January 12, 2007

The Vikings

To complete our recent study on the Vikings we went to the MN Science Museum with some friends and too time to see the Omni Presentation Vikings:Journey to New Worlds. It was really well done and it was a perfect way to round out our recent studies.

It was almost as if the books we read and the movie were created in parellel, suppose that is simply because they both stuck fairly closely to the actual historical events and covered the main points fairly accurately. I will be honest the film is intense for young children, it is well done but let's face it the Vikings are a tough subject to teach given some of the things they did. The opening scene is one of the toughest for kids and it made me question the wisdom of having them in there but by the end I was glad we were there and the film never went too far over the top IMHO.

It was neat to see Rhiannon's face as she watched what we have been reading about come to life for her on the very big screen. She made the connections often before the movie told her. Part of the film was told from a narrative perspective and she knew who it was, Leif Ericsson, who she also knew as Leif the Lucky, she recognized who Erik the Red was and knew which countries they went to and the reasons for the names of different places. She would often realize right before they shared the detail and share it with me or get wide eyed at the fact that she knew it already.

This offered an opportunity for her to see that we are spending time on important things, things that it is helpful to know or that other people know. It also gave her a confidence that she knows things and brought to life a story that she knows from history. The fact that we were even sitting in this theater is a personal victory for Rhiannon as well. A year ago she simply could not handle discussing anything that was tough or related to someone being hurt much less something as intense as the Vikings history.

Rhia is a sensitive soul and we try to be sensitive to that but also help her understand that some bad things have happened in history and in life and still do. We are cautious in the way she has to face those and have really worked with her in the difference between fantasy and reality and the value of learning the negatives of history and the things that went along with them. She was not at all upset by this film because she already knew what was coming and why they did what they did. She understood the ugliness of the warfare of the time but also that the same personality traits are what opened up the new worlds of Iceland, Greenland and part of North America. It is amazing to be part of this journey with her and watch her as she grows and matures.

We do respect her limits though and do our best to help her succeed. For example later this afternoon while walking through the museum several of the kids were quite interested in the mummy exhibit. Knowing that was too much for her I warned her before she ran ahead to join them, they are in the mummy room and she stopped and went to look at something else. Knowing your child and their needs and limits is very useful at times like this. Learning how and when you need to push a little and pull back and hold close is an interesting walk as a parent - a lifelong journey with different situations but a similar theme running through it.

If you have studied the Vikings history I would recommend this film - but you need to know your own child before you take a young child - so maybe preview it first. I am glad we went and it was overall a great day spent with good friends and a very empty science museum giving us lots of time to explore, learn and play.


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