Just give me a moment here to navigate my way home before I embark on my new idea for you teachers. Let’s see, I need to trot 300 yards north to the training wheel, turn left for 100 yards until I arrive at the storage building, then veer right for 50 yards until I see the puppy yard, and finally turn left down the lot for about 20 yards until I spy my kennel. Okay, I have arrived home safely!!!!!
Navigating the kennels is not difficult since I have been around here for quite a while. Being in new places, though, takes a while to learn where to go and get a feel for the lay of the land. Students often feel that same way in school, especially at the beginning of the year, and any new places they may encounter. The kids at the kennel and I were talking about the mushers, especially those Rookies, who may have been on their first runs of the Iditarod. We were discussing the concerns they may have had of finding the trail, knowing where to turn, how far it would actually take to get to a checkpoint or resting area, where the good resting spots would be, and many more questions and thoughts that would possibly fill their minds. I told them that before the race, the mushers research, investigate, talk with veterans, and really plan out their run. The mushers map things out as best as possible ahead of time.
Planning and using maps are useful tools for all. The kids have been sharing with me that in Social Studies class they were examining maps of historical events in the history of the United States. One event they were working on was determining distances between the places along Lewis and Clark’s expedition. Even back then, historical figures planned their trips with as much knowledge as they had available. However, sometimes things came up unexpectedly and plans had to change. This is very similar to the mushers. They plan their trip and supplies as best as possible and then adjust while out on the trail.
I asked the kids if they had the opportunity to take a 1,000 mile trip, where would they want to go? One said, “Hawaii”, another wanted to go to Florida, and the last one wished to travel to Wyoming. Based on that, here is my idea!
Teachers, pose the following question to your students: If you could take a 1,000 mile journey that begins in your hometown, where would you want to go?
From there, have the students plan their 1,000 mile journey beginning in your hometown and ending at their chosen destination. They should do this on a map which could even be an interactive map, of which many are available online. Students can add pictures of the areas to which they will travel through and to, as well as any factual information about those areas.
Here are some things for them to consider as they plan and map out their journey:
- Where is their starting point? What is their destination? How many total miles is it between them? (Their goal is to have it come out as close to 1,000 miles as possible.)
- What types of terrain will they encounter on their trip? (mountains, rivers, lakes, deserts, plains, etc.)
- What and how many states/countries will they travel through from beginning to end? What are the names of those states or countries?
- Will they encounter any historical or famous landmarks on the trip? How about any National Parks?
- What time of year will they be travelling?
- How long do they think it will take to complete the trip? What is the starting date and estimated ending date? (Keep in mind that the shortest time for the Iditarod, with the fastest team running an average of 4.74 mph, is no less than 8 days. Students can figure out their mode of transportation and adjust time, distance and speed accordingly.)
- How many miles will they travel each day?
- Where will they stop first? What will be their next stop? Where will they head after that? Plan out all of their destinations/rest stops for the trip.
- How long will they stay at each destination/rest stop? How will those rest times affect the overall time for completing the trip?
- What are the specific distances between each destination or rest stop along the route?
Teachers, you might want to design a planning sheet for your students to work from for this project. Many mushers write down their plans, so why not ask your students to do the same? Here is a sample of one that could be used, Travel Plans. An extension to this activity, once completed, can be to compare the students’ routes to those of the mushers travelling across Alaska. Compare the types of terrain, time, distance between stops, landmarks, speed, etc.
The kids and I are on our way back to the house to begin planning their 1,000 mile journey. I wonder where they will finally end up?!? Maybe they will take me along….wishful thinking!
Safe travels to all!
~Sled Dog Ed