Getting Started – Iditarod Style

Ceremonial Start in Anchorage! Photo Credit: Iditarod

Teachers are returning to the classroom and setting the stage for a year of engaging learning. Some of us have used Iditarod for years, and have a plan to integrate the race into the curriculum. Others are new to using the race in the classroom, and are unsure of how to proceed.  

Do you start with Iditarod race basics? The Iditarod National Historic Trail and race history? The mechanics of dogsledding? Do you begin in September? Or wait until race time in late February? It is easy to feel overwhelmed, but don’t let it deter you from implementing Iditarod into your instruction. Iditarod catches kids’ attention, sparks interest, and gets students excited about learning. Using the race in your classroom will increase student engagement with academic content. Broadening a child’s perspective with Iditarod will open up a world of possibility for them; the alluring prospect of a grand adventure will inspire kids to engage with their learning. Give it a try! 

You have to start somewhere!  Mile 0 Iditarod Historic Trail Photo Credit: J. Westrich

IditarodEDU has information for beginners here:

Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race 101: What You Need To Know

Tips on Getting Started Using the Race with Students

Attached is an Iditarod introductory lesson using literature to provide content and context. Before you can teach “with Iditarod” your students need background information about the race. Many of my students have never heard of Iditarod before! I can’t teach a lesson on perseverance using Iditarod until they’ve developed a basic understanding of the race. The non-fiction text If You Were A Kid At The Iditarod by Josh Gregory provides essential background knowledge and is a great way to introduce Iditarod as an overarching theme for your classroom.  

Find the complete Lesson Plan Here.

Kick off the school year with Iditarod! Photo Credit J. Westrich

If Iditarod is seamlessly woven into your curriculum, but you’d like to refresh with new lesson ideas, search the lessons posted in IditarodEDU Teach & Learn for exciting plans for all academic content areas. And stay tuned for new lesson plans each month!

Library Learnings: Check out information on IditaREAD to incorporate the race into daily lessons AND boost student reading! During the 2020-2021 school year I did a stint as a classroom teacher, and during independent reading my 2nd graders would ask to “go to Alaska” – which meant putting up on the screen a video of the gorgeous Alaskan landscape accompanied by soothing music while they read their way down the trail!