The Vikings came from Northern Europe, an area that is now Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The Viking alphabet, known as the Futhark, is composed of 16 sound symbols known as runes. Each rune is composed of combinations of straight lines that made them relatively easy to carve into wood or stone. The visual simplicity of runes and their association with myth and magic make them popular with children of all ages.
Split the class into two. Give one group the 16 runes and their meanings. Get the other group to draw pictures relating to each meaning and ask the class to match the runes with the pictures. Pictures can include multiple images. For example, one might feature a man holding a bow near some water. Another might show a giant with a birch tree in the sun, or a god riding across the ice.
Stories from Sounds
Ask the children to compose a short story or song that includes as many of the runic meaning as possible. Give them examples of Viking folklore and mythology to help them with ideas. Include stories of the Rune Masters, experts who were specially trained to use runes for divination and sorcery, as these often prove inspirational to eager young minds.
Collect pebbles and practice writing each of the runes on them. Alternatively, use modelling clay to create mini runic tablets. Runes also can be drawn in sand, created using twigs or straws, and scraped out of any soft material. Older children can practice their wood carving skills using runes as their inspiration.
Use runes to devise a treasure hunt based on a series of clues. The first clue is a rune that indicates the hiding place of the second clue, and so on. At the end of the hunt, produce some suitably mock-Viking plunder. Intersperse the clues with historical facts and descriptions of Viking culture and practices. Adapt excerpts from the sagas to create a suitably Viking feel to the endeavour.
- http://cd7.e2bn.net/e2bn/leas/c99/schools/cd7/website/Vikings.htm Fen Ditton Community Primary School: Vikings
- NOVA Online: Runes Through Time; Nicole Sanderson
- BBC: Rune stones - Write a Message in Runes on a Rune Stone
- Primary Resources: History - the Saxons & the Vikings
- Omniglot: Runic Alphabet
- My Little Norway: Viking Runes
- Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images