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Gail S Hennessey's picture
Gail Skroback Hennessey taught for over 33 years, teaching sixth grade in all but two years. She earned a BA in early secondary education with a concentration in social studies and an MST in social...
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Viking Day is October 9th. What do YOU know about the Vikings?

Leif Eriksson Day is October 9th.  What do YOU know about the Vikings?

Did You Know? 
1. Those horned helmets, you often see with Vikings did not really exist. There weren’t any horns on their helmets. 
2. In addition to a statue to Leif Ericksson in the countries of Norway and Iceland, there are statues of Leif Ericsson in several cities in the United States: Minnesota, Boston, Cleveland and Seattle. 
3. Vikings had “fire-starters”. They mixed urine(sodium nitrate is found in urine) with a fungus called touchwood which was found on tree bark. The felt-like cloth would smolder for days so Vikings could take their “firestarter” with them! 
4. Some Vikings invaded other groups of people, frightening them by wearing wolf and bear skins. The word berserk comes from Berserkers, these particular Vikings. 
5. The first President to give Leif Eriksson credit for being the first European to discover America was Calvin Coolidge. He gave a speech where he made the statement. 
6. Leif Eriksson was honored with a U.S. Postage Stamp, in 1968. 
7. The word “law” comes from the Norse language. It is estimated that 20% of words in English come from the Norse language.
8. In a time when most people didn’t bath on a regular basis, the Vikings had razors, tweezers and archeologists have even found ear cleaners left behind from Norsemen. 
9. Vikings named three of the days of the week, still used today. Vikings worshipped  many gods. On Wednesday, they honored ,Odin, god of war(chief god). This became Wodensday(Wednesday). Thursday honored, Thor, god of thunder, and was called Thorsday(Thursday). Friday, was the day to honor their female goddess, Freya, goddess of love. Freyasday became Friday. 
10. Viking last names(called your surname  was based on the Patronymic naming system. This system is used today in the country of Iceland, home to the early Vikings. Leif, as Erik’s son, got the last name of Eriksson(son of Erik). A daughter of Erik, would have been named Erikdottir. (daughter of Erik).Thus, the last names in a family are different. 
  1. The Vikings used a writing system called Runes. Try writing a message using the Old Norse writing system. Another link to Runes.
  2. Icelandic sagas, (stories), told of the Vikings times. Read a story from the Vikings: How Odin lost his Eye and In the Giant’s House
  3. Draw a Viking ship. Write a day in the life of a Viking. What did you do? See? on your voyage.
  4. Another possible writing activity. The Viking myths(stories) told of a giant mean wolf named Fenrir. Write a story about the wolf. Draw a picture of Fenrir.
  5. Have students write a paragraph using 10 words which come from the Norse language:
  6. Check out the routes of the Vikings on this interactive map.
Part of my Ms. Bie Ografee Talk Show Series of plays, Leif Ericsson and his father, Eric the Red are guests on Ms. Bie Ografee's Talk Show. They share information about their lives and the Vikings. There is a Did You Know? section of fun facts, reading comprehension questions and a teacher section with lots of extension activities, links and the key.
  • Note: There are different spellings for Leif Ericsson’ name.
Illustration from