We just finished our second block on Norse Mythology. This is a standard block for 4th graders (10 year olds) in the Waldorf curriculum. I did not use a scripted curriculum for this block, but did find these audios by Donna Simmons and Melisa Nielsen very helpful. Both give an excellent and thorough overview of the entire 4th grade year.
My son loved the stories of the Aesir – especially the characters of Loki and Thor. In addition to reading the entire epic from the creation of the world through the destruction of that world in the battle of Ragnorak, we also studied the Runic alphabet, Scandinavian cooking, read Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman (a contemporary novel based on the Norse myths) and acted out many of the stories through play. Below are some of my notes and ideas from the block.
- Norse Mythology by Charles Kovacs
- Norse Gods and Giants by D’Aulaires
- Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
I read the stories straight from the Kovacs book. I love his voice and how he presents the tales. I used the first entire section of his book for our first block. I skipped the middle section “The Sagas” because I found them to be too much of a detour. I started our second block by reviewing the overall arc of the stories we studied in the first block, stressing Odin, Loki, Thor and Balder. We then read the Gaiman novel, which is an adaption but really sets up Ragnorak well. I went back to read from Kovacs for The Twilight of the Gods, but opted to read the ending (which is really the beginning of the new world) from D’Aulaires. Kovacs’ interpretation of the new world was too overtly Christian/Anthroposophical for me. D’Aulaires has a “Christian” ending also, but didn’t seem as heavy handed.
We made a Norse meal early on in our first block. Both recipes came from The Multicultural Cookbook for Students by Carole Lisa Albyn and Lois Sinaiko Webb. We have used this library book so much that I finally ordered a copy for our very own. I would highly recommend it. Here was our menu:
- Cheddar Bread Pudding (this is a Finnish dish)
2 cups stale bread
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 T melted butter
2 t prepared mustard
1 t Worcestershire sauce
Place bread and cheese in a greased oven-proof dish. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over top. Refrigerate 1 hour. Bake for about 45 minutes at 350, or until puffed and golden brown. YUM!!!
- For dessert:
Toskakake (Nut Caramel Topped Cake from Norway)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 cup melted butter (1/3 cup reserved for topping)
3 T milk
1 t vanilla
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cups chopped nuts (you can use pecans, almonds or walnuts)
Mix eggs and 1 cup sugar until mixture is pale yellow and a ribbon forms when beaters are lifted (about 5 minutes). Fold in flour and baking powder. Add 2/3 cup butter, milk and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Pour into springform pan and bake at 350 for about 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Prepare topping while cake is baking. Heat remaining 1/3 cup butter over low heat add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and cream. Mix well. Increase heat until mixture boils and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. When cake is done pour hot caramel over top and sprinkle with nuts. Return to oven and bake until top is bubbly and golden brown (about 10 minutes). Cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Throughout the block we made character pages of Thor, Odin, Loki and Balder. These included drawings of the gods, their weapons or other special powers, writing their names in Runes and then summarizing their character as a whole. This was my son’s summary of Loki: “Sneaky and tricky, Loki is always making mischief in Asgard. In the end he is caught and punished. Loki can take on many forms. He is both good and bad.” We added to these as the stories progressed.
- Braided yarn to extend the story of “Sif’s Hair”.
- Modeled discs out of sculpy and carved Runes in them.
- Made paper cards with runes written on them.
- Folded paper Viking longships to illustrate the story of Balder’s death.
- Painted the rainbow bridge (see above) and the fire that ends the war between the gods and the giants (see below).
- A friend of mine sent me this link after we completed our block, but I would love to build this long boat over the summer.
- This sounds like a good podcast for moms to listen to about the stories of the Vikings.