Norse History Unit Study – Content Based Learning

This school year took off and we seemed to be SO busy all the time! Blogging about our Ancient Rome unit study completely breezed by, but I will get our Norse information written down!

Our unit studies always, always start with mythology read-alouds. I did sneak in a quick, very sweet, picture book called Arthur and the Golden Rope for my little before we began, but our “official” Norse studies began by reading D’Aulaires Book of Norse Myths. We loved their Greek mythology book and the Norse edition is just as wonderful. After finishing the D’Aulaire’s book, we immediately moved on to Thor Speaks. We love the tone and sarcasm!

Once we were well into the D’Aulaire’s book, we began a long term project – the building of Yggdrasil. You can read about our building project here. We also started playing Norse Mythology Guess Who to really make sure we were familiar with all the gods, goddesses, and mythological creatures.

A week or so after we began building Yggdrasil we were still reading Thor Speaks. I felt it was time to start bringing in factual content.

Over the past year or so I’ve been reading a LOT of content from and the updated second edition from We used an Ancient Rome unit, my oldest did the 4th grade poetry unit, and my little did a Cycles in Nature unit. I like the factual content and content based language assignments. CKLA Amplify’s Norse unit begins with an interactive Viking Quest, introducing the geography of the Norse world and some of the trading and political ideas. We completed the accompanying workbook. It was a nice introduction, but not very deep.

Our read alouds continued, reading Blast Back Vikings, then The Dragon’s Hoard (a must!). We also started the original CKLA 3rd Grade The Viking Age Unit. I went with this over the second edition Amplify because the Amplify only covers mythology – we’d already read so much! I wanted a writing component, so the CKLA unit was a better fit for us than the CKHG unit. That’s a lot of mumbo-jumbo that doesn’t make sense unless you’ve really dived into all this. I’ll have to work on an explanatory post!

Anyway, the unit we used contains 8 lessons (plus another optional lesson) based upon a read aloud, discussion, vocabulary work (which we skipped), and written work. I felt we had enough background knowledge already to skip the first lesson so we began with lesson 2. Information about Norse life is told through a realistic historical fiction story. Both children participated in the discussion section. For the most part, my older daughter did the written assignments as designed, or even scaled up a bit. I scaled the work down for my little, often by giving her sentence starters or reducing the amount of work required.

During the first week of our CKLA unit we did just a couple of the lessons, worked on our long term Yggdrasil project, and read Life as a Viking multiple times along with our other daily work. We also completed a related Celtic Knot work math/art exercise from (second project down on the page)

During the second week of our CKLA unit it felt right to go all in! Friends attending school also had the week off, so we wanted a lighter week to see them. We started each of our three work days with a CKLA unit. I also had a craft available. After this we worked on our Yggdrasil project. In general, this took our whole 3 hour work cycle, but we threw in a couple more fun activities. First, the girls chose their own Viking names (Find your Viking name activity – scroll to the end of the page). On another day I introduced embossing work, with Norse/Celtic design stencils. Using my Cricut, I designed and cut some Thor’s hammer blanks. Using the designs we’d seen on the stencils and a wood burning tool, the kids got to design and burn their own necklaces.

As we switched our history work to factual work, exploring Erik the Red and Leif Erikson’s voyages and the Viking invasion of Britain, our read-alouds switched to Norse inspired fiction – Valkyrie and The Last Shadow Warrior. Both books draw on Norse mythology and feature strong female leads of Norse descent. I reviewed many of the Norse books we read here.

All through this time we continued to add finishing touches to our Yggdrasil tree and writing projects and worked through a couple of CKLA lessons each week. We got together with some friends who were also studying this period of history to read through and act out a Norse play together. We also love playing games from the time period we’re studying, so I drew up a Hnefatafl board, printed out some instructions and we learnt to play Viking Chess! Instructions vary from website to website, but we mostly used these rules.

As a final culminating activity we pulled out the Montessori Fundamental Needs Chart. I drew a table and took notes and the girls recalled their learning, deciding what we’d learnt about and sorting information into categories. The girls then chose their favorite fundamental need and wrote a paragraph explaining how the Norse met that need.

We also pulled out our School Nest Timeline books and added some Norse events to our timelines.

We all really enjoyed this unit. The mythology is fantastic – I hope we inspire you to read some!