Classroom Connections: The Patch – Getting To Know You Activity (Virtual Lesson Possibility)


I don’t know about all of you, but beginning the year is always a little different for me each year. I like to try new activities, but always have some “go-to’s” that I like to do. This year however is already VERY different. I am only seeing my kiddos for 2-3 days/week face-to-face, so getting to know them, and creating that sense of classroom community is going to be extra important. 

That is why I am going to try a new lesson this year that might help with that. 

Patches are something that are seen throughout the Iditarod, and they each carry different meanings and importance to those that wear them.  There is the finisher’s patch, the Iditarod logo, the Teacher on the Trail™ patch and many more. Each new Teacher on the Trail™ gets to design their own patch to be added to the sleeping bag which is then passed down from year to year to the next teacher. The patches also tell a little about each of the teachers themselves.

This is a great activity to use as an icebreaker or for classmates to get to know more about each other. In this lesson, students will all create their own patch describing themselves. They will then get to tell the class (and you) about themselves through their drawing! The students can include hobbies, use their favorite color/colors, make it in the shape of something they are interested in, and other things that are important to their identity. It can be left open-ended, or can be easily adapted to specific requirements for your own classroom. Teachers are encouraged to participate in this activity too! Your example can serve as an exemplar model for the class to draw ideas from.

Check out the full lesson plan here: Personal Patch Lesson

Some fourth grade teachers at my school recently did this lesson with their classes, and connected it to Social Studies by introducing the state seal of Ohio and examining that first. The students did a fantastic job. Here are some work samples from our 3rd and 4th graders!

In true “Classroom Connections” form, I want to end this post by making connections with other educators who are also teaching about the Iditarod and the sport of mushing in their classrooms. For this initial post, I recently reached out to musher Aliy Zirkle who has created a new educational program that she is piloting this year through her website. It looks like an AMAZING program that is geared towards grades 3-7 called “Husky Homeroom”. Here is the introductory video of Aliy explaining the program and some of the subjects she will be covering. She will be doing a series of lessons and videos each week. I plan to post an update about her future videos here in my “Classroom Connections” posts, highlighting the various lessons she has created, along with lessons submitted by other educators from across the country. Be sure to check out her program at the following link: