Kids and Runes

Have you ever read the opening eleven lines of Beowulf to 1st graders? In Old English? Sound crazy? Well, I have done it. The response? Mesmerized, one child uttered, “Do it again.”

Kids love Old and Middle English. It sounds weird! And fun. Children make up languages and stories–so the slant sound of medieval tongues can only resonate with youngsters.

One child was flipping through a medieval picture book I had brought in. "Someone wrote in here!" O dear! Who could have done that? None other than my own dear daughter, Sarah, many years ago....

One child was flipping through a medieval picture book I had brought in. “Someone wrote in here!” O dear! Who could have done that? None other than my own dear daughter, Sarah, many years ago….

I teach 3rd-5rd graders at a local elementary school which has an annual Young Writers Workshop.

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Me in teaching mode: Time for Old and Middle English!

Folks from cartoonists to songwriters, picture book writers to –yes–medievalists teach 45 minute classes to groups of kids.

My fellow teachers and me

I bring in medieval picture books, tell about the history of the language, read aloud a bit in Old and Middle English, and have them write stories using my story elements handout.

This child's story: IN RUNES!

This child’s story: IN RUNES!

Students teach me. One 10 year old wrote his story in runes–he had discovered the alphabet in one of the books I had brought in. Then everyone else wanted to do it.

They read their stories to the class at the end of our time…. IMG_2597…ready to enter a Time Machine and go back to the Middle Ages.

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