Jenny has masters' degrees in public health and public administration.
Who Was Leif Erikson?
We have all been taught that Christopher Columbus discovered the New World. But did you know that there was someone else from Europe who got to North America first, hundreds of years before Christopher Columbus was even born?
This person was Leif Erikson, also known as Leif the Lucky. Leif Erikson was a Viking who sailed to North America around the year 1000 CE.
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The Vikings were a group of explorers and traders. They were from the part of the world where Norway is today. You might think of a Viking as wearing a helmet with horns, but there is no evidence to show this was true. They were mostly farmers and raised animals.
The Vikings were able to trade around the world by traveling on amazing boats they built out of wood. These boats moved with sails and oars, and they sailed well in shallow water and in the ocean.
In the year 800 CE, Vikings started raiding places in Britain to steal riches and jewelry. Sometimes they stayed and lived in the places they raided, but other times, they went back to Norway. They also traveled to Iceland, and many settled there.
Leif Erikson Early Life
What we know about Leif Erikson comes from stories called sagas. He and his brothers and sisters are said to have lived in Iceland with their father, Erik the Red.
Erik left Iceland and traveled on his ship to explore different places. He found Greenland and took people back to live there. Erik became the head of the community in Greenland.
Leif Erikson Sails to North America
There are a few different stories about how Erik's son Leif Erikson ended up in North America. In one story, Leif Erikson got lost and found it by accident. Another story says that Leif went looking for North America after hearing about a new land from someone who saw it by boat.
Leif and his crew gave the lands they found names. He called one place Vinland because it had a lot of grapes growing on vines. Leif stayed in North America for a while and then left. Others were there longer and met and traded with the native people living there. They also ended up going back to Greenland, and Leif became the leader of Greenland after his dad died.
We don't know the exact places that Leif found. But parts of buildings, tools, and iron nails used in boats, wood pieces, and other things belonging to the Vikings have been found in northern and eastern Canada.
Did you know October 9 is Leif Erikson Day in the United States? You might be wondering, why don't we celebrate it like Columbus Day? One possible reason is that even though Leif Erikson came first, Columbus's discovery brought many more people from Europe to North America to live and settle.
Alright, let's review what we've learned. Leif Erikson was a Viking explorer who sailed to North America around the year 1000 CE. There are different stories about Erikson's life and family and how he found the new land.
Even though the Vikings didn't stay in North America for a very long time, we know they were there from finding their tools and belongings. So, even though we don't celebrate Leif Erikson Day on October 9, it's important to know that he was the first European to discover North America.
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Leif Erikson Facts: Lesson for Kids
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