Explorer Project: Leif Erikson

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by Jeep56
Last updated 8 years ago

Social Studies
Explorers and Discovers

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Explorer Project: Leif Erikson

Erik brought his family and young son Leif to a mysterious new land which he named GREENLAND. Greenland was not at all a lush, green land; in truth it was a barren, ice-covered wasteland. Erik the Red gave the land a name that would make it attractive to other Viking settlers!

Leif Erikson’s father was nicknamed ERIK THE RED because of his fiery red hair…and because of his equally fiery temper. Erik was banished from his homeland of Iceland for the crime of killing his neighbor and two other men.

While growing up on Greenland, Leif Erikson heard that another Viking named Bjarni Herjólfsson had caught sight of a mist-covered land to the west of Greenland. In 1000 AD, Leif organized an expedition to set out to find the unknown land.

Leif’s brother, Torvalds, led a second expedition back to Vinland and established a settlement. Soon after, Torvalds was killed during violent encounter with a group of Native Americans which the Vikings called the SKRAELINGS.

After three days of sailing, Leif and his men caught sight of a rocky coastline. After exploring the coast, Leif named the land “HELLELAND” meaning “Flat Rock Land”. Historians believe Leif had landed on Baffin Island off the coast of Canada.

Leif and his men sailed south. He discovered another land covered in dense trees. Leif named the land “MARKLAND” meaning “Forest Land.” This was probably Labrador Island.

Leif and his crew sailed further south again and found a land where plump grapes grew on vines. He named the new land “VINLAND" which meant “Vine Land”. Historians have identified this as Newfoundland.

Leif and his crew returned to Greenland with news of his discovery. Forests which could produce lumber for Viking homes and ships as well as grapes for making wine were a big deal!

After the settlement failed, the Vikings never returned to the NEW WORLD, and Leif’s discovery was unknown outside the Viking homeland of Scandinavia. When Christopher Columbus landed in the New World in 1492, he had no idea that Leif Erikson had already discovered North America almost 500 years earlier!


In Canada, Leif Erikson Day is celebrated, not Columbus Day! HAPPY LEIF ERIKSON DAY!


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