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Sailing on the Seas with the Vikings

October 5, 2022 | Becca Brasser

Eliza and Jacob compare drafts of Viking ship drawings. They ask: does it have a single mast? A square sail? A figurehead? Oars? Shields?

As first grade students enter into the school year, they consider their role as explorers of the world, tellers of stories, resolvers of conflict, and people who are challenged to build a community using shared resources. First grade is a time for taking heroic risks and making courageous choices, and a study of the Vikings provides a metaphor for who students are as community members (in their own classes and families) and how they experience and explore the world around them. The study stems from the gripping and complex Saga of Erik the Viking, which provides a springboard for a study of ships, sailing vocabulary, maps, and water.

The study of Viking ships also progresses into further studies in innovations in ship building from around the world. What do all ships need in order to be seaworthy? Our theme study extends into boatbuilding as well: Can we use materials from around the classroom to create boats that float?

Adriana and Chryssa use their maps of the world to identify continents and oceans.

The children use and study world maps, practicing vocabulary such as map key, continent, country, ocean, river, bay, island, north, south, east, and west. They solve the daily “Worldle” puzzle by examining the outlines of countries and their identifying features. 


Becca Brasser

Teacher, Grade 1

Becca Brasser has been teaching first grade at Mustard Seed School since 2002. She’s passionate about teaching children to read, write, experiment, and take risks as they explore the world around them. Her own studies (including a Master of Arts degree from New Jersey City University) have given her expertise and experience in the area of literacy education.

Ms. Brasser especially enjoys taking her students on field trips all over the New York Metropolitan area, traveling on foot, subway, bus, commuter train, and ferry. Some favorite trips: the Hudson Hike, the New York Transit Museum, and the Central Park Zoo to study penguins.

Although she lives in the city, Ms. Brasser loves escaping to nature and finding it in her everyday life as well. She loves to explore rivers and lakes, woods and mountains with her husband Matt, their daughter, Annika, and son, Theo.

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