New to Teaching With the Iditarod?

Paws Along the Trail with an Iditarod Start

If you’ve never incorporated the Iditarod as a teaching tool into your classroom, it can be a bit daunting to get started.  We teachers have so many standards to teach that it’s difficult to find the time to add a new idea, no matter how great it is.  

Research mushers and then everyone chooses one to follow!

I have created a “Sledding Checklist” for primary and intermediate classrooms that will help teachers get started.  There are links to all you will need to incorporate the Iditarod race  into various subjects.  The best advice I have is to start small, and then add to it year by year.  Of course, we in the Iditarod Education Department hope you will peruse the website for wonderful lesson plans, but practically, we realize a teacher’s planning time is very limited.

Decorate a bulletin board with the Iditarod route and sleds filled for the race!

If you go to the Education tab on iditarod.com, click on Teach and Learn for a wealth of lesson plans for each academic and specialty area.

Teach and Learn page in the education tab of iditarod.com

So, here you go!  I hope these resources can get you started on a wonderful adventure with your students for Iditarod 2018!

Sledding Checklist, Intermediate

  •  Five weeks before the race:

Order teacher library loan from your local library for any books on the Iditarod, dog sledding, and the arctic. This takes two weeks at many public libraries.

Iditarod Book Ideas

  •  Three weeks before the race:

Students research the race rules using Rules Worksheet; Iditarod.com, Race Center, Iditarod Rules

Begin a read-aloud to familiarize students with the northern climate and the Iditarod

Begin posting articles to Google Classroom with assignments for reading and writing; Zuma’s Pawprints in the Education tab is a good source.

  •  Two weeks before the race:

Research and choose mushers with Choosing Musher Lesson

Begin checking and graphing Alaska’s temperatures.

Math word problems 30 Problems to Solve

  •  One week before the race:

Continue reading books, online articles

Create sleds and review requirements to be carried in the sleds at all times      

  •  Weekend of the start               

The Iditarod always begins the first weekend of March. Alert parents on what you’ve been studying. Give them the Iditarod.com website so their children can watch the ceremonial start of the race in Anchorage, AK, Saturday, and the actual start out of Willow, AK, on Sunday. In 2018, this will be March 3, 4. Keep in mind the time difference.

  •  During the race:
  1. Each day, have computers set up to Iditarod.com so they can follow their musher’s progress through the checkpoints. 2018 Tracking Sheet
  2. Record the temperatures and graph for the check point their musher has last reached, or continue the temps in Anchorage, comparing to the temps in your state.
  3. Continue to put up math word problems describing distances, dogs, elapsed time, and more.
  4. Follow Teacher on the Trail™ posts each day; Iditarod.com, Teacher on the Trail™ tab
  5. If you subscribe to Iditarod Insider, preview videos the night before that you can use with your students. Discuss. Incorporate comprehension and vocabulary lessons based on the videos. Use videos as writing prompts.
  6. Check out the education portal of Iditarod.com for some wonderful math lessons that can fit with your current lessons.
  7. Pull up a photo of the day from Iditarod.com. Jeff Schultz photos can be used for inference, cause & effect, fact & opinion, creative writing, and more.
  8. Write letters or emails to mushers. How To Write
  9. As mushers come into Nome, have students make ribbons of construction paper. They may decorate the middle and then write the places the mushers came into Nome. Pin ribbons to musher photos on bulletin board.  

Iditarod Race Rules Quest

Musher Research Matrix

Researching Mushers Lesson Plan

Coloring Page – Sled Requirements

Sled Foldable

 Sledding Checklist – Primary Level

Five weeks before the race:

  • Order teacher library loan from your local library for any books on the Iditarod, dog sledding, and the arctic.  This takes two weeks at many public libraries: Book ideas fiction            Book ideas non-fiction

Three weeks before the race:

  • Begin read-alouds to familiarize students with the northern climate and the Iditarod Race.
  • Go to iditarod.com, tab Education, Zuma’s Paw Prints; Libby Littles writes short articles to appeal to younger learners.  Read articles to the students and tie into listening and comprehension skills.

Two weeks before the race:

  • Research and choose mushers.  Iditarod.com, Race Center, Musher Bios.  Perhaps choose two mushers per table group or reading group to follow.  Print photo of each group’s mushers and put up on a bulletin board.
  • Begin checking and graphing Alaska’s temperatures.
  • Math word problems – find ones that work with your students:  Finney’s Word Problems

One week before the race:

  • Continue reading books, online articles
  • Create sleds and review requirements to be carried in the sleds at all times (rule #16) (Iditarod.com, Race Center Tab, Iditarod Rules)
  • Students can color a coloring sheet of the required equipment
  • Post a map of the race route.  Put up signs for the checkpoints around the room so students can move their sleds to the stop their mushers have reached.  

Weekend of the start:

  • The Iditarod always begins the first weekend of March.  Alert parents on what you’ve been studying.  Give them the Iditarod.com website so their children can watch the ceremonial start of the race in Anchorage, AK, Saturday, and the actual start out of Willow, AK, on Sunday.  Keep in mind the four-hour time difference.

During the race:

  • Each day, have computers set up to Iditarod.com so students can follow their musher’s progress through the checkpoints.  2018 Musher Tracking Sheets
  • Students move their sleds around the room to the checkpoint.  Subtract any dropped dogs each day.  Mushers may leave a dog at a checkpoint for various reasons to be cared for until the musher gets home.
  • Record the temperatures and graph for the check point their musher has last reached, or continue the temps in Anchorage, comparing to the temps in your state.
  • Continue to put up math word problems describing distances, adding or subtracting dogs, elapsed time, and more.
  • If you subscribe to Iditarod Insider, preview videos the night before that you can use with your students.  Discuss.  Incorporate comprehension and vocabulary lessons based on the videos.  Use videos as writing prompts.
  • Check out the education tab of Iditarod.com, Teach and Learn, for some wonderful math lessons that can fit with your current lessons.  
  • Read together posts from Teacher on the Trail™ tab
  • Pull up a photo of the day from Iditarod.com.  Jeff Schultz photos can be used for inference, cause & effect, fact & opinion, creative writing, and more.
  • Write letters and draw pictures for mushers.  How To Write
  • As mushers come into Nome, have students make ribbons of construction paper.  They may decorate the middle and then write the places the mushers came into Nome.  Pin ribbons to musher photos on bulletin board.   

I hope you and your students join us on the Iditarod Trail this year!