Lesson 6.6: Social Studies Connection

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Junior Musher

“Hike!” called 17-year-old Tessa King. The ten dogs pulling her sled took off. Later, when she called “Whoa!” she had won the 2004 Junior Yukon Quest, a sled-dog race in Alaska.

Sled dogs are very strong. They can run very fast for a very long time. “I was hoping to finish with all ten dogs, which I did,” said Tessa.

Tessa comes from a family of mushers. Her dad has come in first in many sled-dog races. Her sister Cali has been a winner, too.

Soon Tessa will compete in the Junior Iditarod Trail Race. A musher stands on the back of a sled. A tug line is tied to the front. Each dog on the team is tied to the tug line. The mushers put on their dogs' harnesses. The dogs are lined up with the lead dog first. The harnesses are tied to the tug line. Then they are off!

Half way through the race, the teams stop for the night. The first thing mushers do is feed and care for their dogs.

“We're not allowed to go inside,” says Tessa. “We sleep out in the open. I'll try to get as much gear as I can fit on and sleep on my sled. I expect to get two or three hours of sleep.”

The next day, the mushers and their teams race back to the starting point. The first-, second-, third-, fourth-, and fifth-place winners each get a trophy.

“I'm really not out to win,” Tessa says. “I just want the fun of running the race.”

Word Wise

A person who drives a dog sled: A musher spends many hours outdoors in very cold weather.

Try to win something by working against other people: A teenager must be at least 14 to compete in the Junior Iditarod Trail Race.

Those who work together to win: Our school's chess team has 12 members.

Straps that tie an animal to something that moves: The horse's harness is attached to a wagon.

A prize for winners: My big brother has won many trophies for swimming.

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Say the word "trophy" aloud. Do you hear the sound of f? If not, say the word again. Which letters in “trophy” make the f sound? Copy the words in the list below on a sheet of paper. Circle the letters in each word that have the f sound.

  • fast
  • find
  • laugh
  • enough
  • phone
  • giraffe
  • photo
  • different
  • funny
  • tough

Data Hunt

Mushers may raise and train their own dogs. Sometimes they give their dogs names that tell which of them is the strongest, the fastest, or the smartest!

Pretend that you could enter the Junior Iditarod. Work with a partner. Make up names for your 10-dog team. Think of a name for your lead dog. Write “1st” next to this name. Then name each of your other dogs. Write their names in order from 2nd to 10th.

Draw a picture of each of your sled dogs, if time allows. Below each dog write the dog's name and place in line.