Students will learn about the history and specific dog breed of Balto, the famous sled dog, through group reading activities and informational text.
Note: This is a multiple day lesson.
National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Theme 2: Time, Continuity, and Change
Common Core English Language Arts Standards
Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 2 topic or subject area.
Identify the main purpose of a text, including what the author wants to answer, explain, or describe.
Computer with projector and access to internet
Balto (1995 Disney Movie)
Student classroom copies of the Step into Reading book: The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto, by Natalie Standiford
10 Poster Boards (1 board per two students)
Art Supplies per student group (glue, markers, scissors, ruler, etc.)
AKC Article, The Real Story of Amblin’s Balto: HERE
Design Your Own Balto Poster Group Project Directions: HERE
Pictures of Balto and Siberian Huskies: HERE
Facts about Siberian Huskies Document: HERE
Introduction and Teacher Modeling
- Ask students if they have ever heard of the famous sled dog, Balto. Have students share their knowledge about Balto. Talk about how the story is non-fiction, and that it is real and not made up.
- Discuss dog breeds with the class. Have students share the dog breeds that they may have or if they know of someone that has a certain breed. Refer to the AKC Dog Breeds web site HERE to provide an accurate description of dog breeds and to visit specific dog breed pages.
- Ask students to guess what kind of dog breed they think Balto was (Siberian Husky). Go to the AKC Siberian Husky web page HERE and explain that Balto was a Siberian Husky. Discuss their temperament, traits, and what they were bred to do. Scroll through different pictures of the dog to show students.
- Read the AKC Article, The Real Story of Amblin’s Balto aloud to the class. Stop along the way to discuss and define any vocabulary words (diphtheria, serum, freight, epidemic, mushers, cargo, etc.). Post the vocabulary words and definitions in the classroom for students to reference.
- Review various informational text terms with the class such as main idea, key details, author’s purpose, text features, sequence of events, etc.
- Explain to students that they will be working in partners to read a book about Balto together. Each group will create a poster to highlight important parts of Balto’s story. The teacher will help facilitate the group project.
Teacher-Facilitated Group Project
- Organize students in groups of 2.
- Pass out copies of The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto book to each student.
- Students will partner read and take turns reading the book until finished.
- Pass out materials to each group: poster, art supplies, Poster Directions Document, Pictures Document, and Facts about Siberian Huskies Document.
- Thoroughly explain the project directions to the students, and have students follow along.
- Have students complete the project with their partners independently. Facilitate and assist the students.
Review and Closing
- As a review, students will share their finished posters with the class. Posters can be displayed around the classroom.
- After completing the lesson, have students watch the 1995 Disney movie version of Balto in class. Compare and contrast the written story of Balto to the movie by writing similarities and differences on the board.
Dog Breeds. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.akc.org/dog-breeds.
Standiford, Natalie. The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto. Random House, 1989.
“The Real Story of Amblin’s Balto.” American Kennel Club, 12 August 2016, www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/balto/.