Anglo Saxon Literature Study: Beowulf Part Two

For part one see here

As part of our Anglo Saxon unit study, we have been carrying out a literature study on Beowulf using these books:

Capture7 Capture9

In my last post I talked about the history of Beowulf; alliteration; kenning; some fiction writing pertaining to Beowulf; the formal Saxon boast and Beowulf as a form of primary evidence.

This post will focus on the newspaper we are making, and the old English language which Beowulf is written in.

Old English and Beowulf

I wanted the children to realise that Beowulf was written and spoken in old English and  it was this old English that our English today came from.  I also wanted them to realise that Beowulf told in old English was phenomenal and sounded just as the story is – gruff, passionate and unfinished.  To that end I researched until I found the following reading on You Tube:

The children were mesmerised.  I think they could really imagine it being told by the fire by these guttural, unwashed Anglo-Saxons, rather than their mummy reading it out at bedtime whilst sat in their beds in their fluffy pjs.  It added another dimension for them.

Along the same lines I found this website about the changing English Language.  I photocopied the second and third page to go through with the children.  Basically it is a passage from Beowulf first on audio for you to listen to and then written out in old English  The children and went through the text trying to find any words we might recognise as English today.  We then checked our work using the third page.  They were particularly interested in words that really have stood the test of time and we still use in their entirety now.


Beowulf Newspaper

The rest of our time has been spent filling in the newspaper outlines with lots of stories and announcements pertaining to Beowulf’s death.  We really enjoyed seeing how a newspaper comes together and I think it is a really effective way of presenting knowledge on a particular subject.  Our inspiration for this activity came from a boxed set I found in the charity shop:


The children wrote multiple articles based on the whole of the epic of Beowulf.  This was a great final activity which brought together everything the children had learnt about Beowulf.  Here is a photo of the front page:

And a close up of the first page

and the whole newspaper, the Geatish Guardian:

Our Geatish Guardian- a newspaper all about Boewulf!

Beowulf as an Epic

The last activity was the same activity I do for all the epics we study.  We use this form.  It’s purpose is to drill home what makes an epic an epic and for the children to begin to learn to back up their answers with examples from the text:


All in all I really enjoy our literature studies, so it was no surprise that this was voted one of our favourite things done whilst studying the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings.  The newspaper will be repeated many times.  The children were so excited to see it come together and their own work in print rather than their own handwriting!

Other Posts about the Anglo Saxons

Literature Study: Beowulf – Part One

Anglo Saxon Presentation

Re-enactment as a form of narration

Developing an historically inquiring mind

How to make a paper mache map 

Using our paper mache map to learn about the Anglo Saxons

A Review of Morpurgo’s Beowulf


3 responses to “Anglo Saxon Literature Study: Beowulf Part Two”

  1. I think if my Senior english teacher had focused on this aspect instead of forcing us to read Grendel and trying to find anything remotely sexual in the book, I would have enjoyed it much more……. As it was I don’t have particularly fond memories of the book.
    But, I love the tie-in of the Viking Runes and making the funeral pyre.

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