Home School Years

Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Who Were The Vikings?

Related Posts:

Our World

Explorers’ Route Map

Medieval Kingdoms: Castles, Knights & More


Recommended Books:

  • Yo, Vikings! by Judy Schachner
  • Hiccup, The Seasick Viking by Cressida Cowell
  • Viking Ships At Sunrise (Magic Tree House series) by Mary Pope Osborne
  • The Vikings: Facts, Stories and Activities by Robert Nicholson & Claire Watts
  • You Wouldn’t Want To Be A Viking Explorer! Voyages You’d Rather Not Make by Andrew Langley

Target Vocabulary: abroad, archaeologist, craftsmen, colony, Erik The Red, explorer, farmer, fisherman, futhark, knorr, Leif Erikson, master boat builder, Medieval, Middle Ages, monastery, mythology, Nordic, Normans, Norse, Odin, pirate, raider, runes, Rus, Scandinavia, settlement, trader, Viking, Vinland, warrior

Lesson Themes:

Discussing Viking Voyages as part of our lesson on Vikings

Learning about Viking voyages

Who were the Vikings? ~ Viking is a term given to the Norse people from southern Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway and Denmark) during the Middle Ages. The Middle Ages is a period in history between ancient times and modern times. Another name for Middle Ages is Medieval Period (medieval is a Latin word meaning middle). The word Viking is said to mean “pirate” in Old Norse language, but Vikings were more than just pirates ~ they were also fierce warriors, master boat builders, explorers, farmers, skilled craftsmen, traders and fishermen. Viking behavior can be categorized in two general ways: how they interacted at home (settlement or homeland) and abroad (away from home):

  • At Home ~ those who lived in their homelands or settlements were primarily farmers, fishermen and great craftsmen and metalworkers (skilled at carving weapons, jewelry and other objects), but they also had to be fierce warriors because they had to defend themselves against anyone trying to attack them/their village.
  • Abroad ~ those who traveled away from home did so for three primary reasons: to explore new lands in hopes of colonizing more settlements (explorers), attacking the British Isles and their monasteries in search of treasures (pirates), and those who traveled to the Mediterranean and as far as Constantinople (Turkey) to trade with European, Arab, Asian and African merchants (traders). You can expand this lesson by discussing the Vikings’ long wooden ships (called knorrs or dragon ships) which resembled long sea serpents.

I used this fantastic Viking voyages board game map to discuss the three main types of voyages made by Vikings: exploration, pirating/raids, and trade based, as well as to show where their settlements were located around the region during the Viking Age. You can expand the lesson by introducing other names used for Viking people in Europe: in northern France they were called Normans (northmen) and in eastern Europe they were called Rus (redheaded people). Today, those areas where they lived are known as Normandy and Russia.

The Viking Alphabet ~ The Viking alphabet (called futhark) was made up of 24 characters/letters known as runes which they carved into rune stones.

Norse Mythology & Days of the Week ~ Discuss how the names of the days of the week were influenced by Norse mythology (except Saturday):

  • Monday = Moon’s Day (the moon was important for farming)
  • Tuesday = Tyr’s Day (son of Odin and Frigg; he was the sky god)
  • Wednesday = Odin’s/Wodin’s Day (chief god of the Norsemen); pronounced Wodin in Old Norse
  • Thursday = Thor’s Day (son of Odin; god of thunder; most popular Norse god)
  • Friday = Frigg’s or Freyja’s Day (Frigg was wife of Odin; Freyja was goddess of love & beauty)
  • Saturday = Saturn’s Day (kept as Roman god)
  • Sunday = Sun’s Day (the sun was very important; essential for life)
  • Norse gods interactive family tree

I Want To Be A Viking! ~ Use this Vikings Training School interactive game to give a child an exercise in three ways a person trained to develop the skills needed to be a Viking. This activity offers the options of choosing a boy or girl character. Either has to complete three tests/tasks and at the end, receives a certificate with their name written in runes and a grade showing how well they scored, which you can print.

Erik The Red and His Son Leif ~ Erik The Red and his son Leif Erikson (son of Erik) are two of the most famous Viking explorers: Eric explored Greenland and Leif went farther south to become the first European to reach North America. Leif is also credited for founding Vinland (Newfoundland). Archaeologists have found evidence of Viking settlement in Canadian and American parts of North America. Historians believe the natives fought the Vikings who ended up leaving North America and going back to their homelands. Offer a brief biography of this father and son exploration team including a map to identify the geographical areas discussed. Here’s a blank Biography Worksheet to work with.

Art & Crafts ~ create art and crafts related to Vikings theme:

Related Resource:

BBC Primary History: Vikings interactive guide


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