Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Rulers of the Sea

The Vikings

The cutest most fearsome Viking ever!
No, no the Minnesota football team, the sea-faring explorers / warriors / traders / settlers who ruled the seas, and much of the Northern Hemisphere from the late 8th to mid 11th centuries.

The Vikings were savage and fearsome to their enemies and those who they raided and looted but they were also superb craftsmen and women, shrewd traders and excellent story tellers.  They developed a written language and explored and mapped much of the Northern Atlantic.  They were known for their excellent seamanship and ship-building skills.  I encourage you to learn more about this very interesting ancient society.  We found a book at the library, Viking by Witness Books.  It had pictures and art from all aspects of the Viking society and was pretty informative.  Unfortunately, I can't spend all day covering the Vikings, so we are going to focus on the longboats because that is what our art project covers.  

The Viking's fearsome longboats had wide but shallow bodies which were able to navigate both the wide, rough oceans and shallow rivers yet still be light enough to carry when land barriers presented themselves.  The wooden boats had terrifying heads carved into the front to scare the enemies before the fighting even began.  The sides of the ships had a shield rack that both protected the oarsmen from attack and  held their shields- clever design :)  The ships were mainly propelled by a large rectangular sail but when additional speed was needed, or the winds were light, they had huge oars that were used.  Because wood decays so easily, especially in the salt water, there are not many Viking ships left.  Fortunately though, the Vikings had a tradition of burying the rich in their ships and so archeologists have been able to uncover and share in museums some of these amazing boats!! 

We aren't in an area with a lot of Viking influence so I wasn't able to find a Viking field trip to go on, so we made our own miniature

Viking Longboat
 For the project you will need:
  • brown paper or cardboard for the boat
  • a piece of paper (you can choose your own color) for the sail and shields.
  • a drinking straw
  • glue or paste
  • stapler
  • scissors
  • markers
  • template or you can design your own
1. Fold the cardboard or paper in half.  I made a little pleat in the "bottom" by folding it back again about inch up so the ship will stand up.  Place the template or draw your own design with the fold being the bottom. 

2.  Cut out the design and staple along the sides- the "boat" is done.

3.  Cut out a sail.  The template had a fancy rectangle shape but any rectangle would be fine.  Tape the sail to the straw or use a hole punch and poke two holes for the "mast" to go through.

4.  Draw a Viking design (or whatever) on the sail and then staple the straw to the boat.

5.  Cut out and decorate a few shield and glue them to the side of the boat and VOILA! 

Your very own Viking Longboat!!! 

 "Have fun raiding the castle!!" A quote from the all time best movie ever- The Princess Bride!!  Not about Vikings but still a great movie!!

Good times, Good friends

One of the important aspects of the Danish culture is the concept called "hygge" (pronounced hYOO-guh).  This phrase refers to anytime when you are surrounded by family and friends and relaxing with some good food and drinks.  To do it right it should have a cozy and warm feeling.  Think candles or firelight.  It is an emotion you feel as much as an event.
So, in the spirit of hygge, we spent last night hosting a backyard movie night.  We invited friends, new neighbors, family, and pretty much anyone who wanted to come.  We set up a projector and movie screen in the yard, threw a bunch of pillows and blankets on the grass and made sure the coolers were full of drinks.  Once it got dark the popcorn started popping and the beer (and juice) started flowing.  The adults got to catch up with each other while the kids got to watch movies under the starry skies....

Hygge is awesome!!!