Vikings for Schools
The Centre for the Study of the Viking Age is committed to sharing knowledge of Viking Age culture as widely as possible and where better to start than with young children? Our Viking Studies experts, both staff and students, put their extensive knowledge to the service of our local primary schools. Study of the Vikings is an important element of the KS2 History curriculum and we enjoy bringing our experience into classrooms in the Nottingham area as well as inviting classes to come to us.
We have an impressive collection of Viking Age replica artefacts, weapons and costumes which are used to really bring the sessions to life.
Download a leaflet for your school
For more information please contact Paul Cavill.
Student volunteer Hayden Ashby with a young Viking enthusiast from Firbeck Academy, Nottingham, at Mayfest 2014.
PLEASE NOTE: We are now fully booked for this year.
We offer a range of workshops to introduce young people to all aspects of the Viking Age. We cover Viking warriors and travel, Viking homesteads, runes, place-names, archaeology and burials, Old Norse mythology and language. We show how the life, language and culture of the Vikings has left its traces on English language and culture even today.
The CSVA boasts an extensive and growing collection of high-quality and authentic Viking Age replica artefacts for children to handle and try out for themselves, thus bringing the topic to life in the classroom. We aim to provide both subject expertise and pedagogy to ensure a valuable and memorable learning experience.
Volunteering to work with the CSVA on the Vikings for Schools project is a valuable experience for our students, who are all required to have studied at least one relevant module before being allowed to take part in the project. Many of them wish to pursue a career in teaching and have found this experience rewarding and useful. The students, who might be either undergraduates or master's students, are also pleased to be able to put their newly-acquired knowledge into practice in a real-world environment.
MA student Sam Roach said: 'The project provides an excellent opportunity to put your university education into practice, making a genuinely positive impact on the local community. Simultaneously you will boost your CV and learn new skills.'
MA student Ellen Fisher said: 'The Vikings for Schools project is a unique opportunity, giving you the chance to connect with children ... and teach them not only about Vikings but the opportunities of university. Whilst the subject matter, coupled with the chance to show off your sword skills, means that most of the children will be fairly engaged from the get go, the most rewarding moments are those when you garner the interest and excitement of pupils.'
Recent Schools Engagement Activities
In 2014-15 we visited several schools in Nottinghamshire as well as hosting our own in-house workshops.
In association with the University's Widening Participation unit we visited Southwold Primary, Rosslyn Park Primary, Ambleside Primary and Brocklewood Primary in the autumn semester and Welbeck and John Clifford Primaries in the spring semester. Our team of volunteers visited the schools once a week over a four-week period providing a highly successful series of workshops for the children.
In-school workshops usually run in November and February, but schools are welcome to contact us with particular requests and we will attempt to accommodate these if possible.
We can also put on in-house workshops for schools that are able to visit the University, and participate in University-organised Discovery Days.
In February and March 2015 we hosted in-house workshops for Middleton, Carrington and Bramcote Primaries. There were four sessions provided and children - divided into four groups named after Viking countries (Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) - spent the morning visiting each of the sessions in turn. The sessions were run by academics and PhD students with the support of our undergraduate and master's student volunteers.
Dr Jayne Carroll and her team provided a highly stimulating session on place-names; the children learned just how much place-names can tell us, including how to recognise evidence of Viking settlements in local place-names. They were engaged in an interactive and stimulating activity and the teachers were given a set of specially designed maps of the locality with accompanying cards for use in future activities.
Viking re-enactor and student Hayden Ashby with Dr Freya Harrison drilled the children in the art of Viking combat. The children were thrilled to handle real Viking weaponry (under close supervision, of course!) and to make their own shields and shield-wall.
Aya Van Renterghem and her team taught the children to read the Old Norse runic alphabet. They 'carved' their names in runes using matchsticks, examined replicas of Viking rune-stones and created their own.
Dr Paul Cavill and his team explored with the children just how much we can learn about Vikings through archaeology. The children handled replica 'grave-goods', played 'guess the object' and created their own Viking burials using peg-dolls and plasticine, as Dr Cavill regaled them with tales of Viking heroes.
Mrs Rachel Humphriss, teacher at Carrington Primary, said: 'Once again thank you for involving us in such a well-organised, educationally valuable and fun session. The children enjoyed it hugely and got lots of high quality teaching which has enhanced their knowledge and understanding of Viking times. It was also a great opportunity and for many first taste of university life.'
Peter Strauss, headteacher of Middleton Primary, said: 'Thanks so much for making this happen for our Y3s. It's great to be working in partnership with the University to make history come to life for the children. We really appreciate it.'
School Visit to University - How the project started
Back in March 2010, Dr Sara Pons-Sanz and Dr Christina Lee organised a visit to the University for 60 pupils from Hucknall National Church of England Primary School, Nottingham, to find out more about the Vikings and what it is like to study at University. The children showed their own work on Viking projects and learned more about Vikings from staff and students at the University.
The children had been working on Viking projects with their teachers Mr Fowlie and Mrs Wright, and brought their own models of Viking houses to show academic members of staff. The pupils explained what they had brought for their exhibition and why they enjoyed learning about the Vikings. Their presentation was enjoyed by all, and the pupils received enthusiastic applause from their audience! They kindly allowed us to keep the models to exhibit in the School.
The day was led by Dr Sara Pons-Sanz and Dr Christina Lee. They guided the children through an exciting day of presentations and activities that included a welcome and introduction about university life from Rachel Stammers, who is a student in the School of English. Rachel’s talk prompted lots of questions from the children including “Can you come to University if you want to be a footballer?” and “How many rooms do you have?”
Photo Gallery from the visit
Dr Christina Lee gave a short talk about material culture, death rituals and their relation to everyday life. The pupils had plenty of ideas about Viking clothing, possessions and life-styles, and joined in a lively discussion before breaking into groups to talk about Viking funerary displays and what objects Vikings would have chosen from everyday life to add to a ship burial.
The pupils were divided into the following groups: Norwegians, Danes, Swedes, Icelanders, Greenlanders and Faroese. Each group was helped by students from the School of English. The pupils met some current students from the School of English - Teva Vidal, Malte Ringer, Andrea Blendl, Abigail Dear, Charlotte Havergal, and David Whitehouse.
After a short break, Dr Sara Pons-Sanz talked about Old Norse terms in English, and the children were asked to identify the Norse loanwords in an extract from a Harry Potter book.
Dr Paul Cullen talked to the pupils about place-names around Hucknall with Old Norse elements. The children were then given maps, and were asked to find and colour place-names that contain Old Norse words and personal names.
During the last part of the morning Annette Jones, a student in the School, showed the pupils how to write in Viking runes. Everyone had a chance to write their name on a stick to mirror the same kinds of activities Vikings would have done many hundreds of years ago.
The children had such a lovely time that they all sent thank-you cards, and expressed their gratitude to all those who were involved in the planning and delivery of the day.
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