Tuesday, September 6

Hatchet & Mastering Outdoor Skills

In "Hatchet," Brian is the sole survivor of a plane crash, and must rely on his wits and learn how to survive on his own - off the land - until he is saved  At one time, most children learned these skills, but now we have to seek opportunities for teaching them…

Six Outdoor Skills to Learn in Your Backyard

  • Clean Water.  The first, and most important, skill you need to master is finding clean drinking water.  If you live in an area with access to water, you will need to purify it through boiling or using a filtration system.  You may need to locate water, so learn to build a still to collect this precious resource.
  • Create a Shelter.  After finding water, you'll want to figure out shelter, and do it before it gets dark.  Take into account the environment and weather when choosing whether to build a lean-to, cave shelter, or brush tent.  Exposed areas can be windy and difficult to protect from weather.  Desert washes are subject to flash flooding.  Dead trees in the forest can be dangerous if they fall.
  • Navigate the Wild.  Your phone GPS won't always be available, and knowing how to navigate using the sun, stars, and nature could mean the difference in survival!  It's also important to learn how to use paper maps and a compass.  Practice these skills in your neighborhood.
  • Build a Fire.  This can be difficult, but is important for warding off predators, providing heat and light, and attracting attention from would-be rescuers.  Collect kindling and sticks to get your fire started.  Don't cut down trees, as fresh wood has moisture that will create a lot of smoke and be difficult to get burning.
  • Tie Knots.  If you know how to tie knots, you can build a shelter, set traps, and create tools.  Three of the most basic and useful are the square knot, bow line, and half hitches.  Use some cording and a rail to practice your skills
  • Taking Care of Business.  When nature calls, you want to answer carefully.  Human waste needs to be kept far away from your water source.  This seems like a small skill, but can make a big difference in survival!

    Six Essential Wilderness Survival Skills

  • Positive attitude:  You can live 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water, and 3 minutes without air…but only 3 seconds without a clear mind.  Panic leads to bad decisions, and while fear is a natural reaction to emergencies, being able to relax and make a smart judgment will be the most essential skill of all.
  • Water:   Remember that whole three thing?  Focus on water.  Find it, purify it, drink it, and store it for later.  Water naturally runs downhill, so that is where you will find it.  You can often follow animal tracks right to a water source as they need water just as much as you do to survive, and they will know of any available water sources.
  • Fire:  Fires not only can be used for warmth, to cook food and boil water, but they can also be used as a signaling device.  Losing body heat can kill you just as quickly as lack of water.  The most important part of building a fire is the location.  The fire needs to be located in a place where the wind will not blow directly on it.  You will need tinder, such as dry grass or small twigs, to spark life into the fire.  You’ll also need kindling (pencil-sized pieces of wood) to build the flames.  Finally, you’ll need larger logs to maintain fuel for the fire.    See - How to Build a Fire
  • First aid: Knowing how to both avoid and treat common health problems such as blisters, insect stings, hypothermia and dehydration, as well as larger issues such as broken bones and snake bites, is a critical wilderness survival skill.  You can download the Red Cross "Wilderness and Remote First Aid" reference guide for free.
  • Shelter:  Whether from cold, rain, wind or heat, you must be able to protect yourself from the elements.  You should build your shelter with just enough room to lie down.  Your body heat will help keep your shelter warm, so the smaller the space the warmer it will be.  Usually it’s worth at least taking 30 minutes to make a thick layer of leaves into a bed so you don’t lose insane amounts of body heat from direct contact with the ground before considering a fire.
  • Food:  Survival is hard work!  Keeping your energy up is important, as you will be burning a lot more calories than you are used to burning.  Contrary to popular belief, plants are not your best avenue in a survival situation.  If you do not know exactly what you are doing you can actually end up poisoning yourself.  A few food sources that are a safe bet are insects, worms, and furry mammals.   See - Wilderness Survival - Finding Food and Water

Our spine read for this unit is Hatchet (Gary Paulsen)

Access the entire unit in the Literature-Based Science Bundle!

Includes nine unit studies covering a variety of science topics presented in literature selections.
  • Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.
  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.
Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!

Units include:
  • Misty of Chincoteague & Horses
  • Hugo Cabret & Clocks / Time
  • Caroline’s Comet & Astronomy
  • Fuzzy Mud & Microbiology
  • Hatchet & Outdoor Skills
  • Airplanes & Flight
  • Marine Biology
  • Human Anatomy
  • Plant Dissection

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