Our study this year begins with The Vikings as they were the first Europeans to discover the Americas. Leif the Lucky and his father, Erik the Red, and his men lived in Greenland. Leif’s sea faring voyages eventually led him further out west to Vinland (North America) where he and his men built wood shelters to stay for the season. When he returned to Greenland, he brought the tale of Vinland with him, but no one was to return for nearly 500 years.
Beginning our journey into early American history, we read some wonderful biographical and fictional books about the Vikings, Erik the Red, and Leif the Lucky.
America’s Story Part 1: A Living History of Our World
by Angela O’Dell
This is a wonderful narrative book about the overall, general topics in American history. It is written in Charlotte Mason style, so it has the text, then breaks for narration from the student so they can tell the story back to you. This format is used so you know they’re comprehending what is being read.
Leif the Lucky
by Ingri & Edgar Parin D’Aulaire
from Beautiful Feet Books
What an amazing children’s biographical book. It’s incredibly detailed and beautifully written for children and adults to enjoy. It tells the true story of Erik the Red and Leif the Lucky and their journey. Not only does it discuss the finding of the new world, but also of the transition from the belief in multiple gods to the belief in Christianity.
from Usborne Books
This Usborne book is a great reference material for understanding life as a Viking. It introduces children to what the Vikings wore, ate, how they lived, where they traveled and what they conquered.
Magic Tree House: Viking Ships at Sunrise
by Mary Pope Osborne
The Magic Tree House is a series of books that follows Jack and Annie on their voyages back through time and to different places as they solve mysteries. Viking Ships at Sunrise follows them as they travel back in time 1,000 years to Ireland. There they encounter Monks who are writing a book that Jack and Annie must bring back with them in order to save it from the warring Vikings.
The Imagination Station: Voyage with the Vikings
by Marianne Hering & Paul McCusker
The Imagination Station is a Christian-based series that follows Patrick and Beth as they also solve mysteries of the past. This particular book went into a lot of fanciful detail of meeting Erik the Red and Leif the Lucky, extrapolating what we read about them from history to develop their personalities in this wonderfully written adventurous book.
We pulled out the globe and traced around where the Vikings lived, what they conquered, and where they explored. We also followed the voyages of Jack & Annie and Beth & Patrick as we read through both of those books.
Then I printed off and taped together this fun Viking board game, which I found here for free.
While taking a look at the Usborne book, the kids thought it would be a great idea to make some Viking shields.
We cut out some circles from cardboard and divided it into four sections. Then the kids painted each section with diagonally-same colors.
We used old milk carton handles for the handles on the back. Normal glue doesn’t work to hold on the plastic, it needed superglue.
Then we duct taped across the front and around the edges and decorated with jewels.
The Viking Longboat
The Longboat was another fun activity. I found a stencil for it for free here using just a cereal box for the frame.
We drew around the stencil and cut out the shape of the boat.
Then we put masking tape over the face of it so it could be painted. The shiny surface of a cereal box doesn’t take paint very well.
And applied the paint, outside
Then we cut out and attached the decorations (shields, serpent’s head, mast)
We added cute little Vikings for the dramatic effect.
That begins our unit on Early American History!