The Curriculum of the Steiner School - Class 7

Notes and Lesson Plans

The Canterbury Tales
updated April 28, 2023

Recorded here is my own personal collection of articles, resources, favorite links, teaching ideas, and lesson plans. It encompasses many years, from the very beginning of my experience studying and learning about Waldorf to the present time. People from all around the world visit my site and recommend it to others. Welcome!

This site records my journey. I hope my honesty is encouraging and helps break down some barriers that may prevent people from trying Waldorf methods. Because this is an ongoing site documenting my curriculum planning and ideas, some materials are more Waldorf-y than others. Please feel free to take what you like and leave the rest.

This page has helpful links and LOADS of free resources to help you plan your seventh grade year. Enjoy!

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The Canterbury Tales
for Class 7


While looking for something else on the Online Waldorf Library, I ran across these Three One-Act Plays based on the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (PDF), written by Roberto Trostli and intended for Sixth or Seventh Grade.

When I went to write a blog post to share the link, I got to thinking.

I had never taught the Canturbury Tales in middle school before because I always saw them as something covered in High School. BUT... it would be nice to have a second Language Arts block in grade 7 besides WWS and in my notes here on the website I had originally simply written "Calligraphy." I remember thinking at the time of that writing that Calligraphy would be balancing after Touch Typing in grade 6 (the Business Letters block).

Once I found the link to this play script, I really got into the idea of combining Calligraphy with the Canturbury Tales and having a whole Middle English moment! In our homeschool co-op, I am teaching this to my oldest student at the same time as the younger children are doing a Word Study block using Structured Word Inquiry. I think that looking at Middle English and Modern English side-by-side will be very fruitful, and interesting for both age groups!

To help you quickly remember which period in English is which, if you're looking for examples,
Beowulf - Old English
Chaucer - Middle English
Shakespeare - Early Modern English

As always, I will share my brainstorming as well as my notes from teaching this topic.

Beowulf & Beo-Bunny

If you'd like to do something re. Old English before moving on to Chaucer, here are some detailed which-one-is-which notes about the five versions of Beowulf that I used the last time I taught it in 2015:

    The version I received as a gift when I was a girl and which provided wonderful background: Beowulf: An Adaptation by Julian Glover of the Verse Translations of Michael Alexander and Edwin Morgan

    Old English - read
    The version in Old English which is free online at Project Gutenberg

    Old English - listen to
    The version in Old English read aloud by J.B. Bessinger, Jr.:
    Beowulf CD
    Audible Audiobook

    Modern English - read
    The version translated into Modern English which is free online at Project Gutenberg, translated by Lesslie Hall

    There is also a nice side-by-side translation for Beowulf (PDF)
    from MIT

    Modern English - listen to
    The version translated into Modern English read aloud by Robertson Dean, translated by Robert K. Gordon: Beowulf

    This version is nice because each part is a separate track on the CD, unlike the Old English version. We have divided our study of Beowulf into five portions.
    "Story 1" is Grendel's First Attack and Beowulf's Arrival (prologue to part 10)
    "Story 2" is Grendel's Battle with Beowulf (part 11 to part 18)
    "Story 3" is Grendel's Mother (part 19 to part 26)
    "Story 4" is Beowulf's Return to Geatland (part 27 to part 31)
    "Story 5" is The Dragon and Beowulf's Death (part 31 to part 43)

If you don't want to go so deeply, James Rumford wrote a wonderful version -- my new favorite -- which is a retelling of the original written using ONLY Anglo-Saxon words that have survived to this day. It is a very powerful look at these ancient words!

Another option is James Rumford's Beo-Bunny, a charming and funny retelling of Beatrix Potter's classic story and written side-by-side in Old English and Modern English.

The Canterbury Tales: Essential Books

I'm sure you can find plenty of resources for free both online and at your local public library!

I'm using two books I already had on hand, my college textbook and a modern retelling of the Canterbury Tales by Geraldine McCaughrean. We will also be looking at the General Prologue in Middle English, which you can find as a PDF here.

The Norton Anthology of English Literature
Sixth Edition, Volume 1

The Canterbury Tales

by Geoffrey Chaucer
retold by Geraldine McCaughrean
illustrated by Victor Ambrus

Other Resources

Special Guests

It would be great to have Dr. Jeffrey Punske come in! He's a linguistics professor at SIUC, and we had talked in the past about having him come in to teach about the Great Vowel Shift.

Teaching Notes

The particular student for whom this block is designed is going to public school next year, so I am going to give him some pretty traditional assignments. It is important for him to begin to adjust to them.

Canterbury Tales: Character List

Side-by-side Translations available at

Side-by-side Translations also available at

Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, Lines 1-18

General Prologue

The Knight's Tale

The Miller's Tale

The Nun's Priest's Tale (Brother John)

The Reeve's Tale

    "A Racket at the Mill" from McCaughrean, p.38

The Clerk's Tale (The Scholar)

    "The Test of a Good Wife" from McCaughrean, p.44

The Wife of Bath's Tale

The Pardoner's Tale

Sir Thopas' Tale

    "A Gem of a Poem called Sir Topas" from McCaughrean, p.78

The Franklin's Tale

    "Love on the Rocks" from McCaughrean, p.83

    "The Promise" play script from Trostli

The Manciple's Tale (The Magistrate)

    "Snowy Crow" from McCaughrean, p.93

The Canon's Yeoman's Tale

    "Fool's Gold" from McCaughrean, p.97

The Friar's Tale

    "Going to the Devil" from McCaughrean, p.106

The Merchant's Tale

    "Old January and Young May" from McCaughrean, p.110

The Cook's Tale

The Man of Law's Tale

The Summoner's Tale

The Squire's Tale

The Physician's Tale

The Shipman's Tale

The Prioress's Tale

The Tale of Melibee

The Monk's Tale

The Second Nun's Tale

The Parson's Tale

Chaucer's Retraction


Monday, Mar 13

Tuesday, Mar 14

Wednesday, Mar 15

Thursday, Mar 16


    continue to read the General Prologue and work on completing the Character Chart activity


    special guest, Dr. Jeffrey Punske (Linguistics Professor at SIU)

    Canterbury Tales: Character Review Crossword (FREE on TpT)

    independent project
    watch PPT, assign Canterbury Tales PPT Assignment for HW, due Monday (2 slides)


Monday, Apr 3

    read The Knight's Tale: "Chivalry and Rivalry" from McCaughrean, p.7

Tuesday, Apr 4

    rough draft The Knight's Tale for MLB

    use a resource to help with the lance illustration

Wednesday, Apr 5

    read The Miller's Tale: "A Barrel of Laughs" from McCaughrean, p.19

Thursday, Apr 6


    rough draft The Miller's Tale for MLB

    use a resource to help with the barrel illustration

    read The Nun's Priest's Tale: "The Nightmare Beast of the Firebrand Tail" from McCaughrean, p.28

    read Chanticleer and the Fox retold by Barbara Cooney

    partner activity
    complete a Plot Triangle graphic organizer (FREE on TpT) for these two different versions of The Nun's Priest's Tale (each partner does one version), then use the two Plot Triangles to compare the two versions and discuss how they are similar or different (my students initially couldn't see any similarities at all; doing the graphic organizer made a big difference for them!)


    rough draft The Nun's Priest's Tale for MLB

    read remainder of Geraldine McCaughrean's book for SSR

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