Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Iditarod Mini Lesson

Lots of kids love dogs, snow, and racing, so today, let’ look at the word “Iditarod” for a mini history lesson. It comes from the Indian word “haiditarod” which means “far distant place.” The Iditarod race begins the first Saturday in March, in Anchorage, Alaska, even though the actual trail is about 20 miles away.

The race was modeled after the All-Alaska Sweepstakes of 1907-08. Many people think it was started when the diphtheria serum was delivered to Nome, Alaska. The race became popular during the Alaskan gold rush in the late 1880’s to the mid 1920’s.

A driver (musher) marches dogs to pull his sled. Have your older child research when and why sledding began. Some people think it started when the first people crossed the Bearing land bridge into Alaska. Old parts and pieces were found.

This mini lesson can involve math, science, and history by calculating distances mushers drive dogs; estimating the combined weight of dogs, sled, and musher; pinpointing mushing routes on a map; studying the history of the mushing, including how the gold rush impacted it; learning about the wolves and later dogs that were used for mushing; find out why the price of dogs reached as much as $1,000 by the end of the 19th century; read about dog booties and why they were and are needed…

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