Leather crafts taught at an in-school program


Teaching Shakespeare in the classroom


Students learn English country dance at the children’s workshops held every fall at the Northern Renaissance Faire site at Casa de Fruta.



School Programs

The NorCal Renaissance Institute provides hands-on workshops for students ages 10 to 16 so they can have some experience of life in the Elizabethan age of England. The workshops are designed to conform to the California State Standards in the Social Studies curriculum. The four workshops are:

Elizabethan Life
Taught by a credentialed teacher of history, this workshop describes the social classes, clothing, foods, education, religion, and customs of 16th century England. Selected students dress in period clothing and act out scenarios that describe aspects of life at the time, such as having a meal (which varied according to social class). Marriage customs, medical treatments, and family life are also covered.

Self-defense is important in any age, and it was very important in the 16th century. A master swordsman (advisor to many actors in movies) will instruct students in proper sword techniques — using dowels — as well as safety and the ethics of using a weapon. This is a popular workshop for the girls as well as the boys.

Country Dance
No matter what social class you belonged to, dancing in the 16th century was a very common pastime. Students will learn 2 or 3 easy country dances with an experienced dance teacher and a musician. These are dances that can be done throughout the school year as a P.E. activity.

Most things in the 16th century were made by hand at home or by skilled crafts people. Students will learn about the guild system of artisans common in the period, and will become artisans themselves as they make an individualized pouch or wristband which they can keep. Taught by a skilled leather artisan.


Workshops can be attended in one of two ways:

At the Renaissance Faire site next to Casa de Fruta, east of Gilroy on Highway 152 on Fridays, mid-September to mid-October.

The faire is held in the fall every year, and on Fridays during the faire, workshops are held in the recreated 16th century English village. A tour of the village is included as part of the workshops. Workshops begin at 8:30 and finish at about 2:30 p.m. Students bring their own lunch and drinks; water is provided throughout the day.

At your school
The teachers come in costume to your school and run the workshops described above in your classrooms. Students rotate from classroom to classroom; the crafts project is typically done outdoors if tables are available, and the swordsmanship class is also best done outside. Maximum is 15 students per class.

The basic fee is $32/student, which can vary up or down by a few dollars depending on the size of the group.

Email the education coordinator, Steve Johnson, at penbrush@earthlink.net, or call him at 650-355-7173 (leave message). Or call Dianne Longdo, Director, at 818-472-0588 (leave message).