Viking Discoveries Lesson

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Viking Discoveries Lesson
Objectives
Students will:
● Use online research materials and information from in-class discussions to write
an account of life as a Viking that illustrates an understanding of ISTEP writing
standards and ancient Nordic societies and culture
Materials and Resources
● Computers, laptops, or iPads with internet access
● The following web addresses: http://www.mnh.si.edu/vikings/ and
http://pbs.org/wgbh/nova/vikings
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Modern World Map
Several Smaller Maps of Europe
Paper, pens, and pencils
Markers
Procedure
● Engage students in a discussion of the Vikings. Ask where the Vikings originated
(Scandinavia), what the Vikings are perhaps best known for (raiding,
shipbuilding, sailing), and what they are perhaps less known for (farming, fishing,
iron work, trade, writing)
● Ask for volunteers to identify Scandinavia and the present-day countries of
Denmark, Sweden, and Norway on the world map. Pass out markers and the
smaller maps of Europe to different groups of students. Have the groups trace on
the maps possible Viking routes to Germany, France, and other European
countries; to Russia; to Constantinople (today Istanbul, Turkey); and to Iceland,
Greenland, and Newfoundland.
● Ask students to describe the Viking vessels known as longships. They should
understand that the longships were extremely seaworthy and swift, could be
outfitted to carry tons of cargo, and were designed with a shallow draft that
enabled the ships to enter small harbors and shallow waterways. Have the class
speculate about how these design characteristics may have helped the Vikings in
their surprise raids. Longships were the warship dragons of Viking sagas, and
raids by longships struck fear into the hearts of the enemy.
● Discuss the structure of Viking society with the students. The Vikings had much
greater gender equality than other societies in the same time period--why do the
students think this is? Have the students consider some of the following
questions before they begin their online research: how were the Vikings
organized politically? What was the role of slaves in Viking culture? What were
the social statuses of different professions, and what were the roles of men and
women in ancient Nordic culture?
● Tell students they are now going to research Viking life using the two websites
listed above and write a short letters to each other about their fictitious
experiences as a Viking. Sample subjects include, but aren’t limited to:
○ An account of a Viking trade voyage or raid
○ Travelling with Leif Eriksen or Erik the Red as they discover or settle a
new land
○ Attending a Viking funeral
○ A Viking style-saga as told by a Scandinavian bard
○ Life in a Viking coastal village or on a Viking farm
● Have the students write their names in runes at the bottom of their letters and
exchange them at random with other students in the class. Have the students
write short responses back to their Viking pen pals, and then exchange back with
their partner. Hang up the maps students made in the classroom, and collect the
letters and responses for grading
Evaluation
● Evaluate the students’ letters based on the ISTEP standards (or corresponding
state standards) for grade-level literacy., the historical accuracy of the content,
and the individual creativity demonstrated in the assignment. Students should
demonstrate cooperation with their “pen pals” and produce a response that is
relevant to the letter they receive and meets the literacy and accuracy standards
stated above
Sources
Peter A. Adams. Viking discoveries. Edited by Amy Donovan. Retrieved from
http://www.discoveryeducation.com/teachers/free-lesson-plans/science-mysterythe-vinland-map.cfm
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