Our Iditarod Unit Study - Eva Varga

February 14, 20087

With great anticipation, our Iditarod Unit Study has begun.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll be following along with the mushers as we also learn about the history of the race, the ecology of Alaska, and integrating numerous other activities across the curriculum.

We made our course map or outline of the route with checkpoints marked.  I think it may be too small (we’ll use it but if we do it again next year, we’ll likely create a bigger map). Sweetie loves geography and shortly after we created the Iditarod map, she made a map of Oregon on her own. 🙂

We also selected our mushers. As we live in Central Oregon, we didn’t put too much thought into our selection, we knew we wanted to go with Rachel Scdoris. In fact, we hope we will get a chance to meet her soon. We also selected 2 other Oregon mushers, Cliff Roberson of Corvallis and Liz Parrish of Klamath Falls. As we have strong familial ties to Norway, I also selected a Norwegian musher, Sigrid Ekran. Next year, if we choose to do it again, we’ll likely be more statistical in our selection.

We have read a few books, most notably Woodsong by Gary Paulsen. I was a little sad to learn he has pulled out of the race this year. We read Whale in the Sky by Anne Siberell and Sweetie asked if we could make a totem pole. I’ll post more about this little project later, but until then, here is a sneak peak.iditarod unit studyAnother book we recently read is The Bravest Dog Ever, The True Story of Balto by Natalie Standiford. When we finished reading, Sweetie said, “I want to draw Balto. He is the best dog ever.” Here is her drawing;
Iditarod Unit StudyAs she worked, she narrated a summary of the book, “Some kids were sick and Balto was the leader of the dog race. He pulled the sled with the medicine for the sick kids. When he was pulling the sled, Balto stopped and the guy said, “Go!” but he didn’t go because the ice on the river was cracking. The man was happy. They got the medicine to the kids in 5 1/2 days. Gunnar and Balto were heroes.” A few inaccuracies but overall she nailed the basic idea.

Narration is one of the key characteristics of a Charlotte Mason education. Telling later without prompting is very characteristic. Your child should be able to tell Daddy what they read when he comes home or Grandma over the phone this weekend without referring to the book. You want to know what ideas caught her mind, not get a formal book report. This is a skill we’ve been working on more and more. Right now she verbalizes her narration but as her writing skills develop, I’ll ask that she also write her narrations.

We also try to incorporate daily copywork. I love the Draw Write Now! series of books and we are currently using the Polar Regions edition. Here is a sampling of her work;

To read of our later endeavors and activities in this unit study, see my later post Our Iditarod Unit Study: A Summary of Our Activities.


  • Sarah

    February 14, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Rachel Scdoris did a presentation and demonstration at Bend library first year we moved here in 2005. It was very inspiring to meet her in person and the kids loved interacting with her and one of her sled dogs. You may check with the library to see if they may do another. It has been a while.


  • Makita

    February 14, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    Ms. Glickman,
    Thank you for your insight and concern. Part of what I hope to instill in my children is the ability to see all sides of an issue. To be educated and knowledgeable about a variety of subjects. I understand that the Iditarod is controversial, but I won’t avoid a topic for this reason. The care for the dogs is one avenue that we will address in our studies.

  • Robin

    February 14, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    I got the same comment on one of my posts, from this same woman. It upset me terribly and I almost pulled it from my blog.
    But I also never want the animals to be hurt in the quest to be first in a race. So I left it, hoping to make people be aware of what COULD happen if race officials were not diligent.
    However, I personally believe that the Iditarod, and other similar races are officiated by a dedicated team, who are on the watch for cruel behavior on the part of the mushers. In fact, there was an incident last year, and the musher was disqualified. So they are enforcing humane behavior.
    I think your response was way better than mine. You kept a nice clear head. Although I don’t think she ever even follows through with her own carnage. She leaves a message like that and then never comes back to hear the other side.

  • School for Us

    February 15, 2008 at 4:16 am

    Wow! Looks like you all are off to a great start! Sorry you got the comment. No, I haven’t gotten any, but I probably will eventually. I did some reading before starting this as Robin had gotten a comment last year. Everything I’ve read sounds like these people really love their dogs and there are strict rules about how to treat them.

  • School for Us

    February 15, 2008 at 4:22 am

    I spoke too soon… I just got my “comment.”

  • Mom2Amara

    February 19, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    Balto has been preserved at a museum here…if you ever want a field trip, you’re welcome to stay with us 🙂

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