Family Norwegian Language Adventures with Vesterheim

A highlight of this pandemic fall has been our Family Norwegian Language Adventures with Eddy. Early in September, I discovered Vesterheim, The National Norwegian-American Museum & Heritage Center, in Decorah, Iowa, while researching virtual Scandinavian events. Through their Folk Art School, they offered an impressive range of classes and events! What really caught my eye was the October Family Norwegian Language Adventure focused on friluftsliv (“free air living” or “embracing the outdoors”), a virtual experience we could participate in here in Los Angeles.

The organizers promised a family-fun outdoor adventure while learning some Norwegian language along the way. This sounded perfect for our family. I had been teaching my 14-year-old son Norwegian over the summer, and with this “adventure” we could maybe review some of that and involve my 16-year-old son and husband too. Also, with all the screen time taking place, we could all benefit from a new incentive to get outside and have more family time.

The $20 registration fee included a kit “containing supplies for these language activities, a helpful reference sheet for all the new words and expressions you will be learning, a fun craft, and a yummy snack.” The snack was what sealed the deal. If everything else was a bust, we would at least have a snack and the good feeling of supporting an institution promoting Norwegian culture. It was a quick and easy decision to register, even though I didn’t know exactly what I was signing us up for.

Our kit arrived at our doorstep towards the end of September. Per the instructions, we waited until October 1 to open it. The kit was such a treat to open. Prepared with great care and pride in a nice gift box, the kit went way above my expectations. The treat was a Kvikk Lunsj to enjoy on a hike. There was a journal to make notes and drawings of our language learning and nature observations along with bingo cards for a game of outdoor bingo. We also received cards highlighting objects from the Vesterheim collection connected to the theme of friluftsliv.

October 1 was also the day that the corresponding virtual game on the GooseChase app went live. The game included missions that would get our family outside and help us practice our new Norwegian vocabulary that we learned through the language videos created especially for this “adventure”.

We fell into a nice routine. One day each weekend we watched a video at dinner time and practiced the new content. Each video had a general language focus. The first video explored things you might see in nature. The next one covered weather. The third video discussed clothing. The final one delved into two sayings associated with friluftsliv (“Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær.” and “Ut på tur, aldri sur!”). I really appreciated how the adventure included some culture in addition to the vocabulary.

The videos were fantastic! Eddy, the instructor, was very engaging. She used movement, props, and humor to invigorate the videos. Music and special effects added to the fun. The content material and length were just right; each video was 5 to 7 minutes. Eddy ended each session with a suggested task to practice content covered and these corresponded to the missions in the GooseChase game.

  My teenage boys were not particularly thrilled about participating in all the GooseChase missions, but I thought the missions were a fabulous complement to the adventure. Our favorite was the family game of “natur bingo” to practice Norwegian words for things we saw in our backyard. Another highlight was “Ut på tur, aldri sur!” (a walk/hike), though sadly the whole family didn’t go, so I saved the Kvikk Lunsj for another tur. We earned points by submitting photo, video, or text evidence for the missions we completed. There was friendly competition with other teams to earn the most points.

When registration for November’s adventure with its focus on kos (coziness) opened up last month, I was quick to register our family. Once again, we were impressed by the kit. This month’s “yummy snack” was Swedish ginger thins and gløgg mulling spice. We have already watched the first two language videos and completed two of the missions (“What does kos mean to you?” and “Familie tre!”) and I see more points coming our way soon. Registration for the December jul-themed adventure just opened up and I’m already looking forward to it even though we haven’t finished November’s adventure yet!

Here’s Eddy introducing the December Family Norwegian Language Adventure