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Winter Pony         Originally p
Winter Pony
Author: Krista Ruepp (Translated by J. Alison James)
Illustrator: Ulrike Heyne
ISBN: 0735816913; 0735816921
Summary from Front Flap:    Prince, a little Icelandic pony, is Anna's best friend.  She has nurtured him since he was born and loves him very much.  But Prince is a winter pony, and now that summer is here, he must take his place among the herd far up in the mountains, leaving Anna behind.  Will Prince be safe through the warmer months until he can return home to Anna next winter?  Touches of Norse mythology add magic and mystery to this heartwarming horse story.

Originally published in Switzerland under the title
Anna's Islandpony

A unit by Celia

Notes from Celia:   This unit would be particularly suited for a family with both older and younger children and/or for an extended unit. There is much for varying ages.   See also the list of go-along books at the end for titles for the older student.



Geography – Iceland, North Atlantic Ocean, Arctic, Arctic Circle:      Iceland is part of the Arctic region of the world.  The Arctic includes eight nations:  Iceland, Denmark (who also owns Greenland), Finland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Canada, and the United States (because of Alaska).   Iceland is an amazing place, a land of extremes...of deserts, hot springs, volcanoes, and glaciers.  Iceland is nicknamed "The Land of Fire and Ice" and "The Land of the Midnight Sun."   Iceland is such a mix of harsh environments that NASA used the land to help train the first men who would walk on the moon (Apollo 11).  

Iceland is an island (review definition of an island) just below the Arctic Circle.  It is in the North Atlantic Ocean.  Help your student locate the North Atlantic Ocean,  Iceland, and the Arctic Circle on a globe or map.   Help your student to see that Iceland is located about halfway between North America and Europe.  It is about the size of Virginia or Indiana or Ohio. 

Iceland is a fascinating place and as such there are many possible bunny trails that can be explored.  At the bottom of the page are some ideas to help you get started on an extended study of Iceland.

Flag of Iceland Minit Book

Map of Iceland

Flag of Iceland (Free registration to required)

Note: does not have a coloring page for the flag of Iceland, but you could print out the flag coloring page of Norway, and just reverse the colors:  blue background with red Scandinavian Cross in middle.  

Note:   If you use Visualize World Geography in 7 Minutes a Day and have the corresponding Pictography Flag Coloring Book (both available from, Iceland is flag #65.

Possible Supplemental Titles

Iceland (A True Book) by Kathleen W. Deady (47 pages, large print and colorful pictures for the younger student)
Iceland (Enchantment of the World series) by Barbara A. Somervil   (144 pages, lots of colorful pictures and informative text.  Good for older student or parent.  Slightly easier reading than the Sandness/Gritzner book below.)
Iceland (Modern World Nations) by Roger K. Sandness and Charles F. Gritzner (102 pages, for an older student or parent.  Note:  "milLions of years" are mentioned, but it is still an excellent book for older students and/or parent.  Does mention that "For over 100,000 years, a thick sheet of ice covered Iceland." )  

Note from Celia:  Most of the information about Iceland that I provided in this section came from these three books.  

Possible website


Social Studies

Social Studies -- Animals for best friends:  Have you ever thought about an animal as being your best friend?   In what ways do you think an animal could be your best friend?  How would it be different than having another boy or girl as being your best friend?

Social Studies -- Growing Up:    In this story, both Anna and her pony, Prince do some "growing up."  Anna's learns to let her young horse go and Prince earns a place in the herd.  Discuss with your student the process of "growing up" and of the changes it brings.

Social Studies -- Norse Mythology:  If your student has studied ancient civilizations, remind him about Greek,  Roman, and Egyptian mythology.   Discuss how people who lived in other countries also had stories of gods and goddesses and other fictitious creatures.   The early Icelandic settlers worshiped many gods and goddesses.  

The Norse people (also called Scandinavians) are people who live in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, or Iceland.  (You may want to help your student locate these countries....point out how close to the Arctic they are.)  The stories these people made up are called Norse Mythology.  These were the gods of the Vikings.  

Below are several books which contain stories of Norse mythology.  Choose a story to read to your child.  Compare how they are similar to the mythology of other ancient civilizations.

About 1000 AD, the government of Iceland adopted Christianity as their religion.  

[Note:  If you are Lord of the Rings fans, you may wish to note that J.R.R. Tolkein used elements from Norse mythology in his writing of LOTR.  So did homeschooled author Christopher Paolini in his Eragon and Eldest books.]

Sites for parent to learn more about Norse Mythology: 

Possible Supplemental Titles

Stolen Thunder:  A Norse Myth by Shirley Climo (32 pages)
The Theft of Thor's Hammer retold by Henrietta Branford (24 pages)
D'Aulaires Norse Gods and Giants by Ingri and Edgar Darin D'Aulaire (150 pages, several stories)
Thor's Visit to the Land of Giants by Nancy Wilson Ross (51 pages)
Norse Mythology A to Z:  A Young Reader's Companion by Kathleen N. Daly (Revised by Marian Rengel)
Gods and goddesses of the Vikings and Northlands by Leon Ashworth (32 pages)
Odin's Family:  Myths of the Vikings by Neil Philip   (124 pages, several stories)
Favorite Norse Myths by Mary Pope Osborne (87 pages, lesser known stories)
Usborne Illustrated Guide to Norse Myths and Legends by Cheryl Evans

Note from Celia:  It's hard to find a book about Norse mythology that does not have scary pictures and/or wording.  If you're looking for just a story, try one of the stories about Thor's hammer being stolen.  Personally, I liked the story by above-mentioned Shirley Climo, but the pictures of the one by Henrietta Branford.

The one by Neil Philip has several stories and few pictures, but some text may not be appropriate.  Each chapter begins and ends with a rune, but show several that I could not find on the link I provided below.  The D'Aulaires' book is many scary pictures.  You could go through either books, choosing a story appropriate for your family.

The Ashworth book is more informative than story-like.  Has many pictures of actual artifacts.  Information is about the entire Viking territory....Norway, Sweden, Denmark, etc. as well as Iceland.

You might find more Norse related books in this list

Language Arts

Language Arts -- Vocabulary:  

cocked       to tilt or turn up or to one side, usually in a jaunty or alert manner
tramped     to walk on foot, to hike
huddled     to crowd together, as from cold or fear
dazed        to feel stunned, bewildered, or shocked
startled      to cause one to make an involuntary movement or start, to alarm or frighten suddenly
respect      to feel admiration, esteem, appreciation, or high regard        


Language Arts --  Alliteration:   The story has several examples of alliteration.  Review alliteration and ask your student to find some examples.  

    marshy meadows
    mountain looked magical in the morning mist
    spring storms swept
    mountains were green and glowing
    slept soundly

Language Arts -- Works originally published in other countries / Translated Works:    If you turn to the copyright page in front (just before the title page), you will see that it says the book was first published in Switzerland under the title Annas Islandpony.   Explain to your child that many (most) of the books we read here in the United States were first published here.  This story however was first published in a country called Switzerland (you may wish to point out on a map/globe) and that it was not originally published in the English language.  Because it was not in English, a person had to translate it....the opposite page (the title page) tells us that J. Alison James translated it for us so we could read it.   (If you also have Runaway Pony, you may wish to point out that it too was first published in Switzerland and also needed to be translated--though I did not see where it gave the translator's name.  I found on the Internet that the translator for Runaway Pony was Marianne Martens.)

Language Arts -- Plot:   Using page 44 of your Volume I Five in a Row manual, review plot elements:  setting, conflict, rising action, climax, and denouement (resolution).  Discuss each part in today's story.  Have your student map out the plot elements (use this HSS PLOT MAP or this Scholastic PDF one).

If you have a preschooler, you may wish to use just the words Beginning, Middle, and End.  Perhaps print this PDF file to help him visualize this concept


Art -- Medium:   The artist, Ulrike Heyne, used watercolors for this story.  Have your child make a scene with watercolors.  You may also wish to point how how the artist used a "splatter" technique to make the snow. (See splatter art lesson for Homeschool Share's Baby in a Basket.)  See if your child can replicate the illustrators way of painting the horse's mane and/or the icy rain.

Art -- Similar Pictures:   Ask your child to look at the cover of the book closely.  Now turn have your student look at the picture opposite of the first page of text.  Note the similarities of the two pictures....they seem identical except for the season.



Math -- Units of Measure, Hands:   
  The height of a horse or pony is measured in a unit called hands, which is abbreviated hh. One hand is equal to 4 inches.   A horse's height is measured from the ground to the withers.   Let's look at a horse is  that is 15.2 hh.  The first part of the number, 15, is in hands.  However, the second part of the number, 2, is already in inches.  So a horse that is 15.2 hh would be 62 inches tall.  (15x4=60+2=62).  Help your students to covert hh to inches.   With a younger student you might just want to discuss that the hands unit is 4 inches and then practice skip counting by 4's.  

Math -- Calendar:   If you've already discuss Norse mythology, you may wish to take this time to review the calendar (names of the days of the week, the # of days in a week/month/year, etc.)    Many of the names of our days are taken from Norse mythology.  If your child is interested, you may wish to discuss this fact.  

Names of the Days of the Week and Months:  You may wish to discuss the origin of our word Thursday.....Thor's Day.  Thor was the Norse god of thunder and lightning, and is often depicted with a hammer in his hand.   Origins of other days and months:

Sunday           the sun's day
Monday          the moon's day
Tuesday        Tyr or Tiw's day  (Tyr/Tiw was a Norse god)  
Wednesday   Wodan's day (Wodan is another name for the Norse god Odin)  
Thursday       Thor's day (Thor was a Norse god)
Friday             Frigga's Day (Frigg was a Norse goddess)
Saturday        Saturn's Day  (Saturn was a Roman god)



Be sure to check out the Bunny Trails listed below for lots more Science ideas!  Studying Iceland affords an opportunity to learn about many different types of land formations and ecosystems.

Science -- Horses:  Icelandic Horses    The horses on the island of Iceland are descendants of the horses that the Vikings brought to the island when they settled there over one thousand years ago.  The harsh environment of Iceland has made the horses become smaller over time, with dense coats and long shaggy manes and tails to protect them from the cold.  These hardy little horses are actually pony-sized! 

One difference between a pony and a horse is the size.  If it is under 14.2 hands (see above Math lesson), then it is generally considered a pony. If it is over 14.2hh, then it is generally considered a horse.  Despite the small sizing of Icelandic horses (generally under 14.2hh), the breed is always called a horse and is not a pony (because they descend from larger horses).  

The harsh environment of Iceland has also forced these horses to be able to survive on very little food and to become less spooked by their surroundings.   They are sure-footed (remind student of meaning from Homeschool Share's Fritz and the Beautiful Horses) and are very strong.     

The most remarkable thing about the Icelandic horse is the number of ways in which he can move his feet!  Not only can an Icelandic do the normal gaits of walk, trot, canter, many Icelandics can also pace AND it can also  tölt.  That's five different gaits!

Not all Icelandics can pace, but those that can are highly prized.  Pacing is ability to move the two legs on one side forward at the same time, like a Standardbred pacer...remind student of
The Giraffe That Walked to Paris, FIAR Volume II.  Pacing is very fast...sometimes almost 30 mph!

When an Icelandic horse is tölting, the horse moves his feet in the same order as a walk, but much faster.   When an Icelandic is moving at a tölt, he can keep up with most horses at a gallop.  The tölt is very comfortable to the rider.  It can be so smooth that the rider can carry a cup of water without spilling a drop!

Source: Crazy for Horses by Karen Briggs and Shawn Hamilton and The Icelandic Horse

Possible books:
    Icelandic Ponies (Magnificent Horses of the World) by Tomas Micek   (44 pages , suitable for the younger student.  Nicely describes the different Icelandic horses, using lots of large photos.  Nicely touches on hierarchy and the fighting of the stalLions.  Discusses the tölt, though it is written as tilt on the book.   The biggest thing I don't like about it is that the author calls them ponies...they are horses, despite their small size because they are descendants of horses. )

Websites:   Cool website to actually SEE the different gaits, including the tölt.

    FEIF - International Federation of Icelandic Horse Associations

    USIHC - The United States Icelandic Horse Congress
(Note:  You may wish to have your child practice letter writing by writing to either of the
    above organizations,  telling them that they are studying Icelandic Horses and asking
    them to please send information.)

Science -- Animal Social (Dominance) Hierarchy:

It's time for him to take his place among the herd.  If he doesn't go now, he will never fit it," explained her father.

The chestnut stamped his forelegs and lunged toward Prince.  Both horses reared and bit each other in the neck and legs.  With a loud snort, the chestnut gave Prince a strong kick, and Prince fell over the cliff.

The fight was over.  Prince has earned the respect of the older horse.  


Much of our story is about Prince being accepted into the herd of wild ponies.  Many animals, including horses and ponies, have what is called a social or dominance hierarchy.  Wild horses and ponies live in herds.  A herd is just a group of horses that live together.  Many animals live in groups, just as you live in a group with your family.  Animals that live in groups have what is called a "pecking order," an order of dominance.  The most dominant is the leader and the order continues down to the least dominant.   It is much like what the Bible says about families:  Daddy is the leader of our family, Mommy listens to Daddy, and you children listen to us.  (And of course, God is the head of our entire family and we all need to listen to Him first and foremost.)  

In horses, the alpha animal is the one to whom all the others give respect and are submissive to.  (Think of Jesus when He is described as the Alpha and the day every knee will bow before Him.)  The alpha horse is the leader.  The alpha horse is usually not the stalLion (male horse) who "owns" the herd.  The job of the stalLion is to protect herd from danger and to help keep the band together.  He will allow young horses/ponies to join the herd, but when they are older he will chase them off so that they can find their own female horses to protect.   The alpha horse is often an older mare (female horse) whose wisdom is respected by the others.

Science --  Underground Hot SpringsGeothermal Energy:   The the heat from volcanic activity meeting the cold waters of the island has caused many underground hot springs to form . The water in the springs get so hot from the lava that sometimes a geyser is formed.  A geyser is when the very hot water or steam is shot up high into the air from the cracks in the earth.  (Has your child ever been to Yellowstone and seen Old Faithful?)  As the melted glacial waters seep into the ground, it collects in an underground cavity (hole) called a reservoir.  When a reservoir is located near a pocket of hot magma, the water heats up and gradually turns to steam.  The pressure then builds and the steam is forced back up to the surface of the ground where it shoots out.  The geyser stops spouting when the reservoir no longer has water or steam in it.  Over time the reservoir will again fill up and the process repeats.  Geysers could also be called a "water volcano."  Did you know that we get the word "geyser" from Iceland?  All the world's geysers are named for the Great Geysir in southwestern shoots water 200 feet in the air!!

Since hot water and steam occur naturally in Iceland, the people living there have learned to use it to heat their homes.  A furnace is not needed!  Wells are drilled into the ground and the water and steam from the wells is then piped into their homes and other buildings.
 This called geothermal energy.   You may wish to have your older child research the many benefits of geothermal heating.    

Website to learn more about Geothermal Energy

View the slides about Geothermal Energy    (Note there are 122 slides.  To save time, you may wish to preview and determine which ones would be best to show your student.  Slide #94 and 95 are show the benefits of using geothermal energy in Iceland.  #79, 80, and 81 could be used to show how greenhouses use geothermal heating.  Several others would be good just for general information on geothermal energy.  Note that this website gives you permission to print any of these slides for your personal educational use.)  

Picture of Iceland's hot springs (6th picture down)

Pictures of Iceland's Great Geysir

Make a model of a geyser:  See Donald M. Silver's book, The Amazing Earth Model Book:  Easy-to-make, Hands-on Models that Teach.

Science -- Land of the Midnight Sun:    Iceland also has a nickname of the "Land of the Midnight Sun."  During the month of June, the North Pole is tilted closest toward the sun, bringing almost 24 hours of sunlight for the entire month.  Explain to your child that if he were in Iceland in June, he could go outside and play in daylight even if it were past his bedtime!  

In December, the North Pole tilts farthest away from the sun, bringing almost 24 hours of darkness for the whole month.   Help your child to understand that if he were to go outside on Christmas Day in Iceland, he would watch the sun rise and less than an hour later he would watch it set!

(You may wish to use a globe for the tilting earth and a yellow ball to demonstrate.)

 Pictures of the Midnight Sun:  (1st picture of 2nd row)


Just for Fun

Family Names / Naming Traditions:   Help your child to understand that in America, it is tradition for the bride to "take" the last name of her husband on their wedding day and that any children they have will also be given that same last name.   Icelanders do not have family last names.  When they name their children, the child's "last name" becomes a combination of their father's first name and either the word  -son (meaning son) or -dottir (meaning daughter).  For example, if Jonas has a son named Karl, then son's name becomes Karl Jonasson.  If he has a daughter named Inga, then the daughter's name becomes Inga Jonasdottir.  Help your child determine what his/her name would be if you followed the Icelandic tradition.   (Adapted from Iceland (A True Book) by Kathleen W. Deady).  


Print out this worksheet to determine the names of people in your family if your family followed Icelandic Naming Traditions

Possible Bunny Trails

Vikings:   Erik Thorvaldson (Erik the Red) and his son Leif Erikkson.    Oodles you can explore here!   There is a 17 minute audio version of Landmark's The Vikings.  While it is mostly about finding new land (Greenland and North America), it does start out in Iceland from where Erik the Red left and talks about how he was outlawed from Iceland.  Link to the audio

Landforms -- Islands:   Did you know that islands are still being made?  About 40 years ago (1963-1967), the world watched as a new island was "born" off the coast of Iceland.  This new volcanic island, only about 1 square mile in size, rose up out of the sea about 25 miles from southwest Iceland.  It was named Surtsey, after the Norse fire-possessing  giant Surtur.    Read the story and see beautiful photographs with the book Surtsey:  The Newest Place on Earth by Kathryn Lasky.  (Note:  This book mentions "hundreds of thousands of years.")   If you can't get the book, you might wish to see some pictures from the Internet:  (Lots of links....great pictures of the eruption) (Lots of pictures...great ones of the eruption as well as various formations, plants, and birds of the new island)

Two interesting reads from Answers in Genesis, about how the rapid development of Surtsey has stunned folks and gotten them to thinking about just how young our Earth might be!  Surtsey also helps Creationists because of it's evidence of how quickly land that was recently under water can support life...evidence to help prove the rapid repopulation after The Flood.


Landforms -- Tectonic Plates and Volcanoes:  Iceland sits in area where two tectonic plates (the North American Plate and the Eurasian Plate) are spreading apart.  This area is one of the most volcanically active regions in the world.   From 1783 to 1786, Iceland experienced the worse volcanic eruptions in history.  The Laki volcano in south central Iceland lasted for eight months, during 1783 and 1784, and caused the most damage.  Lava covered the lands and destroyed livestock, crops, and farmland.  After this, Icelanders did not have enough food and many starved to death.   South Iceland is home to the island's most famous volcano, Mount Hekla.  Mount Hekla erupted in the year 1104 and nearly half of Iceland was buried in ash and debris as much as three feet deep in some places.   Research tectonic plates, the Krafla fissure, the Thingvellir fissure, and/or volcanoes further.  Perhaps discuss the two types of eruptions:  Explosive volcanoes and effusive volcanoes.  (Also see HomeSchoolShare's unit on Hill of Fire.)  

Info on Plate Tectonics from AnswersInGenesis

Bit of trivia for you:  Iceland's Snaefelsness volcano was the inspiration for Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth.  

Pictures of Iceland, showing the North American Plate and the Eurasian Plate:  (1st picture)  (4th picture down)

Make a model of to explain what happens as plates move:  See Donald M. Silver's book, The Amazing Earth Model Book:  Easy-to-make, Hands-on Models that Teach.  

Landforms -- Underwater Mountains (Mid-Atlantic Ridge):  
When we say the word mountains, almost instantly the snow-covered Rocky Mountains or Alps comes to mind.  More maybe the beautiful tree-covered mountains of the Appalachians.  But does your student realize there are mountains in the oceans?  Mountains that are completely covered by water?  Iceland sits on top the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a rupture zone on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.  This ridge is part of a continuous 37,000 mile-long "backbone" (a chain of underwater mountains) of Earth that extends from the Arctic Ocean to beyond the southern tip of Africa.  In the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the plates pull apart which cause volcanic eruptions.  The North American Plate pulls to the west, and the Eurasian Plate pulls to the east.  The only part of this Mid-Atlantic ridge of mountains that is above water is Iceland and it sits atop the North American and the Eurasian Plates.  Which means the movement of these two plates is causing Iceland widen about an inch each year.  

Photos of a volcano erupting in a Icelandic glacier

Understanding Plate Motions (This Dynamic Earth)
This site has a link to a picture of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge as well as a picture of Iceland which clearly shows how the North American Plate and the Eurasian Plate are splitting the island in half.

Landforms -- Glaciers:    
Glaciers are enormous, slow-moving masses of ice.   Think of it as a "river of ice."  As snow becomes compacted by its own weight, it turns to ice.  This heavy mass of ice begins to slide down the mountains often carving the ground (this is a form of erosion).   If a glacier reaches the ocean, the waves and tides break off chunks of the glacier that begin to drift into the water.  These chunks are called icebergs.  

More than 10% of Iceland is covered with glaciers.  Central Iceland has large areas covered with glaciers.  The largest glacier in this area is more than 3,000 feet deep in some places!  

Picture of an Icelandic glacier (1st picture in 2nd row)

Make a model of a glacier:  See Donald M. Silver's book, The Amazing Earth Model Book:  Easy-to-make, Hands-on Models that Teach.  

Another model of a glacier (
adapted from this source

First, freeze several 1/2 gallon containers of water. You can use a milk jug or juice container and cut it off the ice.  These will be your "glaciers."  

Next, find a long, plastic storage container (approx. 3 ft. long and about 6 inches deep).  Spread moist gravel over the entire bottom about 2 inches deep and then cover it with topsoil.  Find a location out of direct sun where it can be undisturbed but viewable for several days.  Prop it up so that it is at about a 30 degree angle.  Place a "glacier" at the top of the slope.  When it melts, add another.  

Over a period of several days, have your student observe what happens.  (It too much water gathers as the lake at the bottom, remove some.)  Student should be able to see the erosion of topsoil, the exposure of rocks ("glacier erratics"), the formation of a lake at the bottom, a river delta, sediment on the lake bottom, etc. 

Ecosystems -- Marshy Meadows:   Marshes are areas of low, wet, soft land (a swamp or bog).  The creatures that live in this are especially suited for their wet environment.   Have your older student research Icelandic salt marshes and write a paragraph on his findings.  (If your student is interested in the fauna of Iceland and he has rowed Miss Rumphius, read about how Lupines were introduced and have since become a problem to the Skaftafell area)

Biome/Climactic Zone  -- Tundra    
Tundra is defined as area in which the growth of trees is hindered by the cold temperatures and the short growing season.  There are three kinds of tundra:  Arctic, Alpine, and Antarctic.   Iceland has two.

North Iceland is Arctic tundra.  Arctic Tundra is defined as a treeless area between the icecap and the tree line of Arctic regions, having a permanently frozen subsoil (permafrost) and supporting low-growing vegetation such as lichens, mosses, and stunted shrubs.  

Most of Iceland is Alpine Tundra.  Alpine Tundra does not have permafrost and the soil is usually  better drained than arctic tundra. 
Frozen Tundra:  A Web of Life (A Web of Life series) by Philip Johansson
Arctic Tundra and Polar Deserts (Biomes Atlases series) by Chris Woodford
Arctic Tundra (One Small Square series) by Donald M. Silver
Tundra Discoveries by Ginger Wadsworth
Tundra (Biomes of the World series) by Elizabeth Kaplan
Tundra (Our Living World:  Earth Biomes series) by Barbara A. Somervil

Biome/Climactic Zone  -- Desert:   Central Iceland is a desert plateau.   A desert is often defined as a dry, often sandy region of little rainfall, extreme temperatures, and sparse vegetation.  It can also be defined as a region of permanent cold that is largely devoid of life.    A plateau is defined as  a relatively flat highland.    In the desert regions of Iceland, there are very few trees and the soil is not fertile enough for crops or grazing animals.  

Arctic Tundra and Polar Deserts by Chris Woodford
Tundra and Cold Deserts by Rose Pipes

Evolution / Adaptation:   Because Icelandic horses have adapted to the harsh environment of Iceland, you may wish to discuss evolution (with a small "e"-- sometimes known as microevolution).  Over the thousand years that the horses have been on the island, they have adapted to their surroundings by becoming more compact and very strong.  They have become tough and hardy. Icelandics are usually gentle and rarely kick or bite.  They are generally easy to catch.   Just think how noisy it must be when there are volcanoes and geysers all around!    Being use to such sounds, humans coming around are probably less scary!   (If you read the follow-up story of Anna and Price, Runaway Pony, you will see that Prince becomes frightened of a tractor and that Anna begins to train prince before he is two years old....two things inconsistent with what I have learned about Icelandic horses.  These things are consistent with most other horse breeds however.)

Glíma:   Have a child interested in wrestling???  Find more information on Glima, the traditional form of Icelandic wrestling.    The Vikings brought the game to the island!

Greenhouses:   Icelanders use greenhouses to extend the growing season.  If your student is interested, research this further.  (Also see HomeSchoolShare's unit on Alvah and Arvilla .)   For a website showing greenhouses using geothermal heating, please see the above science lesson on geothermal heating.)

Deforestation / Reforestation:   Twelve hundred years ago Iceland was almost completely covered with trees. Since that time, Iceland has become almost treeless.  In an effort to keep the islanders from worshiping the trees, Christian leaders cut down many trees.   Over the years, many trees were chopped down for timber or for firewood. Herds of sheep stripped areas as they grazed.  Harsh winters and volcanic ash also took their toll.   Research further the efforts that have been recently taken to restore trees to this island.  

World Literature -- The Sagas:  The Sagas, written between 1100 and 1300 AD, would enhance any high schooler's study of world literature.  Perhaps your older student could research and write a paper.

Links to get started:

Compare Iceland's Book of Wisdom,  
The Hávamál,  and the Bible's Book of Proverbs:  Another good project for the older student.   Link

Ancient Alphabets -- Runes:   Has your child studied Cuneiform writing when he studied ancient civilizations?  Perhaps he'd be interested in seeing the old alphabet of Iceland, Runes.   (No need to get into the "magical" aspect of runes.)  Link


Home Economics -- Cooking:

3 cups Flour
3 Eggs
3 cups Milk
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
Essence of Cardamom

Beat eggs and milk together, add dry ingredients.
Stir until smooth. Leave to settle for 30 minutes.
Melt and add margarine.
Heat a small frying pan and grease the pan lightly.
Pour enough batter to coat the pan thinly.
When one side is done, turn the pancake
over with a palette knife and fry the other side.
Grease frying pan often.

Pancakes are usually stacked as they are fried
and white sugar sprinkled liberally on each one.
They can be rolled up individually,
with a little added white sugar on each one.
Or Strawberry Jam is spread on the Pancakes,
with a dollop of whipped cream in the middle.
Fold over twice, and enjoy.


More Icelandic Recipes
Also, the Iceland book by Barbara A. Somervil has a recipe for Icelandic Crepes on page 126.  (It's for a smaller batch than the pancake recipe listed above and does not require cardamom--which my cupboards do not have!)


Websites for pictures of various geological places in Iceland:  (as you may guess from the name of this site, it is from a non-Christian Old Earth perspective)  (Lots of wonderful pictures of Iceland.  Be sure to click on the links at the bottom too.)  (Stunning photographs of the landscape, flora, and fauna of Iceland)


Possible go-along books:

    If you child enjoys this story, you may wish to also get Krista Ruepp's The Runaway Pony, a follow-up story of Anna and her pony Prince which mentions Iceland's lava fields and geysers. In some ways, I actually think it would make a better unit, particularly if you do not wish to cover Norse mythology, but I found Winter Pony first!  You could easily row one book one week and the other book a second week and use some of the bunny trails I listed to make an extended study of Iceland.   

    I highly recommend the following chapter book for a family read-aloud this week or for the older student to read to coincide with this study of Iceland:  Iceland Adventure by Elizabeth Yates (of Amos Fortune, Free Man fame).    This story  was written in the late 30s.  It is only 114 pages.  The 15 year old brother and 14 year old sister ride "ponies," learn about the Icelandic naming tradition, visit Mount Hekla, and see there are many elements that tie into this Winter Pony unit study.    (Note:  Iceland Adventure has also been published under the title:  Climbing Higher.   Iceland Adventure can be purchased through Bob Jones. ) 

Ponies of Mykelligni by Lonzo Anderson is a nice story written in the 1960s.  Winter is ending, and a brother and sister (who are homeschooled by their mother) take a ride on their Icelandic "ponies" and are cut off from home by an earthquake and subsequent volcanic eruption.  48 pages, with many pictures, text ranges from 2 to 12 sentences a page.

Another possible book for the older student might be The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow (Living History Library series) by Allen French, loosely based on the Icelandic sagas.  I have not read this story and so I strongly urge the parent to pre-read.  Based on reviews at, characters die and come back to life and the story has witchcraft.  However, probably any book based on mythology is going to mention such things.