Tips on Getting Started Using the Race With Students

Welcome to Iditarod!  We’d like to help you create an amazing unit of study that will engage your students in an authentic learning adventure!  Let’s get started!

Picture2A rookie is someone new.   If you are new to the concept of using the race as a teaching tool, you are a rookie Iditarod teacher. You’ve come to the right place!  We’ve got ideas on how to get you started on making sure that using the race with students is engaging, interesting, and aligned to the standards you teach.

Iditarod is a theme or a vehicle of instruction (and let’s call that vehicle a dog sled!) for you to use to engage your students in real-time, authentic learning, and to teach your assigned curriculum in a unique way.

Start slowly, with a lesson or two and follow the race. You will soon discover that as students begin to learn about the race and follow it, they will begin to drive the learning.  They will start asking essential questions and begin problem solving.  They will discuss, predict, analyze, and relate to challenges that are faced during the race. They will engage themselves in higher level thinking, reasoning, and discovery.

You will find yourself as a true facilitator in the learning process as authentic learning develops into real time adventure learning! So jump on the runners of the sled and get ready to race!

What to do your first year of using Iditarod with students:

  • Subscribe to the free EDU monthly newsletter to have instant ideas and lessons delivered directly to your inbox.
  • Plan on following the race from start to finish with your students.  You can follow in real time.  Once the race begins (the first Saturday in March) you will find ‘race stats’ on the home page of our website, Look under the “Race Center” tab.
  • Here is a resource of basic information about Iditarod, let’s call it Iditarod 101.
  • Prior to the start of the race, have students read about the mushers who are entered.  Getting to know the mushers helps students develop a higher interest in following the race. Often students choose a favorite musher to follow or teachers assign mushers to students.   Students can make posters, create / write musher bios, and develop their own lists of information about the mushers they are interested in following. Here are a  Musher Trading Card lesson and Musher bios for the 2023 race.
  • Students enjoy articles about the race written by our 4-legged correspondents: Zuma, Gypsy, Sanka W. Dog, Libby Littles, and Sled Dog Ed,  Zuma’s K9 JournalistsEach dog writes towards a particular audience. Zuma writes for a general audience and serves as the ‘lead’ reporter, Libby Littles for lower elementary, Gypsy for upper elementary, and Sanka for the older readers.  Sanka also provides images housed in Zoom Lens showing important objects and information for all audiences.
  • Engage students in reading books from our recommended reading list.

If you are ready to do more:

To help you integrate the race as a teaching tool – we’ve provided you with lots of lessons to get you going.  These lessons are found at the Teach and Learn section of our website.

  • Lesson ideas and activities are organized by content area (math, science, language arts, social studies) Discover lessons that are ready to use or lessons you can ‘borrow and tweak’ to meet the needs of your students.  

Happy Trails! And feel free to send feedback to let us know about your first Iditarod – your rookie experience.  We can’t wait to hear from you!   Email us!