Beowulf Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught history, and has an MA in Islamic law/finance. He has since founded his own financial advice firm, Newton Analytical.

This lesson plan gives you the tools needed to create an engaging lesson on the epic poem 'Beowulf. Access a video lesson, review with students the literary elements present in the piece of work, and have them develop their own hero as well as poem to help them appreciate the impact of ''Beowulf''. Related lessons and activities are suggested, as well.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson, students should be able to do the following:

  • verbalize why Beowulf is important as a contribution to English literature and within the Old English language
  • analyze the character of Beowulf as a commentary on the values of the Anglo-Saxons
  • identify crucial points of legend, myth, and history in Beowulf


1 hour to 90 minutes


  • Construction paper or poster board
  • Markers, crayons, and/or colored pencils
  • Copies of modern magazines, a variety of styles including weaponry magazines, men's magazines, etc.
  • Scissors and glue

Curriculum Standards


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful. (Include Shakespeare as well as other authors.)


Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide reading of world literature.


  • First, review important terms like 'kenning,' 'alliteration,' and 'caesura.' Ask students to watch out for these as they watch the video.
  • Have students watch the video lesson Beowulf: Story, Characters, and Old English in its entirety.
  • While students are watching the video, divide the board or a poster paper into the three sections, one for each of the segments of Beowulf: Battle with Grendel, Battle with Mom, Battle with Dragon.
  • After the video, open the discussion with students about the story, highlighting key actions, events, and character elements about Beowulf.
    • What similarities and differences do they notice between the three sections?
    • Do Beowulf's personality traits stay constant despite his age?
  • Review the meanings of 'myth,' 'legend,' and 'history.' Ask students to identify a couple of elements in Beowulf that fit into each category.
  • Remind students that Beowulf was lost for several hundred years. Discuss how it can still have a well-defined place in the timeline of English literature.


  • Beowulf the character was the height of what Anglo-Saxons thought a hero should be. What about our own society? Have students design the perfect hero for the 21st century. Have them use the art supplies and/or cut out body parts, weapons, tools, etc. from the magazines to incorporate into their characters' images.
    • What abilities does he/she have? What about characteristics?
  • Have students draft a one-page poem about their characters that incorporates some of the literary elements they noted in Beowulf (such as alliteration, caesuras, and kennings).
  • For a collaborative element, assign the above tasks to student teams or partners or allow them to present to the rest of the group.


  • Encourage students to compare the story of Beowulf with other Germanic works, such as well-known Norse myths. How do these compare with Greco-Roman myths? What about with Christianity?
  • J.R.R. Tolkien was heavily inspired by Beowulf. Ask students to make a list of themes present in Beowulf and another list for The Hobbit and/or The Lord of the Rings. Is there a connection between the works, or are these universal themes of humanity?

Related Lessons

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