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Vikings KS2 lesson plan – What do we really know?

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PDF lesson plan

Key Stage



Years 3-6


Use this Vikings KS2 lesson plan to explore evidence about the Vikings. Children will think about why historians have such differing views of them.

The Vikings are an old, familiar topic. However, new evidence keeps emerging about these people and their impact, and not just on Britain.

It is a topic children are familiar with. They often bring with them a quite detailed, preexisting knowledge (however accurate or inaccurate). Starting with these preconceptions is a useful way to challenge their knowledge and understanding.

Vikings KS2 learning objectives

  • Explore evidence about the Vikings
  • Try to reach some conclusions about the impact the Vikings had
  • Explore why historians have such differing views of the Vikings

Starter activity

Ask one child to come to the front of the class. Ask them to draw a large labelled diagram of a Viking on the whiteboard (so you can save it and use it later).

Remind them that this is not an art lesson – stick people are perfectly acceptable. Once the Viking is drawn, get the rest of the class to discuss the drawing. Use their suggestions to amend it, until you have a class ‘identikit’ Viking.

Discuss the Viking they have drawn. They will almost certainly have drawn a male warrior, with axe or sword in hand. They probably have a big beard and are wearing sandals and a horned helmet.

Show the children an image like this one. How similar, and how different, are the two images? Conclude by asking why they chose to draw a fighting warrior. This is as opposed to, say, a Viking sailor, farmer, or perhaps even a Viking woman – they did have women in Viking times!

If you prefer, you can carry out a similar activity based around Viking ships. Children will inevitably draw a Viking longboat, or fighting ship, more or less accurately. However, the Vikings had several different types of ship. This included:

  • small ferries for crossing fjords
  • fishing boats
  • trading boats to carry goods

Both of these activities provide ammunition to challenge preconceptions about people of all kinds and beliefs – not just Vikings.

Alf Wilkinson is CPD manager for the Historical Association. He is a former head of history and ICT co-ordinator.

Vikings KS2 lesson plan
Vikings KS2 lesson plan – What do we really know?

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