Norway Unit Study: Week 4

Our final week of Norway is sure to impress you as we learn about the country’s scientific advances and its infrastructure! It will also inspire some great engineering and writing projects. We will be motivated to build and create by learning about some of Norway’s inventors, explorers, and innovators. Our art lessons will be inspired by the Aurora Borealis and beautiful landscape of Norway, and the amazing polar night and midnight sun will help us learn earth science and practice data recording skills. Finally, we will hone our life skills with a banking lesson inspired by Norway’s beautiful currency. Begin our last week by downloading your skills tracker here.

Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):

Chapter books:

Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):

Note: We break down our supply list so you can choose what you need based on which lessons you plan to do with your child.

Hours of daylight activity:

Aurora borealis craft:

Paper clip bookmark:

Wooden skyscraper project:

Parts of the mountain craft:

Oxidation experiment:

Salmon recipe:

What to do:

We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on each skill your child will develop, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!

Lesson 1:

Norway is known for its sustainability practices, and this is evident in many different aspects of Norwegian culture. Let’s learn a bit about that in today’s activities, as well as some earth science of Norway.

Activity 1: One of the most important aspects of Norwegian sustainability is its focus on renewable energy. Norway is a world leader in renewable energy, and it has set a goal to be completely carbon-neutral by 2030.

Norway’s commitment to sustainability is also evident in its transportation practices. Norway has the highest number of electric cars per capita in the world, and it is working to promote the use of public transportation. Its trolley system is the world’s first fully electric public transportation system. (source)

Norway’s sustainability practices are also evident in its food culture. Norwegian chefs focus on using local and seasonal ingredients, and they strive to create dishes that are both healthy and delicious.

As you can imagine, a lot of planning went into creating a sustainable city like Osla. Learn more about city planning by watching this Crash Course video

Project time! Brainstorm a city planning project using the ideas in the video. Write out and draw your plan, thinking about roads, transportation, homes, shops, and green space. Additional research might be needed, so look for books at your local library or do online research. This video shows how New York City made changes to their building rules to make “building green” possible. The book Redesigning Cities to Flight Climate change is also a great resource.

Next, build your city in Minecraft, LEGO, or create a model out of recycled materials. (This project can take days, weeks, months, or even longer depending on the scope of your city!) This video and this video can help you get started and give you some more ideas. If you upload your city on YouTube, let us know—we would love to see it!

Activity 2: Another remarkable thing about Norway is how its location on the globe affects its seasons. As a result, winter time can mean 20 hours of darkness per day—and even weeks without truly seeing the sun. Whereas summer can bring 24 hours of sunlight in some parts of Norway! (source) They’re often called polar night and midnight sun, and they can last days to months depending on your location in the country. (source) Let’s learn more about what it would be like to live under these conditions in the book Welcome Back Sun (or read it here on OpenLibrary).

So why does Norway experience polar night and midnight sun? It’s because of the earth’s tilt. Winter in Norway comes around when the northern hemisphere is farthest from the sun, and the polar regions in the north are that part of the planet that are angled farthest away. Even though the earth turns, the sun’s light never gets over the horizon. In other words, the rest of the planet blocks off the sun! (source) In the summer, the sun does not set at high latitudes. Depending on how close you are to the poles, the sun can remain continuously visible for one day to several months. (source)

Let’s compare our own days of darkness and light to Norway’s. We’ll use the city of Rjukan as our point of reference. First, download and print this chart. Next, let’s look up the average monthly daylight hours for your city. You can use this website. (Type your city into the search bar at the top of the website, and then look on the climate page to find the average daylight hours. If you can’t find the right information, you could also try a Google search.) Add a point on the chart for each month in one color of colored pencil or thin marker, and then connect the dots to make a line graph.

Next, look up the average monthly daylight hours for Rjukan here. Using a different color, plot the daylight hours for each month, and then connect them. Discuss your findings with your child to see how your daylight hours differ from this city in Norway.

Activity 3: Aurora borealis can be seen in just a few places on the earth, and Norway is one of those places. Watch this video from NASA to understand how auroras are made. Next, watch this Crash Course video to learn more.

The best months to see the aurora borealis in Norway are from late September to early April when there are more hours of darkness during the polar night. However, September and March are statistically the best time since the solar activity that causes the Northern Lights is higher during that period. Norway’s visitors’ website even as an aurora forecast! (source) Watch the video on Norway’s visitors website of an aurora hunter.

Next, let’s create art inspired by the aurora borealis with this tutorial. Here’s a video with additional instructions.

Lesson 2:

Today, we’ll met a few famous Norwegian inventors and their inventions.

Activity 1: Johan Vaaler is best known for his version of a paper clip. He wasn’t the first through to come up with a paper fastener design, which is why there is some controversy on naming him the “inventor.” Vaaler’s paper clip was patented in 1899 in Germany and then 1901 in the United States, although other unpatented designs already existed. (source) Paper clips were worn by Norwegians as a sign of resistance against World War 2, and wearing one could mean arrest—but many people wore them anyway. (source)

Paper clips are very useful bookmarks and can even make great gifts. Create a bookmark design using paper clips. This blog has several ideas that might inspire your student. Ask them to design their own bookmark, and then create it!

Activity 2: Read + Discover. Roald Amundsen was a Norwegian explorer. He and his small crew left Norway in June 1903 in a ship that was only 47 feet long. He was determined to sail across the Arctic Ocean from the North Atlantic to the Pacific in a glacial version of the long-sought “Northwest Passage.” His ship, called the Gjoa, was locked in the polar ice for two years as the ice itself slowly moved across the cold sea. Amundsen located the north magnetic pole a considerable distance from the place where it had been found sixty years before, providing the first evidence that Earth’s magnetic poles move.

Amundsen later headed for the Antarctic, where he and his men entered a race against Britain’s Robert F. Scott, who was also heading for the South Pole. Amundsen was better prepared than Scott and used sled dogs instead of ponies to pull his supplies. Amundsen also had an advantage because he had skied most of his life. On December 14, 1911, Amundsen achieved his goal, becoming the first human to reach the geographic South Pole. He returned to civilization to a hero’s welcome. Scott and his men died trying to reach the coast. (Source: Norway Enchantment of the World)

Read the book Race to the Bottom of the Earth to learn about this heroic adventure.

Activity 3: Have you ever used a product that you think could be better? That is what happened to Norwegian designer Peter Opsvik. He couldn’t find a chair for his young son that fit both his dining room table and his child. Read the story of his solution here

Do you have an idea to improve an item in your home? Jump over to the Level 2+: Inventions Unit, Lesson 2, Activity 3 to make that idea come to life. 

Lesson 3:

We have learned so much about Norway’s history! Let’s spend some time discussing modern-day Norway.

Activity 1: Norway is one of several countries that uses a currency that literally translates as “crown.” The Norwegian krone, or, to use its abbreviated sign/code, NOK, is used freely in the country and its dependent territories. One NOK contains 100 øre, in the same way the one dollar is equal to 100 pennies. However, the øre is different. Since 2012, it has existed only electronically. It is now only used in the quotation of prices and in shops and online. For example, if you pay 9,50 in a grocery store with a 10 krone coin, you get no change. But if you pay with a credit or debit card, you will be charged exactly 9,50.

Norway launched new bills in 2019. Each celebrates the Norway’s long history and affinity with the sea:

  • The 50-kroner note depicts Ulvær Lighthouse and signifies “the sea that binds us together”.
  • The 100-kroner has an image of the famous Gokstad ship, representing “the sea that takes us out into the world.”
  • The 200-kroner has a cod fish design, representing “the sea that feeds us.”
  • The 500-kroner pictures a rescue vessel (RS 14 Stavanger), signifying that “the sea that gives us prosperity” (oil and gas wealth).
  • And finally, the 1,000-kroner note is purple, with a powerful wave out at sea, representing “the sea that carries us forward.”

On the reverse of each note is the same image captured in bit art (a pixelated image). It adds a modern, fresh look to each.

Perhaps because the Norwegian Bank believes that physical money will be obsolete in the near future, the country encourages the use of mobile payment methods like Vipps and Apple Pay. In fact, it is among the world’s highest cashless countries. Norges Bank has revealed that less than 4% of spending in the country was made using cash in the autumn months of 2022. (source) Norway’s governing Conservative Party (Høyre) has pledged to remove paper money altogether by 2030. The first stage in the process was to remove the requirement for businesses to accept cash payments. The second will be to introduce mandatory online billing across the board. (source) This cashless system seems like a perfect system until it breaks down, which it did last year when there was system wide failure and no one could use their electronic means of payments. Yikes! (source)

Since most of us still use cash, let’s learn some basic banking skills. Let’s utilize a lesson provided by Wells Fargo to learn about making deposits and withdrawals at the bank. Focus on Lesson 6 (pages 32-43). 

Activity 2: Mjostarnet was at one time the world’s tallest wooden structure. (There is now a taller building in the U.S., as of 2023.) Learn about this innovative, unique structure in this and this video. You might think that a wooden structure wouldn’t be safe against fire, but they thought about this in the construction of Mjostarnet. Watch this video to see how a fire safety engineer participated in the planning and building of this structure. 

Let’s start our own engineering project by build a wooden skyscraper using crafting sticks of various sizes. Use masking tape or hot glue to attach your materials. If the structure falls, assess the cause, fix any issues, and continue building. 

Activity 3: Norway has some pretty impressive roads. Norway already has the longest road tunnel in rock (Laerdal tunnel, 24.5 km), the longest subsea tunnel (Bomlafjord, 7.8 km, Ryfast, 14 km, Rogfast, 27 km), and the deepest subsea tunnel (Eiksundtunnelen, 7.77 km long, 287 mbs). (source) These projects are pretty cool, but they have even more planned! What do you think of when you hear “floating highways”? Watch this video to learn what Norway’s newest infrastructure looks like. So far, 21 miles have been built. (source) Pretty cool, right??

Next, let’s do a creative writing project. Write a proposal creating a new system of transportation for Norway. Keep in mind Norway’s cold climate when thinking up your new innovation. Where will it be located, and what kind of vehicles will run on it? Let your child be as creative as possible, and don’t worry about the constricts of reality!

Lesson 4:

Activity 1: Modern-day history of Norway includes its relationship with other European countries. Norway remained neutral during World War I, but during World War II Germany invaded the country in a surprise attack in April 1940. Germany occupied Norway until the end of the war. To learn more about this time in history, are there many historical fiction books available. We have included a few suggestions in our book list.

Once you complete the book, write a book review stating your opinion of the book. Based on all the things you have learned about Norway this month, does this book accurately portray the people, culture, language, and customs of the people of Norway?

Activity 2: The Norwegian landscape is gorgeous. Check some pictures in this article. With these gorgeous views, it won’t surprise you to know that Norway’s amazing landscapes have been used as a location for many large films, including “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back”, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, and “Captain America: The First Avenger.” The Norwegian landscape has also been the inspiration for many artists. Look at some of the art of Johan Christian Dahl:



Since mountains made it into so many of the Dahl’s art pieces, let’s learn the parts of a mountain. Here are the main parts:

  • base: The base of a mountain is where it meets flat or only gently sloped ground. (The height of a mountain is measured from sea level rather than from its base.)
  • slope: A slope is the side of a mountain, hill, or valley.
  • face: The visible side of a mountain.
  • peak: The highest point of a mountain.
  • snow line: Where snow can be seen on a mountain.
  • ridge: A geographical feature consisting of a chain of mountains or hills that form a continuous elevated crest for an extended distance.

Finally, let’s create our own mountain-art with this torn paper mountain collage. Be sure to label its parts to reinforce the lesson.

Use an old magazine, old drawings or paintings, or plain construction paper. Tear colorful pieces into strips and layer them to form a mountain, like this:

You can also create some smaller mountains to form a ridge, like this:

Add a snowline by topping your peak with some white scraps, or you can sponge on some white paint. Finally, label the parts of your mountain, like this:

For more lessons about mountains for younger siblings, don’t miss the Level 2+ Mountains unit.

Lesson 5:

Activity 1: When winter can last half the year, you also need to be creative about making sure you have food long past the growing season. As a result, Norwegian peoples have been finding ingenious ways to preserve food for centuries. One popular method that is still used today is smoking meats.

The practice of ‘smoking’ food has existed for many thousands of years. The exact story behind the discovery of this process is not entirely clear, but it is understood that it was one of the earliest techniques to help preserve meat and fish. Many communities of early humans throughout the Stone Age found themselves surrounded by waters that gave them an endless supply of fish. But there would be times when the fishing was less bountiful, so a means of preserving the catches was required. Smoked fish was an early solution to this problem.

Fish is smoked when it comes into direct contact with the smoke that rises from smoldering organic materials like wood and plants. The process relies on indirect heat, low temperatures and long cooking times, and the flavors it produces are truly mouthwatering.

Smoking helps preserve the fish as the smoke itself delivers an acidic coating onto its surface. This coating prevents oxidation and slows the growth of bacteria, which in turn slows the decomposition of the fish. The process also helps to dehydrate the meat, which also makes the environment less hospitable for bacteria. Preservation was the original purpose of smoking fish, but more effective methods of preserving food have since replaced it. Today, smoking fish is all about enhancing the food’s flavor and color, and when it’s done right, the results are superb. (source)

Oxidation is any chemical reaction that involves the moving of electrons. Specifically, it means the substance that gives away electrons is oxidized. When iron reacts with oxygen it forms a chemical called rust because it has been oxidized (the iron has lost some electrons) and the oxygen has been reduced (the oxygen has gained some electrons). The same process of corruption happens to food. When the inside of an apple is cut, exposing the inside surface to the oxygen in the air, a process known as oxidation occurs. (source)

Introducing an acidic coat (as with the smoking of the fish) prevents the oxygen from reacting with the meat or produce because the acid reacts with the oxygen instead. Let’s bring this all to life with this simple experiment.

Activity 2: What’s the first country that comes to mind when you hear the words ‘salmon sushi’? Japan, right? Well, think again—only this time head north. As strange as it may sound, it was actually the Norwegians who convinced the Japanese, back in the mid-80s, that salmon sushi would be a good idea. A Norwegian named Bjorn Eirik is responsible for the salmon sushi we enjoy today as you will learn in this short video. Salmon sushi became popular everywhere and Norwegian salmon earned its reputation as the best out there. And because things usually come full circle, Norway is nowadays not without its share of great sushi restaurants, where salmon is, of course, the star.

Activity 3: Norway is the biggest producer and accounts for more than 50% of world salmon production. (source) Fish is a low-fat, high quality protein filled with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins such as D and B2 (riboflavin). Fish is rich in calcium and phosphorus and a great source of minerals, such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two times per week as part of a healthy diet. Fish can even lower blood pressure and help reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke. (source)

Omega-3s are essential fatty acids that help feed the brain and keep it healthy. They are part of the process of building new cells—the key to developing the central nervous and cardiovascular systems and helping the body absorb nutrients. Omega-3 fats also are important for eye function.(source) Sounds like we have lots of reasons to try salmon! Let’s prepare this salmon recipe.

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Published by The Learn + Live Letter

The Learn + Live Letter is a play- and project-based homeschool curriculum for children ages 3-12.