In this unit study you will learn about Leif Erikson, Erik the Red and the Vikings. You will also learn some basic geography including latitude and longitude and directional terms. You will learn how to use a map and make some maps of your own. You will get to dress up like a Viking, build a Viking long house, make your own Viking games and more. This unit study is geared for elementary students and planned as a 4 week unit.
The books used for this unit study are Leif the Lucky and Who Were the Vikings.
We strive to provide free resources at Justmommies. You can help keep this unit study free by purchasing your books for this unit study from the links below.
Required books for Viking Unit Study
1. Read pages 1-8 in Leif the Lucky.
2. Discuss Erik and Leif's travels. What country is Erik the Red from? What countries have they traveled to?
3. Find Norway, Iceland, and Greenland on a map. Point out the compass rose on the map. Discuss directional terms North, South, East, and West. What direction would you be traveling to get from Norway to Iceland? From Iceland to Greenland?
4. Pretend you are a Viking. Make up your own Viking name.
5. Write a poem using your Viking name.
1. Read pages 9-17 in Leif the Lucky.
2. Leif grew up in Greenland. From your reading how would you describe the climate of Greenland? What are some examples from your story that tell you this.
Climate describes the type of type of weather a place has over a long period of time.
3. Bjarne told how he lost his course on his voyage to Greenland. What are some things you can use now a day to keep from getting lost? (examples: map, stars and sun, compass, etc) Did the Vikings have these?
4. Let's help Bjarne from getting lost. Draw a map from Norway to Iceland and then to Greenland. Use your imagination and make symbols on your map marking Leif's home, King Olav's home, and Bjarne's home. Include a map title, a legend, symbols, and a compass rose on your map.
A map title tells the subject of the map. A legend, also called a map key, explains what symbols mean. A symbols is something that stands for something else.
1. Read pages 18-26 in Leif the Lucky.
2. Get out your map from yesterday.
3. While looking at a map of the world, discuss the concepts of latitude and longitude.
Latitude describes imaginary lines that run from east to west across the surface of the earth. These lines are measured in degrees.
Longitude describes imaginary lines that run from north to south across the surface of the earth. These are also measured in degrees.
Find the equator on the map. Point out some of the countries the equator passes through. What is the equator?
The equator is 0° latitude. It is the official halfway point between the North Pole and South Pole.
5. Find the North Pole and South Pole.
6. Find the Prime Meridian on the map. What is the Prime Meridian? Can you guess what it is marking?
The Prime Meridian is an imaginary line that runs from north to south through Greenwich, England and divides the Earth in half. It is 0° longitude.
Does your map from yesterday show countries north or south of the equator. Are you closer to the North Pole or South Pole?
7. Discuss good manners. What are some ways you can show good manners? The man in the story used bad manners, while Leif used good manners.
King Olav gave Leif many gifts. One of the ways you use good manners is writing "Thank You" letters. Pretend you are Leif and write King Olav a Thank You letter. Make sure to use a heading, salutation, complimentary close, and signature. You can find a sample letter here. Click here to print out a blank letter form.
1. Read pages 26-35 in Leif the Lucky.
2. Leif discovers a new land. He names this place Vinland. What country do you think this is?
3. Find America on a map. Is it north or south of Greenland? What is the climate there? Compare and contrast the climate in America to the the climate in Greenland.
4. It must have been exciting for Leif to find this new land. Write a story about finding a new land. Make sure to describe your journey and use good descriptions to show what you find in your new land.
5. Include a title and cover page for your story. Draw pictures of your new land on your cover page.
1. Read pages 36-48 in Leif the Lucky.
2. Leif describes the people in Vinland as dark skinned people with black and unkempt hair. What does he call these people? Who do you think these people really were?
3. If Leif were to discover your family, how would he describe your family? How strange would you look to him?
4. Write a short story about Leif the Lucky discovering your family. Make sure to include a title and cover page. Add drawings from your story to your cover page.
1. Read pages 46-end of Leif the Lucky.
2. Leif and his family became scared of the people of Vinland. They realized their home was in Greenland. Can you remember a time when you were homesick?
3. Pretend you are Leif and are far from home. Write a letter home to your family telling what you have seen and what you miss from home. Remember to use a heading, salutation, complimentary close, and signature.
4. Review your map. Find Iceland, Norway, Greenland, and America.
5. Review longitude, latitude, equator, prime meridian, climate, and directional terms. You will need to remember these tomorrow for your Viking Bingo game!
1. Today is a fun day. Play Viking Bingo. Directions below. Today would also make an excellent day for a field trip.
2. Viking Bingo directions
Print out the Viking Bingo game cards here. There are 4 Bingo sheets to choose from. Give a different Bingo sheet to each child playing. (Note: If you have more than 3 players you can use a blank sheet and rearrange the order of answers.) You can print out the Viking Bingo sheets here - Viking Bingo player 1, Viking Bingo player 2, Viking Bingo Player 3, Viking Bingo blank sheet.
Rules to the game. This is played like regular bingo with a catch. There is a list of 24 questions. The answers to the questions are squares on the Bingo sheet. As they find an answer they place a bingo chip or use a highlighter to mark off the square. When they get 5 they have a Bingo. You can print the questions for Viking Bingo here - Viking Bingo Questions.
1. Read pages 2-3 in Who Were the Vikings.
2. The Vikings lived in Scandinavia. Discuss which countries are part of Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Denmark)
3. Discuss all the places Vikings went. Use your map and find them on the map.
4. Draw another map (or add to your existing map) showing all the places Vikings traveled. Add symbols to mark Dublin, Normandy, and Constantinople. Label all countries, oceans, seas, and rivers.
5. Discuss seas, rivers, lakes, and oceans. What are the differences between them? What similarities do they have?
6. Define seas, rivers, lakes, and oceans.
River - a large natural stream of water (larger than a creek) that flows to a lake or ocean.
Lake - a large body of water, usually fresh water, surrounded by land.
Sea - a sea is a smaller body of salt water, smaller than an ocean and usually connected to an ocean. Seas can be completely surrounded by land, like the Dead Sea or the Caspian Sea.
Ocean - very large body of salt water that covers most of the earth's surface. They are divided by the land masses of the earth into distinct oceans.
7. Can you find all the world's oceans on a map? What are they? (Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and Southern)
8. The Vikings traveled to many countries and several continents. What is the difference between a country and a continent? Can you find all the continents of the world? What are they? (Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia)
9. Define continent. Define country.
Continent - large, continuous land areas into which the Earth is divided
Country - a nation or state that is politically independent with it's own government, taxes, laws, and people.
1. Read pages 4-5 in Who Were the Vikings.
2. From your reading, can you name 3 items of clothing the Vikings wore?
3. Why did the Vikings wear face paint?
4. Begin working on your Viking costume.
5. Use beads and string to make your own Viking necklaces. Cut out a piece of cardboard and decorate it to make your own brooch. String this on with your beads to make a necklace.
6. Make Viking shoes. Take fabric and cut it so it will go around your shoes. Use string or another piece of fabric to tie it around your shoes.
1. Read pages 6-7 in Who Were the Vikings.
2. Discuss Viking families. Grandparents, parents, children, aunts, uncles and cousins all lived together in the same village. Compare this to your family.
3. Compare Viking life to your life. What similarities are there? What differences?
4. Write a Viking poem about life in a Viking village.
5. Continue working on your Viking costume. Make a Viking tunic. Measure your child's arm span from finger tip of right hand to fingertip of left hand. Measure from child's neck to knees. Measure across the widest portion of your child's torso and add about 10 -15 inches to this for a loose fit. Make a pattern of a cross with these measurements. Cut out your cross pattern out of fabric. Fold it in half and sew together to make a tunic. Cut a whole at the top to make your collar. Cut out another strip of fabric for a belt.
1. Read pages 8-10 in Who Were the Vikings.
2. Discuss Viking houses. What were Viking houses made of? Why didn't Viking houses have windows?
3. Make a Viking longhouse. Include a smokehole. Be creative and add decorations. You can even add furniture if you'd like.
Instructions for building a Viking longhouse:
You will need brown construction paper, decorative moss (which you can buy in the floral department where imitation flowers are sold), glue, a shoebox, and pipecleaners.
- Take brown construction paper and cover your shoebox.
- Use another sheet of construction paper and cut slits in it about one inch apart leaving room on the ends to glue to your shoebox. Cut another piece of construction paper into one inch strips. Weave the paper into your slitted construction paper.
- Use pipecleaners to make a frame for your roof. Bend one in half and make a triangle shape. Glue each end to the top side of the shoebox. Repeat this with another pipecleaner at the other end of the shoebox.
- Take another pipecleaner, or two, depending on the length of your shoebox. Wrap this at the point of your triangle and go all the way across to the other side of the box and wrap around the other point of the triangle. This should make a frame for your roof
- Glue the construction paper to the shoebox going over your roof frame.
- Use decorative moss and glue on your longhouse to make a more decorative effect.
1. Read pages 10-14 in Who Were the Vikings.
2. Discuss the following. Did the Vikings believe in God? Who was the most important Viking God? What was Valhalla?
3. The Vikings believed that thunder and lightening came from Thor riding his chariot across the skies. Another word for this type of story is a myth or folktale. A myth is a story that explains events in nature or why something came to be. Create your own myth. Include a title for your myth and cover page. Make sure to add pictures from your story to your cover page.
1. Read pages 14-15 in Who Were the Vikings.
2. Discuss the following. What was Viking food like? Is it similar to what you eat? Did Vikings have refrigerators? How did they preserve their food?
3. Vikings liked to have parties. Let's start planning your Viking party.
4. Make invitations to your Viking party. (We will have a Viking party at the end of the unit.) Draw Viking pictures on your invitations.
5. Make decorations if desired for your Viking party.
6. Write directions to your house for the party. Draw a map to your house. Include a map title, symbols, a compass rose, and a legend.
7. Copy the recipe on page 15 on to a notecard and have your mom or dad save it with their favorite recipes. (You will need this recipe for your Viking party.)
1. Read pages 16-17 in Who Were the Vikings.
2. Discuss the following. What did the Vikings do for fun? What do you like to do for fun? Is it similar to what the Vikings did?
3. What is a saga? A saga is a story telling the adventures of a hero or a family. Write your own saga. Make sure to include a title and a cover page with pictures from your story.
4. Discuss Viking games and celebrations.
5. Invent your own Viking game. Use a chess board or checker board or draw your own game board. Make up your own rules for hnefatl. You can use the game pieces provided or make your own.
1. Read pages 18-19 in Who Were the Vikings.
2. Vikings did not have books, but they did have picture stones. They would use an iron chisel or mallet and cut letters into stone or wood. The Viking writing was made up of 16 letters called runes.
3. Write your name in ruins. Use modeling clay and a wooden toothpick to carve your name in runes.
4. Remember back to your story Leif the Lucky. Draw a short comic strip depicting Leif's adventures.
1. Read pages 20-21 in Who Were the Vikings.
2. Discuss the following. How did the Vikings get around? What were the different types of boats? Can you name some of the parts of a longship? Why did Vikings carve dragon's heads on their ships:
3. Draw a picture of a Viking longship. Make sure to include a dragon head.
4. Archaeologists have helped us learn about the Vikings. What is an archaeologist? An archaeologist is someone who studies the life and customs of the past. Usually through digging up artifacts and remains. What are some things archaeologists have found from the Vikings?
5. Can you imagine finding a Viking ship buried in your backyard. Write a short story about finding a Viking ship in your backyard. Make sure to include a title and cover page with drawings from your story.
1. Read pages 22-23 in Who Were the Vikings.
2. Discuss the following. What was it like in a Viking town? What could you buy in a Viking town? Compare this to your local grocery store.
3. Did Vikings use money? Can you make your own Viking money?
4. Take cardboard and cut out circles to make your own Viking money. Decorate the circles to your liking.
5. Have a Viking shopping trip. Viking made money by selling crafts or services. Use some of the projects you have made thus far (Viking shoes, Viking, brooch and beads, Viking tunic, etc) to set up a pretend Viking store. Use your Viking money to buy and sell your crafts.
1. Read pages 24-27 in Who Were the Vikings.
2. Discuss the following. Did Vikings have kings? Discuss jarls, karls, and thralls. What's a thing?
4. Did Vikings have an army? What weapons did they use?
5. Make your own Viking sword. Use a long piece of cardboard to make your sword. Cut it out in the shape of a sword. Wrap tinfoil around the sword part and decorate the handle with crayons.
6. How did the Vikings protect themselves?
7. Make your own Viking shield. Use cardboard and cut out a large circle for your shield. Cut two small holes and thread rope or a piece of fabric to make a handle for your sword. Wrap in tinfoil to give a metallic look.
1. Read pages 28-31 in Who Were the Vikings.
2. Get out your map of where the Vikings went. Point out all the places Vikings went. Review the 5 oceans and 7 continents.
3. How did Vikings find their way? Was Greenland green? What was the climate in Greenland. Review the meaning of climate.
4. Finish your Viking costume. Make a Viking helmet.
Instructions for making a Viking helmet
- Measure around your child's head. Cut out a strip of poster board the length of your child's head plus an additional inch. (You will need a little extra room once you wrap this in tinfoil.) Tape the ends together to make the base of your helmet.
- Cut two more strips of poster board about an 1 1/2 inches wide. Tape these two strips to your crown in a cross pattern making the top of your helmet.
- Take two styrofoam cones to make your horns. (These can be found in the imitation floral section of your local craft store.) You will need 2-3 golf tees for each horn to put these in place. Line up the "horns" on the poster board on the section running left to right across the top. Push the golf tees through the poster board and into the styrofoam to hold the horns in place.
- Wrap your helmet in tinfoil.
It's party time!
Get out your Vikings costumes and decorations. Use your recipe for making Viking wild berry juice and make up a batch of your own. Make sure to bring your invitations to your party.
Get dressed up in your full costume and read your Viking poems and play hnefatfl!