You are here: arrow Home arrow Resources arrow Literature Connections arrow Dogsong

Literature Connections

6-8 Core Literature Themes and Connections

Dogsong by Gary Paulsen
Russel is a young Eskimo who feels drawn to the old ways of his people. Taking as a teacher the old man who remembers the old days he learns to hunt with the bow and spear and to run a dogsled as his ancestors did. Dogsong is a rite-of-passage adventure told in three parts: "The Trance," "The Dreamrun," and "Dogsong."

6th grade Core Literature

Key Concepts and Vocabulary Words
Inuit, endangered animals, Eskimo, Alaska, Iditarod, civilization, dogsled, responsibility

Responsibility, Endangered Species


English/Language Arts

Theme Questions


Extensions/ Activities

What and how do responsibilities increase as people get older?

Dogsong: An Interdisciplinary Unit
A unit plan by Janis C. Harless that contains examples, instructions, and activities that include research and writing cross curricular in nature.

Gary Paulsen Website
This is the official Gary Paulsen website that includes a library of his books, his biography, information on writing him, and more.

Have students make a Then-Now list of expectations that show Russel's passage into adulthood. Do a quickwrite about the most difficult thing students have ever attempted, what happened, why and how it was difficult, whether they succeeded or failed, and how the experience has affected their views of themselves. Then ask them to compare their responses with Russel's.

Language Arts Content Standards
3.0 Literary Response and Analysis

Narrative Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text
3.2 Analyze the effect of the qualities of the character (e.g., courage or cowardice, ambition or laziness) on the plot and the resolution of the conflict.


History/Social Science

Theme Questions


Extensions/ Activities

What does Dogsong tell you about the effects of the modern-day world on Inuit culture?

Canadian Inuit History page01_e.html
This site is by David Morrison for the Canadian Museum of Civilization and provides a 1,000 year history of the Inuits along with timelines and photographs.

This site provides textual information about Eskimos, their history, culture, and daily life.

Research Inuit culture, its past and present. Create a timeline of historical events. Write a report on how climate and modern day culture affected the growth of the Inuit civilization.

6th Grade Language Arts
2.0 Writing Applications
2.3 Write research reports:
a. Pose relevant questions with a scope narrow enough to be thoroughly covered.
b. Support the main idea or ideas with facts, details, examples, and explanations from multiple authoritative sources (e.g., speakers, periodicals, online information searches).
c. Include a bibliography.



Theme Questions


Extensions/ Activities

Why are Polar Bears endangered?

What dog makes the best sled dog?

Animals of the Arctic
A ThinkQuest about information on the animals in the Arctic, including activities and resources.

Sled Dogs
This PBS site provides teaching guides and activities on dogsledding that complement several video series on dogs and dogsledding.

The Iditarod: Teacher Page
This site contains many pages of information on the Iditarod and the Jr. Iditarod, teaching activities, and a teacher forum.

Have students research polar bears and other endangered Arctic animals, and explore what is being done to protect them.Students will view the PBS video “Dogs: the Early Years” and write about the best type of dog for sledding and the best type that would fit their personality.

Math connection: compare temperatures with a  city in Alaska with students’ city.

4th Grade Science Standards: Life Science
3. Living organisms depend on one another and on their environment for survival. As a basis for understanding this concept:
b. Students know that in any particular environment, some kinds of plants and animals survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.
c. Students know many plants depend on animals for pollination and seed dispersal, and animals depend on plants for food and shelter.





Back to Literature Connections