Tug line, tow line, gee, haw, mush – this is some of the vocabulary the kids have experienced while continuing to learn about the Iditarod sled dog race currently nearing an end in Alaska. The Iditarod came into being after sled dogs were used to get vaccine for an epidemic to the residents of Nome. Now it is a challenging sport of more than 70 mushers �to make the more than 1000-mile trip from Anchorage to Nome over mountains, rivers, flat terrain, sea ice, in daylight and darkness, in sunny and snowy conditions, and temps on the plus and minus sides of zero. Conversations, pictures, videos and books have given the kids a new understanding of this event.
The kids have seen two videos – one about the race itself that features some of the terrain and hazards of the trail; one such event was when a moose became entangled in a team; dogs were injured and musher Susan Butcher had to withdraw from the race but in future years went on to win the race four times. In another, she narrates an overview of her life and encourages people to set goals and go for them. A third video, though animated, told the true story of Balto, a strong and brave dog that was instrumental in getting the vaccine to Nome.
With a 35-foot tow line and dogs (kids) in pairs hooked by tug lines (arms/hands) at intervals to the tow line the kids took turns being dogs and the musher. Dogs had to listen for commands and the musher had to learn to think ahead to give the right commands for the lead dogs to make the correct turns. Needless to say, some practice would be good! And, the kids became aware of some important skills needed by both musher and huskies.
From the Iditarod website daily updates were found to learn at which checkpoint some mushers were or had last been, if they’d done their mandatory stops, if they’d had to scratch the race, etc.
Interspersed with the Iditarod have been activities related to St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. The question, “What kind of music is that?” was heard when the kids, upon entering the Roost, heard Celtic music on the CD player. That led to a discussion about Ireland, leprechauns, and St. Patrick. Related activities involved hearing some fun stories, coloring and assembling a leprechaun, making three-leaf clovers from heart shapes, illustrating what they’d do if they had a pot of gold, and making green cupcakes for snacks that were topped with green whipped topping and green sprinkles.
After hearing a story about eggs the kids each made a big paper Easter egg and gave it a unique design. The little “Happy Easter” bunnies are a community service project in progress.
Roost kids have been doing some prep work in anticipation of an upcoming project with Suzi Brueggeman – more details next week…
As you do any spring cleaning, please remember that the Roost is an excellent new home for items you no longer want or need – craft supplies, fabric, vases, nails, gardening tools, games, books, paper goods, old dish towels, vinyl tablecloths, etc., etc. – one man’s trash is another’s treasure.
K-5 elementary students will be receiving a note to take to their parents that will provide information about the summer program at the Roost.
FROM PUNCHED SHAPES, the Roost kids assemble bunnies along with an Easter greeting as part of a community service project.