Eli and I have certainly enjoyed a meandering pace through Story of the World for history. Because we’re never rushed to move on to the next chapter, it provides plenty of time for rabbit trails when he shows special interest in a topic.
One of those special interests this year was the Vikings. We had so much fun taking a quick unit study break to focus more deeply on Viking history!
Viking Unit Study
I think it was likely the strength with which Vikings are portrayed that may have first caught my son’s attention. Or, the story his brother told about Viking funerals and burning boats. Either way, Eli was very motivated to learn more. And, I was happy to oblige.
That reminds me: Don’t be afraid to take rabbit trails (sometimes called delight-directed or student-led learning) in your homeschool. There is typically so much fruit that grows from these motivated moments that you’ll be surprised how much MORE learning actually takes place. And if you’re a parent of advanced or gifted students, rabbit trails are almost imperative to quench curious minds.
Get a downloadable copy of the Viking unit study below!
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All unit studies – even those that are short and sweet must include living literature in our home. After perusing my own bookshelves and taking a quick trip to the library, this is the amazing set of books that piled up in our schoolroom. Eli didn’t read all of them by a long shot, but I thought I’d give you the entire list just in case you need it. His two favorites…If You Were There: Viking Times by Antony Mason and Leif the Lucky by Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire.
The Real Vikings by Melvin and Gilda Berger
DK Eye Wonder Viking by Carrie Love and Lorrie Mack
DK Eyewitness Books Viking by Susan M. Margeson
Metropolis Viking Town by Jacqueline Morley and Mark Bergin
National Geographic Kids Everything Vikings by Nadia Higgins
You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Viking Explorer by Andrew Langley
If You Were There: Viking Times by Antony Mason
Leif Erickson Junior Biography from Ancient Civilizations by John Bankston
Adventures with the Vikings by Linda Bailey
Leif the Lucky by Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire
The Vikings by Elizabeth Janeway
The Adventures of Thor the Thunder God retold by Lise Lunge-Larsen
D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths by Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire
We’ve been having so much fun with our new whiteboard because it’s much bigger than any we’ve ever had. Spelling and vocabulary lessons take place right on the whiteboard this year. It’s surprising how much more motivating lessons are when they move from paper to whiteboard. Go figure.
Most of the time, our spelling/vocabulary lessons look like this:
- I call out a word and Eli attempts to spell it following all the spelling rules we learned through the Logic of English Essentials curriculum. (He’s pretty good at getting new words right the first try!)
- I ask him what he thinks the word means. If he doesn’t know, I’ll use it in a sentence. If he still doesn’t know, he has to look it up in a dictionary (or on the internet) and then use it in his own sentence.
I didn’t ask Eli do all these project-based and/or research-based activities! He was presented with the list below and asked to choose 10 items. Ten may seem like a lot, but some of the lesson options are really very easy.
Whenever I put a list like this in front of my children, they are expected to choose a wide variety of activities. They know to come up with plan that includes a mix of easier vs. harder tasks, writing vs. non-writing assignments, and research vs. creative types of activities. My kids have had lots of practice and know how to “mix it up” on their own.
If your children are new to project-based, research-based learning, you’ll want to guide their choices until they get the hang of it. You will present a group of three activities that are similar in goals and ask your children to choose one of the three. Then you’ll group another set of three together and ask them to choose one. Continue in this manner until you’re happy with the workload.
You can choose to assign all the activities at once and set a time frame for completion – a few days or more depending on the complexity of assignments. Or, if your children need more guidance, you can ask them to finish one assignment before moving on to the next.
On to the Viking unit study activity list!
– The word “Viking” was first used in 1801. Find out what this group of people called themselves. (History)
– The Vikings hailed from Scandinavia. Look up what countries this included and label them on a map. (Geography)
– Research what the Vikings were like. Write a summary of what you find. (History, Language Arts)
– Write a list of 5-10 adjectives that best describe these people. (History, Language Arts)
– The Viking Age lasted from approximately 793-1066 AD. How long ago was that? (If you use a timeline, be sure to mark this period.) (History, Math)
– How many years did the Viking Age last? (Math)
– Many Vikings were gifted storytellers. Tell a friend or family member about an adventure you’ve had. Use lots of details! (Language Arts, Social Studies)
– Trading was a large part of the Viking way of life. Set up your own bartering station. What do you have to offer? What can someone offer you? (History, Social Studies, Math)
– While both Greenland and Iceland eventually became successful Viking settlements, their settlement in Newfoundland in North America was abandoned. Write a fictional story explaining why that happened. (Language Arts)
– Locate Greenland, Iceland, and Newfoundland on a map and label them. (Geography)
– Find out what a “berserker” was. What word in the English language is derived from this word, and what does it mean? (History, Language Arts)
– October 9, 1964 became the U.S.’s first Leif Erickson Day. Who was Leif Erickson? Write a report. (History, Language Arts)
– The Viking warship was called a longship. Draw a picture of one and label the parts. (Art, Science, History)
– How did the longship’s design enable it to be so fast? (Science, Critical Thinking)
– Longships often had a carving of a dragon, snake, or other creature on the prow to scare away “sea monsters.” Sculpt your own carving out of a bar of soap. (Art, History)
– Is there such a thing as sea monsters? Make a list of large aquatic animals you think they may have been referring to. (Science)
– Build your own longhouse using sticks from outside or craft sticks, mud or clay, and grass or felt for the roof. (Art, History)
– The Vikings weren’t only warriors. Find out what types of work they did. What would you choose to do if you were a Viking? (History, Social Studies)
– The Vikings believed in many gods. Read about their mythology in D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths or another related book. (History, Language Arts)
– Choose a famous Viking to research and give an oral report. (History, Language Arts)
Erik the Red
Bjorn Ironside and Hastein
Oleg of Kiev
Cnut the Great
– Research Viking swords and shields. Using cardboard, foam, or another sturdy material, make your own sword and shield. (History, Art)
– Research the type of clothing Vikings wore. Draw a picture using the descriptions, or better yet, make your own costume! (History, Art)
– Prepare your own Viking feast of roast meat, salted fish, bread, and fruit. Invite some friends over and serve it on wooden plates. Wear your costume if you made one! (Life Skills, Social Studies, History)
– Make your own Viking nickname. Start with your first name. Add “the” and an adjective that is immediately followed by a noun, such as “William the Littlebeard.” Now you’re a true Viking! (Language Arts)
– Find some photos of Nordic runes. Develop your own runic form of writing. Invent a message, and carve it into a stick or rock. (History, Language Arts)
– A skald, or professional poet, used to shout out impromptu poems in the middle of a battle. Try composing your own poem in the spur of the moment. (Language Arts)
– What lasting contributions to society did the Viking culture make? Write an essay or give a short speech on what you find. (History, Language Arts)
Printable Viking Unit Study
For your convenience, I’ve created a quick-reference to all the books, vocabulary, and activity ideas from this post! Grab the 6-page printable Viking unit study by entering your email address below.
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