Friday, 23 October 2015

Using Melbourne Cup Day as a Learning Opportunity

Regardless of your views on Australia's 
Melbourne Cup Day,
 'The Race that Stops the Nation'
can prove to be a great learning opportunity.


Here are a list of topics that can be covered (whether they be positive or negative, there are many avenues for discussion): 
  • Horses 
  • Horse Racing
  • Occupations (Jockey, Trainer, Vet etc)
  • Money and Gambling
  • The History of the Race and by extension Australian History
  • 'Legend' stories like Phar Lap (you can even read about this on Skwirk, click here to follow the link)
  • The change in our country and our attitudes over the years
  • Animal Rights, animal cruelty 
  • The Science behind everything from track preparation to the anatomy of a horse
  • The Mathematics involved (Race times and speeds, Odds and Probability, etc) *check out this link to Passy's World of Mathematics for a great unit on Melbourne Cup Mathematics!*
  • Geography of where the Horses come from in the World 

Do we really need to be talking to our kids about this?

Well yes, I think we do.
If our children are not taught about the past, how can they make informed choices about the future?  

My son loves riding horses. He has been riding for 3 years now. He loves the horses and cares about them. He wanted to know all about the Horses that race, what racing entailed, etc.  It was a great opportunity to explain a huge range of topics (both good and not so pleasant). 

As he has gotten older and has developed an interest in History, this year we are taking a Historical look at 'The Race'. We have books to read and we are going back over our Australian History timelines to remember what Australia was like as a country and a colony back when it all started.

Two books that we are reading are:

The Phar Lap Mystery

Archer's Melbourne Cup

We have books like the
Allen Book of Riding 
to read as well which explains all about Horses, how to Ride a Horse etc.  

Along with the books above, we have the following DVD to watch:
Phar Lap - Hero to a Nation

You could use it as a stepping stone for Literature Unit Studies for books like Black Beauty. You will find a great Literature Unit over at
Confessions of a Homeschooler, see this link

Whether you love the Melbourne Cup or hate it, it is a race that takes place in our country for millions to watch. Why not take advantage of that to engage your child in discussion about all the topics I mentioned above and many others.  

If you love it you could incorporate arts and craft activities as well.  Make a 'Fascinator', learn to draw horses, make hobby horses, bake horse shoe shaped biscuits, there is plenty to engage your child. 

If you disagree with the day and Horse Racing, then why not delve into Animal care and protection?  You could take the children and volunteer at a Horse Rescue centre.

The Day is what you make of it, and it really is a good opportunity to teach your child.

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