Norway Unit Study

Norway Unit Study

In two weeks’ time we’ll be waving goodbye to the white cliffs of Dover, bound for the Norwegian fjords.

To get the most enjoyment and educational value out of our trip, we’ve been learning a bit about Norway.


I printed off a map of the area we’ll be cruising, plus a map from the cruise line showing our complete route from Dover. We also found Norway on our giant map of the world.

Norwegian fjords unit study

The children looked at our printed itinerary and located on the map each of the ports we’ll be visiting. They noticed how far inland Oslo seems, and traced the fjords which connect Norway’s capital city to the sea.

Norwegian fjords unit study cruise route

I found pictures of each of the ports we’ll be stopping at on Google Images and added text labels using iPiccy, before printing them. For Oslo I also selected a few landmarks we might spot – famous statues, the harbour and the giant ski jump.


Edvard Munch’s The Scream is housed in Oslo so I added that to our set of pictures. For more on Edvard Munch, see The Tiger Chronicles’ excellent unit, Scream.

The Scream - Munch - Norway Unit Study
Click image for source


Edvard Grieg composer - Norway unit study

I also added a picture of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, whose music – pieces like Solveig’s Song and Peace in the Woods we’ve been enjoying.

Here’s a great orchestral version of the famous In the Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt. I say “famous” because it’s one of those pieces of music that’s made it into popular culture such that even I’m familiar with it – and now I know it’s by Grieg!

How not to make memory pairs printables

I completed our set of pictures with the Norwegian flag, a map of the area we’re cruising, and the map of our route.

Norway unit study memory pairs

I printed off and laminated two contact sheets of the pictures* and we played memory pairs, which also gave us practice saying and hearing the Norwegian place names.

(*Confession. I’m a printables rookie, so what actually happened was this: I printed off the pictures (so far so good).  Then  I realised you could see through the paper – no good for memory pairs. My dear husband suggested sliding in a dark backing sheet before laminating, to solve the problem. Then I laminated them – without sticking the two pieces of paper together.  Guess what happened?! One full hour and much Sellotape later, I had a set of cards. Let’s just say it was a learning experience…)

Norway unit study memory pairs


Norwegian in 10 minutes a day

I can’t resist the opportunity to dabble in a new language when I’m about to visit a foreign country. I haven’t done any formal Norwegian with the children but they’ve also enjoyed picking up a few phrases as I’ve been learning.

I started out using Norwegian In 10 Minutes A Day which I really enjoyed. It comes with a CD Rom which the children and I had fun with, guessing the rooms in a house or food items in a kitchen, for example.

But about halfway through the book I realised I wasn’t getting enough pronunciation practice, so I switched to the free Memrise course Norwegian with Sound for Friends and Family. I’m a huge Memrise fan now!

To take away with us I’ve bought a pocket-sized phrase book which comes with a pronunciation CD. I’ve loaded the CD onto my phone and listen at odd moments like when I’m cleaning my teeth.

I’m not sure how much I’ll get to use my Norwegian, given we’ll be eating and sleeping on an American cruise ship, but I’m determined to visit at least one cafe and say “Jeg vil ha to kopper te, takk” (“I would like two cups of tea, please”), and perhaps I will ask for directions to the gallery, even though I won’t be able to understand a word of the reply – I can’t even follow English directions!

History – the Vikings

As part of our trip preparations we’ve reviewed what we learned about the Vikings back in September. And we’ve finally finished our model Viking ship!  It’s made out of a milk carton – for full instructions see here or watch this video.

model viking longboat for kids
Our viking ship


As we’ll be cruising through some spectacular natural scenery, I thought we’d find out how fjords are created. This is the best explanation I’ve found:

Fjords are found in locations where current or past glaciation extended below current sea level. A fjord is formed when a glacier retreats, after forming its typical U-shaped valley, and the sea level rises to fill the valley floor. This forms a narrow, steep sided inlet (sometimes deeper than 1300 metres) connected to the sea.  The terminal moraine pushed  down the valley by the glacier is left underwater at the fjord’s entrance, causing the water at the neck of the fjord to be shallower than the main body of the fjord behind it.

Geirangerfjord - norwegian fjords unit study
Norwegian fjord (click image for source)

I showed the children a Brainpop video about glaciers, and some photos of U-shaped valleys. We then made our own mini-glacier to see how glacial plucking changes the landscape as a glacier moves through it.

To do this, we put some garden soil in a container, and added some small rocks and pebbles. Then we poured in water to represent the glacier’s liquid base layer (caused by pressure), and piled ice cubes on top for the solid glacier.

make your own glacier - Norway unit study

We left the container in the freezer overnight and next day discovered the earth and rocks were completely stuck to the ice!* We talked about how the earth and rocks would be pulled downhill as a real glacier slowly moved.

how to make a glacier - norway unit study

*The instructions we followed said to use an inch of earth and to add enough water to saturate the top layer of earth so that “some pooling occurs”. I wondered if we used too much water because the whole block of earth froze, so we tried it again with less water, but the whole block froze again. We might try it again using a deeper layer of earth, to see if we can achieve the effect of just a few rocks and some of the earth sticking to the “glacier”. C(9) said this was the best science we’d done in ages, though, so it must have served its purpose.

We’ll be taking our laminated memory pairs on our trip to use for a scavenger hunt – I’m determined to eke every bit of use out of those hand-crafted cards!

Look out in a few weeks for a first hand account of our trip to the Norwegian fjords.

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 Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I paid for and use the books mentioned.

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27 thoughts on “Norway Unit Study

    1. Thanks Hwee – your Munch post is fantastic! I didn’t dwell on the painting too much because I didn’t want the kids to be scared, but your post has reassured me. I’m off to watch the YouTube videos now 🙂

  1. Lucinda,

    I hope you have a fantastic holiday in Norway. It looks like a beautiful and interesting place. I wonder if Norwegian and Danish are at all alike. Enjoy your trip!

    1. Thank you so much, Sue!
      Apparently written Danes and Norwegians can easily understand eachothers’ written language, but spoken language is more difficult because of differences in pronunciation. I wonder if this is a bit like Spanish and Portuguese. I speak Spanish and can understand written Portuguese fairly well but find it almost impossible to follow a word of spoken Portuguese!
      Aren’t languages fascinating?

    1. Thanks for those tips, Julie, I’d been wondering how best to make the most of our day in Oslo. And thanks for hosting Hobbies & Handicrafts!

  2. My auntie is going on a Norway cruise tomorrow! How weird is that? Hope you have a lovely time, and I bet you won’t see a boat looking more like a Viking ship anywhere in Norway (even originals at the museum)- I love yours, so cool!!

    1. Ooh I’ll wave to her across the North Sea! 😀 Thanks for the compliment about the ship – it was good to have a reason to get round to finishing it (so not my strong suit)!

  3. Wow! That is an awesome unit study. We’re not into big unit studies this yet, but I love all the ideas. (And I’ve totally done the same thing with the laminator where I forget to tape or glue the paper together first)

    1. Thank you! We don’t do many unit studies either, but it seemed a good approach for preparing for our trip. I’m relieved to hear I’m not the only one making laminating booboos 😀

  4. How exciting! I’ll try not to be too jealous. :). What a wonderful, full post. I’ll definitely come back to it when we study Europe next year! And I’m now following you. I want to read about your trip!

    1. Thank you so much, Gena 🙂 We’re very excited. Learning about where we’re going has definitely increased our enjoyment of the trip!

  5. Hi Lucinda,
    SO love the idea of printable memory cards–I feel like we’re pushing so hard to finish up the Ancients this school year and that I’m not going to do justice to the Roman Empire….there is JUST so much to cover (I keep reminding myself that my oldest is ONLY in 1st grade and that we’ll be back around to Ancients again at some point). But I think I may work on some printable cards for Anc. Rome and use them throughout the summer with the children.
    Also, I am the same way when I go to a new country–I absolutely MUST learn some of the language and have always found it very rewarding to do so.
    Enjoy your trip
    Blessings, Joanna

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment, Joanna.
      I was in a very similar position with the Ancients this time last year. We were lucky enough to have a July trip to Rome scheduled so I felt I HAD to do it justice before we went!
      This year I’ve taken a completely different approach. We’ve meandered our way through the Middle Ages going off on all sorts of tangents. It’s been great but it’s going to take us another year to finish 😀 Luckily the Vikings came quite early on, so at least we covered that before we go to Norway!
      I’m glad you’re a kindred spirit with the languages. I remember learning a bit of Greek the first time I went abroad with my family when I was eleven. They all thought I was bonkers, but I couldn’t imagine being there and NOT wanting to learn! Maybe we were born homeschoolers? 🙂

  6. I love your science experiment! I will have to try this with my son! What a great way to get them excited about their trip, and I love all of your tips. Thanks for linking up to the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop!

    1. Thank you! We’re just back from Norway today, and doing these activities before we went really did help so much engage them with where we visited. Thanks for hosting the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop.

  7. Your viking boat looks great, and making note of your glacier experiment! I just love Grieg, but have forgotten about him for a while, grateful for the reminder and been enjoying listening to him again.
    Have a great trip!

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