March 21, 2011

Viking Unit/Finding the Learning Style and Excelling

viking fotos and stuff 014 

Katie and her finished Viking helmet

(for instructions, see link for tutorial at the end)


I am a believer in child-led homeschooling, though it has been difficult in the past when my autistic children weren’t interested in anything. We waited and watched.  We went through periods where we would have to delve into many topics before we found one that caused even the tiniest spark. Oh, there were hard, frustrating times before I realized their learning styles.   We just had to find what they like and expand on it.

Katie, who is now 23, has always been interested in movies.  It was how she learned to make sense of the world and to communicate.  What I realized was, when she really liked a movie, watching it over and over, she was studying:

  • the characters
  • what they were
  • what they said
  • how they moved
  • how they dressed
  • how they communicated
  • where they lived
  • how they lived
  • what they sang
  • all the details we would miss, ie, how many buttons and what color, how many eyes, if they wore spats, etc.                           

This is how she prepares for her academic study and artful expression of any given animal, fish, wizard, Shaman, or princess.  She browses the library, looking for books relating to anything about the characters in the movies.  Through all of her study, she learns about:

  1. true habitats
  2. behaviors, animal and human 
  3. nature
  4. science
  5. history
  6. geography
  7. fashions
  8. art
  9. civilizations
  10. cultures
  11. what is fantasy and what is reality

Katie will read the book the movie was based on if there is one. Even better if she can read them in English and Spanish side by side.

Since her current interest is the movie, “How to Train Your Dragon”  (granted, the movie is different from the book series she has read, but she loves it anyway), she is studying about Vikings. 

She is using:

She has learned that Erik the Red’s father was banished for murder in Norway so the family fled to Iceland.  Erik married a girl and settled on a farm, but when he was involved in several quarrels and killings, “The Thing” (the Viking high council), sentenced him to a 3-year exile.  He explored the waters west of Greenland.  Freydis Eiriksdottir,  the daughter of Erik the Red was one of the few Viking girls taught how to use a sword and become a warrior.  She was also a sister of the famed “Leif ( the Lucky) Erikson” (notice the surname is the first name of the father with either “dottir”-daugher or “son” for being a son of the father, which topic is yet another fun little ditty to explore).  Katie has also learned of Vikings Sigtrygg Silky Beard, Harefoot, Harald Fairhair, and William Longsword.  Will she seek to learn more about them?  We’ll see.

According to Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, of How to Train Your Dragon fame, “parents give their children scary names to ward off gnomes and trolls,”so Katie has given her youngest brother the Viking name of “Yeti Legs,”  because his feet and legs are so hairy. Haven’t seen any gnomes or trolls around since.

Katie has learned the Viking alphabet, which consists of letters called Runes.


Some of the letters in this photo of the newspaper article are a little hard to see.  Where you think there is a line or a dash or a dot, where there is room for one, there is.  They were just printed in a fading dark to light spectrum for artistic effect in the article.

Katie then moves on to art projects, drawing her characters or some likeness of them, such as Professor Snape, of Harry Potter fame, as a bat, a horse, a super hero, a flying lion, a Griffin, a Chimera and, wonder of wonders, himself.  She studies art books of various genre, i.e., sketching, watercolor, Manga and anime, then draws her characters according to her whims. She is even branching out, using a different medium to make a Viking Helmet out of  a balloon and Paper Mache, instead of aluminum foil.  She saw in the books that some Vikings had horns on their helmets and some had wings. 

For a tutorial on making Katie’s Viking Helmet, click here.

Katie has decided she loves to study, now that we know her learning style. I just let her lead. 

Teresa is a widow, who is being over run with costumes,  helmets, swords and shields.  You can find her buried, somewhere, under all this joy and at Wockenflock Daze.  2 of her 4 children are on the autism spectrum, and continue their homeschool education over the age of 18.  They are not  yet ready for the world.  Neither is Teresa, actually.

2 comments - Add a comment below -:

Sallyseashell said...

This post was very inspiring to me, as I've been trying to understand how to approach our sons style of learning. Although he isn't autistic, and is 5 yrs old, his learning style is very much like your daughters. My son loves movies and I really think he learns so much from them, in making sense of the world and communicating. He gets so excited about the things he learns and then, just like your daughter, he wants to read more, learn more, and expand on what he learned from the movie, into his real life. I have been trying to figure out how to incorporate this learning style into our everyday lives. This post was helpful.

JRoberts said...

There is a great unit study at homeschool share too. My son used it last year and loved it.

Great post, I really enjoyed reading the take on childled learning. Thank you.