Kennings Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Use this lesson plan to teach your students about kennings. Students will read a text lesson defining the term and sharing examples in writing. Students interact with the material in meaningful ways through discussions and application of content. Finish with an activity and quiz to check understanding.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define kennings
  • explain how and why kennings are used
  • identify kennings in writing


1 - 1.5 hours


Key Vocabulary

  • Kenning
  • Kenning poems

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.8.1

Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.8.3

Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.8.5

Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.


  • Distribute the lesson Kenning: Poems & Examples to students and read the section 'Name-Changer: Kenning Defined' together.
  • Define' Kenning' with students.
  • Divide students into small groups and give them ten minutes to brainstorm a list of kennings.
  • After ten minutes, have the groups share their kenning along with the meaning. Record them on the board.
  • Now read 'Kenning Poems' together and ask:
    • What devices did the Norse use when creating early kennings? Why?
    • How were kennings used in riddles?
    • How are kennings used in poems?
  • Divide students into three groups and assign each one of the three poems found in the section 'Examples of Kenning Poems.'
  • Have groups copy their poem onto chart paper and attempt to 'decode' the kenning together.
  • When groups are finished have them share their work and have classmates add their understandings.
  • Reinforce concepts by dividing students into partners and giving them two index cards.
  • Instruct them to write a kenning on one card and an image that describes the kenning on the other.
  • Collect index cards and mix up, then give each student one card and tell them to try to find their match.
  • Read the 'Summary' together and answer any remaining questions.

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