This exploration is for all ages, as the colored smilies show. You can explore the Viking people with your whole family together!
The Viking people activity is a history exploration from Early Medieval Europe. Layers of Learning has hands-on experiments in every unit of this family-friendly curriculum. Learn more about Layers of Learning.
The Vikings were Northern people, sometimes called the Norse, who lived in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway and sailed the seas in search of trade and plunder. They lived in long houses and huts made of wood. Their raiding period lasted from 793 when a Viking ship raided and destroyed Lindisfarne Abbey in England until 1066 when William of Normandy, a descendant of Viking settlers, invaded and took over England.
Step 1: Library Research
Before you begin exploring, read a book or two about Vikings. Here are some suggestions, but if you can’t find these, look for books at your library about Vikings, Leif the Lucky, or Eric the Red. The colored smilies above each book tell you what age level they’re recommended for.
As Amazon affiliates, the recommended books and products below kick back a tiny percentage of your purchase to us. It doesn’t affect your cost and it helps us run our website. We thank you!
Guts & Glory: The Vikings
by Ben Thompson
Sons of Vikings
by David Gray Rodgers & Kurt Noer
Step 2: Viking People Exploration
You will need colored pencils (or crayons or paints) and a Viking World Map.
Color a map of the raiding routes and areas of trade and settlement of the Vikings. Many countries of Europe would eventually be run by Viking people, including Britain, France, Russia, and Southern Italy. Vikings also fought as mercenaries in places like the Byzantine Empire. On the map below you can see some of the routes their ships took when they were raiding or trading. You can also see where they made permanent settlements.
For younger ones only: Viking People Craft
For the Viking People Craft you will need crayons, glue, scissors, and the Viking People printable.
To make the Viking people craft, print out both pages of the printable on card stock. Color the people and their belongings. Cut out all of the parts. Glue the rectangular bodies into a cylinder. Then glue together the head, arms, hair, feet, and other body parts. Finally, glue on the weapons and belongings.
Step 3: Show What You Know
Present your map to a group. Explain the map out loud. Take questions from the group.
If you made Viking people, write a short biography about your person. What is his or her Viking name? What does she or he do to support their family? Have they been on a raid? Do they like going on ocean voyages? Make it interesting by learning as much as you can about how Vikings lived their everyday lives.
Additional Layers are extra activities you can do or tangents you can take off on. You will find them in the sidebars of each Layers of Learning unit. They are optional, so just choose what interests you.
On the Web
Visit the BBC Bitesize web page about the Vikings.
It has interactive images you can click on to learn more about a Viking’s weapons and ships.
Vikings wrote in runes. Many of the Viking people were literate, not just a priest class. There are runes that say things like, “Rolf was here” carved into stones.
There have also been poems, business letters, love letters, people’s names, and rude jokes found carved on bone or wood.
Most of the Viking runes still in existence are on ceremonial stones and tell of a great hero or mark a burial place.
Vikings settled at least temporarily in North America in around 980 or so, about 500 years before Christopher Columbus. One famous Viking leader was Leif Erikson. Learn more about him.