I mentioned before that the girls asked me to read Beowulf to them. Odd choice?
Well, it contains heroes, monster, dragons, and all the other adventurous things that they normally love.
I promised I would share some more of what we are doing- and so I shall.
Beowulf the Epic Poem
The story of Beowulf is bloody and full of strange monsters, but its historical significance make it well worth the read.
There are three “chapters” or main parts of the poem:
- Beowulf defeats Grendel
- Beowulf seeks out and fights Grendel’s mother
- Beowulf returns to his homeland and later defeats a fire dragon
Historical Significance of Beowulf
The poem was written by an Anglo-Saxon about a much earlier time- 500 A.D. to be exact. The poem is significant in that it tells a tale of a mostly pagan culture in a Christian worldview.
Only a single manuscript of the poem survived. It gives us a glimpse into the world of both the Anglo-Saxon era in which it was written, and also the Scandinavian culture of its content.
Reading the Story
There are several great versions of Beowulf that would be suitable for children. You can find paraphrases of the text written into short story form.
We chose to use a translation of the poetic form since I already had a copy and it is useful to hear the verse and get a feel for the tone of the poem. This is the version we are using:
We are almost finished with the second “chapter” of the poem. We stopped where Beowulf is presumed dead by Hrothgar.
Unit Study Resources
It is difficult to find a lot of resource material on Beowulf for children. Here is what we have found so far:
- Beowulf for kids– a nice little site that has an activity sheet and overview of each of the chapters of the story
- Beowulf– an online version of the text
- Uncle Otto’s– a nice coloring sheet
- Some more coloring pages
- Sparknotes– for older kids this is great for discussion
- Some Beowulf notebooking pages
I have created some of my own notebooking pages to go along with our reading. This first set covers “chapter one” of the story:
So far, the girls have enjoyed Beowulf. They are asking a lot of questions about some of the vocabulary. Here is some of the words we discussed tonight:
- in a trice
Even Gus is getting into the action parts!
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