Norse Myth

The Norse Myths have been the subject of Tenderfoot’s study for the past eight weeks.  Using D’Aulaires Book of Norse Myths, Favorite Norse Myths retold by Mary Pope Osborne, and Roy Wilkinson’s The Norse Stories and Their Significance, I was able to come up with an enriching and interesting lesson block.

The starting point was the telling of the Creation, beginning with Gunnungagap,  Muspelheim, Niflheim, Ymir, Audumla, and the events that led to Odin, Vili, and Ve coming into being.  Once this was told, Tenderfoot retold and wrote her understanding of the story.  Nouns and verbs were underlined, and used as a springboard for writing sentences with attention to nouns and verbs.  We moved on to the tale of Odin, Vili, and Ve’s rebellion against the giants and Ymir, ending with the Creation of the worlds that live in the roots of Yggdrasil.  At this point the retelling and writing that Tenderfoot did was focused on tense:

Once there was nothing. There will be something.  There is a spark called Muspelheim.

There was a spark.  There will be something.  It is an icy mist called Niflheim.

There was an icy mist.  There will be something.  It is water.

There was water.  Something will climb out of the water.  There is an ice cow called Audumla.  There is a giant called Ymir.

She basically transferred the whole story in tense form, beginning with the Gunnungagap and ending with the Aesir ascending to Asgaard on the Bifrost, covering everything in between sentence by sentence using past, future, and present tense.  It was quite a rythmic activity.  We breathed out of this into discovering Yggdrasil’s inhabitants (the eagle, Nidhogg, Ratatsok, the sacred deer, and the three Norns) a bit more fully; everyone loved the imagery evoked by the squirrel running between Nidhogg and the eagle, carrying insults between the two.  There was a lot of discussion about how this began . . . . who spoke the first insult and why did they?  was it the squirrel himself who said something that inadvertently caused offense to one, so rather than take responsibility, he blamed the other, thus spurring the whole thing in the first place?

Wrapped up the Norse Myth origins with the three quests that establish Odin as All-Father.   These were quite well received and immediately linked to one another . . . . oh yes, one would need to remember the runes in order to use them, and with wisdom one would know who to share them with and how, and of course poetry would come out of it, for with the memory and wisdom to understand both written and spoken words, speaking them persuasively and imaginatively makes sense!!   Tenderfoot did a retelling of the quests and wrote about them, this time with attention to tidy handwriting, spellings, grammar, and arrangement of events, paragraphs, etc.

So we covered nouns, verbs, tense, grammar, spelling, handwriting, sentence order/structure, and more through the stories, which connected really well with what we were working on:  creative forces, intentional use of one’s will, words and their use, both written and spoken.  At the end of each week Tenderfoot copied a poem and drawing into her main lesson book, though she took many liberties in rendering them in her own way.  During these eight weeks we also arranged twigs in runic form, and built a home for the Norns by a well that sits by Yggdrasil, which as everyone points out should not be above the Norns but below, since the worlds are in its roots and the Norns are at the base above Asgaard!!   But we all know this and were unable to find a branch that could sit beneath the board, so a bit of artistic liberty was applied in the essence of creating 🙂

Seeing that Tenderfoot is able to do some original work within the format we’ve been using, I had her pick out her favorite stories from either D’Aulaires or Mary Pope Osborne’s Norse Myth books.  She then translated them into main lesson book material.  At some point the children wanted to know just whose stories are these anyway?  Tenderfoot returned from the library armed with books on Vikings one day, so we did a study on the people of Midgaard to wrap up the lesson block.  This wrap up covered the lives of the Norsemen, how they lived, what they did, and where they are in the world today, which led to more library books on Finland, Norway, and Sweden.  So we segued into some geography.

In the meantime Little Man did lots and lots of consonant blends, eight weeks of blending, mixed in with form drawing and the telling of fables that work well with blends, like The Ant and The Grasshopper and The Crow and The Pitcher.  We’d pick sets of blends . . . . br/bl, cr/cl/ch, dr, gr/gl, sp/sl/sh, etc . . . . . and spend a few days working with them.  He’d think of words with those blends, write them, then read them and use them in sentences one day.  Next day we’d read past work, see how many he could read back, write any more that he’d thought of then move to the next blend set.  At the end of the week he’d enter a picture and words in his Main Lesson Book.  Every two days or so we’d end with form drawing, either with chalk, crayon, or outside looking at leaves/finding forms, making them with sticks, or just hanging out, looking around, making observations, and enjoying some sun.  This pattern seems to work for him, so we’re flowing with it.

As for Stormy and Little Bird, between paper flower making, needle felting, drawing, gathering leaves, dipping said leaves in melted wax, and relocating caterpillars, I’d say they’ve enjoyed their days at school too.

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