King Arthur

Grades 1+

August, 2017. Seven-year-old Matilda and her younger sister, Lois, are on vacation in Cornwall, England. With their father, Paul, they sit in front of a flickering campfire near a small lake. Paul tells them about King Arthur.

“It is in this very lake,” he says, “into which one of King Arthur’s men threw the king’s famous sword, Excalibur.”

Matilda is sure her father is making up the story to get Lois and her interested in history. Besides, she knows that there was no real King Arthur. She yawns and falls asleep.

The next morning, the family goes for a swim. The day is blistering hot. Matilda is in waist-deep water when steps on something metallic. She squats, grabs the object, and raises it over her head.

And is stunned by what she has found.

“Dad,” she calls her father, “Excalibur!”

“Don’t be silly, Matilda,” Paul says. “It’s probably a bit of fencing.”

Paul inspects it. A sword, all right. The blade is about four feet long. It’s rusty but not very old.

The family sloshes ashore to inspect the weapon while they eat lunch. 

“It’s probably an old prop,” he tells her. “Several movies have been filmed here.”

Matilda sighs. Tears form in her eyes.

Her mother joins the discussion. “Don’t be disheartened. How many kids do you know who find a sword in a lake?”

It does turn out to be a movie prop. If it were Excalibur, and if it could talk, it would tell stories of adventure, courage, and sacrifice.

Stories of myth . . . for most historians feel there was no King Arthur.


But we can dream, can’t we?

King Arthur relied on his wife, Guinevere and on the Knights of the Round Table. But it is Excalibur that served him best. It is this sword that made him king in the first place.

As legend goes, King Arthur lived from 470 to 537. His father, a Breton king, and his mother, a princess, had to give the newborn to Merlin, a feared magician, in exchange for his services. Merlin predicted a great destiny for the boy. He raised Arthur as a knight without telling him of his origins.

One day, Arthur’s father, King Uther, died without leaving a son to be king. According to some legends, after the king’s body was burned, the people discovered a sword embedded in a magic rock – or an anvil, which blacksmiths use for beating heated metal into tools and weapons. The myth varies.

Other legends say it was a rock – and it was floating in the lake.

Whichever the case, an inscription on the sword said that only the true king could pull it out. Many knights tried, but all failed.


Excalibur remained firmly in place. Several years went by. Then a teenager managed to extract it. It was Arthur.

The people, however, refused to recognize Arthur’s authority. Merlin had to step in and reveal the truth. He told them Arthur was the rightful heir to the throne.

 As king, Arthur proved to be honorable and courageous. Surrounded by his knights, he protected his people from invaders. Once, he went to Gaul, France, to help its king, Léodagant, fight. After the victory, Léodagant gave Arthur the hand of his daughter, Guinevere. Her name meant white fairy. She was beautiful and funny, and Arthur loved her. They married and lived together in the castle of Camelot.

King Arthur fought countless battles. But the Battle of Camlann was his last. Excalibur’s sheath – the scabbard that held Excalibur – was said to make its wearer’s wounds heal instantly. But the scabbard had been stolen by Arthur’s half-sister, Morgan le Fay, in revenge for the death of her son, whom Arthur had killed in a duel.

With Excalibur, Arthur fought the forces of evil, but without the scabbard, he was fatally wounded. The legendary sword fell beside him. Knowing he would die, he ordered his soldiers to take him to Dozmary Pool, where Matilda would later find the movie prop.

But Arthur died before he could throw the sword into the lake.

Until Matilda found it

A knight, Sir Bedivere, grabbed the sword and threw it in the lake. An arm arose from the water to receive the sword. It was the Lady of the Lake. She took Excalibur below, where it remained on the bottom of the lake.

Until Matilda found it.

Except she didn’t.

But someone did find an ancient sword a year later. An eight-year-old girl found a 1500-year-old sword in a lake in Sweden.

So you never know…

King Arthur– Activity 1

  • Match the words below with their definitions.

a. stunned ____

b. prop ____

c. metallic ____

d. duel ____

e. myth ____

f. gave Arthur the hand ____

g. scabbard ____

h. authority ____

i. countless ____

j. embedded ____

1. many

2. when a father or mother approves of a marriage

3. ancient story

4. something used in a movie or play 

5. where a sword is kept

6. something made from metal

7. sunk into

8. fight with weapons between two persons

9. power of someone in charge

10. when you cannot believe something

King Arthur– Activity 2

Find the words below in the essay. Then fill in the blanks of the noun test.  For example:


The ______________________.

The   runners

Some words will not fit.  Skip those.  Don’t identify their part of speech. For example:


The    enjoy

Write N after all the words that are nouns.  Don’t worry about the others.  Use the noun test: noun =  the ______   

1. Arthur

4. water

7. weapon 

10. rock 

13. years

2. Matilda

5. head

8. lunch

11. lake

14. Gaul

3. family 

6. blade 

9. Table

12. teenager 

15. Battle 

King Arthur Activity 3

Repeat King Arthur Activity 2.  But this time you sometimes you will fill in the second blank.  To do that, you may need to fill in the first blank with a word that is not on the list. For example:


The ______________________ named __________________________.

The Camelot The kingdom named  Camelot. 

Some words will not fit either blank.  Skip those.  For example:


The  about     The person named about 

Identify the nouns in the list below. Take into account how the word is used in the essay.

Write N after all the words that are nouns.  Don’t worry about the others.

Use the noun test: noun =  the ______   OR   the _______ named _______  

1. sword

4. Sweden

7. floating 

10. dream

13. story 

2. Morgan le Fay

5. Guinevere

8. people

11. movies 

14. Dad

3. Pool

6. Merlin 

9. mother

12. know 

15. weapon