Home School Life Journal

Home School Life Journal
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales
painting by Katie Bergenholtz

The Iditarod Starts Today

The Iditarod starts today, so I thought I would share with you some of the things we have done. You can start with learning about Alaska in general, and then about the animal most people think of when you say Alaska or the Arctic... the polar bear. We learned how polar bears keep warm with a layer of fat called blubber. We had a shortening glove for one hand, and saw how much more insulated that hand was than the bare one. See Sam's reaction to trying out his bare hand in the ice water!

James is smiling, but he needs help from Mom to actually put his hand in the ice water, while the gloved hand rests comfortably in the other bowl.

This is Alex's page.

The boys made books with scenes of the different habitats of Alaska. We added the animals appropiate to each habitat as we studed them.

Here is a fun recipe to read. It is apparently a real recipe from a 1952 Eskimo cookbook. We decided not to do it for our school, however, and if you read on you'll see why.

Inuit Ice Cream
1. Grate reindeer tallow into small pieces.
2. Add seal oil slowly, while beating with hand.
3. Add a little water while whipping.
4. Continue adding seal oil and water until white and fluffy.
5. Any berries may be added.
Let's Go -Start running
Hike- Run faster
Whoa-Stop
Gee- Turn right
Haw- Turn left
I completed a unit on the Iditarod back when Katie was in first grade with a group of her friends, and she remembered the simulation we did of the race as one of her fondest school memories. She insisted that we had to do one for the boys. The natural setting for this was the gym where we meet on Thursdays.
First I gave the group a mini-lesson on the lingo of mushers (see above). We then divided the students into small groups, having one musher seated on a scooter-"sled" and two "dogs" to pull the "sled." The mushers practiced their new lingo while guiding their "dogs" through an obstacle course.
Then we gathered again for a lesson on dog team positions. They formed into larger teams with 8 "dogs" -a pair for each position (lead, wheel, team and swing). These large teams had to work cooperatively to make it around the gym. They then regrouped into the smaller teams for a timed race. They all enjoyed the simulation so much that they spent the rest of their free time there in teams of their own and you could hear child voices calling out "Hike" throughout the gym.
They have learned the parts of the dog sled.
They made models of dog sleds.Which hand is the "bear" hand and which hand is the bare hand?


The end of the unit included tracking the mushers they are shadowing until they come to the finish line, which will be in about 10-14 days after the start of the Iditarod.

More ideas and fun can be found .here

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