For part one see here
We have been studying Beowulf using these books:
In our first term we covered the history of Beowulf, alliteration, kennings, some fiction writing pertaining to Beowulf, the formal Saxon boast and Beowulf as a form of primary evidence. My aim this term was to learn about English as a changing language, helping the children understand that it wasn’t written to be read in modern English; to look at some of the unusual Anglo-Saxon words and learn them to extend their own vocabulary and my end goal was for selected works to be chosen and featured in our end of year project, an Anglo-Saxon newspaper. This term, having done a lot of the ground work last term, we would focus on actual articles and the lay out of the paper. The children are really excited about this project and want to photocopy our newspaper and post it through the neighbours doors! We got our idea from this kit I bought from a charity shop a couple of years ago:
In my last post I talked about the comparisons we made between Beowulf’s funeral, as described in the book, and the burial at Sutton Hoo. Whilst we were studying Viking runes I added an activity which linked in neatly with our Beowulf study as well: I set the children a challenge of making a Rune stone, bearing Runes as a memorial to Beowulf. Anglo-Saxon runes are very similar to Viking ones so I thought popping a bit of Anglo-Saxon into our Viking study wouldn’t matter too much!
The next thing I wanted was for the children to realise that Beowulf was written and spoken in old English and it was this old English that our English today came from. I also wanted them to realise that Beowulf told in old English was phenomenal and sounded just as the story is – gruff and passionate, unfinished. To that end I researched until I found this reading on You Tube. There are a set of readings by the same man, and my children were mesmerised. I think they could really imagine it being told by the fire by these guttural, unwashed Anglo-Saxons, rather than their mummy reading it out at bedtime whilst sat in their beds in their fluffy pjs. It added another dimension for them. We tried to listen to one a day for a few weeks, so they would get a real feel for the poetry.
Along the same lines I found this website about the changing English Language. I photocopied the second and third page to go through with the children. Basically it is a passage from Beowulf first on audio for you to listen to and then written out in old English The children and went through the text trying to find any words we might recognise as English today. We then checked our work using the third page. They were particularly interested in words that really have stood the test of time and we still use in their entirety now.
The rest of our time has been spent filling in the newspaper outlines with lots of stories and announcements pertaining to Beowulf’s death. We really enjoyed seeing how a newspaper comes together and I think it is a really effective way of presenting knowledge on a particular subject:
The last activity was the same activity I do for all the epics we study. We use this form. It’s purpose is to drill home what makes an epic an epic and for the children to begin to learn to back up their answers with examples from the text:
All in all I really enjoy our literature studies, so it was no surprise that this was voted one of our favourite things done whilst studying the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. The newspaper will be repeated many times. The children were so excited to see it come together and their own work in print rather than their own handwriting! We’re all really looking forward to Dante.