.  Find out what the cutting edge technology in soldier protection is today and why they have to keep upgrading the armor.

More From Layers of Learning

This activity is from Unit 2-8 of the Layers of Learning Curriculum.  There’s lots more where that came from.

Layers of Learning Unit 2-8

Here is an art project that helps kids learn about Claude Monet and the Impressionists.

Here is an art project that helps kids learn about Claude Monet and the Impressionists.

Try your hand at city scape art.

Try your hand at city scape art.

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48 Responses to Milk Jug Knights

  1. Ticia says:

    You can also use the handle of the milk carton and some cardboard and create a shield. It’s not the most sturdy, but it’s fun……

    • Layers of Learning says:

      What a cool idea, Ticia. I really don’t think any of it needs to be sturdy to tell the truth. I can only handle having milk jug armor around my house for a couple of weeks before it takes it’s last trip to the trash anyway…

  2. Angi says:

    Very cute idea. I bet our boys would love that.

  3. Lisa says:

    My boys would love this. I am bookmarking your site for reference. I am always looking for homeschool printables.

    Stopping by from the 100 Comments event.

    • Layers of Learning says:

      Thanks Lisa, we hope to see you again soon. We try to post lots of great family-friendly learning activities all the time. (: And we always have new printables coming out too.
      By the way, you’re post about improving your blog was terrific. I already added comment luv to our site, and am also going to take your advice and comment on 4 posts for every 1 I write. Thank you!

  4. Elizabeth says:

    What a great idea. It’s so fun to make something great out of throw-away materials. I’m sure you all had a great time with your armor.

    • Layers of Learning says:

      Nice to get an extra use out of things before chucking them. Plus, I love using things we have around the house for projects — saves some cash! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Lisa says:

    So great that you have “props” to go along with educational lessons. Kids sure to learn better when they can see it in action. Tks for sharing your niche!

  6. dawn says:

    Cool idea! Reminds me of when I was young. We used to make stuff like this.

    • Layers of Learning says:

      Yeah, in school we did lots of cool projects as kids. Sometimes in homeschooling I get burnt out and realize it’s been a long time since we did something super fun. A little preparation makes us all excited about school again.

  7. What a great idea and very creative! I used to love doing this kind of thing with my kids.

    • Layers of Learning says:

      Thanks, Janis. Kids absolutely love hands on projects like this and it makes the stuff they learn really stick.

  8. Pamela says:

    What a great use of resources. You are teaching the kids a double lesson: 1. history lesson 2. reuse recycle the things in your home!

    Great job….

    Still Dating My Spouse

    Visiting via the 100 comment blog hop!

  9. Amanda says:

    That’s a great idea! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Chelle says:

    How adorable! That looks like great fun. I’m sure the learning was more meaningful.
    Peace and good.

  11. Deanna says:

    Great idea and I bet they are fun to make, too? My kids would love these! Thanks for sharing!!

  12. Deborah Owen says:

    How creative you are! Clever lady, indeed. Thanks for the great tips. Deb

  13. esther says:

    You have such great ideas and are a great resource!

  14. Intersting activity! I’m sure your kids really enjoyed this!

  15. My homeschooling days are over, but I wish I would have had your blog when I was HSing. Great, creative ideas.

  16. Oh my goodness! Those milk jug helmets are too cool! My sons would LOVE that!

  17. THat looks so neat. I would have never thought of that and I taught first grade.

  18. Amanda says:

    Very neat project!

  19. With 3 boys in our house these would be a great idea. Who would have thought those were once milk jugs? Thanks.

  20. Jessie says:

    That looks like so much fun 🙂 I am bookmarking this to do with my kids – they love any type of dress up and pretend play.

  21. Great idea…I’m already trying to figure out when we will be studying knights in our curriculum so I can include this! I am going to follow and pin this for sure!

    • Layers of Learning says:

      Thanks! We love pinterest and we love new followers even more! Hopefully we’ll see lots of you and get to know each other. You can follow Karen on pinterest for lots of cool home and teaching ideas.

  22. JulieK says:

    wow that is the coolest project! What a way to learn about historical battles and soldiers! Love it!

  23. Ashley L says:

    I have two boys (4 &3) who would LOVE this! Their favorite pretend play is with guns, swords, and their super heroes. If I were to explain and show pictures what the armor was used for- game over- I would be nagged until I made these. Perhaps I should start saving up milk jugs… 🙂 Great idea and thanks for sharing!

  24. Colette says:

    That is incredibly creative! I would never have thought of something like this! I bet they had a ball!

  25. Kelsey says:

    How cool! My daughter would get such a kick out of this. She loves dress up, especially if there is something to put on her head, she loves hats and helmets! Love your site and can’t wait to find more cool stuff on your blog!

  26. Single Gal says:

    Well, that’s creative. Looks like your boys really enjoyed their crafts!

  27. Cambria says:

    I love the idea! I’m impressed how you are making history come to life for your boys. I’m following your site!

  28. Mona says:

    What a cool idea! I’ll be back to check out your h/s printables.

  29. Stacy King says:

    How fun and what a neat idea. Milk jugs are great for SO many crafts and things like this!! Thanks for showing me a new one.

  30. Amy says:

    Love it! Signing up to follow you – can’t wait to see more creative ideas!

  31. Junebug says:

    Love the milk carton armor!!! Great lesson. I always find it so fun to learn by doing or actually traveling to places. Not sure if I’m going to be up to homeschooling my daughter. We shall see how the next couple of years go but if I do I hope I can be as innovative as you.

  32. isis says:

    Very resourceful! I can never think of creating playthings out of those!

  33. Staci says:

    Very nice. I am going to share with my homeschool group.

  34. I could use this in my Beginner’s class at church! By the way, how did you get your menu to link to pictures like that? I’d love to know!!

    • Layers of Learning says:

      Oooh, for church a favorite of ours is the giant goliath drawn on butcher paper. Attach sticky back velcro to various places on Goliath, then attach the opposite pieces of velcro to ping pong balls. The kids try to get the ping pong balls to stick to big ol’ Goliath. (:
      We have the very talented Wayne Connor to thank for the image menu. You can go check out the basic theme template here, though we customized it a lot.

  35. Love this idea! We will be making armor out of milk jugs soon! I am not sure if we will homeschool or not, but I will definitely check out your curriculum – and I plan to use your geography printables to take along on our trips! Thanks

    • Layers of Learning says:

      Our units are also just great for extra learning fun with your kids. They have lots of cool experiments and great activities any family would enjoy. We’re travelers too…my husband is a pilot and we’re always looking forward to our next adventure. Nice to meet you! Thanks for stopping by.

  36. stacy says:

    I’m really impressed with how you make learning fun for your kids.

  37. Quida says:

    Great article! I love this idea. 🙂

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