On Monday we gave our first School Demo with the Skogar Þrostur and it went very well! One of the school volunteers said it was the best reenactment demo she'd seen in that school since her kids first started going there 17 years ago. Wow!
The kids were great, so kudos to the teachers for class discipline. They also asked a myriad of really good questions so kudos to the teachers again for fostering curiosity and not being afraid to ask questions.
The school took photos and put them up on their web site so you can see us. The tent belongs to Ann and Kurt, who have a student at the school and were the ones who contacted us and invited us to come. We sent the kids back to class through the Viking tent so they could see the inside of it.
We talked about how Viking ships were built and how they sailed from Norway to Iceland to Greenland and then to Canada. We told them about Leif Ericsson who was the first known European to discover the New World.
We talked about New World vs. Old World foods. That a traditional Thanksgiving feast is almost entirely made of New World foods—Turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes or yams, green beans, corn bread. (Also maple syrup, chocolate, vanilla, peppers, chiles, tomatoes and peanuts.) And about the Old World foods the Europeans brought to North America—Honey, apples, wheat, barley, mustard, olives….) We gave the teachers a handout with 18 foods listed. The kids can circle the New World foods.
We talked about Viking trading and passed around some furs. We learned to do that at the end as they were quite excited about the furs. We have martin, fox, mink, reindeer, rabbit and sheep. We told the kids about the Lapps who farm reindeer similar to our farming cattle.
We also talked about clothing and how much time it takes to make. “How many of you have more than three outfits at home?” Every hand went up. "Wow. I only get one new outfit a year!" We then talked about all the work it takes to make just one yard of wool cloth—Three hours of combing to make enough roving for one hour of spinning; three hours of spinning to make enough yarn for one hour of weaving, which makes one yard of cloth. That’s 13 hours per yard! And that doesn’t include cleaning the wool, cutting the cloth or sewing it together by hand with a needle and thread—and you have to spin the thread, too.
Every class recited “Viking helmets did not have horns!” along with us. So there are at least 260 more people who now know that myth is false!
Ann and Kurt from the Home and School Association also took us out to lunch at a nearby Turkish restaurant. Yum. There are many kids of Turkish descent at the school, they said, so our noting that Vikings lived in Turkey, too, was quite relevant (And Italy, France, England, Ireland, Russia, Ukraine, Germany….) In response to a question by one girl who said she was Turkish, we told about the Viking runes carved into the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul.
The school Custodian is from the Ukraine and he wanted photos of the him with the boat and us to show to his friends.
We had a wonderful time even though we were exhausted afterwards. But we’d do it again in a minute. Thank you for inviting us, School #3!